Why did the lights go out?
No less than 10 minutes into Monday’s episode, we were treated to a sufficient (albeit brief explanation) from one of the show’s most compelling characters – and the one largely responsible. So what was the cause of the massive blackout that has plagued our country for the past 15 years? According to brilliantly minded mad scientist Rachel, tiny computers. Very tiny computers, each one about the size of a virus and so small that they’re quite literally everywhere – even in the air. Programmed with two specific commands (to absorb electricity and to and replicate), they began reproducing out of control when something went wrong in The Tower.
And we all know what happened then.
For all of Revolution’s science fiction references and groundings, Kripke had promised that the explanation behind the one of the show’s biggest mysteries was not supernatural, but rather, mind-numbingly scientific. Still, in an age of television where most viewers care about pay-offs more than they do about storytelling, it’s quite possible this explanation will have many dubiously shaking their heads. I commend the writing team for delivering answers early on, keeping the show on its toes and paving the way for more mythology build-up as we head towards the end of the first season and prepare for an inevitable second. And besides - just because questions were answered doesn’t mean there aren’t more of them waiting in the wings.
“The Song Remains The Same” afforded us quality time with Giancarlo Esposito, who pulled out all the “Gus Fring” stops as a conniving, manipulative and calculating prisoner of war. Last week, the show seemed to allude to the fact that Monroe had all but replaced his favorite commander with former Department of Defense boss Randall Flynn, and this episode gave us a sense of just how much Monroe’s actions are affecting his friend. Clearly, Neville sees Randall as a threat rather than a “knowledgeable ally” - and given the beginnings of the downfall we started to see last season between Neville and Monroe, I can’t help but wonder if things between the two are going to start unraveling sooner rather than later.
The quiet standoff with Randall and Monroe wasn’t the only power struggle Neville encountered tonight. Captured by our survivors, Miles attempted to get inside the head of his old friend, only to find that Neville plays a pretty good (if not better) psychological game himself. Miles may have convinced himself that he’s a reformed rebel, but we know from last week that he still harbors guilt about being the man that he was when he was with the Milita – and if there’s anyone who knows how to hit his buttons, it’s Neville. Still, I’ve been saying since last year’s finale that I wanted to see more scenes between Esposito and Billy Burke, I was glad to get my wish.
On a less intense scale, Neville also fought to convince his wife, Julia (the much missed Kim Raver) that they needed to forget about Jason in order to survive safely in Monroe’s world. We haven’t seen much of Jason since he left his father (and the Milita) a few weeks ago, and apparently, Jason’s with the rebels now. He quickly proves his worth by double crossing his father despite Neville’s guilt trips, working some of his own psychological mind play into the situation by asking Neville why he made him feel like he was never good enough. While I find this “team switching” development interesting) (and a nice way to get JD Pardo into more action), since the show seems to have been setting up a Jason/Charlie relationship from the beginning, I’m also curious as to how Jason’s newfound status will affect Charlie’s still-steely feelings for the former soldier.
While Jason was trying to figure out how he could have been a better son, Rachel was attempting to figure out how she could have been a better mother. It’s clear Rachel is still working through the guilt issues that we saw in last week’s episode, as evidenced by her seemingly overwhelming desire to fix the mistakes in her life – from her attempt to kill Monroe to her decision to leave Charlie again. The Matheson matriarch seems hell-bent on making up for lost time by not only righting her wrongs, but by doing everything she can to protect her family, which she no doubt feels even more guilty for abandoning in the wake of Danny’s untimely death (as evidenced in her repeated admissions to Miles that he’s a better person for Charlie to look up to as a parent.)
I continue to love how the show is exploring the tenuous yet important mother-daughter relationship of the Mathesons. We’ve always known Rachel to be a “dangerous woman” despite her motherly ways, and the standoff between Charlie and Rachel was one of my favorite scenes of the night thanks to an intense performance by Elizabeth Mitchell (who else can portray a believable cycle of emotions that range from menacing to vulnerable to nurturing in the span of a minute?) Truthfully, some of my favorite moments of the season so far have been between Mitchell and Spiridakos, and I loved seeing the two go head to head in a bit of role reversal when Charlie talked her mother out of what seemed like an irrational decision – a nice contrast to last week, when Rachel was the one attempting to convince Charlie that didn’t have to be irrational and get herself killed by fighting with the rebels. As always, I remain in awe of Mitchell's strong performance and how much it elevates the storylines of this show. In past episodes, I've always taken the time to praise her character, but Rachel’s renewed involvement since the show’s return has made her even more of a formidable presence.
By the end of the episode, we have our heroes poised to split up yet again (Rachel and Aaron will attempt a journey to The Tower while Miles, Nora and Charlie will try to find the bomb that someone sold to Randall) much to the chagrin of both Miles and Charlie – for different reasons. Charlie doesn’t want her mother to leave again (though this time, Rachel gets a do-over by being able to be honest with her daughter), while Miles remains concerned about the fact that returning the power means that everyone gets some (even the apparently undeserving Texas.) But Miles also expresses his concern for Rachel’s wellbeing, and I have to admit, as much I wasn’t entirely sold on the Miles and Rachel relationship when it was first presented to us, Burke and Mitchell have absolutely sold every scene they’ve done together with their chemistry. This episode may have been their strongest yet, and while that final kiss was nothing short of passionate, I continue to be stuck on Rachel’s poignant line to Miles following her request that he take care of Charlie in her absence (and possible death): “you can’t be who you were. You need to take better care of her than you ever took of me.” We know that history between these two runs deeper than a simple hook-up based on attraction, and my overactive mind eagerly awaits when the show will delve into more of their backstory. (Hey writers, would it be too much to ask for an entire hour of Rachel during her years with the Milita?)
The boy band exchange between Jason and Miles was a fun lighter moment that may be one of my favorites yet. Although, Neville listening to music in the car is a close second.
Did I mention how happy I was to see the return of Kim Raver as Julia? What a feisty woman (if she yelled at me to get out of her house, I’d certainly obey.) I found it interesting that the show spent a lot of time last season comparing Julia to Lady Macbeth, and the first thing that Neville says when he learns that his son has tricked him is “you have blood on your hands."
I was happy to see that Aaron was going to be joining Rachel on her quest to turn the lights back on – I think Zak Orth is a strong cast member who doesn’t get much to work with during most episodes, and I’m hoping that this will finally put him in a bigger spotlight.
What did you think of the episode?