Revolution Review: “No Quarter”
“Could it be that Revolution is actually turning the corner?”
After an underwhelming second outing with last week’s episode “Chained Heat,” this week’s Revolution episode “No Quarter” left me with an unfamiliar sensation, something I haven’t felt in ohhhhh long before you were born. I actually kind of liked this one. I’m not sure, though, if it’s because I’m chained to a desk and forced to write this review, while suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, or if Revolution is actually beginning to live up to the hype that it promised in all those cool promos with post-apocalyptic Wrigley Field.
Could it be that Revolution is actually turning the corner? Let’s find out.
The “A” story this week involves Not-Katniss, Uncle Miles, and Nora as they make their way to a rebel base full of carefully placed American flags in order to show us that these rebels are the good freedom loving Star Wars kind. Uncle Miles, Nora, and Not-Katniss immediately get into a debate about whether they should stay or go at which point we all virtually high-five Uncle Miles for calling out Not-Katniss’ tendency to whine about finding her brother. Every time she does this, not only does a puppy die, but it also exposes one of the weaker character motivations and plot points in this already shaky narrative.
The Blackout Bunch decides to stay however after Not-Katniss postures with those big doe eyes and says “it’s my call.” Uncle Miles caves even though she’s never really good for anything other than making poor decisions and putting everyone in danger while somebody gets killed along the way. If this scenario pans out as established in prior weeks, she will charge in at the last moment supposedly saving the day when in reality she’s only just cleaning up the mess she’s made.
The militia attacks and a few rebels are killed, as predicted. Under siege, the rebels hunker in, while Uncle Miles gets busy living instead of dying by planning an escape “Shawshank Redemption-like,” carving a tunnel through the wall. Outside, the militia, led by their leader Jeremy (Lost’s Mark Pelligrino) are being picked off one-by-one by an unnamed rebel sniper that bears a passing resemblance to Lenny Kravitz (who we will not call Not-Cinna), as they advance on the complex.
Assuming that “B” stands for boring, our B-story has Danny Matheson spending the episode in shackles while being verbally assaulted by yet another evil militia soldier. Later that night the militiaman enters Danny’s tent and goes Full Metal Jacket on him. Danny later fakes an asthma attack made all the more convincing by the copious amount of dandelion seeds and dander floating in the air. The militiaman tries to help Danny, but Danny tricks him and wraps a chain around his evil loving neck and proceeds to choke the evil right out of him. Enter Captain Neville who sees Danny let the soldier go only after Danny asserts that he is now the alpha. You can practically see inside Captain Nevill’s head as he looks on, smirking inside as if to say “that’s my boy.”
Gods I really hope Danny joins the militia.
Over in our C story, Aaron and Psuedo Step Mom arrive at Grace’s empty home where Aaron again drops a couple of pop culture references (this time its “cuckoo for Coco Puffs” and Lucy yanking the football from Charlie Brown.) Later he goes on to give a really nice heartfelt speech, retelling the tale of being bullied as a child, making it big at Google, getting the girl, then losing it all when the lights go out, once again being subjected to the bullies of the world. This was great as it gave us a peek behind the geek mask that Aaron wears, revealing just how out of place he feels in this world and what he’s lost in the process. Wait…did I just give this show a compliment?
Back with the Blackout Bunch, after being held off all night, the militia rush the rebel base. So you know what happens next.
Uncle Miles captures Jeremy who immediately recognizes him. Interesting. And then the ball drops. Uncle Miles has been hiding a secret that threatens to make Not-Katniss very confused and unable to speak in coherent sentences as she “tries to understand.” Uncle Miles is revealed to be (Major Spoiler Alert) the former leader of the militia. Not only that but he is also responsible for all of the horrible acts, the violence, and the brutal tactics that the militia employs. Woah. I didn’t see that coming.
And here would be the perfect time to discuss the flashback. This week we see Uncle Miles and Munroe leave their army base months after the lights go out, with Miles visibly bothered by the lack of any command and decision-making from those in authority. Walking for months, Miles and Monroe come upon a grisly scene of murdered campers. A little further down the road they come across two men beating a man to an inch of his life. What is interesting in this scene is that Uncle Miles is the one to confront and ultimately shoot the men while Munroe seems to be the voice of reason, wanting to let them go. Miles, dispensing his own brand of post-electric justice shows us some of the ideological underpinnings of what would grow to become the militia. No one is providing order so we will do it for them.
And even more interesting, as they help the beaten man up it turns out to be Jeremy.
In the present, Uncle Miles allows himself to be taken by Jeremy and the militia in a trade for the safety of Not-Katniss, Nora, and the rebels. Fast forward to this being the the part where Not-Katniss comes in to save the day as she mounts a pretty exciting rescue, saving Uncle Miles, killing a few militiamen and blowing up a bridge.
“Please just lose the swords.”
At Grace’s house, the undampner inexplicably lights up and a nearby CD player begins to play some Marvin Gaye while Pseudo Step Mom’s iPhone, which she’s been carrying for 15 years, comes to life. We’ll forgive the nitpick-worthy bits of the scene such as how the battery still holds a charge after all these years, and focus on the intent of the scene which was to convey a very nice, heartwarming, and truly captivating sense of these folks getting to enjoy something they have only imagined for 15 years. Something that was ripped from them, for a fleeting brief moment is returned just enough to give them hope, and just enough to make them feel its loss as it’s ripped away from them yet again. It was a huge mature moment for the show that conveyed the weight of the situation. Even though the show so far has often failed in logically guiding us through a progression from setup to execution, in this moment they succeeded and then some.
In looking at this week’s production, it seems that somewhere in the last half of the episode Revolution might have slowly begun to turn the corner. With reports of its impending death being greatly exaggerated (ok ok, reports by me and only me) “No Quarter” is both competent and somewhat compelling.
In only its third episode it’s distanced itself from the spectre of last year’s show-with-promise Terra Nova, and with a “back 9 of episodes” being ordered by NBC we might get more and more of these really great character moments and twists if they can manage to keep ramping things up. We can see the course corrections that were made after the pilot as they are beginning to explore some avenues that didn’t have time to breathe, and the show is much better for it. I’m pretty critical of the logic fails and flubs of the first two episodes, but I must admit, and I’m glad to do so, that this episode was just this side of enjoyable.
It probably was way better than that, but I’m stubborn. Here’s to you, Revolution.
Please just lose the swords.