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 do we do now?”
Short Recap: The pilot episode begins with a frantic man rushing into his house, ordering his wife to fill bathtubs with water. We watch as the two prepare for some disaster and as the man, named Ben, warns his brother (by phone) that everything is going to turn off, we start to see the worldwide power failure, replete with planes falling from the sky and crashing to the earth in spectacular explosions, and a beautiful shot of the earth as it goes dark. The following sequence opens fifteen years later with an exposition narrative by Aaron and a view of an agrarian landscape, reminiscent of a Williamsburg trip, with a village full of penned animals, handmade clothes, and crude weaponry. The episode sets up three storylines: the death of Ben and capture of his son, Danny, which leads Ben’s daughter Charlie to start a quest to find her uncle so she can rescue her brother, and of course she is accompanied by ragtag duo of villagers (the hot doctor and the smart geek); the imperialism of General Monroe, who happens to be the former best friend and fellow marine to Ben’s brother Miles, who is the stereotypical Byronic anti-hero who wants nothing to do with the quest but of course is drawn into it nevertheless; and the mystery of the amulet necklace, which seems to be a source of power and the one possession that Ben wanted to protect against discovery and is now being carried around by Aaron (smart geek) and has a counterpart with Grace, the feisty gun-toting farmhouse lady.
Review: I will admit that I went into this viewing really wanting to like the show. It’s produced by three of my favorite writer/producers: JJ Abrams, Jon Favreau, and Eric Kripke and I expected a lot. And I was not disappointed, although I do fear that the production value set during the first episode will be hard to maintain throughout the season. Yet, LOST did it, so perhaps NBC and Revolution can do it as well.
This review will not be a recap. I think it is best to leave that type of writing to other bloggers. My particular interest is in some of the questions that were introduced by the pilot, which I hope to see explored as we move through the season. I will lay out these questions below:
1. What caused the power to fail? Now the science geek in me wonders why all mechanical energy has somehow failed, but that’s for another day. Within the story we can assume that Ben, his wife, and the farmhouse woman know something about the amulet and the power failure. We can’t be sure what Miles knows, and that is definitely a plot device for suspense value. We know that the power has not totally failed since the amulet booted up the computer and light bulb at the end of the pilot, so the question is why hide the power supply? What is the danger of turning the power back on? It can’t simply be General Monroe’s imperial goals. Side note: The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 helped facilitate the US concept of Manifest Destiny, which led to the colonization of the West, the final frontier.
2. What happened to the relationship between Sebastian and Miles? We know that the two men were colleagues and friends, so one has to wonder what happened to turn the relationship and when that relationship turned? I will not be surprised if we get flashbacks of them working together in the immediate aftermath and perhaps even starting towards imperial goals together. I will be interested to see how this gets unpacked because I think that storyline may have the most emotional impact for the overall plot.
3. Was she really an Algebra teacher? We know there is more than one amulet, and I’m telling you that those things probably all have to be brought together to do something. It’s a Kripke trope (see Horsemen’s rings in Season Five of Supernatural ). However, I am intrigued by Grace, the farmhouse woman, since I think she was lying about her profession “before the blackout.” And that leads to another question, what happened to her asthmatic son?
4. Elizabeth Mitchell’s character can’t be dead. Okay, not so much a question but dammit, she better not be dead. She better have been left behind and thought dead. I will not abide another dead Elizabeth Mitchell character in my television life. No! (I love you, Juliet. Forever.)
There are more questions, of course, and as the season progresses I will explore those. But these seemed good ones to start out with. I’ll be curious to see what your questions are and if the answers will get a LOST and Supernatural treatment, i.e. left to swing loose in the wind.
Snark Alert: Of course, I can’t not review this episode without a serious dose of sarcasm. It’s how I enjoy most of my shows. So here are some of my snark alerts:
1. Ben, Charlie, Miles, Aaron….I’m back on the island, people. You know someone had to stop the writers from naming General Monroe as Sawyer. They compromised on Sebastian. Sebastian better have some kickass pop culture references is all I’m saying.
2. Kripke was here: “We’re family.” Gloriously beautiful muscle car. Drunken former soldier. Pretty siblings.
3. Abrams was here: Chubby geek boy. Plot that will end in purgatory? Beautiful blond doctor. Crashing airplanes. His name on the credits while everyone else writes the story.
4. So when do we start the Reaping? And where the hell are the mockingjays?!
5. Where the hell were they living? Were they in the south or where the hell? These people walked and traveled on foot in times that I think defy quantum physics. Perhaps the power didn’t go out…they were just transported to an alternative universe where a southern farmhouse seems relatively close to a civil war battlefield and Chicago, of course.
6. It’s War Games! Do you want to play thermonuclear war? Or the 2012 version, which would be “Do you want to play Googlopocalypse? Let’s shut down World of Warcraft!”
Whackass Speculation for the Week that will be Disproved: What if Grace wasn’t talking to someone via the computer….what if she was talking to the computer? Huh, right? What if the power failure is caused by the rise of the machines? <gasp>
Possible Ships: Nate/Charlie, Nora/Miles, Miles/Sebastian, Danny/Nate, Danny/Death, Aaron/Charmin
Enjoyment Level: I liked it. I re-watched it. I still liked it.
Viewing Prediction: I look forward to watching it next week.