As this season of Revolution saunters toward its finale, the storyline has begun pull back the curtain on nearly all of the series’ central mysteries. And to the series’ credit – or more because it feels like the show is being written while each episode is filmed – the storyline has made some quick work in regard to the new narrative focal point that is the mysterious Tower and its inhabitants whom we recently made the acquaintance of.
What it hasn’t done, however, is make a convincing case that this was the intended destination for a series that started off pitting soldiers against one another with swords, arrows and the occasional musket. Now, characters are flying helicopters and running around with electromagnetic rifles firing off explosive rounds that send their target violently hurtling backward through a cloud of their own blood. As was mentioned above, there’s the overwhelming feeling that Revolution is just making it all up on the fly, and while a feeling of spontaneity is usually a great thing, this has created a rather problematic identity crisis for a series that was briefly a bright spot in the NBC line-up.
In the last few episodes, however, the show had managed to keep some interest alive by teasing what was in the Tower. But after a few episodes of contemplating what nano-related madness could be lurking on Level 12 that was capable of splattering one of Randall’s henchmen all over the inside of an elevator, the reveal that Landry’s dad (Glenn Morshower from Friday Night Lights) was behind it all came off as somewhat underwhelming.
Despite finding out that its not some nano-infused superhuman wandering around the Tower, or a killer Roomba looking to cleanse the place, the mystery of why Landry’s dad is attacking Monroe and Randall with electromagnetic rifles is enough to keep some interest alive, and the fact that the episode is briskly paced and peppered with plenty of actions sequences also helps.
As evidence of how well the series does when it’s focused more on action comes when Monroe and Rachel alone together in Cheney’s “undisclosed location” and the episode’s momentum grinds to a halt. By this point it’s clear that Rachel was outrageously unsuccessful in her attempt to assassinate Monroe during last episode’s climax. Not only did she fail to relieve the world of the burden that is Monroe, but she barely even disrupted the rest of the militia’s night-shift with the mostly harmless explosion caused by her poorly handled grenade.
In Cheney’s bunker, however, the two have a heart-to-heart where Monroe apologizes for his role in Danny’s death and acknowledges the blood that is on his hands. While it seems like a character building moment for Monroe, it’s really just an opportunity to show an unnecessary flashback, revealing the guilt Rachel and Ben had felt over their involvement in the blackout, and the growing problems in their marriage as a result. It’s one thing to show how a character feels about their association to an event that caused worldwide devastation, but also throwing in domestic distress feels like totally unnecessary at this stage in the game.
Thankfully, the rest of the episode manages to run at a breakneck pace, putting Miles, Nora, Charlie and Aaron in the chaos of the Tower, while the militia takes Neville and Jason prisoner. This presents a character moment for Neville that’s long overdue, as he successfully convinces a young militia captain to free him and his son so that he can stage a coup and overthrow Monroe. The most surprising moment comes when Jason speaks on his father’s behalf, proclaiming him as a man who puts the welfare of his soldiers first. It’s unclear whether or not Jason’s playing a game to ensure his freedom, but nevertheless, it’s a compelling moment for Neville, pointing to a character arc which seemed ready to go earlier in the season, had the narrative not been derailed by the quest of finding the Tower.
Of course, the title of the episode, ‘Children of Men,’ calls to mind Alfonso Cuarón’s masterful sci-fi film from 2006, which, by comparison, depicted a future society on the brink of collapse. In that regard, perhaps it was a mistake to willfully remind viewers of a superior product, but the connection between the title (if not the movie) and the Tower posse is mostly clear.
At any rate, the finale is set up with Miles and Monroe facing off with one another yet again, while Grace and Rachel drop the bombshell that turning the power back on may “set the world on fire.” At this point, if it takes another cataclysmic event to give this show its identity back, that may not be such a bad thing.
Revolution ends season one with ‘The Dark Tower’ next Monday @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: