Would you like to ford the river? You have died of dysentery.
Network television dramas never fail to remind me that most tension and emotion arises not from a situation, but from good acting and good chemistry between characters. This show continues to suffer on that level- not that the acting is horrendous, though it is sub par. We get a few good moments here and there, but overall most of the emotional stuff falls pretty flat. I know they’re trying to keep the action plodding along, but this show could benefit from Charlie & Co. sitting still for a hot minute and hashing out some character development- not as individuals, but to establish a better group dynamic. Instead, the writers keep firing one-off melodramatic encounters at us. But since there’s no build-up, there’s no tension, and without tension, I’m not immersed enough in the situation to care. Well, enough complaining, let’s get to it.
Freeport, PA. We’re only a few hundred miles form Philly, folks! Our (potential) heroes need to cross the Allegheny on a bridge teeming with militia. Nora barters their way across it. Unfortunately, Miles realises they’re walking right into a trap. Strausser and his fellows gun them down, back across the bridge. This set looks awfully similar to the “Noblesville, IN” set. Our band off rebels hides in an abandoned warehouse. We learn that Strausser is the one man who scared Miles back in his militia days. They manage to escape Strausser’s men.
Strausser never heard the phrase “don’t kill the messenger.” He tells his men to, “Bring out the girl.” A flare is fired, and the militia calls for Nora, saying they have Mia. Charlie asks who she is, and Nora obviously replies, “My sister.” Duh, Charlie. There’s only one Hispanic character here. And how convenient for one of the main travellers to have a sibling. And how convenient for her to be in Strausser’s clutches. Sigh. Come, everyone, let’s pretend we don’t see where this is going.
Two months post-blackout. Young Nora and Mia hide under a bed. Scary boots come in looking around and tearing up their adolescent room. They have been left alone by their mother. Mia is quite scared, but Nora is being a brave big sister.
In the present, Strausser is hanging Mia by her arms, slowly crushing her to death. I mean, no doubt that would hurt, but I’m not sure if it would kill you in an hour. He demands Miles and the necklace in exchange for the girl’s life.
Our good guys plan some stuff. Aaron is worried. They all fret about what to do, as usual. I keep tuning out at these parts because it’s the same argument over and over- should we help this stranger who has nothing to do with our quest for Danny? Yes, yes, you’re going to do it, stop pretending otherwise.
Nate/Jason is being tortured. Neville is displeased, as it’s on Monroe’s orders. Monroe is with Col. Faber, discussing the lighthouse incident from last week. Neville is more worried about his son, showing he has a slight conscious. Jason is in trouble for helping Charlie, which Neville tries to dismiss as teenaged hormones. Monroe and Faber want to send Jason to California on a “diplomatic mission.” Aka they’re offing him. The alternative is outright execution for treason.
Back in Freeport, Nora does what she does and blows some shit up. They manage to get Mia. As our group escapes, Strausser sees Miles and comes after him… dramatic commercial break!
Did I miss something? Everyone is safe and sound in the woods suddenly, though still on the wrong side of the river. Can no one swim? There must be a place to cross; it’s not the Mississippi. I checked; it’s no more than 400 feet across. Granted, a swift current could make crossing a bitch, but it seems more survivable than guns. Anyway, Mia conveniently has a contact that can get them across. Our friends hide in the sewer while the militia passes overhead, evoking some Fellowship of the Rings imagery.
Flashback, four months post blackout. The girls are looking for their father in Galveston, TX. Hey! My cousin used to live there! Anyway, Mia is upset and demands answers, and Nora loses her patience and says their mom is dead, but they’ll wait for their dad to return.
It’s daytime now in the present. Mia says she was living happily with her dad in Texas. She’s mad at Nora for tagging along with Miles. And also for agreeing to go on a death mission. Mia is somewhat offended that Nora would help Charlie’s family, but desert her own. Sorrowful looks are exchanged. I’m tired of those. Someone needs to explain to the actors on NBC that “looking sad” isn’t a substitute for acting. The group sets out, but their coyote (aka the guy getting them across) is dead.
We get a nice little shot of our current map of the United States. Neville’s wife brings in Rose. She is a housecleaner who heard Colonel Faber talking about his son, who is mixed up with the rebels. Wifey transparently hopes to use this as leverage to save Jason. Her scheming turns Neville on.
Mia again tries to convince Nora to go back to Texas with her. Texas is its own giant country state now (of course). Mia doesn’t want to go alone. All the women look weepy again, including Charlie. Seriously, is “tortured despondency” the only emotion anyone with two X chromosomes can have? Charlie tells her to go. Miles starts to say goodbye to Nora awkwardly, but she interrupts him with sexy make-outs. Miles says they won’t see each other again, but Nora is marginally more optimistic.
Colonel Faber is getting the shit beat out of him due to Neville’s information. Monroe had his son and the fellow rebels executed on the spot. John (the colonel) is obviously innocent of treason against Monroe, but Sebastian is a bit too crazy-eyed to notice. He is suspicious of Neville, but thanks him nonetheless. He agrees to keep Jason from going to California, but also issues a warning to keep the boy in line.
Mia teases Nora for thinking about Miles and everything seems hunky-dory for a moment. That is, until they are cornered by Strausser. Except not really. Mia’s been working for him. Obviously. She hands him the necklace and tells him where the Matheson crew will be. Nora’s life was saved in exchange for theirs.
Back from commercial and Nora’s pretty ticked. Mia’s been bounty hunting for the militia. She says she never had a choice. She never really found their dad. Nora goes after Miles & Co. Mia is incredulous that she’d choose her friends over her family.
Aaron realises he’s missing the pendant. Before he and Miles can get into a fight (gosh, who would win?), the militia attacks. Strausser taunts Miles a bit; meanwhile, Nora is sneaking up on them from behind. Miles comes out, unarmed, and calls Strausser a sociopath. He’s pretty smarmy. Nora takes control of the situation by shooting a lot of people. Miles tries to shoot Strausser, but the gun is out of bullets. The group runs themselves into a trap, aka a cliff over rapids. They all jump in and WHY DIDN’T THEY DO THAT FORTY-NINE MINUTES AGO?! It’s a treacherous journey, but it still somehow seems easier than dealing with the militia.
I guess they made it across the river. Aaron is mad at himself for getting the necklace stolen. Miles emphasises that Aaron fucked up. Aaron gets it. Poor dude. At the same time, Nora is sympathetic to Aaron’s plight.
Last flashback for the night. Nora is tucking Mia into bed. She asks if they’re going to die. Nora tells her a comforting story about how they’re sisters and they’ll always be together. You know, kudos producers for finding children who make pretty good young versions of the older actresses.
Strausser shows up with the necklace, giving it to Monroe, who stares at it like Gollum stares at his precious.
Mrs. Neville dotes upon the bloodied and bruised Jason. Cap’n Tom and his wife get cosy over their little scheme. The missus asks about Sebatian’s emotional state, saying that without Miles around, no one can keep him in check. She says he isn’t fit to lead the republic. Tom tells her to shut her treasonous whore mouth, but is secretly turned on that she wants him to rule instead. Behind every great man…
Rachel is fixing something or other. Monroe shows up, flashing his new bling. He gives it to her, telling her to get to work. She’s building what looks like a particle accelerator, but probably isn’t.
Grace and Randall are tracking the pendants. They realise Monroe has one. They’ve got a factory situation running over there. Oh god, octagons. Dharma initiative?
All I want is for us to take a break from the "action" and make me feel like Charlie & Co. are actually invested in each other. They keep saying they are, but they never actually demonstrate that they are. Good writing is showing, not telling. The action is fun enough, but it's not good enough to sustain this show long term. I do enjoy the development with Neville's conniving wife.
Next week: the battle for power (literally and figuratively) featuring Led Zeppelin!