One Line Summary: A post-apocalyptic narrative that speculates on the world fifteen years after all sources of electro-mechanical power fail.
Episode theme in a question: “What is a revolution anyway?”
Short Recap: The second episode, “Chained Heat,” begins with a flight and a fight. We open on Ben and Rachel preparing Charlie for a trip. The tagline tells us it’s a week after the blackout. Rachel reassures the young Charlie that they will be walking and heading out of the city to the country, where there is food and water and land. Of course, we also see the emotional baggage Charlie is carrying because her mom makes her promise is to take care of her little brother, Danny. In the next scene, we see Miles demonstrate his incredible military arts skills in a sword fight with a bounty hunter, played by the ever wonderful C. Thomas Howell. The episode shows more of the post-apocalyptic landscape, but this time in Pontiac, Illinois, which is a small market place rank with diseased bodies, militia, and everything you’d think a 1800s version of Las Vegas would look like complete with fire and brimstone preacher calling for repentance. Miles is looking for a woman named Nora, who seems to be important to finding Danny, at least to Miles. After another scuffle with the bounty hunter (and this time Miles gets to break his neck), the ragtag gang make their way to safety at which point Miles suggests (or commands) that they separate for two weeks. Charlie, who has shown signs of willfulness, refuses to follow his orders and abandons SmartGeek and British Lady during the night to follow Miles.
While that is going on, we see that Danny, Charlie’s brother, has been witness to the militia’s might and cruelty. They stumble across a farmhouse and we find out that there is a Baltimore Doctrine that prohibits anyone but militia from owning guns. Since the stag that’s hanging in front of the house seems to have been shot, the militia interrogates the owner and when he resists they shoot him, then ransack and burn his property. Later on, we will see one of the soldiers who was shot by the farmhouse owner and how Breaking Badass Colonel (tm pending) handles the death/suicide of his soldier. This death leads to a confrontation with Danny, who grows a spine and tells BBC off. I have theories about this that I will expound on below.
During this episode we also get our first glimpse of Sebastian Monroe, who participates in an interrogation of a rebel. The rebels have been bombing Monroe’s encampment and although he is calm and collected, his malice is real and he coolly kills the prisoner, or terrorist, as he calls him.
Meanwhile, Charlie shows off her hunting skills by trapping Nate and leaving him in handcuffs since he’d been following her. She gets caught by Miles and he doesn’t send her packing. When we finally meet Nora, we see she’s on a chain gang. We find out that the Monroe Republic captures and enslaves prisoners for labor. Nora is one of the prisoners. After Miles frees her, we find out that she purposefully sought arrest and at first Miles thinks that she is on a job to get a weapon, but we soon find out that she has joined the resistance. Charlie’s memory of those first days after the power failure intermingle with the next sequence where she is armed with a makeshift gun and enters the chain gang camp, to murder the warden. An act that her uncle does not think she’s capable of doing. In the flashback we see that a man has threatened the young Charlie for the food that Rachel and Ben have hoarded in a child’s toy wagon. He trades Charlie for the food and Ben threatens to shoot him, which he doesn’t. Instead, just as Charlie raises her hand to shoot the warden, we see in the flashback that the man is shot, but by Rachel. In the aftermath we learn that Nora has joined the rebellion to recreate the United States of America and Miles is skeptical of the rebellion’s chances.
The episode ends with a surprise. The character of Rachel, Charlie’s mother, is alive. Sebastian is apparently holding her hostage, trying to get her to reveal what she knows about the power failure. This makes me happy for many reasons.
Review: As always, my review is more of a series of questions and observations and snarkiness that I thought of during the viewing.
1. What did the academics do? I’m telling you, Grace was an algebra teacher my ass. She worked with Ben, Rachel, and this mysteriously creepy Randall, I bet. And they did something at the University of Chicago or discovered something about the power failure. Why is it always the academics? I feel slighted.
2. What happened to Sebastian? We know that he was beloved by Rachel, by Miles, and probably by Ben. He was a close friend, so what happened to make him into the militaristic monster he’s become. That? That story is a goldmine to uncover.
3. Who is Nate? We know that his real name is not Nate, so is he really a good soldier or is he a double agent? Why follow Charlie? She has no connection to the mission to get Miles, beyond the fact that she’s his niece. Yes, she’s bait, but there seems to be more going on with this character than meets the eye.
4. Where’s Walt Whitman? Sorry, but the whole civil war motif of the camps made me ask that. Side note: Walt Whitman was a nurse during the US Civil War. It was the inspiration for much of his Leaves of Grass poetry.
5. Here’s your US History lesson for the day: The militias of the American Revolution were not kind groups. The tarring and feathering that happened? Yeah, that was painful because they would pour hot tar onto raw skin and then stick feathers to the hot tar which would then have to be pulled off, like bandaids, because cooling tar is an adhesive. So not so much with the militia.
6. Oh nostalgia…While the agrarian idealism is tempered by roving bandits and brutal militias, still there is this line of sentimentality for rural life that I can’t quite buy into, that I find somewhat didactic and judgmental. It’s like the green movement on acid. And that market in Pontiac? That’s like a Hipster’s Paradise….Perhaps Bon Iver can do a Coolio-type theme song for the show.
I walked through the valley of the shadow of death,
Took a look at my city and realized there’s nothing left.
Cause I’ve been hunting and starving so long,
That even skinny jeans are falling down and wearing wrong…
I’ve been spending most my life living in a hipster’s paradise
Whadya think? And I can almost bet you that the rhetoric of green is at the heart of this show’s criticism of modern life. We’ll see but it’s part of my whackass speculation for the week.
7. Elizabeth Mitchell’s character is NOT dead. All things are right in my world. (I love you, Rachel. Forever.)
8. Science, people. Just look at it. Just a glimpse. It won’t hurt, I promise.
9. Danny is gonna fall in admiration with BBC; I can see it comin’. They are setting it up so that BBC becomes more human as Danny develops a strange Stockholm affection for his captor, and how much you want to bet that we get a Miles=Charlie and Sebastian=Danny motif as the story unfolds? (btw, for Supernatural fans, I’m calling Miles now “The End Dean” and Sebastian is “Samifer.”)
10. Ben did a bad, bad thing. I can feel it.
Whackass Speculation for the Week that will be Disproved: What if the power failure was the result of a government experiment that tried to harness solar power but instead ended up destroying all electrical power? It would be the ultimate environmental irony…..
Possible Ships: Nate/Charlie, Nora/Miles, BritishLady/Miles, BritishLady/Aaron, Miles/Sebastian, Danny/BBC, Aaron/Grace
Enjoyment Level: I liked it more than the pilot. I am enjoying the older characters more than the younger ones though. I think the younger ones are gratuitous right now.
Viewing Prediction: I will watch next week. And not only because Lucifer will be on. (Supernatural folks will understand this.)