Welcome back to the quest for light, Revolution fans. We’re back with episode eight of the first season, just in time for our crew to have to solve one of the most difficult problems of the post-apocalypse: how do you cross a river when the writers just don’t want it to happen? This week’s episode is all about fording one body of water, how four adults can’t hold on to one piece of jewelry, and the massive problems that family can bring you in “Ties That Bind.”
The entire episode begins with one single problem: how to get across a river. Our band of heroes are trying to bribe their way across the Freeport bridge that will get them to Philadelphia and, ostensibly, to Danny. They seem home free until Miles’ spidey-sense tells him they’re in danger and they’re ambushed. It’s Sergeant Strausser, Monroe’s terrifying butcher’s son/attack dog. Miles sees him and freaks and the crew runs for it into a warren of back alleys and tiny streets. They manage to escape, but the militia rolls out their ultimate weapon: they have Nora’s sister, Mia. (Cue Flashback Theater for Nora, which we’ll address later). Nora wants to go back and get her, but Miles tells them that if there’s one person he’s afraid of, it’s Strausser. Strausser has Mia tied up on a pole, dangling to death, and wants two things in exchange for her: the necklace and the traitor, Miles Matheson. Miles wants to wreck the necklace instead of handing it over and tries to destroy it, but the darn thing is too tough to break. Meanwhile, Nora refuses to give in to fear and says they’ll rescue Mia instead.
Back in Philly, it seems it’s bad days for No Name Nate/Jason Neville as he’s tied to a chair and beaten by militia soldiers. Neville comes in and stops it, but it seems the beating was ordered by Monroe. Neville rushes up to Monroe’s office in time to find Colonel Faber giving a report to Monroe. It turns out Jason tried to bribe a stable hand to give him a horse to go warn Charlie about Strausser coming after them, even after he gave them up to Monroe. Monroe tells Neville that Jason’s actions are treasonous and punishable by death, but Faber has another suggestion: they’re going to ship Jason out on a crew to go combat the California Commonwealth. Neville knows that this is a death sentence, but Monroe thinks it’s generous, considering the treason. Neville is desperate to think of a way out for his son.
Back at Freeport, our heroes set up explosives in numerous abandoned buildings that make short work of distracting/injuring the militia. They rush in, cut Mia down, flee with Strausser on their heels and escape. On the road, Mia gets filled in on what’s been going on. She can’t believe Nora is helping Miles after “what he did” to her, but that’s kind of glossed over. Mia points out that if they want to cross the river, she knows a guy that has a ferry.
They dodge Strausser by night and head to higher ground to look for pursuing militia troops in the morning. Up on top of a rusty old building, Mia tells Nora that she went back to Texas and found their father alive in Galveston. She wants Nora to leave with her and head west, but Nora says she made Charlie a promise. Mia is furious and pleads with Nora, then promises to take them as far as the river before setting out for Texas on her own. Charlie overhears the whole thing and tells Nora that she should go with Mia to see their father, since she’d do anything to see her father again. The crew heads for the ferry but finds the guy murdered and his ferry burnt down. Now what?
Back in Philly, Neville is looking over a map of the country as it is in the Revolution world and drinking—California is a long way away. Julia, Neville’s wife comes in with their maid and says the maid discovered a juicy secret: Captain Faber is hiding a son in the Resistance. Julia’s been holding onto that little secret for a rainy day and right then, it’s pouring. Time to save their son by sacrificing someone else’s kid, immediately.
We leave the Nevilles being the creepiest couple ever to head back to the ferry where Mia is getting ready to leave. Nora reiterates that she’s staying with our band of heroes, but Charlie stops her and convinces her to go with her sister. Nora says her goodbyes and kisses the HECK out of Miles—their first real adorableness in the series. Miles looks depressed that she’s going as he’s convinced that they won’t see one another again, but Nora points out that they’d said that the last time, too. Mia and Nora head off together for Texas.
Philly is hosting another beating, and this time it’s Colonel Faber getting beaten, in the same room as before. Apparently his son was caught outside of Philly with tons of ordinance for the Resistance and Monroe had him and his cohorts executed on the spot. The question, then, is what to do with Faber, who swears that he and the son have been estranged. Mornoe decides he can’t take any chances, so Faber’s a dead man. He congratulates Neville on his good work and Neville takes the opportunity to save Jason from heading out West. Monroe agrees, but he warns Neville to keep Jason in line. The sins of the sons apparently weight heavily on the fathers around post-apocalypse Philadelphia.
