Hey there, Revolution fans! So a funny thing happened on the way to covering episode six of our friendly neighborhood post-apoc blackout series: I got trapped in the middle of a real blackout! A hurricane named Sandy hit the East Coast and I suddenly found myself without power. I will say that it certainly put the whole future without electricity situation in perspective, and by day five I was wishing for one of those Blackout Necklaces to give me a little juice for my iPhone, just like Maggie. Thankfully the power came back and now I’m caught up in time to give you a double-header of episode six and the latest, episode seven.
So first, we’ll take a look at episode six, “Sex and Drugs,” in which we discover that Charlie looks good in a dress, unstable drug dealers are a problem in any time and place, and that OMG Aaron is a badass! Without further delay, let’s go to the replay!
The episode opens on a wagon heist as Our Heroes snag a horse-drawn carriage from the militia. It seems that the knife wound Nora sustained last episode (“Soul Train”) has festered and she’s really sick. Miles says he knows a guy who can help. When Aaron tries to placate Charlie, she blames him for Maggie’s death and sends him into a bout of flashbacks (which we’ll go through later) about his life with his wife.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Danny’s brought before General Monroe. Monroe apologizes for what happened to Danny’s father and says that Danny is a “guest.” Once Danny’s out of earshot, Monroe promotes Captain Neville to major for his actions and makes him head of intelligence and interrogation, making Neville a happy little psycho.
Our Heroes pull up in their stolen ride to a giant mansion in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by burnt poppy fields. That can only mean one thing, says Aaron—heroin. It’s not illegal anymore, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own share of scary drug-dealing warlords. Miles’ friend Drexel is apparently one of them. He charges out of his house shooting his pistol and scares the holy hell out of everyone by ordering them to their knees on the ground. He then holds a gun to the back of Miles’ head, counts to three and pulls the trigger! But just kidding! No bullets in the gun. Oh Drexel, you big kidder, it’s all in the name of fun and games. He takes them inside and Miles goes with Nora to see the in-house drug doc, while Aaron goes upstairs with Charlie after nearly insulting Drexel’s hospitality. He sits on his bed and drinks from a flask, feeling somewhat incapable of doing anything right. Down in the doc’s lab, Miles gives Nora a blood transfusion and shows the first sign of some old feelings for her by holding her hand. Charlie, meanwhile, is given a nice bath by some of Drexel’s ’women’ and tries to relax. But her head’s filled with images of all the bad things that have happened in her life, from her mother leaving to her dad and Maggie dying to being unable to save Danny. In a rage, she stalks naked from the bathtub and shreds her precious collection of postcards.
Back in Philly, No-Name Nate (aka Jason Neville) is brought to General Monroe to give his report on his time with Our Heroes. Though Captain Neville thinks that he’s hiding things in order to protect Charlie (he did throw her from the train to save her from his father), Monroe is more interested in information on Nora and the Blackout Necklace Rachel sketched for him last episode. Jason says that Charlie definitely doesn’t have the necklace, but throws Aaron to the wolves instead. Monroe orders a guy named Strausser to go after them, which has Jason freaking out. Apparently, Strausser isn’t known for leaving behind survivors. Cue the next scene, in which we see Strausser in a barn scaring the giblets out of a little kid with stories of how his father was a butcher who slaughtered animals with a knife before the blackout. Yes folks, that’s the guy who will be hunting Our Heroes for the necklace. Yeesh.
Casa Drexel, Nora has been given a fifty/fifty shot at survival. Miles wants to take her and go, but Drexel interrupts their departure. It seems he’s miffed at Miles because the two used to be pals when Miles was still a militia general. When Miles ran off, Drexel got burned for being Miles’ pal and now it’s time for Miles to pay him back. Drexel shows them the burnt poppy fields and explains that the O’Halloran family from down the road has a problem with heroin and burned the fields. He wants their patriarch, Bill O’Halloran, dealt with. The catch is that Miles can’t get close enough to do it—but Charlie can. Posing as one of Drexel’s women, she’ll be able to prey on O’Halloran’s sympathy and get close enough to shiv him with a pick concealed in a hair stick. Charlie agrees because she doesn’t see any other choice. She ends up in a beautiful dress and a pair of heels. Aaron tries to persuade her that she doesn’t have to commit murder, but Charlie’s having a lot of anger issues lately and tells Aaron that “the world isn’t a bunch of pretty postcards.” Drexel decks Charlie to make her disguise complete and off she’s sent to commit murder while Aaron tries to stop Drexel. Afterwards, Aaron and Miles argue over what to do when Drexel comes back and gives them supplies, plus “burial expenses.” Seems the O’Hallorans will kill Charlie once she murders their patriarch, but hey, it’s all fun and games! Once Drexel’s gone, Aaron begs Miles to go after Charlie. Miles doesn’t believe that Aaron can get himself and Nora out safely, but he goes down the laundry chute anyway. In the basement, he kills two guards when he’s discovered but a stray shot alerts the house to his escape.
