All right, fellow Revolutionaries—it’s all been leading up to this! Our heroes started this season on NBC heading through a post-apocalyptic America to rescue a boy kidnapped by a brutal dictator. There have been explosions, sword fights, betrayals, creepy dogs, murder, and hallucinations along the way. We’ve gotten hints as to why and how the lights have gone out. In the season finale, everything comes to a head as Miles, Aaron, Nora and Charlie venture into Philadelphia to rescue Danny. It’s family reunions all over the place in the mid-season finale, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” What have we learned? Let’s take a look at the recap!
The episode begins with a flashback (which we’ll talk about further on in the post), then picks up with Charlie being carried through the streets of Philadelphia. The group needs a place to rest so they can tend to the head injury she received in the previous episode. Miles can only think of one place, so he sends Nora to flash her chest at an old friend of his in order to get into Captain Kipling’s apartment. Meanwhile, across town, Major Neville wakes up Monroe to warn him: the infiltrator that had sent word that he’d deliver Miles to them has been found dead, and Miles is loose in Philly. Neville asks Monroe to leave for Boston, but Monroe won’t run.
Miles heads out to find out where Danny’s being kept while everyone else beds down for the night. Our heroes are woken up by Neville busting down the door, having figured out where they were. He takes all three into custody and jams a needle into Charlie’s neck. When she comes to, she’s being dragged into a cell. There, in the dark, she comes face to face with her mother. Rachel tries to make Charlie understand what she was up to with Monroe for so long, and how she had planned to kill Monroe and rescue Danny herself, but Charlie is overwhelmed. She tells her mother that they need to find a way to rescue Danny. Meanwhile, Aaron is being held by Neville with Nora. They are bait for Miles, who is indeed sneaking around, trying to figure out a way to save them.
In the cell, Charlie and Rachel try to open up a vent to sneak out. When Charlie tells Rachel that she’s teamed up with Miles, Rachel asks if Miles has ‘hurt her.’ Charlie is taken aback and asks why she’d ask that, but they’re interrupted by Strausser, who drags them off to Rachel’s workshop. There, they are reunited with Danny. Monroe joins them. He explains to Charlie what the necklace does, how the amplifier can turn on the power, and how Rachel killed Brad Jaffe. Charlie orders her mother not to work on the amplifier. Strausser tells Rachel that she must choose which of her children will die and Charlie volunteers, standing with the barrel of the gun to her head. Rachel can’t bear it, and agrees to finish the machine.
Meanwhile, across town, Neville is pouring himself a drink when Miles shows up...holding Neville’s wife, Julia, at swordpoint. He will trade Julia for his friends. Julia is stone cold in the face of the danger and tells Neville not to give in, but Neville folds to save his wife. He comes back with Aaron and Nora, and tells Miles that Monroe took Danny and Charlie across town to an old power plant. Our heroes lock Neville and Julia in a closet instead of killing them, after Neville threatens to kill Miles. Miles then leads Aaron and Nora to the power plant, where Aaron figures out how to sneak inside.
Rachel tinkers with the amplifier while Strausser starts getting very creepy with her. He asks her to “try something” so he can get his hands on Charlie. Upstairs, Monroe meets with Jeremy, the militia commander from way back in “No Quarter.” Jeremy questions whether or not Monroe can really finish off Miles when he arrives and Monroe seems furious at the notion. This triggers Monroe’s flashbacks (which we’ll get into shortly).
This is where things start to move quickly: Miles and Nora sneak into the power plant, leaving Aaron outside with some pipe bombs in case they need to make a quick exit. Back in their cell, Charlie and Danny trick their guard and escape, but are slowed down by Danny’s busted leg. Rachel, back in her lab, gets the amplifier working, much to creepy Strausser’s amazement. Charlie and Danny are spotted by militia and gunfire erupts, which everyone hears. Monroe goes running, along with Strausser, which leaves Rachel alone to find herself a weapon to use against him. Charlie and Danny have gotten themselves cornered by the militia when Miles saves the day. Miles introduces himself to Danny and finds out that Rachel is alive—he didn’t know, all this time. Miles sends Charlie and Danny away with Nora while he goes after Rachel.
