It’s another week of lights out in our blackout speculative drama Revolution and this week the show pulled out every single stop. There’s revelation after revelation as the show’s creators dropped tons of long-awaited answers on loyal fans. Plus, they managed to do it while including a plot with adorable children, to boot! This week we’re taking a look at episode seven, “The Children’s Crusade” as we learn just who Randall is, how much Rachel Matheson really knew, and just how far a mother is willing to go to protect her children.
The episode opens with Charlie being held down on a table while wearing a militia uniform. A militia guy holds up a flaming M brand and spins a long bit of propaganda about how militia soldiers aren’t born, they’re made. Then he brands Charlie’s wrist with the M symbol as she screams!
Want to know how this happened? We go back in time to two days earlier. Our Heroes are on the side of the road in some brush, watching a militia wagon go by, taking a blond boy away in chains. She wants to rescue him but Miles stops her. Charlie and Miles argue over leaving the boy to be taken away when they come up on a little boy lying in the road. Charlie rushes over but it’s a trap and they’re soon surrounded by a bunch of kids with weapons. There are no adults, only kids varying in age from six or seven to pre-teen. The lead boy, Michael, accuses them of kidnapping Peter. Charlie tells them the militia took him and the children allow the crew into their little home. Aaron looks thoroughly creeped out by kids, which is funny, as Nora points out , since he was a schoolteacher in their old village.
Michael explains that the militia once came to their settlement because they “didn’t like the colors” on a flag the adults had put up. The flag is, of course, a tattered American flag—the settlement had to have been resistance. The children were hidden in the basement with the eldest, Peter, left in charge, but when the children emerged they found their parents slaughtered. Miles figures out the timeline and realizes that the massacre had to have happened while he was still in charge of the militia, and immediately changes his tune. When Charlie says that they’ll help get Peter back, he backs her up wholeheartedly, despite Aaron’s concerns. Guilty conscience? You betcha.
Meanwhile, down in Philadelphia, Rachel Matheson is having breakfast with her son. Danny doesn’t understand why they shouldn’t try to escape, but Rachel warns him to stop talking about it since Monroe could be listening. Monroe walks in and sends Danny away—he wants to know more about the pendants and what Rachel really knows about what turned off the power. When she won’t tell him anything, Monroe tells her he’s got someone she knows, a Bradley Jaffe, who’s been tortured for nearly two weeks for information. Rachel offers to speak to him in lieu of more torture. This triggers Rachel’s round of Flashback Theater (and oh BOY the reveals they bring up).
Back on the road, Miles and Charlie have tracked dozens of wagons like the one that took Peter heading in one direction. When Aaron asks Nora why Miles changed his mind about going after the boy, Nora points out that Miles must feel guilty about his responsibility for the children’s plight. Miles meanwhile hears something and finds that Michael and three of the kids have followed them. They want to help! Aaron is horrified but the kids come along. While stopping for water, Nora tries to engage the youngest little girl, who hasn’t said a word. The chubby boy pokes around in Aaron’s pack and pulls out the Blackout Necklace! Aaron chases him and gets it back but Miles spots it for the first time and asks about it. When Aaron tells him it’s nothing, Miles gets suspicious because, hey, Aaron isn’t a great liar. Fortunately, he’s distracted when they come upon a militia camp at the edge of a river. Captured kids from pre-teen to late teens have been given uniforms and are being sent to a large ship. Miles tells them that it’s a conscription facility, where kids are brainwashed into the militia. That’ll make it much harder to rescue Peter.
In Philly, Rachel is put into a cell adjacent to where they dump poor tortured Bradley. She pretends to be worse off than she is and tries to get Bradley to tell her where he’s hidden his necklace. Bradley sees through her lies and pegs her as Monroe’s information source on the necklaces. He won’t tell her a thing and Rachel is left worried at what Monroe will do to Bradley and to Danny.
On the waterfront, Charlie comes up with a plan: she’ll get herself taken to the conscription ship and find Peter. Miles tells her that everything that’s been happening is his fault, to which Charlie says that they can do something about it if they help the kids. Charlie sets herself up on the road by a campfire and gets taken by the militia to be conscripted.
Bradley is brought back in front of Rachel, this time up in her room. There’s no more lying, as Rachel begs Bradley to tell Monroe what he wants to know or else he’ll be killed. Bradley points out there are worse things than dying, like betraying his friends. Rachel tells him that they have her son, but Monroe enters and promises that they’re not going to kill Bradley—they have his daughter Eve as leverage, instead. Bradley is dragged away screaming his rage at Rachel while she cries, horrified that she’s helped get another innocent kid involved in Monroe’s schemes.
