The Messy First Season of 'Revolution' Ends Tonight. Here's Why You Should Tune In...
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Television

The Messy First Season of 'Revolution' Ends Tonight. Here's Why You Should Tune In...

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Tonight marks the season finale for Revolution, the Giancarlo Esposito co-starring first

show to premiere from this year’s TV season and unusually, because of its four

month break earlier this year (and being preempted because of news coverage of

the Boston bombing), the last major network one to finish.  While Revolution began strong, leading it to be the first show renewed

for the 2013-14 season, this show about a post-apocalpytic America and its

denizens forced to live without electricity and technology, a concept ripe for

boundless potential, fell wayward early into its first season.

By seven episodes in, silly and implausible scenarios overtook

the show as it seemed creator and showrunner Eric Kripke (creator of Supernatural) and his writers did not know

what stories they wanted to tell or which character should be center stage: teen

eventual-revolutionary Charlie or her uncle, the redemptive ex-militia bad guy

Miles.   Viewer attention

waned, as did NBC’s investment into the show, which at first drew excellent

ratings and fans because of its lead-in from The Voice as well as NBC’s brilliance of premiering the show on

Hulu weeks before the official network premiere.  But upon the  March 26th return said ratings, while repeatedly winning

its 10pm timeslot and performing considerably better than its temporary

replacement, Megan Goode’s wanna-be sexy thriller Deception, dipped and NBC cut the episode order by two marking

tonight’s broadcast at the unusual number 20.  This show returns this Fall in the NBC death knell timeslot

of Wednesday at 8pm, smack dab in family hour despite the show’s violence.

Still, despite the reluctance of critics and audience alike

to give Revolution much credit for,

well, solid storytelling, beyond continuing to watch to see how much crazier

the show can get, I want to make some defenses for why especially our readers

should still tune in tonight and next season:


What would you really

do to survive?

Though Revolution

has taken divergences in its plotlines, which is fine because even a well

thought out show has to develop organically, past the ‘world without power and

technology’ plot the above question is the major theme of the show.  Once causal viewers got over that show

co-lead Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) was not Katniss Everdeen just because she

sported a bow and arrow (In a world without tech? What a surprise!), they could

focus on the survival aspect.  For

Miles, played by Billy Burke from the Twilight

series of films, when the world went into chaos he became a heartless killer in

order to attain power for what became the Monroe Republic, one of America’s

biggest new territories run by his childhood friend, the increasingly

Hamlet-like Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons), before abandoning them under a new

wasteful life.  For Rachel

Matheson, the mother of Charlie and Miles’ sister-in-law/could-have-been lover,

she would give up her freedom and surrender herself to the Monroe Republic in

order to divert him from her family – though that plan only worked for nine or

so years before they killed her husband Ben in a firefight.    And for rebel fighter Nora (Daniella Alonso), looking to restore America to its pre-blackout

unity, she gets captured and tortured so brutally that she gives up her fellow

fighters location to Monroe, something they way too casually forgave her for (but the act was nonetheless was amazingly unforgivable, especially internally for her).

Essentially, the show is all about making the hard choices

and then dealing with the fallout from that, which in the fictional and real

world is never as neat as we wish and can create both

lasting tragedy and drama.  This is

not a novel for concept for storytelling, much less on a show produced by JJ

Abrams (see every episode of Lost, Fringe, and Felicity’s controversial haircut), but it is one the writers

should focus on instead of all the testosterone-filled gunplay they have shown

in the second half of season one. 

 

Tom and Jason:  A rarely seen complex Black father & son

relationship 

For Tom Neville, played intelligently and deviously by

Giancarlo Esposito, he turned from a pre-blackout geeky guy taking verbal and

emotional from his superiors into a man who would kill, and lose his soul, in

order to make sure his wife and ungrateful son Jason (JD Pardo) not have to live in squalor.   Tom constantly tries to make a ‘man’ out of Jason, and

ultimately fails.  Tom started the

season as a Captain Tom Neville, the right hand man to General Monroe (a

position once held by Miles), with Jason serving as a soldier under him

infiltrating Charlie’s group when they were on the search for her kidnapped

brother Danny, before falling in love with her.  But when Jason’s constant betrayal with his repeatedly letting

Charlie and company get away drives a wedge between father and son, Tom had to

choose between his son and his wife, and ultimately chose her over his traitor

son, brutally beating Jason and leaving him to fend on his own yet declaring to

Monroe that he Jason died in battle. 

