Strap on your swords and crossbows, post-apoc fans: it’s time to go back into the wilds of former America with a weekly recap and review of NBC’s Revolution. I’ll be leading us through the high grass and rusted relics to highlight the best and worst of each week’s episode from now on. This week, we’re diving back into the events set up by the pilot for the second episode, “Chained Heat.”
We rejoin Charlie, Miles, Aaron, and Maggie out on the road to rescue Ben from the militia and the menacing Captain Neville. Charlie and Miles clash on their way to Pontiac, Illinois when a bounty hunter tracks them down. Should they kill him? Charlie’s soft heart forces them to settle for locking the guy in an old railway car. Yeah... like that’s not going to come back to bite them in the butt.
In Pontiac, Miles wants to find someone named Nora who can apparently help them get Danny back. The bounty hunter resurfaces and captures Miles, who busts out only minutes later and beats the tar out of the bounty hunter until he reveals that Nora has been taken to a prison camp by the militia. The bounty hunter gets a snapped neck for his troubles and Miles gets a disapproving look from Charlie.
Meanwhile, on the road to Evil Militia Headquarters, Captain Neville hears a gunshot and leads his troops and captive Danny to the house of some random guy. The guy made the error of shooting a deer for dinner, which carries a death sentence since guns are illegal for citizens to carry under the Baltimore Act. The deer hunter dies for his trouble but not before shooting one of Neville’s soldiers. Inside his house is some serious contraband - an old United States flag. Neville orders both the flag and the house burned like a proper bad guy.
And speaking of bad guys, we get our first real look at Sebastian Monroe, President of the Monroe Republic. He interrupts one of his men torturing a captured rebel, using some pretty obvious good cop/bad cop maneuvers. He does his best “can’t we all just live in peace under my pretty new empire” speech, calls the rebel a terrorist, then loses his temper and guts the poor guy tied to the chair. Bad guy cred established, indeed.
Meanwhile, the Danny trackers recuperate from their wounds around a nice campfire. Aaron finds out Maggie carries around an iPhone—who knew she was the sparkly pink case sort?—and Miles decides to take off on his own to find Nora. Charlie wants to stick together and she sneaks off after him in the morning, leaving Aaron and Maggie behind. On her way to catch up to Miles, she hears someone sneaking after her and fakes a hell of a Bella Swan-style klutz fall to draw out her stalker. It’s “Nate,” the militia soldier from the bar. He seems concerned about her “busted” ankle, but all it gets him is handcuffed to a pole. Two points for Charlie setting a trap. Then she berates him for his deception and the two make moony eyes at one another for a bit before Charlie leaves him behind. At least we know now that Nate isn’t his real name. (Yeah, that’s about all I got from that scene and not much else).
Next came two of my favorite parts of the episode: Maggie and Aaron talk about what to do next, since Charlie took off. Maggie confides that she carries the iPhone because she knows that locked inside are her only pictures of her kids, who she barely remembers anymore. Aaron gets it in his head to tell her then that Ben Matheson gave him the necklace (which we, the canny audience, already know contains the special pre-blackout info on it) and told him to go find a woman named Grace. He believes the blackout was man-made and if it was, it could be reversed. With the party split, these two are off on their own side quest to discover the Mystery of the Blackout Necklace so that they can, to paraphrase Aaron, de-cornhole the planet.
Next up, Neville’s soldier isn’t doing so well with his gunshot wound. Neville holds the soldier’s hand and sits with him while he dies peacefully from poison. Neville shows startling sensitivity as he speaks to the soldier and stays with him until he dies, talking about what things will be like on the other side. Captain Neville, you complicated, creepy dude, why’d you have to go and show compassion?
Meanwhile, Team Miles/Charlie bond over Charlie’s guilt over pretty much everything horrible that’s happened and they take off to get to the prison camp. They find a chain gang dragging a giant army helicopter through the forest, evidence that Monroe wants to prepare for a time when the lights will come back on. Miles finds Nora but her shackles are already open - Nora’s been working an angle to steal the warden’s super powerful sniper rifle and she’s pissed at Miles for interfering. Once free, she refuses to help Miles until he gives her a hand getting that sniper rifle to sell on the black market. The only way to do it seems to sneak up on the warden with a home made one-shot gun and kill him - the catch being that someone has to get up close to do it. Charlie volunteers, but Miles doesn’t believe she can kill a man after all her bleeding heart speeches. Charlie points out the guy is using thirty people as slaves and, with that as justification, goes into the camp pretending to be a lost girl out hunting. She hesitates and goes through one of her flashbacks, but in the end is inspired by the memory and kills the warden. In the ensuing fight, she has to kill another guard, bringing her body count up to two. She does get the rifle, however: mission accomplished.
Now comes a one, two, three punch of reveals for the episode. While Miles tries to explain to Charlie that her “this world should be different” mentality is unusual (but not exactly a bad thing), Nora takes off her shirt to clean her wounds. Miles spots a tattoo of the American flag on her back. Nora it seems has gone rebel and joined the resistance, a group out not only to bring down the Monroe Republic but to bring back the good old U.S. of A. Her goal is to use the rifle they secured to kill President Monroe, who we already know is Miles’ old buddy. The plot, as they say, thickens!
