Revolution is about war. It’s about families being torn apart, it’s about loyalties being tested, and, as we were reminded tonight, it’s about survival – no matter who you are and who you love. Oftentimes, we forget about these factors in lieu of the “close call” deaths, random kidnappings, and heated dramatic exchanges. But “The Longest Day” (which thankfully was not really the longest day, turning out to be one of the better paced and more interesting episodes of the season) helped remember that this show is a war story as much as it’s a family story – something we needed heading into the final stretch of the season.
Where many of the previous episodes have been hit or miss, Anne Cofell Saunders wrote a strong and compelling hour, hinging on the theme of emotional detachment. In a world where no one is truly safe, it’s one of the easiest things to do – Miles has been doing it most of his life since parting ways with Monroe and the Militia. Most of our characters distance themselves throughout the hour, as Nora leaves Miles (after an apparent night of sex), Jason leaves Neville, and Rachel leaves the child that she swears she’s going to get help for. Even hardened-by-war Charlie, who loves her uncle, finds herself telling Jason “it’s easier being alone.” Interestingly, most characters do find themselves alone over the course of the hour – Charlie trapped in the rubble, Nora being taken by Monroe, Jason being left for dead. In fact, the only person who doesn’t find himself truly alone in any capacity is Aaron, who refuses to leave Rachel’s side even when she tells him that she has no interest in saving anyone – just an interest in revenge.
In real time, the hour focused on the aftermath of a drone attack at the Georgian rebel camp that left more than 150 dead, wounded Jason, and almost killed Charlie. In flashbacks, we were finally treated to some history between Rachel and Miles that the show has been teasing us with for some time – namely, what happened seven years after the blackout when Rachel gave herself up? Turns out that the Militia really wanted Ben, as they were looking to recruit him for their own use. Choosing to sacrifice herself so that her husband and children could survive, Rachel came to Miles instead. Flashbacks are often utilized to highlight drastic changes in comparison to what we have come to know in our present day scenes, and by showing Miles as a ruthless killing machine (as opposed to someone who would now die to protect his family) and Rachel as a woman who would sacrifice everything for her children (as opposed to a woman who would now sacrifice the world to kill one man), the hour managed to make one of the most interesting backstories of the show even more intriguing.
The memory of the events preceding this flashback, combined with the present day actions of Rachel telling a dying child that she would save him before abandoning him, nicely reminded us of the complexities of Rachel’s character. I really love the continued exploration of her grey moral compass, and I’m glad that despite the reunions with her family and her obvious affection towards Miles, the show hasn’t lost sight of exploring the part that makes her so interesting, and the part that Elizabeth Mitchell portrays so strongly. Lest we forget, Rachel is as much a sociopathic revenge seeker as she is a caring mom who will do anything for her children and it’s scenes like these that play exactly to Mitchell’s talent and remind us why she is one of the best assets this show has to offer.
Despite Rachel’s best efforts to persuade Miles she was needed, her brother-in-law chose to dismiss her, leading to her apparent torture and possible rape – quite traumatizing considering their backstory included an apparent fling between the two when they were children (Miles really got around, didn’t he?) It’s another reminder of how Rachel gave up everything for her family’s chance at survival and whether or not this is how Rachel ultimately came to be with Monroe, it certainly is a start to the path that led her to where we saw her at the beginning of the series.
Speaking of Monroe – it seems that the once prominent general is feeling the effects of war himself, as he experiences a continuation of the downward spiral we first saw last week in his argument with Randall. This week, in a solid scene with Mark Pellegrino, he alienates himself further by way of his fight with (and execution of) Jeremy, perhaps his last true friend. How will Monroe’s continued “unhinging” play a part in the finale? Consider that he’s taken Nora, possibly with plan to torture her the same way Miles tortured Rachel, something that probably won’t make his friend too happy considering that Monroe has now tampered with both women that he cares about. We’ve been promised another Miles/Monroe showdown at the season’s end and this time, given all their experiences since the last time they met, it’ll be interesting to see its outcome.
We seem to have a ways to go with Aaron’s backstory, but we did learn that Rachel doesn’t know why he’s in the book – though she does know that Ben probably knew something given how he kept him close after they met and how he trusted him with the pendant when he could’ve given it to anyone. It’s nice to see Zak Orth’s character becoming more and more prominent, especially in the wake of this plotline being resolved the closer we get to the Tower. The show has done a nice job of building up Aaron’s character from someone who was more of a comic sidekick to someone with a legitimate story arc, to someone who may hold a weight greater than any character we know in the series. Shy, meek Aaron - the one who would run away from danger and leave those he cares about – no longer exists, and his exchange with Rachel over her abandonment of a child proved just how much Aaron has grown throughout the course of the season. Though I was skeptical when the group split first happened, I’ve enjoyed watching Mitchell and Orth together more than I expected, as the two have an interesting dynamic based on their past and conflicting morals. It’ll be interesting to see what happens moving forward, now that Aaron is aware just how far Rachel will go to turn the power back on.
War can be scary, but you don’t have to emotionally detach yourself to get through it – in fact, the people that come out the strongest are often the ones that get through it by relying on those they care about. At the end of the hour, Jason seemed to reconcile with his dad (though the jury’s still out on how Neville feels about the kiss he witnessed between Charlie and Jason – and yes, it appears we’re going there.) Charlie and Miles reunited tearfully, with Miles proving that even if Charlie thinks it’s easier to be alone, he’ll always come back for her – because that’s what family does.
I feel the show has finally figured out how to use Elizabeth Mitchell to its advantage, but still hasn’t realized the absolute talent that they have in Giancarlo Esposito. His scenes with Jason have allowed him some nice emotional pull, but I continue to feel that Esposito is sidelined in terms of the bigger picture – something I hope changes in the next few episodes.
I figured that the show wouldn’t go so far as to make Rachel limp the entire way to the Tower, and my original theory on her leg being healed was that it was going to come from the nanites. It appears I was half right, as the capsule pulled from Danny’s body (a first generation nanotech) had the ability to heal – it’s what healed Danny’s asthma, and if programmed correctly (which it was), it could heal Rachel’s leg. While I should feel a little cheated over this, I suppose it’s better than the show forgetting that Rachel was injured at all – and it was nice to get the capsule explained.
Perhaps the death of Mark Pellegrino was a little unnecessary, but that could also be because whenever Pellegrino is on the show he never fails to give a solid performance.
I continue to be interested in the past relationship between Miles and Nora and hope we get more on that before the season is over (I also just feel that we need a miniseries spinoff that sorts out Miles’ past relationships alone.
What did you think of the episode?