Jason ultimately joins the rebel army and reunited with Charlie, even

pulling a double-cross on the eventually captured Tom to prove his new

loyalties before Tom could escape the rebel camp. 

After all of his and Jason’s recent failures Tom knew that

his life was worthless to Monroe and soon as he made it back to the Republic he

got his wife to safety in another territory, the Georgia Federation.  Tom’s knowledge of Monroe was

invaluable and the GF president made him a top military aide and sent him to

work with the rebels in order to shut down Monroe as well as get hold of some

access to Monroe’s power and tech. 

Tom and Jason’s reunion proved tumultuous, but Tom ultimately proved his

devotion to his son in this past episode when he saved his life, which

unfortunately got them both captured by Monroe Republic soldiers.

While the show writers seem unsure where to take Tom and

Jason, making them floaters amuck in the grey area between the subjective good

guys and bad guys, at least their characters have clear motivations and a relationship

grounded in somewhat of a reality. It is messy, with the immature Jason making

his father seem evil for making hard yet rational life decisions, yet it is

also grounded in the testing fathers and sons have with each other when the

father does not realize that he has to let his son grow up to be his own type

of man.  So yes, the writers have

something going here and hopefully we can see a good resolution tonight. This clip may provide insight on that:

 

Black characters?

That actually do stuff?  Nah?

I have already mentioned Tom and Jason above, but there are

other Black and non-white characters in Revolution

with significant roles. In my first write-up about the series I focused on now

recurring character Grace Beaumont, played by Maria Howell (The Color

Purple), one of the scientists forced to cause the blackout (*snicker*) and

also the first person we see being able to temporarily access technology

through the use of an USB-ended pendant. 

Grace would ultimately get captured by her former boss Randall Flynn

(Colm Feore) in order to unlock The Tower – a facility with unlimited weapons

that was shielded from the blackout – where is where we last saw her, safe and

sound living with the people who protect The Tower from outside forces.  Her story most likely resolves

tonight. 

Esposito, I should note has some great lines in the second

half of the season, despite the overall plots being problematic.  His best one, as pointed out by

TV.com’s Tim Surette, is:  Neville

(to Miles) upon delivering weapons to the rebel camp – “If you don’t work with me I’ll take it all back, and you can go

back to being the general of my nuts!”

Meanwhile rebel fighter Nora Clayton is played by a Latina,

the aforementioned Daniella Alonso, though no references to her culture, or for

that matter the culture of any character, seems to be mentioned above the fact

that no one possesses electricity. It would be promising to think that the end

of the world as we know it would prompt racial divisiveness, but why would it

end pride in your culture?  Anyway,

at least Latinos are physically represented. 

Jim Hudson is another recurring character. Played by Malik Yoba, most recently seen on the

SyFy series Alphas, he plays a former

captain and tactician of the Monroe Republic who Miles recruits in order train

the rebel forces.  The reluctant

rebel recruit turns out to be a scumbag and betrays the rebel forces after

Monroe holds his wife hostage, causing their numbers to dwindle by the hundreds

after a drone attack (how Monroe get access to drone planes is beyond

comprehension).  After a drag down

fight Miles kills Jim.  The other

significant character of color was rebel leader Nicholas, played by character

actor Derek Webster. Nicholas was a

former minister, and presumed former lover of Nora as well, who after the

blackout was forced to take up arms and fight the good fight.  He had significance on the show before

being killed by Tom Neville in his escape from the rebel camp (see more on that in my previous Revolution writeup – 

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/this-past-week-in-black-television).  

While

three to four speaking characters of color being represented in significant roles is a

not groundbreaking feat, at least it is a step in the right direction. Most of

these characters have of had their own agency, affecting change throughout the

series.  Sadly, the lone Black

female among the group, Grace, had zero agency and was being treated as a pawn

whenever we saw her. 

 

Revolution

has time next season to turn around all the troubles it has, most of which I

did not even mention here. 

Hopefully the show can maintain a sense of wonder, and yes, even

craziness, while correcting the fumbles it created in season one.  As long as they do not mess up

Giancarlo Esposito’s Tom Neville too much, I will be a happy, though reluctant,

camper. 

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