At the O’Halloran homestead, Charlie is brought to see Bill O’Halloran and sees him playing with his grandson. Mrs. O’Halloran wonders if she knew someone named Becka. When they’re left alone, Charlie has the hidden shiv/hair stick in hand but asks O’Halloran about himself and learns that he was a police officer before the blackout. He tells her the story of how his daughter Becka became addicted to heroin thanks to Drexel and died because of it. Charlie, losing her nerve, puts the hidden shiv down on the desk and O’Halloran knocks into the desk, sending the weapon under the couch. It’s pretty clear he’s on to her, but is curious as to why she came. Charlie asks O’Halloran for tea, and when he turns his back, she grabs a letter opener to finish the job. O’Halloran, however, is wise to the whole thing and grabs her arm, but Charlie decks him with the teapot and knocks him out cold. She kneels over the unconscious man and cries, apologizing to him before raising the blade—but Miles appears just then and stops her. The two leave together.
Meanwhile, Aaron is taken outside into the yard by torchlight. Drexel has Nora dragged outside too and dosed up with pure adrenaline to wake her up. It seems Drexel’s interested in another game—Nora and Aaron have to shoot one another. The one who kills the other gets to survive or else they both die. Drexel gets behind an armored car door so they can’t shoot at him. Aaron begs Nora to shoot him so that she’ll survive. When Nora won’t do it, Aaron picks up the gun, points it at his own chest and pulls the trigger. He falls down to Nora’s screams. Drexel comes out and pokes at Aaron—who miraculously sits up and shoots Drexel square in the chest! It seems Aaron shot himself in the flask, which took the bullet. He holds the guards at gunpoint and they tell him that he and Nora can leave. Score one for the ex-tech head!
Our Heroes meet up on the road and Miles is incredulous about Aaron saving the day. Miles says that everything turned out okay, but it’s pretty clear from everyone’s faces that that’s far from the case.
In Philadelphia, the soldiers escort Danny out to an open park bench. There, he’s reunited with the last person he expected to see—Rachel Matheson, his mother. The two embrace under the flicker of a gas streetlamp.
This week’s Flashback Theater features all of Aaron’s neuroses, finally explained. We start out with Aaron on the night of the blackout riding in a limousine with his gorgeous young wife. It seems that it’s their anniversary and they’re headed to the airport for a getaway. She assures Aaron that she is happy just to be with him, not because he can spoil her, but he tells her that he’s happy to do so. That’s when the power goes out and the limo stops in the middle of an intersection—just before a truck smashes into it.
Cut to two months later and Aaron is dragging his sick wife to shelter under an overpass. They’re found there by a tall, hunky blond named Sean who warns them that the water in the nearby lake they drank might have made her sick. Seems he knows his post-apoc survival information, which seems to make Aaron pretty jealous.
The next flashback finds them eight months post-blackout and Aaron and Mrs. Aaron are part of a larger group camped together in a forest. They’re in a mad dash to pack up their things—it looks like raiders are coming! Aaron doesn’t get out fast enough and he and Mrs. Aaron get grabbed by some rough-looking folks. When Aaron tries to defend his wife, he’s beaten to a bloody pulp, but here comes Sean to save the day! He snaps one of the guy’s necks and saves Aaron and his wife, who threw her body over her husband to protect him. Aaron looks up from the ground, mortified at his inability to protect her. The flashback continues later that night as Aaron explains to his wife that he’s useless to her—he can’t hunt, or start a fire, or protect her in the dangerous post-blackout world. She tries to reassure him that all she cares about is being with him, but he isn’t hearing any of it.