Aboard the conscription ship, a Lieutenant Slotnick gives a rousing introduction to the new recruits. Charlie spots the master key to the cells on one of the militia guy’s pants. Slotnick notices one boy who seems scared and offers to let him go home. It’s a trick, of course, and when the kid tries to go up the stairs, Slotnick beats him to a bone-cracking pulp at the foot of the stairs. The kids are taken to their quarters and Charlie picks a fight with the big guy behind her so she’ll be taken to the infirmary by the guy who has the master key. She’s knocked out cold. When she wakes up, the medic militia man stands over her with a syringe to help her with the pain. She gets the syringe away, stabs him with it, and gets the master key, but gets caught by Slotnick.
Back on land, Miles watches the ship out on the water from a perch by an old lighthouse. Inside, Aaron is back with Nora and the kids. They try to make the children feel better, but they’re not inclined to trust adults. Nora promises to prove that they can be trusted. When Miles realizes that it’s been too long, he takes Nora and heads for the ship.
Charlie, meanwhile, is held down by Slotnick and branded, as we saw at the start of the episode. Then she’s tossed in the brig to nurse her wound. At the lighthouse, Aaron notices that Michael has gone after Nora and Miles to the ship. Miles and Nora take out a guard but the body is found when they slip below decks and the alarm is raised on deck. Michael kills the guard who raised the alarm but it’s too late. Below decks, Miles and Nora start to hack the militia up, find Charlie in the brig and help her get Peter out. They head up on deck to find Slotnick holding Michael at knife point. Our Heroes are surrounded by militia with swords.
The militia also shows up at the lighthouse and Aaron and the children are forced to hide in the basement. As Aaron tries to hide in the back with the boy who stole his necklace, the pendant begins to light up! The kids have never seen anything like this, as all electronics nearby, including the generator that runs the lighthouse, starts rumbling to life. The power goes up to the lamp in the lighthouse and, for the first time since the blackout, the lighthouse rumbles to life! On the ship everyone stops and stares as the beam of light illuminates the bay and blinds everyone on deck. Miles takes the opportunity to get Michael away from Slotnick and the battle commences; Nora and Miles slap around the militia while Charlie finishes Slotnick off. The soldiers in the lighthouse rush down to the basement and Aaron decks them with a pipe. The kids come out smiling—trust earned.
In Philly, Monroe comes to Rachel where she’s sitting on her bed. He tells her he’s sent riders to Bradley’s house to find his necklace. He points out that she never told him how the lights went off, but Rachel responds that it doesn’t matter, provided that she can turn them back on.
The boats return to land from the conscription ship and all the kids are reunited with Peter. Miles confronts Aaron about the lighthouse and Aaron finally tells him about the pendant. Miles demands that Aaron hand it over so Miles can smash it, insisting that if Monroe captures it he’ll be too powerful. Aaron stands his ground, despite Miles’ threats of violence when Charlie comes up and demands to be let in on the secret. Aaron explains again about the necklace and about Ben’s order to find (the now missing) Grace.
And wouldn’t you know it, we cut to Grace in a cell somewhere writing. She talks to Randall about letting her go, but Randall says it’s too dangerous. Randall just wants to be friends. The camera pans up, so we can finally see his face for the first time….
…and Randall is someone super important from Rachel’s flashbacks this week! It seems that Rachel Matheson had a lot more to do with the power going out than we previously thought, as her Flashback Theater reveals.
Three years before the blackout, an extremely pregnant Rachel shows up at her laboratory to find her husband demonstrating their discovery to a man named Mr. Flynn. It seems that they had set out to invent a device that generates clean, low cost electricity and instead figured out a way to shut down and inhibit all electricity in a given area! Flynn is impressed and wants to offer them a contract on behalf of the Department of Defense. Yup, folks, it seems good old Mr. Randall Flynn is DoD! Rachel is fairly worried about the Pentagon trying to weaponize the discovery but Ben points out to her that their company is falling apart and they need the money to keep things afloat.
The next flashback has pregnant Rachel outside the lab when she falls to the ground in pain—something is wrong with the baby. At the hospital, the doctor explains that the baby has something wrong with its heart and probably won’t survive birth. He also tells Ben and Rachel that the baby is going to be a boy. Rachel cries into Ben’s arms.
Later she heads back to work, where she’s confronted by Randall Flynn again. He points out that he’s just there to help her both personally and professionally. He’s heard about her pregnancy troubles and knows of a procedure at Columbia University that might save the baby. He can make some phone calls and get her into the trial—provided she doesn’t block the DoD’s involvement with her new technology. The question is, what is she willing to do to save her unborn son? Flynn’s just trying to help, you see. He just “wants to be friends.” Creeeepy.