Mia and Nora are heading down the road, trading sisterly banter (especially about how long Nora held out before sleeping with Miles again) when Strausser walks up. Nora is ready to fight but Mia is completely relaxed—because she’s been in with Strausser the whole time. She hands over the necklace, which she pickpocketed from Aaron earlier on, and tells them where to find our band of heroes down at the ferry. Nora flips out when Strausser leaves and Mia tells her Strausser found her acting as a bounty hunter for the militia, knew who she was, and gave her no choice other than to join him. Nora doesn’t care much and parts ways with her sister, who cries and calls after her as Nora walks away to go save her friends.
Our heroes, meanwhile, discover the necklace is missing while they’re heading away. Aaron blames Miles for taking it but they’re interrupted in their fight by heavy gunfire—Strausser’s found them! Nora hears the shots in the distance and hurries to their rescue. Strausser calls out for Miles to surrender himself and Miles comes out, hands up, to face him. Nora manages to stab the heck out of a militia guy, steal his gun, and rescue Miles. Miles gets the gun from Nora when she goes to get Aaron and Charlie, but it’s out of bullets. Finally, the good guys run for it by jumping into the river (remember the river? The one they’ve been trying to cross?) and our heroes are carried downstream, away from crazy Strausser and their necklace.
Downstream, everybody dries out and Nora apologizes for Mia. Aaron, however, has bigger concerns, like what’s going to happen with the necklace. He and Miles are in each other’s faces more and more over that necklace, but both know things will get bad once Monroe has the power to turn on the juice. Speaking of Monroe, Strausser gets to Philly and immediately hands over the necklace; Monroe then takes it down to a room where Rachel is tinkering with some kind of weird device, and passes the necklace on to her.
At the Neville house, Jason is recovering, with Julia looking in on him. The Nevilles sit at home before the fire and discuss how Monroe seems to be coming apart at the seams. Neville tells his wife to keep it to herself, but Julia thinks that Monroe isn’t fit to command. We leave them to their little treason talk and head over to someone else who thinks that Monroe’s a giant problem....
Randall Flynn! In his secret kidnap lair, Flynn lets Grace out of her cell to show her some pretty high-tech equipment, including screens tracking the location of all the necklaces! One of them has made a beeline for Philly, and Flynn is worried about Monroe getting the power of...well, power. Grace asks him what they’re going to do, and Flynn tells her that there’s a way that she can fix it all. The camera pulls back on a giant room with tons of equipment, looking like some kind of giant generator. (The heart of the experiment, maybe?) That’s our big reveal for the night and the episode ends.
You’d think that getting this close to Philadelphia we might see more of Miles’s story, but this week it seemed it was Nora’s turn to tell us all about her traumatic post-blackout experiences. We find Nora and her sister Mia hiding underneath their bed in Texas as a man with a weapon ransacks the house. When he’s gone, Nora comes out to discover that their mother is dead, presumably murdered by the intruder. Nora lies to little Mia and tells her their mother left a note saying to go to their father’s place in Galveston.
In Galveston, they find their father’s place festooned with a Texan flag, but ransacked and empty. Mia starts to panic and asks about where their mother is, and Nora is forced to tell her the truth about their mother’s death.
The last flashback shows Mia in bed, asking Nora if they’re going to die—a lot of people are dying, and she’s worried. Nora promises her that things are going to be all right and that she’s going to protect Mia. Mia promises in that matter-of-fact kid way that she’s also going to protect Nora. The two snuggle in bed together, with no inkling that in the future Mia will totally sell out her sister’s friends and Nora will end up hating her.
What Worked This Week:
This week was all about family, and responsibility to family members, as we shuttled between Neville rescuing Jason from his attempted chivalry and Nora’s reunion with her traitorous sister. The episode kept with that theme throughout, as every problem seemed to deal with family in one way or another, down to the question of whether Nora would stay with the group that she now sees as family or go find her father in Texas. I particularly enjoyed the whole threat of Jason being sent to California, since it put Julia Neville out front as the devious army wife who’d do anything to protect her family and get her husband promoted.
