Another day, another JJ Abrams-approved show for me to meticulously deconstruct
Guys, I can’t lie to you- I was sort of looking forward to the Revolution premiere. If there’s one thing at the top of my “loves” list, it’s post-apocalyptic futures. Also probably on that list is Giancarlo Esposito. So despite the fact that this show has JJ Abrams’ stamp of approval, I am cautiously optimistic about its future. But let’s examine in more detail.
We open to a family with all the hallmarks of present-day suburban life. One child is zoned out watching television; another plays with an iPad; their mom talks to her mother on the phone. Dad rushes in, frantic. “It’s happening.” Meanwhile, two bros are cruising the streets of Port Royal, South Carolina. Ben (our frantic dad) calls his brother, the driver, to explain that, “Everything is going to turn off.” Thanks for the clarity there. Before the brother can figure out what he means, everything turns off. So I guess he probably did figure it out. Ben finishes downloading some files onto a thumb drive, which he plugs into a teardrop necklace. Meanwhile, all the electricity everywhere turns off.
Fifteen years later (2027 for math wizzes out there) we get a voiceover of a guy explaining electricity to a bunch of prairie school children. Okay, not really, it’s just that everything is wooden and everyone is harvesting corn and what have you. Their school teacher, a pudgy guy with thick glasses (we must establish nerdism! Stereotypes all around!) marvels at how physics pretty much went to shit. I’ll say. How could all electricity everywhere just stop? I mean you could destroy generators, but that doesn’t explain why battery-operated stuff went out. And if some sort of massive EMP fried literally anything with electricity… well, we’d all be dead because our physiology is largely dependent on an electron gradient. Okay, okay, I’m done.
Meanwhile, a young girl (Charlie, the catatonic television viewer from earlier, only an adult now) is off “hunting” with her brother Danny. They find an abandoned camper. She reminisces about ice cream and finds a postcard of Wrigley Field (goddamn Wrigleyville) and he has an asthma attack. She brings him back to her dad and his new mistress, who is a nice British Doctor Lady, apparently named Maggie. I’ll be honest; I had to look that up. Anyway, it’s the usual family angst situation- mom’s dead, daughter is upset, daughter runs off to reminisce about the before-time on a rusty Ferris wheel. That seems like a terrible plan. Those things aren’t even sturdy now, right here, in 2012, and you’re sitting in one that’s been abandoned for fifteen years? Let me know how that works out for you.
Meanwhile, Giancarlo Esposito/Gus Fring/ Capt. Neville (that’s the relevant one) marches in to town with his horse-drawn militia. Ben hurredly hands off his teardrop USB to Aaron (the nerd) and answers Gus’s call when he asks for Ben Matheson on behalf of Sebastian Monroe. Can I please keep calling him Gus? It feels so right. So we establish that there’s some sort of government in place, run by this Monroe fellow. Though Ben makes to go with, his son Danny threatens Gus with a crossbow while a few other villagers draw weapons. The militia pulls its weapons as well, and we have something of a Mexican standoff. Then Danny shoots and the whole thing goes to hell. Ben, along with a bunch of villagers, gets shot, because Gus doesn’t have time for this shit and straight pulls a magnum out on them. (Maybe, I don’t actually know guns.) Danny is taken. Charlie hears the gunfight from her Ferris wheel and returns to watch her father die. He charges her with a quest- find his brother… for I guess, reasons? Because he’ll “know what to do?” Why didn’t they go find him fifteen years ago?
Charlie packs her lunchbox of memories (my emo band’s next album title). Maggie and Aaron decide they are also coming, which Charlie isn’t thrilled about. I don’t blame her- maybe they should bring some people along who are actually capable of hunting or fighting.
Danny, meanwhile, is alive but handcuffed to a wagon. He smarms Gus, who slaps him across the face. Yeah, bitch, don’t fuck with Gustavo Fring- erm, Captain Neville.
Charlie and co camp out. We establish that Miles is good at fighting. So maybe that’s why we’re finding him? Sure, okay. In the morning, she goes to collect water, where she finds a young man who I assume is considered attractive by the youth of today, though he looks kind of squinty to me. His name is Nate. They flirt a bit, she gets her water, she leaves. He’s totally not going to follow her or anything, I am so sure.
Danny is still captive. He finds a loose screw to the pipe he’s chained to and gets to work on it.
The travellers come across an abandoned airport, I’m assuming O’Hare. Instead of taking the blue line into town, they camp out for the night in the plane. Aaron also explains he used to work for Google and is technically super rich and misses toilet paper.
Danny gets loose and belts a dude with the pipe. It’s pretty sweet.
Their plan to hang out in the airport doesn’t pan out so well, though, as they wake up to knives at their throats. Maggie tries to barter for freedom with whiskey she’s got in her bag, but the marauders decide to get drunk and rape/murder, instead of just doing it sober. Fortunately, Maggie’s whiskey is actually poison. Charlie is struggling with another guy, but our friend Nate offs him with an arrow for her. I guess that’s one way to win a woman over. Anyway, he gets to travel with them now.
Danny has gone from being pipe-wielding badass to asthmatic dweeb. Way to go, man.
The group of four passes Wrigley Field in all its dilapidated wonder. There’s not nearly enough ivy covering that place, not after fifteen years. I shouldn’t even be able to see it. Also, geographically their route doesn’t make any sense at all. Wrigley is a total detour from O’Hare if you’re headed downtown, which they clearly are, since next we’re in River North, which looks like something out of a Wild West film. Also, why did they have to walk over the river? Walton and Wrigley are both north of there. So many issues. Geographical disparity aside, they go to a hotel called The Grand (I totes got married here! –Aaron) to find Miles, Ben’s brother. He’s the bartender, and though he pretends he has no idea who this “Miles” is, when Charlie tells him that Ben is dead, he noticeably pauses. He tells Charlie to come with him, though nearly kills Nate when he insists upon coming, too.
Danny wakes up on a farm with a woman with a shotgun aimed at him. She saved his life with her son’s inhaler.
Miles is explaining to Charlie that this Monroe fellow thinks her father knew why the lights went out. He says Danny is bait for him and he’s not falling for it. Charlie gets ultra-melodramatic. Also we learn that Nate is in the militia, thanks to Miles revealing his brand. Nate runs away like a startled fawn. Miles figures he’ll bring back the militia and thus he’s screwed, so why not celebrate with some single malt? Death? Bring it on!
At the farm, Gus reveals he used to be an insurance adjuster. Apparently insurance adjusters are good trackers, because he also figured out she had Danny. He gets recaptured.
Back at The Grand, the militia shows up. Miles dramatically descends the stairs with his sword in hand and proceeds with kicking/stabbing/flipping the ever loving shit out of everyone there. Seriously it’s cool, check it out. Charlie and co hadn’t really left him to die; they kill a couple people themselves. Also, Charlie is saved by Nate again. Miles surveys his damage. It’s pretty extensive.
After a touching family reunion, we see a flashback of what happened to Miles and his friend after the lights went out. They got back to their marine base where he showed his ID card, but his friend didn’t have his. Instead he shows them a tattoo with his name on it- Sebastian Monroe. His tattoo is identical to the militia’s brands. Dun dun dun?
Not quite ready for that. Danny’s almost-savior heads to her attic. She’s carrying the same USB/necklace thing that Ben gave to Aaron. She activates it, and a lightbulb and computer system turn on- portable elctricitysphere?! She IMs someone to tell them the militia had visited her but didn’t discover her magic USB. So… what now?
So there you have it. That’s the pilot episode of Revolution. I won’t lie, it wasn’t particularly striking, but it shows potential. And hell, that fight scene WAS pretty rad. I just wish they could figure out the city's geography. I’m willing enough to keep tuning in, but I’m not sure how they can make much more than a season out of this. But hey, if it’s popular enough I’m sure they’ll find a way.