Strausser comes back and takes his creepiness to the next level, putting his brand of sociopathic moves on Rachel. She attacks him and a struggle ensues, culminating in her stabbing Strausser. Miles shows up while she’s hovering over the body and Rachel slaps the heck out of him, just before Jeremy and the militia walk in. Rachel and Miles run for it under heavy fire. They enter a corridor and are confronted by Monroe and a handful of soldiers. Miles covers Rachel’s escape so that she can go “be with her children.” He then shoots down the militiamen, leaving Miles and Monroe face to face: alone at last.
Miles confronts Monroe about keeping Rachel alive and Monroe asks Miles how he could have left. Instead of trying to kill Miles, Monroe puts his own gun down and tries to convince him to return to the Republic. He promises to spare Miles’ family and give him anything he wants. Miles apologizes to Monroe—he’s sorry he didn’t kill him long before. The Sebastian Monroe he knew is gone. Monroe goes all crazy-eyed and goes for Miles’ gun. The fight is on.
Outside, Aaron heard the gunfire and has set up the pipe bombs. Problem: only two matches in the box and they’re pretty lousy. He struggles to set off the explosives while Rachel meets up with Nora, Danny and Charlie, who need a way out. Inside, the fight moves from guns to swords, with the two men evenly matched. When the militia show up, Monroe orders them to shoot Miles. Miles takes the opportunity to jump out a window and live to fight another day. Aaron discovers the matches don’t work, but he still has the flint that he used to use when he’d attempt to make a fire for his wife. This time, he’s able to light the explosives and blows a giant hole in the wall. Rachel, Nora, Charlie and Danny escape to the outside, where Aaron is astonished to see Rachel. Charlie waits at the hole for Miles, who comes charging out of the smoke.
The group is racing for freedom through an open field when they hear a strange noise. It’s the amplifier! A giant black shadow rises over the wall and Our Heroes stare up at a giant helicopter with its guns pointed straight at them! Inside, Monroe comes to the railing and looks down at the six helicopters parked on the roof, just before the Gatling gun on the flying chopper whirs to life and—
Nothing. You’ll have to wait until the season picks up in March because we’ve reached our inevitable cliffhanger!
This week on Flashback Theater, we get into the head of the Republic’s own dictator Monroe and are rewarded with a good look at his relationship with Miles, growing up. The flashback that starts off the episode shows the two of them five years after the blackout, serving in the Trenton Campaign. They’re under heavy fire and taking cover, discussing the fact that everybody’s running out of bullets. Miles is a little distracted since he’s bleeding to death. He tells Monroe to get out of there, but Monroe won’t leave Miles. He doesn’t care about his men—the only person he cares about is Miles.
The next flashback involves Monroe sitting in a graveyard two years prior to the blackout. Miles drives up and a drunken Monroe reveals that his entire family has been killed by a drunk driver on the way to seeing a Harry Potter film. He feels he has nobody left, but Miles reiterates that they’re family and Monroe still has him as a brother. Then he takes away the gun Monroe had been holding as he’d been mourning and crying for his lost family.
Two more tiny flashbacks pop up in the episode, showing both men as children. The first features the two racing beside a riverbank, playing with swords and joking about killing one another in a childish, playful kind of way. The next has them sitting on the same riverbank, coloring with sharpies on their arms. They design the militia symbol, the M in a circle, to stand for both their last names—Monroe and Matheson.
What Worked This Week:
Whew, so we finally made it. Our heroes were in Philadelphia, they got to Danny, and confronted Monroe. The long-awaited confrontation certainly gave us an opportunity to see more of Sebastian Monroe’s character, something that I’d been looking forward to all season. I was very impressed by the depth the writers tried to put into Monroe as a villain. It was a credit to the episode that they highlighted so much of the relationship between Miles and Monroe and made it feel so central and important to the conflict. The scene where the two faced off over the barrel of a gun had all the emotional weight of two best friends torn apart by conflict, and the flashbacks dealing with Monroe and Miles’ friendship added just the right amount of power to the emotional charge.
However, it was the scene with Neville and his wife Julia that had the greatest impact on me. Miles holding Julia hostage was a surprise to me, and Julia’s display of courage in the face of her fears made her so much more compelling. In the end, Neville’s love for his wife keeps him from capturing Miles, a moment I imagine was designed to prove that Neville still has a heart, even after everything he’s done.