What Works This Week:
Holy cow! What a week for revelations! The creators decided to just throw the secrecy stuff out the window and explain a bunch of things in episode seven, including the origin of the technology that caused the blackout, Rachel’s involvement, and the nature of the mysterious Randall. It seems that the guy who kidnapped Grace is the same guy who might have set the whole disaster in motion, and Rachel let it happen so that she could save baby Danny while he was still in utero. Rachel’s flashback reveals worked perfectly into the main storyline of guilt and responsibility this week, as Miles dealt with his own culpability in the suffering of so many people and Rachel proved just what she was willing to do to keep Danny alive.
Altogether “The Children's Crusade” resonated as a pivotal episode for the first season. It answered a bunch of questions while still not answering all of them completely. In fact, it may have raised more! Why does Randall have Grace now? What does he want with the necklaces? How did the DoD’s involvement trigger the disaster? How do the necklaces work to protect against the inhibitor field that Rachel, Ben and their team created? And could it all be reversed? The creators gave us a taste of answers, proving that they aren’t going to leave us in the dark (groan, pun, groan groan) forever.
A special nod has to be given to Elizabeth Mitchell for her portrayal of Rachel this week. Rachel’s dedication to protecting Danny is such a powerful part of her character, yet it’s her anguish over endangering her friend Bradley and his daughter Eve that provided a perfect heartbreaking moment in the episode. I continue to be amazed at how much Mitchell brings to the show and was delighted to see more of her this week. Also, the inclusion of Colm Feore as Randall Flynn is such a welcome surprise—he’s one of those wonderful actors that shows up in nearly everything and always makes things more intense. He’s positively creepy as Flynn and I can’t wait to learn more about the character.
What Didn’t Work This Week:
Once again, it’s Damsel in Distress Charlie Time on Revolution, in which Charlie attempts to do something badass and ends up needing to be rescued, yet again. First she had to be pulled out of the crossbow trap by the creepy dog guy in the carnival (“Plague Dogs”), and next it was the trap set by Drexel at O’Halloran’s place (“Sex and Drugs”). I know that Charlie is meant to be the main character of the series, but could we actually see her accomplish something without having to be rescued over and over? At first it just seemed like a rut the show was falling into; now the repetition is getting eye-rollingly predictable. It’s also especially sad when contrasted with her mother Rachel’s serious backbone and pitch-perfect emotional performance.
Equally as hackneyed was the use of the adorable kids as an emotional button for the adult characters. They even tailored individual children to be perfectly suited to play into the emotional quirks of Our Heroes: there was Michael, the boy with the kidnapped brother (that one was for Charlie), a tiny little girl with trust issues to tug at Nora’s heart, the chubby, kind-of-pushy boy to make Aaron care (because he’ll care more since they’re both a little chubby, right?) and one random adorable urchin just to round out the pack. They were all there to drive home the point of Miles facing responsibility for his past misdeeds, but if they'd been a little less perfect and on-the-nose, it might not have been so intensely corny.
1) Randall is out to get the pendants so that HE can control the power, of course. Or maybe he’s out to reverse the whole thing, just like our heroes? Creepy wildcard is creeeepy.
2) Monroe remains the super creeper out to bed Rachel, and his fondling of the bed sheets while talking with her makes that so very clear.
3) The more I watch the show, the more I’m sure that the event that cause the blackout was not accidental but a deliberate act. I think the project got out of Flynn’s hands and everything went to hell, and now he’s trying to reverse the whole thing.
What I’m Looking Forward To:
1) Anything and everything that has to do with Rachel, Monroe, and the battle to keep Danny safe. Where once Danny and his dangling plot were lost in the wind, the arrival of Danny in Philadelphia has brought together all the potential great plot points of the Neville and Matheson families in one place. Rachel will continue to do what she can, like a boss, to protect her son, and Monroe will keep eerily pining over her while trying to take over the world, and I’ll watch every second.
2) More Nora. This episode had so little of her that I wanted to see more. She got such great focus in “Soul Train” that I’d like to get back to exploring her badass resistance plots. There was a hint at resistance stuff with the flag in this episode, so any time the Stars and Stripes show up, I’m happy.
3) We have answers on a few things, but now what? I want to hear more about everything that has to do with the past project and now that Charlie and Miles know about the pendants, the plot lines are sure to start heading in that direction. Will Miles smash the pendant? Will Aaron get beat to hell protecting them? And will they find Grace? They’ve got me hooked, I want to find out.
Aaron: “Yeah, they’re not creepy at all.”
Nora: “They’re just children.”
Aaron: “Yeah—Children of the Corn.”
“I just want us to be friends.” - Flynn, repeatedly
“It’s irritating when dumb kids tell you what to do, isn’t it?” - Miles, to Charlie
“Awesome, it’s like a pack of hairless Ewoks!” - Aaron
Next week, it seems we might get even more answers as the necklace becomes the prize in a fight between Monroe’s men and Our Heroes, with Nora’s family in the center. Check back in for next week’s recap of episode eight, “Ties That Bind.”
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.