As season 1 winds down, Revolution ramps up its perplexing late-game storytelling decisions, abandoning promising storylines and characters in favor of mysterious additions to the plot that provide a short-term boost in terms of intrigue, but appear to pull the series farther away from its original conceit.
Case in point: the sci-fi world the show has decided to nest in takes the concept of a world without power and hands groups of people cars, helicopters, drones and other energy-consuming devices whenever the plot calls for it, in favor of pushing a storyline about nanomachines, whatever is lurking in the Tower, and whether or not Charlie and Jason will have a long, meaningful relationship.
For its part, ‘Clue’ picks up where last week’s episode left off: with Nora in Monroe’s clutches. Naturally, the paranoid Monroe wants to know where Miles and his merry band of rebels are located and what their plans are, and after it becomes clear the prisoner won’t be partaking in any of Monroe’s niceties, the torture begins. Nora spends 21 days alternating between being smacked around by one of Monroe’s thugs and being dosed with some sort of serum by Sanborn (Leland Orser), who fakes Nora’s death and drives her out of the militia compound after she’s spilled the beans on Rachel’s journey to the Tower.
After finding her and questioning Sanborn (what is it about Leland Orser and interrogation rooms?), Miles puts together a small group to try and intercept Monroe’s army before they can reach Rachel. Just looking at everyone piling into the copter makes your brain start calculating the odds of who is expendable, and while it’s plainly obvious that the group is going to be making some cutbacks, the fact that the episode devolves into a paranoid murder mystery becomes the real surprise.
Now Revolution is the kind of show that might readily benefit from dabbling in the waters of a different type of story, and in this case, the show certainly wants to try its hand at becoming a classic whodunit, after the helicopter pilot and one other officer turn up dead with Xs slashed into their throats. Structurally speaking, ‘Clue’ is a fairly tight, swift episode, but instead of playing up the usual tropes of a murder mystery by, say, heightening the sense of paranoia or the feeling that these desperate characters have formed a volatile group that is mere seconds away from turning on itself, ‘Clue’ primarily sets out to prove that Jason’s really an okay guy, so that his romance with Charlie can find some form of validation.
The episode drops two blatant red herrings early on, with Nora’s drug-related hallucinations and flashbacks to Nate’s run-in with a member of the militia back in Atlanta. The two possibilities are so clearly telegraphed that no sooner are they revealed than Nate and Nora should be crossed off the viewer’s list of suspects. But blatantly telegraphing an event isn’t the worst crime perpetrated by ‘Clue’; it’s how the series once more spends an episode telling a story adjacent to the central plot, rather than attempting to progress it in any meaningful way.
Moreover, Revolution abandons the promising character of Jim Hudson and the storyline of Miles’ recruiting all of his old buddies to help bring down Monroe, in favor of a last minute twist that once again demonstrates the reach of Monroe’s army. Sadly, however, Jim’s betrayal isn’t nearly as potent as it could have been since he’s only had slightly more screen time than the unessential Emma character from a few weeks back. Once the body count is tallied, three people are dead and the Miles half of the storyline hasn’t advanced much beyond knowing it must somehow head toward Colorado and the Tower.
In that regard, Elizabeth Mitchell’s Rachel has gone from helpless captive, to potential love interest for Miles, to grieving mother hell bent on revenge. Sure, there’re plenty of reasons for Rachel to want Monroe dead, but her sudden apathy toward other people and steadfast determination to kill Bass – even if it means sacrificing herself in the process – doesn’t really fit with the way Mitchell has portrayed her up to this point and feels too much like a character being hastily rewritten for the purpose of plot. And while her marching into Monroe’s tent with a live grenade feels incongruent with her character, perhaps it will prove to be the real deal and the show can finally transition Randall into the position of big bad – but I doubt it.
Whatever happens seems like a secondary plot point, though, as the Tower has become the focal point of Revolution now. And while the questions of what’s inside the Tower are intriguing, will the truth be as appealing, or will the series be forced to set up another mystery?
Revolution continues next Monday with ‘Children of Men’ @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: