What do you get when you cross hallucinations, underground urban exploration and some trippy Led Zeppelin? No, it’s not someone’s bad college vacation memories—it’s this week’s episode of our favorite post-apoc drama, Revolution! The team behind got a boost from the rock legends (as you may have guessed from the title), featuring Zeppelin’s music in the ninth episode of the season, in which we discover that Nora hates alligators, all badass teen girls must shoot arrows in the post-apocalypse times, and oxygen deprivation makes you act like you’re on a serious drug trip. Let’s take a look at this week’s adventure, “Kashmir”!
We kick off with Nora desperately trying to convince a group of rebels that she’s one of them. Why is it so important? Well, the rebels grabbed Miles immediately upon our heroes’ arrival at their base and are kicking the garbage out of him in interrogation. They want to know why they shouldn’t just kill him. Miles tells them he needs their help getting into Philadelphia because they have his nephew Danny. In exchange, he’s willing to hand them Sebastian Monroe’s head on a plate. The rebel commander steps in to stop the interrogation and agrees to the plan—they’re going to Philadelphia.
That night, Miles starts hitting the bottle, hard. The crew plus the rebels will be going into Philadelphia the very next day, so Charlie tells him to lay off the booze. Miles is morose about their chances of survival, and worried about what will happen when he faces Monroe. Under cover of darkness, the rebel commander and a teenage girl rebel assassinate two guards standing watch at a tunnel, and the crew heads underground into what used to be the Philadelphia subway system on their way to rescue Danny.
The tunnels are pretty much what you’d express from old subway tunnels—empty and full of rats. The rebel commander confides that he’s always been a gambler, and now he’s gambling that by going into Philly with Miles, he’ll either bag Monroe and end his reign of terror or kill Miles when they fail and rid the world of the horrible Miles Matheson. Charlie quizzes Nora on her past with Miles and we discover she was with him when he was the dreaded General Matheson. Nora reveals that though Monroe and Miles grew up together, enlisted together, and created the militia together, Miles tried to assassinate Monroe. In the end, Miles couldn’t pull the trigger. Just then, Charlie steps on a landmine. Cue possible explosive situation.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Rachel is working by candlelight in her underground room with—gasp!—a CD player playing some music. Neville comes down with a militia officer and is amazed at the music. He asks her to explain what the device she’s working on does. Rachel is reticent but finally explains that the Blackout Necklace acts like a portable battery, but that its range is limited to about ten feet. The device she’s creating will act as a booster, allowing the range to work for half a mile and let Monroe power larger devices. Neville and the militia man leave her to do her work.
Down in the tunnels, Charlie holds still while Nora locates all the other landmines in the area. The rebels go on ahead while Nora figures out how to disable the mine. The mine holds for a few seconds but then blows anyway, collapsing the tunnel behind our heroes and sealing them in. Everyone is safe, however, and they continue forward. Aaron introduces himself to the archer girl, whose name is Ashley. They swap stories about why they’re in the rebellion—Aaron didn’t even realize he was a rebel—and Miles sees someone in the tunnel up ahead. When they check, there’s no evidence of anyone and Miles wonders if he’s seeing things. The team reaches a half-submerged room and as they wade through, Nora gets dragged under the water! They pull her up and she screams she was bitten on the leg by an alligator. Miles tells her there is no alligator, and Aaron begins to understand what’s happening when he sees the torch is going out. The tunnel sealed off their oxygen supply—they’re suffocating to death. The team push forward, hoping to escape the tunnel before running out of air. They quickly reach the supposed exit, only to find that it’s been bricked up. They have to find another way out before they all die.
