In an effort to regain some composure after a truly lackluster episode, many shows would do something amazing like feature a cold open where Billy Burke tosses an unconscious Timothy Busfield down an industrial laundry chute, and simply call it a day. But that’s not enough for Revolution. No, Revolution is willing to go the extra mile and also cast Michael Gladis (a.k.a. Paul Kinsey), as reparation for last week’s mostly unsuccessful episode, ‘Home.’
To that end, ‘The Love Boat’ also manages to throw Giancarlo Esposito back into thick of things, as Tom Neville joins Miles’ “adorable rebel cause” in an effort to thwart Monroe from weaponizing the anthrax virus. In order to do this, the two much put aside their differences and work together to retrieve Dr. Stephen Camp (Busfield) from Monroe’s men, which sounds like a fairly standard episode for Revolution, until it’s revealed that President Foster wants Camp’s anthrax for herself and the Georgia Federation.
And with all of these elements in play, the episode certainly runs at a much brisker pace and is, for the most part, more entertaining than ‘Home,’ but ultimately ‘The Love Boat’ offers little in the way of a consistent narrative, as most of the elements feel wildly disparate and much too scattered for this late in the season. In fact, there’s hardly anything for Busfield and Gladis to do other than be a face some people might remember having seen on another program.
Much of the issue at hand appears to stem from whatever retooling the series underwent during its winter hiatus, and while that afforded the writers the opportunity to unload some dead weight early on, the shifting of other pieces hasn’t gone quite as smoothly. And now, as with the digressive storyline in ‘Home,’ some of those key elements are being forced to take a back seat to certain new developments and twists that feel too much like last minute add-ons.
That’s not to say these new developments are entirely unsuccessful; Giancarlo Esposito manages to do much more with Tom Neville than one would expect, considering what little time he’s been given to expand the character and his profile. (The same can be said for Colm Feore’s Randall Flynn, an unfortunately underused asset to the series whose only appearance in this episode is to be referred to as “my IT guy” by Monroe before having his life threatened.)
Mainly, Neville’s presence is used to illustrate just how far Miles has slipped back into his whole General Matheson routine, and how the ruthlessness that made him infamous is creeping back. There’s an effort made to show Miles’ regression is due in part to the unfortunate death of Emma in the previous episode, but given how little the audience actually knows about their relationship, that aspect rings a little hollow. Still, like Esposito, Burke manages to be convincing in his depiction and the two rekindle a little of what made their encounters earlier in the season the high mark for the series.
‘The Love Boat’ hinges entirely on the tension created with the sudden appearance of Neville, and that pressure is augmented by the episode largely taking place within the confined areas of a Georgia Federation steamboat. Nora, Charlie and Jason all take issue with the plans to hold Dr. Camp’s family hostage to ensure he weaponizes anthrax for Georgia, and the trio stage a short-lived mutiny, locking Miles and Neville away in order to try and free Camp and his family. After a brief standoff, Miles comes to his senses and aids the others in freeing the doctor, leaving Neville behind to face Monroe’s men.
When Neville makes his way back to the rebel camp, he’s left with no cards to play, as Miles’ performance against the Monroe Militia trumps Tom’s threats to pull his troops from the rebels’ camp. It’s a shift in the power dynamic that will hopefully yield some positive results in that storyline, as well as more involvement from Esposito.
The other storyline attempts to strengthen Rachel and Aaron’s relationship, as Rachel is injured after killing a plainsman determined to execute them for stealing food. But the big reveal is that Aaron’s technological background is somehow wrapped up in the blackout, suggesting and he Ben (remember him?) deliberately found Aaron after the event. The revelation feels tacked-on, to be sure, but it probably isn’t as baffling as watching Randall’s right hand man be reduced to an elevator bloodstain while attempting to investigate the Tower‘s mysterious twelfth floor.
The fact that so many elements of this episode feel like last minute rewrites does little to help introduce this new development (whatever it may be), but hopefully, as the season reaches its conclusion, Revolution will be able to convincingly demonstrate it was part of the plan all along.
Revolution continues next Monday with ‘The Longest Day’ @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: