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REVIEW: 'Revolution' - 'Chained Heat'

Revolution

 

Before I get to this week's episode, let's address a couple of things about the show. As with all science fiction, Revolution requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief. Trying to analyze and criticize the believability of the central conceit completely misses the point and would be akin to questioning the existence of zombies or apes with human intelligence or warp drive in space. It doesn't matter if a blackout like the one in Revolution could actually happen; the show is about what would happen to society and, in particular, this group of characters if it did happen.

There is also a mistaken belief that a primetime network show should be as unrelentingly gritty and gory as premium cable fare like Game of Thrones or feature films, such as The Road. That's just not feasible, and believe me I would love to see an HBO version of this show. But looking at it realistically, considering the corporate sponsors and broader audience of NBC, Revolution is surprisingly violent and features plenty of deaths, both on-screen and implied. It also attempts to delve into the deeper layers of the situation, albeit in a sanitized network fashion.

 

Revolution

Entitled "Chained Heat," this episode dealt with two deaths in particular. As part of her mission to rescue her brother Danny, Charlie had to shoot two members of the Monroe Republic militia, marking the first time she had ever killed anyone. Earlier, she had convinced Miles to spare the life of a bounty hunter, but she came to change her mind on the death penalty when the man showed up again to do harm. Disappointingly, the trauma of shooting two people at close range wasn't addressed in any meaningful way beyond Charlie's despair over whether what she did was good, concluding that they shouldn't have to live this way and presumably moving on with her life.

 

Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos)

Why do they have to live this way? Because a bunch of assholes calling themselves the Monroe Republic assumed control of the territory after the blackout and passed laws banning firearms. Not only did they take away their guns, they outlawed the American flag, as Captain Tom Neville of the Republic's militia declares it a "rebel flag" and orders one burned after finding it in a citizen's home. When one of his soldiers receives a gunshot wound that will kill him, the supposedly villainous Neville euthanizes him and prays over his grave. What kind of people would advocate gun control, euthanasia, and burning the flag? At about this point, I realize that Revolution is a show that is actually quite right-leaning.

 

Revolution

I'll be surprised if more Republicans aren't touting the show after this episode. Not only does it promote fear of those who would try to restrict firearms, there is also a religious component. Early on, a street preacher rails on against technology and notes that they had "power without truth" and "followers without family," presumably referencing Twitter. By highlighting Maggie's story about carrying around a dysfunctional iPhone because it contains the only pictures of her children she has, the show delights in pointing out how foolishly reliant our society is on technology.

 

Capt. Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito)

This thought about the political interpretations of Revolution really struck me when it came to the casting of Giancarlo Esposito as Captain Neville, a murderous psychopath who was an insurance adjuster prior to the blackout. Whether intentional or not, he physically resembles President Barack Obama and is depicted as enforcing the government's will on the true patriots of the United States, now branded rebels and freedom fighters. This is the final piece of the puzzle. Revolution is a conservative's wet dream.

 

Revolution

Putting my hypothesis aside, Revolution continues the story from last week and adds to the intrigue regarding the central mystery of the blackout. The enigma surrounding the flashdrive pendants that can apparently restore power and the old-school computers connecting to some sort of text-based internet is furthered, and there is a major reveal of a character said to have died. Rachel Matheson, the mother that Charlie and Danny believed to be dead, was shown being held captive by Sebastian Monroe.

Rachel Matheson

As revealed last week, Monroe was riding with Miles on the night of the blackout and knows that the Mathesons have more information on the cause and the possibility of restoring power. After informing Rachel of her husband's death, Monroe tells her that he is holding her son and orders her to tell him everything she knows. A good cliffhanger to end the episode and hook me for next week. While last week's show was better, this was still a solid outing.

FINAL GRADE: B-


Anonymous

Message Posted On Oct 19th, 2012, 7:01 am
Interesting to see others making the connection between Obama and Neville. I wrote the following Wednesday, Oct. 17, the day after the 2nd Presidential debate... President Obama's supporters are happy that he came out swinging, and he certainly did that. But he gave up the one thing he has had going for him - his likeability. It was always based on an image the media had manufactured for him. But for his entire presidency, even when his job approval numbers were in the tank, the electorate liked him, or they liked the man they thought he was. But last night, he reminded us of the Captain Neville character in NBC's "Revolution." More on that in a moment. But first, Obama's strong retort on Benghazi seemed rehearsed and mis-used. The question was about the failure to provide requested security. Obama didn't touch that. No big surprise inasmuch as it is routine for a candidate to answer the question he wants to answer rather than the one that was asked. But after Romney's comments wherein he did not accuse the President of cover-up (although a fair analysis would have to acknowledge that he left the door open to such a charge), Obama snapped back indignantly, essentially saying, "How dare you accuse me of a cover-up!" But Romney hadn't. Obama had heard the accusation no doubt in debate preparation, and had practiced his angry indignation. And so on cue, he whipped it out, but it was the wrong cue. After Obama charged Romney with investing in China, Romney later came back with the observation that Obama too has investments in China. They both have blind trusts, as is typical and appropriate for a President, or an aspiring President. As Obama interrupted, trying for all he was worth to keep his hypocrisy from being exposed, his hypocrisy became evident. My wife and I watched the debate, and then we watched Monday night's episode of "Revolution" (the convenience of online viewing!) wherein Neville was shown to be a misguided but idealistic professional and a caring family man who turned into an arrogant, mean-spirited bully. That's the way Obama came across last night.
SoupOrMan

Message Posted On Sep 26th, 2012, 9:49 am
I have heard a lot of mixed reviews about Revolution, so I though I would check it out for myself. I just watched both episodes at DISH Online on the train ride home and I think I might be hooked. Like you said, the premise doesn’t really have any basis in physics, so I don’t have any desire to know what caused the disappearance of the power. What I do want to know though is why some one would cause the power to go out. I heard some one say that the black out was man made, but how did they benefit from it? Ben had a necklace so he was obviously in on what ever happened, but what side was he on? This guy that works at DISH with me pointed out that if some one created the black out then maybe Monroe isn’t the big dog on the block. I think he might be right.
Chrononaut

Level 3 (9%)
Points: 1.5
Since: 02/Aug/12
Message Posted On Sep 25th, 2012, 1:53 am

Did you watch it? The thought really struck me when Neville mentioned the law banning firearms, right after Charlie had changed her mind on the idea of killing. The themes of the show seem to be quite similar to beliefs held by Republicans and conservatives. That's not a judgment on its quality either. Just an observation.

mcpherson

Level 3 (36%)
Since: 15/Feb/12
Message Posted On Sep 24th, 2012, 3:52 pm

Probably reading a little too much into the politics. Having said that, well-written review. 

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