I’m also impressed with the cliffhanger moment. A helicopter. The writers had foreshadowed the possibility that they’d bring it out and look, there it is! It’s a gunship, for God’s sake! Our Heroes don’t stand a chance against that, right? That level of tension had me on the edge of my seat, right until the very end.
What Didn’t Work This Week:
So here we are, at the mid-season finale, and I’m sad to see it end (for now). I’m also sad that this was the last we’ll see of it, given that “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” was rather a letdown after the nine-episode arc that led to just this moment. We’ve followed Our Heroes into Philadelphia, the promised land of tense plot moments and potential resolutions. We expected high drama and instead got a rather generic rescue mission adventure that rushed through complicated emotional scenes which would have benefited from more time and set-up. The whole episode seemed hasty and forced, an attempt to accomplish an epic wrap-up in one episode. The fact that so much time was wasted getting to Philadelphia just adds insult to injury.
In the rush, a lot of plot elements have been hopelessly pushed to the wayside. Where is Jason Neville in ANY of this? Where are Grace and Flynn, our links to the metaplot? What about Nora and Miles’s romance? Jeremy the militia commander reappeared and then conveniently disappeared again, along with the “old friend” of Miles’ who seemed interesting and then was never heard from again. Even creepy Strausser and his attempted rape of Rachel seemed like an afterthought. This episode also reunited Charlie with her mother, at long last, and we’re only given a few stunted moments of mother/daughter reconciliation before the episode barreled onward towards its conclusion.
The biggest plot hole, though, is this: Our Heroes completely forget about the Blackout Necklace! It’s in the workshop when Rachel kills Strausser but (apparently for plot convenience), she forgets it and leaves it behind! You’d think that a woman who could stone cold murder a man to protect the world from Monroe’s power would have remembered to snatch the single most important artifact in the post-apocalypse on her way out of Psycho Headquarters. But no, we’re too busy trying to get to the heavy-handed conclusion to bother making any kind of logical sense.
And as for the conclusion: a helicopter rises with guns trained on our heroes and...cue cliffhanger? Cliffhangers have clearly been part of the show’s structure all season, but this one was neither well-executed nor impressive enough to be a satisfying stopping point before the mid-season break. Sadly, the whole episode fell very short of expectations, ruining the build-up of the season in a major way.
1) Monroe mentions that they’re about to war with Georgia soon—next season’s road trip, perhaps?
2) Rachel did snag the necklace, and the one that Monroe put into the amplifier was the other one, taken from Brad Jaffe? (This theory is only so that I can justify that huge plot hole to myself).
3) Neville will, of course, get out of his closet in time to chase Our Heroes down but there’s going to be strife at home over his inability to stand up to Miles. Will Julia turn against Neville? Will that drive him over to the side of the good guys, against Monroe?
Things I Can’t Wait to See:
1) Grace and Flynn and their entire storyline. The disappearance of one of the most important pieces of the Revolution puzzle at the end of the season has been disheartening and I’m looking forward to returning to it.
2) The Matheson family dynamic. With Danny and Rachel back in the mix, Charlie now has to deal with her mother being alive and having her brother at her side. How will the Mathesons’ deal with the secrets stemming from Rachel’s activities, and the fact that she murdered a man in cold blood? Miles and Rachel’s relationship is going to be difficult, considering that he’s the one who locked her up to begin with!
3) A return to the Blackout plot. The fact that this episode derailed and essentially forgot about the amplifier at the end was mind-boggling to me. Ditto the lack of any actual rebel forces involved in the taking of Philadelphia. In the second part of the season, I’d like a little more revolution in my Revolution, thanks.
“C’mon, it’s me!”—Miles, in a blatant Han Solo rip-off
“I always thought I’d be dead by now. It’s logical. High risk gig, two tours in Iraq. But my folks? My little sisters? On the way to a friggin’ Harry Potter movie, one drunk driver, and they’re scraping them up off the ground. It should have been me. I have nothing left.”—Monroe
So that’s a wrap on the first half of Season 1 of Revolution—thanks for coming along with me through the post-apocalypse, and I’ll leave a light on until we’re back in March!
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.