Welcome back, Revolution.
The sci-fi drama series, which has been on hiatus since late November, returned tonight with the first of what will be a string of 10 all-new episodes – and if “The Stand” was any indication, I would say that we’re in for a fast paced, action-filled ride that more than verifies what Kripke and the cast have been promising in recent interviews.
Is the show better? Yes. Is it perfect? Far from it. Is that okay? Yes. Because Revolution is a show that doesn’t have to be perfect, but it is a show that has to deliver…especially when it’s facing criticism from last season and a four-month break. Fortunately, for the most part, this episode did the job and part of that came from the shift in plot, as all our main characters are now together with Rachel and Danny having escaped Monroe’s clutches. But more than that, there were multiple scenes that I truly felt showed how strong this ensemble of a cast could be when given the right material. To pull just one example, I was particularly affected by the end scene between Charlie and Rachel, following Danny’s death. It was not only the first time that the two had been alone together since their reunion in Monroe’s prison, but it was the first time that Rachel let herself truly open up to her daughter, admitting the guilt she’s been harboring for all the actions that led to the blackout and the losses that she’s cost her family. It was honesty in its most brutal form, and it was a focus on two characters that the hour needed in order for the story to pull itself together. Elizabeth Mitchell did some fantastic work in this episode and not to be outdone, Spiridakos shined as well, proving that (like I had been hoping) once free of the “annoying tag along kid” plot line, Charlie is a character that’s worth taking notice of.
“The Stand” picked up exactly where we left off, with our band of survivors outrunning one of Monroe’s deadly missile-armed helicopters (powered by the amplifier Rachel had helped build when she was captive.) While the crew survived, the nearby rebel camp wasn’t so lucky - and as we soon learned, the fate of all the rebel camps would be in danger if they weren’t at least warned that a wipeout attempt was on the way.
While Charlie, Nora, Aaron and Danny struggled to hold down the rebel camps in the face of impending doom, Rachel and Miles set off on their own to see one of Rachel’s old friends, a man named John whom Rachel worked with in her pre-blackout days. Conveniently, John had a healthy amount of firepower that Rachel was obviously privy to, though their victory was short-lived once John admitted that he had been compromised by Randall, and then proceeded to capture them and knock them out. Part of me wonders when Rachel will start to realize that most of her former friends have turned on her, but then again, this is a woman that was locked away for years in confinement with no idea of the magnitude of power Monroe was unleashing over the world, both mentally and physically. Let’s cut her a little slack (at least, for now) and just enjoy the fact that Elizabeth Mitchell and Billy Burke make a really good team when they’re defending themselves.
Despite going into this episode being aware of Danny’s unfortunate demise, that knowledge didn’t take away from the actual scene - which, similar to Maggie’s death earlier in the series, hit a lot of emotional chords. On one hand, it seems like a rather cop-out move to kill off a character that we spent so long trying to get back into the fold. On the other hand, I absolutely see the need to “raise the stakes,” both for the show and for the characters in the episodes going forward (emotional distress aside, we already know from the final scene that whatever was concealed inside Danny’s body - a blinking glass capsule - is something that is considerably important.) The youngest Matheson may not have been the show’s most popular character, but combined with flashbacks that clearly showed how much the family cared for each other, the episode did a nice job of cementing Danny’s importance to his family, and to the series.
On the Milita end of things, we got some nice father-son moments between Neville and Jason as Jason came to terms with the amount of violence the Milita was unleashing on innocent people and Neville finally realized that his kid was possibly more trouble than he bargained for. I found it interesting that after “banishing” Jason from the Milita and consequently, from his life, Neville came to Monroe to tell him that Jason was dead. Whether or not this lie was made out of protection or out of spite, the one critique I will give this show is that Giancarlo Esposito absolutely deserves more screen time and I hope that he gets a more prominent role as we move forward (now, if we could bring back Kim Raver, that would just be a bonus.)
We’ve been teased for a while with the possibility of a history between Rachel and Miles that was more than just a friendship, and “The Stand” made it pretty clear that there were still some tense feelings to be reckoned with. A number of tantalizing hints were dropped during the exchange – how Miles saw her body, the fact that he told her he would never have left if he knew she was alive, the constant apologies – and even if their past turns out to be nothing more than an affair, I’m still interested to see this relationship explored. I continue to be glad that the show seems to be taking an interest in pushing Rachel’s character forward with her renewed involvement in the story, and maintain that if there were an Emmy for how many emotions could be expressed during the course of one hour, Mitchell would be at the podium accepting her award. The episode was the actresses’ strongest to date, which is saying something considering that she was a driving force in the first half of the series. Still, it only reinforces the fact that the adults are some of the best individuals to watch on this program and personal bias aside, given Mitchell’s performance, I remain extremely excited that Rachel will be featured more prominently in the next few episodes.
For all its gun-blazing action, the hour did a good job in bringing the audience up to speed on where the story was before the break, and where it seems to be headed in the months to come – certainly, there was a noticeable lack of “filler” that tends to clutter even the most action-filled outings, with even the smallest scenes providing moments that were filled with emotion or with information pertinent to the narrative. If Revolution keeps on this path in the weeks to come, puts a few of its stronger characters center stage, and fleshes out some storylines, it just might turn around those naysayers that seem to think the program can’t keep up its standards – and given what Kripke has revealed, I’m optimistic and excited to see what’s to come.
Hey, Charlie…that accidental Milita tattoo certainly came in handy, didn’t it? Score one for continuity!
Grace has surfaced, and she’s apparently being held by Randall to work on...restoring an elevator? Much of Randall’s story, as well as his involvement, remains a mystery, but given the final scene of the night I imagine we’ll be learning much more about his agenda. Just how can he help out Monroe? (Aside from having power.)
From flashbacks, we are to assume that the whatever surgery young Danny underwent at the decision of his parents was so they could implant the device Rachel cut out of his body. Any guesses on what it might be? And the reason behind implanting it in Danny in the first place?
What did you think of the return of Revolution? Sound off below!