The next flashback shows Mrs. Aaron waking up the next morning to find Aaron gone. He’s left behind his wedding ring and a note saying she’s better off without him. She screams his name, waking up the party, but he’s gone. The party packs up their camp to leave. Mrs. Aaron looks for her husband but gradually walks off while Aaron watches from the trees, all alone.
What Worked This Week:
Consequences, thy name is Revolution this week. It was nice to see something from a previous episode inform the storyline of the next as directly as Nora’s wound did this week. It certainly drove the characters into a rough situation as they had to go to crazy ol’ Drexel for help. The set-up for the whole thing might have felt a little bit like an excuse to get Charlie into a sexy little dress for one week instead of her usual jeans and a t-shirt, but it did serve as a great excuse to change around the character roles a little. Charlie has to be sneaky, Miles has to show that he cares about Nora, and Aaron gets to be the biggest badass of all time!
That’s right, the highlight of this week had to be Aaron’s capacity to not only come up with a great plan, but to suddenly manifest a kind of bravery we had yet to see displayed. Not only did Aaron show amazing capacity for self-sacrifice, but he was brave and shrewd in planning his little “trap” for Drexel. The narrative of the flashbacks really worked this week, driving home Aaron’s demons about being incapable of helping, and you really felt his anguish over feeling like a burden on those he loves. His internal struggle to find his courage when facing Drexel is the heart of this entire episode.
Equally as important was finally—finally!—getting to see Jason Neville engaged in some decision making in an episode. It seems that he’s out to defend Charlie from everyone—his father, Monroe—and the introduction of Strausser definitely prepped us for the hunt for the necklace we all know is coming.
What Didn’t Work:
Unfortunately, though the whole “drug lord” storyline managed to give Aaron a vehicle for his badassness, it also was a flimsy story arc. Miles happened to know a guy who would have what they needed, who also happened to be completely mad, and Drexel happened to have a hidden shiv waiting for pretty little Charlie to go and play assassin to a house full of Irish cops. That’s right, we’re using that stereotype, because why not? The episode felt way contrived to begin with, from the almost manic drug lord with his “stable” of girls in tiny dresses to Charlie’s furious postcard-tearing. Her “toughening” seemed more like a temper tantrum this episode than anything else, and it’s hard to take her willingness to murder Bill O’Halloran seriously after how staunchly she insisted on a No Killing stance only episodes before.
The plot also suffers from a huge series of plot holes. How would Drexel know that O’Halloran was dead, in order to let Miles, Aaron, and Nora go? Why couldn’t Charlie just talk to O’Halloran after she saw he was a cop and had good reason to hate Drexel? She’s shown herself to be a smart girl in the past, coming up with alternate plans instead of going straight to the kill-first option. Instead, this episode seemed to be an excuse to put Charlie in a tiny dress and give her a lesson in how it's bad to lose yourself in grief so deeply that you’ll want to kill people.
1) Jason Neville will help the crew when they get to Philly by protecting them from Strausser, or else he’ll go AWOL early and defend them, all for the love of Charlie.
2) Miles’ newfound softening will get him in trouble later over Nora, something he will then lament about as proof that he shouldn’t show emotions.
3) Aaron’s wife will be back, and probably with this Sean guy as her new man.
What I’m Looking Forward To:
1) More of Aaron’s wife. That storyline just wandered off into the forest and there’s so much more in store for Aaron’s character development if he finds out what happened to her later on.
2) Danny’s with his mother now, but of course he’s just a pawn. I can’t wait to see what Rachel has to do to protect her son, and what she’s willing to give Monroe to keep him alive.
3) Charlie’s newfound “hardened” attitude may have given the character a little bit of edge. Can we look forward to less weepy Charlie in the future? And maybe a little less “let’s always rescue Charlie because she’s in trouble”?
“Just the right amount of biscuit.” - Drexel, about Charlie
Nora: “Aaron shot Drexel.” Miles: “Aaron? This Aaron?” Aaron: “I think I broke a rib, but yeah.”
You won’t have to wait another week to hear about the next episode because coming up next, it’s all about tiny kids and their major trust issues in episode seven, “The Children’s Crusade.”
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.