The next big reveal? Maggie and Aaron are nearly at Grace’s house. Cut to Grace inside, who opens her front door. We think it’s going to be Aaron there...but given her terror it clearly isn’t! Up in the Secret Computer Attic, she sends out a panicked message that someone named Randall is there. When he gets upstairs, she turns in horror to see that he is wearing a necklace just like her own that gives him electricity. And he’s using it to power a giant cattle prod! Dun, dun, dun!: electrocution to come. Stay tuned for next week.
The third shocking reveal is that Rachel, Charlie’s mother, is alive and well and being held by Monroe in a stunning colonial villa. He makes creepy flirting noises at Rachel, then tells her that her husband is dead and her son is in his custody. Rachel, all grieving and classy, tries to stab Monroe in the face, but he grabs her for some pawing and choking. She’s going to tell him everything she knows, of course - and wouldn’t we like to hear it! Cliffhanger three ends with Monroe sinisterly pawing Rachel and the episode leaves us in suspense.
Since a big part of the story about what happened to the Mathesons is played out in Charlie’s flashbacks, I’ve decided to compile each of them separately. This episode’s flashbacks center on the Matheson’s leaving their home in Chicago to get to the country. Rachel, Charlie’s mom, tells Little Charlie that her responsibility is to look after her brother - cue future guilt problems here. But when they get to a place where Ben Matheson needs to get some things for work (hint for future tie to the Blackout Necklace?) a creepy survivor in a suit takes Little Charlie hostage and demands all their food. Ben pulls a gun on the guy but won’t shoot him. The suit lets Little Charlie go, but starts to take all their food away. Ben can’t shoot the guy even then, but never underestimate the power of a mom. Rachel shoots the suit twice in front of Charlie, an act that apparently inspires her ability to take the shot at the warden of the prison camp.
This week’s second episode had so much going on: Miles and Charlie get Nora from the prison camp, Aaron and Maggie head off to find Grace, and of course the big reveal about Rachel being alive in Monroe’s custody. Then there’s the introduction of the rebels and their goal to bring back the old United States. The episode was positively chock-full of plot setup and progress for everyone involved. And thank goodness the show provided a reason for Rachel to be around - seeing Elisabeth Mitchell in flashbacks alone would have been a waste of such a talented actress. I especially enjoyed the scenes between Aaron and Maggie, as the two have become the alternate plotline that held the episode together when the Danny/Neville scenes felt forced and drawn out. It seems that Revolution intends to give us enough movement forward in different parts of the story to keep things interesting while still developing the characters enough to feel satisfying.
What Didn’t Work:
Oh Charlie, why do you have to be such a do-gooder? Charlie’s wide-eyed good girl routine didn’t evolve enough this episode to shake her out of her almost cripplingly cliché dialogue. She had only one good line the whole episode (“It’s not about the rifle. It’s about the thirty innocent people working down there as slaves, and it’s insane that neither of you have even mentioned it!”) - and as far as I can tell, her job is to be a bruised-looking catalyst for people to feel badly about themselves. Will her double homicide in this episode make her realize that life outside of her hometown compound is tough, and she’s going to have to get tougher? We’ll see. Equally (still) annoying is “Nate,” or No Name to me. His fascination with Charlie despite his orders to capture her uncle left me really unenthused about him as an addition to the cast. By the time I finished the episode, I’d forgotten he was even in it! And can we have more of Captain Neville? This episode, he and Danny felt like they were stuck in Plot Pitstop hell, waiting for everyone else to catch up to them.
1) Grace, Ben, Miles and Monroe all worked on a secret government project dealing with how to shut down the power to harm America’s enemies. It’s got to be some kind of huge energy field doohicky that the necklaces protect against and which allow the field to be negated in a small area.
2) Rachel’s mother knew about the project (worked there?), and was captured by Monroe early on. Monroe’s not going to kill her, however, because he obviously has eyes for her.
3) Nora and Miles are obviously hot for each other, even though I already kind of ’ship Miles/Maggie.
What I’m Looking Forward To:
1) More creepy scenes featuring Neville going from nice guy to psychopath in an instant.
2) More of the Adventures of Aaron and Maggie, Blackout Detectives. Here’s hoping they can get to Grace before Randall the Unknown tortures or kills her.
3) “You’ll bask in the brightest, most beautiful light,” said Neville to the dying soldier. There is a serious emphasis, almost reverence, for light since it has largely gone missing from the world. I can’t wait to see this religious/cultural significance built up in future episodes.
Favorite quote of the episode:
“Great, they’re having a sale on heroin.” - Aaron at the Pontiac market.
Next time we’ll be back with the third episode of Revolution, “No Quarter.” Until then, keep the lights on!
[Much love to Revolution-Show.com for the stills!]
Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and ReImaginedReality.com.