The Secret Is Out: What Caused the Blackout on Revolution?

It’s that time again, Revolutionaries! Welcome back to our weekly recap of NBC’s Revolution where we’ve spent most of the season trying to figure out just what turned out the lights. Well wait no longer, blackout fans! The secret is out about what caused electricity to disappear, and it’s probably not what you think. This week’s episode is all about secrets revealed, confrontations about loyalty and a kiss heard round the world in “The Song Remains the Same.”

The Recap:

The episode opens up with Monroe keeping Captain Neville waiting. He and Flynn want to send Neville on a special mission and while Flynn thinks Neville is incompetent, he gets the assignment. Julia, Neville’s wife, is freaking out because she has had to lie that her son is dead and now her husband is leaving.

Back at the rebel base, Charlie is training how to fight while Aaron studies notes on what caused the blackout! Apparently it’s caused by a “couple of hundred quadrillion” virus-sized computers that are flying through the air. They are programmed to absorb electricity and reproduce themselves. Aaron wants to go out to the Tower and fix everything in the world by giving them back power, but Rachel won’t sacrifice Charlie.

What caused the blackout on Revolution?Meanwhile, outside the base, scouts spot a convoy of trucks on the road. Neville is jamming along in a Humvee with some Lionel Ritchie—because that’s what you do when you get power back—when they hit a rebel trap and Neville barely survives the explosion. He’s captured by Our Heroes and taken back to the rebel base. When Rachel finds out she freaks—this is the guy who killed her husband and took Danny. Miles goes in to question Neville about why he has thirty pounds of loose diamonds. Just what is he out there to buy? Rachel, meanwhile, burns the pendant that they recovered from Neville just like she did the others.

A new crew of rebels comes in from Allentown, and wouldn’t you know it, Jason Neville is among them! Charlie and Miles don’t want him seeing his father but they don’t exactly throw him out either. Rachel, meanwhile, takes the opportunity to try and bust into Neville’s cell, but Charlie backs her down. Rachel thinks Charlie’s acting too much like Miles and runs out for air—straight into Miles’ arms for a nice long cry.

Jason meanwhile goes into see his father. Neville tries to use the old “I was always proud of you” line to get Jason to release him, but Jason turns the tables and gets him to give away his mission and hand his father back to Miles. Jason asks only that the rebels help to protect his mother, who will certainly get backlash from Monroe over this. In his cell, Neville convinces Padre to take his confession and manages to bust out of his manacles, kills Padre, and escapes. Using the information they discovered, the rebels capture the super secret mission location at the cost of most of the Allentown rebels. Inside, Our Heroes discover cases with radiation symbols all over it. Monroe is building nukes.

Back in Philly, Julia Neville is having tea when Neville busts in and tells her they have to flee. Monroe is unstable, and they’re going to be in danger the minute Monroe realizes that they betrayed him.

What caused the blackout on Revolution?Back at rebel camp, Our Heroes realize that they’re in serious firepower trouble if Monroe is going to have nuclear weapons. Aaron and Rachel have an idea to help—they’re going to the Tower to turn the power back on. Miles tries to convince Rachel not to give people back the power, not now that everything has changed, and he doesn’t want her to go. The two get very intense, culminating in one heck of a kiss! Rachel still chooses to leave with Aaron and tells Charlie she’s not coming back. They walk off into the night to head across the Plains Nation to the Tower.

What Worked This Week:

It happened! We now know what turned out the power! The showrunners promised at the mid-season break that it wouldn’t take us multiple seasons to find out what caused the blackout and they were true to their word. Now that the secret is out, the story isn’t trapped in the constant loop of chasing a single item, or a single person like when Our Heroes were chasing Danny. That new format for the show really opens things up to let us explore other characters, especially with so many plots spread across this dystopian world.

What caused the blackout on Revolution?And speaking of different characters, this episode really highlighted the way that multiple characters can grow in this show. Neville was finally brought into the fold for a few wonderful killer scenes, and his capture definitely brought to a head his separation from Monroe. Jason Neville finally got some character depth by becoming a rebel, and Jim Hudson is showing himself to be a useful new member of the team. It would help if he was given more than three lines an episode, but we can start somewhere!

I’ll also call out this episode for finally giving Charlie some strong scenes this episode, especially in her interaction with Rachel. For a character that’s sunk into the background for most of the episodes so far, Charlie has finally begun to shine as a strong, opinionated character who is willing to act instead of just react to things. She distinguished herself by standing up against Rachel, showing why she’s often considered the decision-maker of the group.

What Didn’t Work This Episode:

We now know why the blackout happened—and it’s a virus? Nanotechnology is a sexy answer to the blackout question, but the way it was described and revealed was anti-climactic and forced. It’s an invisible virus that floats in the air! The whole thing feels like a pseudo-science answer that is over the believability line and feels clunky. The delivery of the information is half the problem. Only Aaron and Rachel are aware of these revelations, as Rachel has been keeping her information very close to the chest, but the show took the time to tell the audience why things don’t work. It was wonderful to see the showrunners keeping their promise to give us the big reveal, but the entire scene felt shoehorned into the otherwise fluid, if a little slow, episode.

Also shoehorned into the episode seems to be every other character besides our main core cast. Jim Hudson, Padre, and the unnamed awesome-looking commanding officer for the Allentown rebels seem superfluous in every episode. How often can the side characters simply act as henchmen for Our Heroes before it becomes obvious that they’re just set dressing? Turning characters like Padre into Red Shirt #1 to the unknown commander’s Red Shirt #2 was painful this episode, as both were wholesale slaughtered by Neville and the militia respectfully. It seems like anyone associated with the rebellion besides Boy Band Jason and Nora are aimed for the slaughter chute eventually.

And speaking of Nora—where did she go? Are the writer’s doubting their inclusion of a former love interest like her when they’ve introduced the attraction between Miles and Rachel? With Miles making time with Charlie’s mom, how soon before Nora is considered unnecessary too?


What caused the blackout on Revolution?1) Charlie and the others are going to have to go after Aaron and Rachel. Why? Well, they’re not going to keep all of Our Heroes from reaching the Tower and finding out the real and complete truth about the blackout. I think Our Heroes will follow her as soon as they realize that Monroe is going to go after the Tower too—or when Flynn realizes that the Tower is under attack. Then it’ll be the Fellowship heading for the Tower… er, I mean….

2) I’m still considering the theory that Miles is actually Charlie’s dad. Who knows if their little flirtation was going on before the blackout? Then there’s the difference between Charlie and Danny. Danny was sickly, he had health issues that seemed to point to some oddness in his birth. So what if the difference in the siblings came from their different fathers? It makes all the comments about how Charlie is so much like Miles much more telling.

3) Julia Neville is going to turn on her husband. She doesn’t seem to be the kind of woman who is okay with wandering in the blacked-out wilderness. When she finds a way to buy her way back into Monroe’s good graces, I can see the betrayal coming a mile away.

Things I Can’t Wait To See:

1) If the show wants to be in any way fair to the Rachel/Miles/Nora triangle, they’ll have Nora get fed up with Miles ignoring the hell out of her. Since the show is busy ignoring her and he is, I would love to see Nora step up to become a real character once again. She had one episode of development, it’s time to let her back into the spotlight.

2) Aaron and Rachel on the road has the potential to be an interesting plotline, provided it doesn’t become as super isolating as the “Neville and Danny on the road” story became. Aaron’s curiosity and sense of humor could balance Rachel’s locked-down distrust and help the meta plot evolve in a fun, accessible way.

What caused the blackout on Revolution?3) Neville is in the wind, and I couldn’t be happier. Keeping him pinned down to Monroe has really limited the character to a two-dimensional villain lackey that keeps him from growing. With Flynn now as the creepy buddy-buddy to Monroe, Neville has the space to become the redemptive villain, the wild card on the road. Who knows where he’ll go now? I’m excited to see it. And will it help Jason grow as a character? I believe it can.


“How did it feel burying Danny?”—Neville to Miles, to piss him off

“If you go anywhere near him, I will bash your little boy band face in.”—Miles to Jason over seeing Neville

“What’s a boy band?”—Jason, in response, to Charlie

“What world is it that you’re better for Charlie than I am?”—Rachel to Miles

So, sad note fellow Revolutionaries! Due to scheduling snafus, this is going to be my last weekly recap of Revolution. But fear not, I’ll be back at the end of the season to wrap up the story of Our Heroes on the move against Monroe. So in the meantime, enjoy the post-apoc adventure and keep the lights on while you can.


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