The element that was most successful for me was the information about Randall at the end, and the reveal of the super-bunker with its cavern of working technology. What’s going on there? Have we discovered the place where the experiment began? The necklace now being in Monroe’s hands also drives this plot forward, including Rachel’s obvious work in the basement to try to weaponize that necklace for Monroe. Is she building a generator? Who knows? Tune in next week!
Also, Miles’s adorable response to Nora leaving was perhaps the most emotionally authentic part of the entire episode. The very slow reintroduction of affection between the two of them is honestly realistic and kind of tender, considering the situation they’re in, and I look forward to seeing how the two will build up their relationship going forward. Also, given the age Nora was in her post-blackout flashbacks, the age difference between them is enormous! Just saying.
What Didn’t Work:
Unfortunately, I have to say that this week’s episode fell in among the blandest episodes of the season. For a show that’s trying to be action-packed, the very fact that I couldn’t tell you for sure if our heroes got across the river to Philly by the end of the episode is kind of disappointing. Nora’s story and introduction of Mia was yet another stalling tactic by the writers to get the adjoining plotlines to where they need before Charlie and company reach Philadelphia, and the filler bits focusing on Neville’s problems with Monroe and Jason’s capture felt like just that: filler. The cut-away discovery of Jason as a “traitor” also did the character no favors, since we didn’t get to see him DO anything: he’s just discovered being a traitor and Neville finds him in the dungeon, but his actions are all off-screen. Everything cool that Jason has ever done is undercut by the actions of other people, and for that reason the character has remained two-dimensional and empty.
And speaking of empty: Strausser is not scary! Miles Matheson calls him out as the scariest man he’s ever known, and the man doesn’t do anything but scowl and stalk across the screen. Sure, he guts a defenseless militiaman under his command, but that’s not scary. The writers have confused murderous with scary and expect us to buy Miles’s opinion of Strausser and some stabs at vague foreshadowing as enough, while Strausser comes across as incompetent and altogether hollow as a villain. If I was supposed to think of him as our heroes’ biggest obstacle in this episode, he ranks right up there with the river: super-boring as a plot hook.
Similarly wooden was the “betrayal” by Mia, which was telegraphed and kind of obvious from the moment she shows up. The snatching of the pendant from Aaron is not very clear, but later on in the episode he sort of pats his pocket and panics when he realizes it’s not there. You’d think he’d keep track of the most important piece of technology in the world a little better. All in all, for one of the last episodes of the season, this was a poor set-up for the potential quality reveals the end of the episode lines up....
And can I say, the random Latina housemaid in the Nevilles’ home was just... ridiculous. We're in the post-apocalypse and that racial stereotype is still going on? Really?
1) Rachel is building a portable generator to amplify the necklace in order to give Monroe more power so that he can light up Philly and all his “toys.”
2) Nora and Miles are going to get on with it and finally hook up soon. Mia hinted at Nora being unable to keep her hands off Miles for long, so it’s going to happen.
3) Monroe is going to get challenged and potentially overthrown by Neville, who might be just as bad as his boss. Equally plausible: Neville will end up with our heroes after he’s defeated by Monroe in his challenge for power.
4) The big giant room is the generator that caused the blackout. Duh.
What I’m Looking Forward To:
1) Charlie and Jason actually meeting up again. Hang on, I know, I knock them both so hard each week—but it’d be nice to see if ANY of this is going somewhere good. I’m wondering how Neville and Miles would act as disapproving father figures in that relationship.
2) Grace is going to have to get into the mix so she can recreate the experiment and turn the power back on. To do that they need to get all the necklaces back, right? That map showed them scattered all over the place, including other parts of the former USA outside the Monroe Republic. Road trip, anyone?
3) Aaron is going to hit Miles. It is so going to happen. The guy is pushing every button Aaron has, and it’s going to finally spill over with a nice decking over the necklace, and I, for one, cannot wait to see it.
“So much fuss for such a small thing.” —Monroe, over the necklace
“You know me. I’m thrifty. I’m always saving up for a rainy day.” —Julia, about her secrets
“He’ll turn on the lights and buy the world a Coke?” —Aaron, about Monroe’s plans for the necklace
Tune in next week—when Miles finally confronts Monroe—as the show winds towards its mid-season climax on November 26!
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.