Episode 1: Born in the U.S.A.
By: Carlos Uribe
Revolution is a show set in a world where electricity has died.
Revolution had a troubled first season. There were some decent installments in there but it was mostly a season filled with weak characters, forced relationships, and a nonsensical plot that ultimately ended in frustration. The potential that the premise could have had was largely lost as the production dropped swords in favor of guns. The concentration on turning the power on gave the writers some focus but it ultimately backfired as it consumed the show. It also had the unfortunate side-effect of actually causing people to root for them to succeed which would undermine the whole premise of the show. The last thing any writer is going to want is to root for the show to effectively end. The finale was so frustrating that it ultimately hurt my view of the series as a whole. The twist at the end was so confounding that it actually made me less excited for the second season of Revolution. It was such a terrible piece of television that it also made me completely give up on Revolution. Lucky for the show, I decided I might as well stick around because I like the genre, I'm a fan of Giancarlo Esposito, and because it was still decently entertaining. It helps that I don't really like giving up on shows since it means the investment I had put into earlier episodes was wasted. I like to think of myself as a very loyal viewer. Obviously, there are shows I do end up giving up on (2 Broke Girls comes to mind) but I try to make them as rare as possible. So this is the way I entered the second season: disillusioned with the series, distrustful of the writers, but hopeful that the series can somehow pull itself together. Even if it can't, at least I can expect to be entertained. It's an odd relationship with the series but it's an important one to make note of because it's how I approach it and therefore the reviews. So I'm happy to report that I'm cautiously optimistic about this second season.
It is my theory that what makes an amazing television series wonderful is that it has great characters interacting with each other. It's a very risky move for any series to separate it's characters for a long period of time. It basically limits the potential interactions they could have with other characters which limits the great scenes any episode could theoretically have. Revolution seems like it's making a mistake when it splits up it's characters into three different groups. Now granted, this is nothing new of the show. The first season had ended with a main group trying to chase after a group of characters working for a distant antagonist. At the same time, this managed to somewhat work because the protagonists stuck together while the antagonists were grouped separately. They might not have been in the same vicinity but they were also related in the same plot. It rarely felt like they were in different shows for this reason. The second season is different because it actually splits up the characters into groups that have very little to do with each other at this point. This could be risky: it limits possible interactions and it might cause the series to feel like there's three different unrelated parts. At the same time, Revolution might make it work. After all, the interactions are only worthwhile if the characters are any good. Revolution has exactly one character who is any good and he's paired with his son-the only compelling relationship on this show. What makes the risk worth it is because splitting the characters up might force the writers to actually flesh them out. Overall, it's a risk that might not ever pay off but if it does then Revolution will be stronger in the long run. Who knows? This might solve the weak characters charge.
The first season of Revolution had two separate main plots: rescuing Danny and then trying to turn the power back on. There were a few sub-plots (including an actual war) but the narrative focus largely concentrated on these two goals. The second season of Revolution begins with no major goal in sign. Miles, Rachel, and Aaron have found a new home in Texas with Rachel's dad. Aaron has found a new love interest but his dark secrets create a barrier between them. Miles appears to be going back to his old habits of appearing with blood on his hands and burning down sheds. As for Rachel? She's gone crazy. It's not the most perfect, ideal life but at least their alive. Just as Miles is getting ready to leave, the town is placed under threat by a war tribe from the Plains Nation. It's an interesting development that leads to some shocking moments. The first is that Miles actually loses a fight and gets captured. It looks like the writers are toning down his superpower ability to win any fight and sneak in anywhere this season. It's also pretty much established that we're back to melee fights as guns are used more sparingly. Revolution is embracing the promise laid out in the pilot over it's universe. Aaron gets attacked and actually dies for three hours. Luckily, the nanomachines are acting weird or his pendant has magical powers so he's able to come back to life at the end of the episode. It's a pretty shocking development that helps sell the idea that more fantastical or science fiction stuff can now happen. Whatever the case, it's a pretty effective cliff-hanger that at once allows the audience relief that they didn't just kill off Aaron while making them wonder what exactly is going on. How is Aaron still alive? A good question that actually makes me want to watch the second episode.
The other two groups are given their own plots. Charlie is continuing her quest of trying to find Monroe in order to kill him. She actually gets a chance and takes it. Only her assassination attempt fails because a third party intervenes by kidnapping him. I'm interested to know who this third party is. I'm not sure I like the promise of grouping the show's two weakest characters/performers on the show together but hopefully they can bring out new sides of each other. The other group is Tom and Jason. The two are actually in Georgia. The two are looking for Julia at the refugee camp. When they can't find her, Tom almost kills himself. Luckily, his son is able to talk some sense into his father by using their unique love-hate relationship. At the end, the two listen to the people who claim to be the United States government claiming their back with supplies. Tom is a little suspicious of this plus their claim to have proof that Monroe Republic and Georgia Federation nuked each other's capitols. He thinks their imposters. It's a decent effort to make the cliff-hanger from the finale better but this development ultimately isn't enough to change my opinion of how terrible it was. After all, I had no way of knowing that when I saw it. It's pretty obvious this will likely be a force that unites all of the characters against them but hopefully their more developed by the time this happens. Overall, a promising sub-plot with the best character/actor this show has.
Revolution has a pretty promising second season premiere that might have just put this show on the right path. Separating the characters is a risky move but it might be the right one necessary to develop them. The whole war tribe is interesting because Miles was captured and Aaron's resurrection. The Charlie and Monroe pairing is a bit concerning but hopefully this allows the two weakest characters to improve each other. As for the final pairing, it's pretty promising and it ties directly into the main bad guys of the season.