“You can’t run from who you are. You can’t wash all that blood off your hands,” Miles Matheson tells an old friend as he makes a plea for help. Along with redemption, accepting your past has been one of Revolution’s long-standing themes since the beginning of the series and one that was explored heavily throughout this episode, specifically in regards to Rachel and Miles. Guilt, and the harboring of past mistakes, lies with all our survivors – from Aaron’s guilt of leaving his wife, to Nora’s guilt of leaving her sister, to Charlie’s guilt over Danny’s death. But perhaps it lies the greatest with Miles and Rachel, who carry with them the guilt of being responsible for the undoing of the people they love – something that is incredibly hard to simply forget about, or for that matter, let go of.
Many wondered how Danny’s demise would push the story forward, and it’s no surprise that its aftermath played a large role in helping to serve the narratives of two main characters during this hour. With the death weighing heavily on his conscious, Miles channels his frustration and anger into the only way he knows to go about making himself feel better: revenge. He convinces Nora to travel with him so he can hunt down Jim Hudson (Malik Yoba), a friend whom he thinks can help them kill Monroe, although it turns out that Jim is just as reluctant to accept his past as Miles is. He initially refuses the help, turning his back and instead choosing to embrace his new existence: one devoid of any Milita history.
“Guys like us can’t have that,” an exasperated Miles tells Jim, the exchange allowing him the chance to voice what he’s been thinking but hasn’t been able to admit to himself. If the first part of the season was to get Miles to accept that he cares for his family and does want to help them, the second part of the season seems to be focusing on the fact that he’s still not 100% on board with being the savoir that everyone thinks he is. The fact that he (once again) unintentionally screwed up something that could have saved his family by blowing his friend’s cover makes me wonder if we’re heading in a direction that will see Miles continue to push away his good intentions as well as any sense of humanity. If so, I suspect this is where the history of Rachel and Miles’ relationship (and possibly the hinted Rachel/Miles/Nora triangle) will come into play.
Just as Miles can’t escape his foul history, Rachel is beginning to realize how all of her past actions have led to the physical and emotion demise of everyone she’s ever cared about. It’s a guilt that’s embedded deeper as Charlie places the blame of Danny’s death on her last remaining immediate family member, and though Rachel has continually sought to rid herself of her mistakes, with the pendants being tracked and Randall in position to control most of the power, it’s clear that she’s learning the depth of the mess she’s created, whether or not she was wholly responsible for it. The episode brought to light some crippling friction between Charlie and Rachel that we haven’t really explored since the two reunited at the end of the first part of the season (as expected, Danny’s death was a catalyst in deepening the wedge between the two.) In a recent interview, Elizabeth Mitchell mentioned that despite all of Rachel’s good intentions, parenting wasn’t exactly her strong suit - and nowhere was that more apparent than the exchange between Charlie and Rachel after Rachel tried to talk Charlie out of fighting with the rebels. Executed solidly by both actors and sold by Mitchell’s brilliantly charged performance (from the dozens of subtle expressions to the mumblings of apologies after slapping Charlie, there was not one moment I tore my eyes from the screen), the short but dynamic scene reminded us that the true moments on this show belong to the core relationships between our central characters. Rachel can put aside her past and be a mother all she wants, but for Charlie, it’s going to be hard to completely let her transgressions slide.
Though the episode promised that we would be given answers about why and how the power went out, it merely served to lay some groundwork about the mystery (and give us the beginning of an explanation that I’m sure will be expanded upon next week.) Building on what we know of Randall from previous episodes (that he was the head of the Department of Defense and worked closely on the project, bringing Rachel and Ben into the fold), we were treated to some background on Randall Flynn and what ultimately led to the Matheson’s work being used for evil instead of good. A year before the blackout, Randall apparently lost his son to war, a loss that affected him more than he probably let on. Grief gives us power and causes us to act out irrationally, looking for quick fixes for the things that hurt us. In Charlie’s case, it caused her to yell unspeakable accusations at her mother, in Randall’s case, it caused him to move forward with a decision that was unintentionally catastrophic.
What else did we learn about tonight? The pendants apparently have a tracking device (which would explain how Grace was found in an earlier episode after turning one on), Randall can control these remotely, and that the former head of Department of Defense seems to be vying for a chance to rule alongside Monroe. Despite the fact that Monroe tells Neville he doesn’t trust Randall, Neville (on already shaky grounds with the Milita due to his actions earlier in the season) seems to be aware of a burgeoning power struggle, one that I hope we get the chance to see explored in more depth. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t had a chance to see much from these two actors since we’ve returned, and with Mitchell’s expanded role in these past few episodes, I’m reminded of how a strong actress really brings out the best in both the cast and the writing. Here’s to hoping that the rest of the season brings us a larger focus on David Lyons and Giancarlo Esposito, both of whom bring a fantastic presence to the story.
For some reason, I had always assumed that Maggie and Aaron came to live with the Mathesons around the same time but during a conversation between Rachel and Aaron, Aaron mentions that Rachel and Ben took him in “when no one else would.” I’m trying to figure out how this all fits into the Revolution timeline, as Aaron would have had to be a part of their lives since before Charlie and Danny were born.
In keeping with the “mother” trope theme, it’s worth noting that no less than three times during harrowing moments did Charlie ask for Rachel, proving that as much as she wants to be the tough warrior who doesn’t need to be taken care of, she’s still just a kid who cares about her mom – and doesn’t want to be stuck in a world without her again.
As demonstrated earlier in the season, Zak Orth is really an underrated part of the cast. Whereas he was first seen as more of a “comic relief,” his recent involvement has been slim and I hope that we’ll see him play a bigger role as the season moves forward.
Someone had to point it out – the fact that Jim recommended The Stand to a fellow townsperson, telling them “you’ll enjoy this one – it’s about the end of the world.”
What did you think of Revolution?