Last Wednesday was the first episode of the second season of Revolution! We were given a new night and a new time, but promised the same level of violence and adult content as we previously saw in the Monday night ten pm time slot. We knew that the power would be gone and we’d be rebooting in a sense back to simpler times like in the beginning of season one.
Written by Eric Kripke and directed by Steve Boyum, episode one not only got back to basics, but proffered some things that I did feel were missing in the original season presentation of the show. Six months after the Monroe Republic and Georgia Federation are destroyed, our rag tag group of heroes find themselves in Willoughby, Texas. Well, the group sans Charlie, who has gone off on her own, apparently wandering aimlessly until she found out about Monroe being close by.
So one of the things I thought was missing? Music. No electricity of course means no electric guitars and no radios, cd players, etc, but you know hand crank gramophones would still work (we haven’t seen them yet, but I have hope), and musical instruments still play. So lets get acoustic, y’all! In this episode, they do. We have some pretty kick ass acoustic versions of Crazy Train, Tom Sawyer and Smoke In The Water. In other words, the power is gone, but life continues, like life was there before the days of electricity. To me, this start off is more realistic than the beginning of season one–even with the random fireflies swarms reminiscent of The X-Files episode “Darkness Falls” and the whole Aaron coming back to life thing at the end. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
The bombs have dropped and somehow the gang gets out of the tower, but not without their trials, and some internal demons. Rachel, in a near catatonic state, is a broken version of herself. Miles brings them to Rachel’s father’s place in Texas to help her. a couple months later, Charlie heads off on her own. On the way she tracks down Monroe, intending to finish the job she swore to do after Danny died. In an odd twist, Monroe is abducted/rescued right before Charlie can do him in by an as yet unknown group. Meanwhile, the happy town Miles, Rachel and Aaron have settled down in is now under threat of attack by war parties, requiring Miles, in the spirit of Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, to once again help the law get things under control.
There were many things I really enjoyed about this episode. The pace was wonderful. I felt that each scene was not too long–we easily slid from one story line to the next. This episode was really about setting the stage for the season to come. In the spirit of this, I thought I would do more of a list of the things I saw and how we are at this point left open and wondering what is up with these things.
1. The shack that Miles burned…with blood all over his face. So what was that? He went back before leaving, which is when he saw the war party try to take out the people in the house nearby. And yes, they are all more dirty, but Miles apparently had enough time to get a hair cut…
2. Can I just say here that Elizabeth Mitchell was brilliant in this episode? The first season we saw a very strong, confident woman. She was this strong woman clear through the point at the end when she made a decision that putting the power on was more important than trying to find Nora help. She got a major comeuppance, and here we see a defeated woman. What I love about Elizabeth’s acting is how we see that defeat not only in what she says or how she says the lines she is given, but in every look, in every movement. We see it in her eyes. We see it everywhere. She is an amazing actor…
3….and that may be why I have such a difficult time with the characterization of Charlie. I wanted so much to love Charlie. I wanted to see her as the next incarnation of Buffy, but I just have not been able to thus far. I do feel that the writing team on this show seems to show some difficulty with writing strong female characters, but Elizabeth can pull it off anyway. Tracy, however, has not quite acquired a maturity in her craft to be able to overcome the writing shortcomings. Most of this episode I felt like she was trying to sell me something I just wasn’t quite buying. I would have been ok with that if the idea was that Charlie was not sure of herself, if she was feeling out of sorts and pretending to be harder than she in fact was…but Kripke implied that Charlie’s ‘tude was because she was “growing up” and I failed to see that here. Not to mention, such a dangerous world, a woman traveling alone is a dangerous thing. No matter how good Charlie is with the crossbow, she doesn’t have slayer strength. And sleeping around with men she meets in bars randomly in an age where now we know all these diseases that were dormant are coming back is not a sign of maturity…so right now, my big WTF moment is Charlie, and my question is whether I will ever like her. I am hopeful that Tracy will mature in her craft–Jared and Jensen and David and Gillian both came quite a ways from the way they were when their shows began…
4. On the other side, I have to say that I was very impressed with J.D. Pardo’s and Giancarlo Esposito’s scenes. I thought they were wonderful together and I am very eager to see how this shapes up. They are the first of the “gang” to have seen the new “old” American regime. I loved how them coming around, having a new group to rise up against, brought fight back into Neville.
5. Which brings me to the U.S.A.–or at least the scary shadow government that claims they are the US government…although, with this whole government shut down thing…maybe they actually ARE the old government…But I jest. We know already going into this that they are insidious and nefarious and we don’t even yet understand just how bad. They are saying that warlords like Monroe and Foster ran them out of America, which we know isn’t true. This plot is making me anxious and excited all at once!
6. I do have to go back to Rachel’s dad for a minute and comment that I like him a lot. I wonder if that was the part they initially wanted to give to Jim Beaver? Well, I like what Stephen Collins is doing with the role. I like that he knows Miles’ type and knows he is just no good for Rachel…past or future. Yeah, keep both eyes on Miles there, Gene.
7. Monroe has burned off the M on his arm! Surely this was done in part to mask who he is. He is also going by Jimmy King. Any militia that have made it out west know who he is though. It seems also that Monroe is attempting to burn out his connection with Miles. That tattoo was actually the combination of both their names, and used as the symbol for the government they were both running. Monroe seems to be going out of his way to forget who he was and wants nothing to do with anything even close to peace keeping or governing. We see him whisked away at the end of the episode and it will be interesting to see where he is being taken and by whom. There is some speculation that the tall blonde may actually be Bass Jr., so we will just have to wait and see! I’m excited to see how we will get the gang all together in this season like it is rumored will happen.
8. As Aaron commented, things have gotten a bit Duchovnian–even more so with the fireflies and the Aaron resurrection. I don’t even know where to begin with that stuff! I do have to say that if I were Aaron I wouldn’t exactly find being called “sweet” by my significant other all that great a reaction either. Poor Aaron.
Sheriff Mason and Miles get abducted by Titus Andover and his very strange family that at first blush remind me of a cross between the Paddocks (XFiles) and that creepy “Benders” family (Supernatural). I wonder where that is going…
What was very interesting to me was that this new government out of Cuba showed up just when things look so bleak, but people are actually showing more hope than we saw all season one. After the power went out some 15 years prior, the world went into chaos. Everything fell apart and for no reason that was really presented to us, things got way worse than they should have. As a civilization we have only had electricity on for about 120 years. The World’s Fair of 1893 was one of the first large scale examples, using Nikola Telsa’s transformer that could turn alternating current from low to high voltage. Erik Larson’s book, The Devil In White City indicated that “The fair alone consumed three times as much electricity as the entire city of Chicago.” About the turn of the century homes started the transition from gaslight to electric lighting. In the Revoverse we seem to have lost so much more than we should have. After about a four minute jolt of power though, people remembered what was possible and they started to have hope. Things went horribly wrong after, but I think that the fact that everyone seems to talk about those four minutes as showing the possibilities for what can be show a hope that people didn’t seem to have in season one.
I’m very hopeful for this season! There are some great plot beginnings here and I’m eager to see how the season shapes up! Let me know what your thoughts were on the season opener and what you hope to see this season!