As they continue on, Miles spots a door open with light on the other side. He wanders through and finds himself in Sebastian Monroe’s bright Philadelphia office, the air filled with the dulcet tones of “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. Monroe walks in and gives him a big hug. Monroe tells Miles he’s hallucinating and the two have a heart to heart about how Miles is afraid of what’s coming next. He’s afraid that if Monroe asked him to come back, he’s so tired of fighting that he might just take him up on the offer. Charlie grabs Miles and he snaps out of the hallucination; Charlie gives him a stern talking to about how he’s not allowed to fall apart, since everyone is counting on him. Meanwhile, poor Aaron is trying not to get guilt-tripped by his hallucination of the wife he left behind. She calls him weak and a coward, and accuses him of being able to be strong for Charlie but not for her. He soldiers on remarkably well, ignoring every dig.
The rebel commander notices the torches are burning brighter—there’s air up ahead! They spot a door with some bullet holes in it, with light on the other side. Everyone is excited about being saved until the rebel commander pulls a gun out and shoots his own people down. He grabs Miles and shoves him through the door, trapping Charlie, Nora, Aaron and Ashley (the archer) on the other side. He tells Miles that he’s a deep cover agent, implanted in the rebellion for two years—now he’s taking Miles to Monroe. Charlie and the others take down the door and head after them. Ashley gets shot by the commander; Charlie puts a crossbow bolt in the commander, but he gets a shot off that grazes her head and she goes down, hitting her head hard on the concrete. Out go the lights.
Charlie wakes up on a comfy couch. Her father Ben stands at the sink and tells her to go get Maggie and Danny for dinner. Charlie thinks that it’s all been a horrible dream, but she’s home now and everyone is safe. In the real world, Miles tries desperately to get Charlie to wake up. She hears his voice, distant and vague, but Ben tries to convince her that she ought to lie back down, rest, because she’s finally safe. She begins to recount her adventures on the road to get Danny, all the tragedies that have occurred, and realizes she’s in a dream. She hugs her father and tells him she loves him—and wakes up. They rest inside the tunnel and Charlie thanks Miles for “saving her“ from her dream. They agree that they’re probably walking into an ambush, but that doesn’t stop our intrepid heroes from pushing open the door and stepping out into the open night air.
Meanwhile in Monroe’s headquarters, Rachel is working on her amplifier when Monroe comes in. He tells her that Neville had a bad feeling about her explaination regarding the amplifier, so he’s brought in someone to validate her story. Militia men drag in Brad Jaffe, Rachel’s old friend and colleague. Jaffe takes one look at the device and tells Monroe it’s no amplifier—it’s a time bomb powered by the necklace! Monroe is furious and orders both Rachel and Danny killed while Rachel begs him for one more chance. Monroe says he doesn’t need her now that he has Jaffe to work on the necklace. In response, Rachel grabs a screwdriver and stabs Jaffe to death! Then she turns to Monroe and counters with, “Now you need me.”
This week we get to skip Flashback Theater because instead, we get everyone’s Hallucination Head Trips! The most important one, of course, was Miles’ Led Zeppelin-y trip down memory lane, described above. And then there’s Aaron, being haunted by his wife. It seems that the past just won’t stay dead, even when folks are dying of oxygen deprivation.
What Worked This Week:
Let’s start with the end. “Now you need me.” BAM. With four words, Rachel Matheson has been established to be one of the most ruthless, powerful and complicated characters I’ve seen in a long while. She was working to build a weapon to use against her captor right under his nose, and when caught was willing to kill an old friend to save her life and the life of her son. Monroe clearly did not know who he was messing with when he tangled with Rachel Matheson. She has proven to be a fiercely intelligent, intense character and Elizabeth Mitchell has shown herself capable of electrifying emotion and power in the role. This moment was perhaps the first time in a long time that a show surprised me, and made me sit up and take notice.
Something else that perked me up was the strength shown by Aaron in this episode. He has continued to grow in so many subtle ways that watching him soldiering on with the hallucination of his wife harping in his ears, his head held high, I was so proud to be a member of Team Aaron. While badass Miles was cracking under the pressure, Aaron stood quietly tall and I was happy to see it. The entire framework of hallucinations in this episode was an interesting departure from the usual Lost-style flashback structure and I was glad that the writers found a way to introduce psychological input for the characters that didn’t just involve hammering the audience with backstory. I will say that I thought the writers missed the perfect opportunity to delve into more delusional stuff with Nora (hello, didn’t Ashley remind you a little of Mia at all?), but overall it was a decent plot device.
And speaking of Ashley, the exchange between her and Aaron was a tiny bright spot in those long tunnel scenes. Her explanation for why she joined the rebels—her father growing up in Syria and his memories of growing up in fear of his own country—was a touching tribute to the issues going on in Syria at the moment that made for interesting reflection on the reasons behind the rebellion on the show. I liked the idea of a new character like Ashley sticking around, but sadly it was not to be...
What Didn’t Work This Week:
Having just said that the hallucinations were a great plot device... just what actually happened in this week’s episode? Much like last week, in which our heroes tried to get across a river and (seemingly?) succeeded, this week it was all about getting through a tunnel. And while we know for sure they did (rather dramatically) succeed, sitting through an entire episode where we’re once again delayed and dragged through another obstacle course before reaching Philadelphia was irritating. Can’t we just get there already, guys? We know the grand confrontation is waiting, but there are other ways to raise the tension before the season finale without gatekeeping the story behind these super-artificial creations.
The episode also didn’t even bother integrating much in the way of the sideplots of other characters this week, choosing to stick close to our heroes so that we could watch them basically have a bad drug trip for an hour. The two departures into Rachel’s captivity were such enormous breaths of fresh air (no pun intended) that it just underscored how much more the writers could have been doing. What, we couldn’t see more of Jason Neville and his mother? No Grace and the creepy Randall Flynn? Hell, what about Neville himself, and Monroe or Danny, wherever he’s been? The creators even go so far as to tease us with potential new character involvement with the introduction of Ashley the (second) Katniss Everdeen knockoff, then kill her immediately after teasing us with pieces of her backstory. This week felt like a lost opportunity for more worldbuilding and character growth, in the end.
And for all the hype over the inclusion of Led Zeppelin’s music, that was also lacking. One minute of a classic Zeppelin song piped in while Miles hallucinates is not special enough, in my eyes, to merit naming an entire episode after the song’s title.
1) Now that Rachel has proven she’s willing to kill, Monroe is going to lock her down tighter than ever and force her to make an actual amplifier. It’s going to come down to whether the heroes can rescue Danny—and her!—before she gets it done. And will she survive or die in the escape?
2) When the time comes, Miles is not going to be able to pull the trigger on Monroe and it’s going to come down to Charlie to do it. Or, if the writers know a good plot twist when they see it, they’ll let Aaron be the one to step in.
3) Still expecting Jason to turn on his father and join our crew for Season Two of the show. He’s being set up as a perfect mate for Charlie, and that would set Neville on the path to hunt them down even harder when they get away.
What I’m Looking Forward To:
1) Is Monroe ever going to actually make a weird creepy move on Rachel? That tension keeps building up—there was enough of a charge between them when Monroe ordered her execution to light up a whole army of tanks!
2) Grace and Flynn have a plan somewhere, and I’m dying to know more. This episode kept them in the background and I’m waiting to hear what their move is going to be. Will our heroes get to meet them? How long will we have to wait?
3) There are two necklaces in Philadelphia, not just one—Aaron’s and Brad Jaffe’s. With Jaffe now dead, even if our heroes get one necklace back, Monroe still has the chance to be a powerhouse when our heroes escape. What will the “power” dynamic be after the events of Philadelphia play out?
“I remember what my dad told me. He was from Syria. He left because he didn’t want his kids to grow up scared in their own country.” - Ashley, on why she is a rebel.
“You saved me. I was somewhere else, and it was really hard to leave. If it wasn’t for you, I probably would have stayed.” - Charlie, to Miles, post-hallucination.
“Now you need me.” - Rachel, after straight-up murdering Brad Jaffe
Tune in next week as we inch closer towards the climactic showdown with episode ten!
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.