Because the show is still in its infancy, it’s easy to understand there being some wrinkles that still need to be ironed out – but by and large, it feels like Revolution is searching for a means of consistency and a stronger way of presenting its story. With ‘No Quarter’ the show has cut back on its tendency to leave so many question marks at the end of the episode, while placing a premium on making action sequences within the confines of a weekly television series work.
More importantly, there is a stronger emphasis on the survival aspect – which some might argue is the true driving force behind whatever interest there is in the series. Like The Walking Dead or even Falling Skies, Revolution has the benefit of taking place in a situation audiences find engaging as much for its unique (yet, increasingly commonplace) setting, as they do all the opportunities it inevitably presents for them to suggest what they would do differently. But the survival portion of Revolution is also connected to what is so far the strongest aspect of the show’s young narrative, and seeing it develop that – rather than endlessly turning over questions of who or what turned off the lights – can be seen as a sign the series is headed in the right direction.
‘No Quarter’ picks up directly after the events of last weeks’ ‘Chained Heat,’ keeping the core group split up. This seems like it would drag the episode down by constantly having to break from what Miles (Billy Burke), Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and Nora (Daniella Alonso) are doing to check in with Aaron (Zak Orth) and Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips), but the episode largely manages to make the two plots work with one another, while offering more pertinent insight into the immediate post-blackout world than the Rachel and Ben revelation did from last week.
For his part, Miles is still playing the unenthusiastic hero, saying “no” to every request for help he comes across, as he’s much too busy being annoyed by his niece in their considerably difficult quest to recover Danny (Graham Rogers) from the clutches of Captain Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito). This time, though, Miles is right to be reluctant to help. It turns out Nora is planning to meet up with the rebels to hand over the sniper rifle she stole. Miles, Charlie and Nora arrive at the rebels’ HQ to find them in pretty bad shape, and, as Miles points out, seemingly unconcerned the militia is likely not far behind.
Again, Miles is proven correct, as a militia commander named Jeremy (Lost and Supernatural alum, Mark Pellegrino) is seen interrogating a rebel who looks just like Frank Zappa, while discussing just how difficult it has become to get a hold of actual bullets. The game of Russian roulette Jeremy plays with Zappa, seems to be part of the militia conditioning system, wherein high-ranking officers have what appears to be civilized conversations with their adversaries before using them as a display for utter ruthlessness. As a result, after Zappa gives up the location of the rebels, he gets one of those rare bullets for his trouble.
Meanwhile, Charlie and Miles are again at odds over doing what she believes to be the right thing. It seems like this is going to be a regular part of the show as it progresses, and although Charlie comes off as naïve and more than a little willing to forego her primary goal in order to annoy her uncle, there’s the sense that it’s all working out to be part of the character’s overall growth. Besides, Burke seems to play off Spiridakos’ sensitivity with a distinct lack thereof that somehow makes him a lot easier to root for. This comes in handy after Jeremy and his militia buddies storm the Bennigan’s-esque restaurant the rebels are holed-up in and, following some semi-dramatic swordplay, ends with Jeremy being used as leverage for the lives of the rebels.
Of course, this doesn’t really work out well for Miles, as the big reveal this week, courtesy of Jeremy, is that Miles is responsible for the creation of what would later become the Monroe Militia. This development probably isn’t shocking in and of itself, but it does work in terms of making the aforementioned flashback sequences more relevant, and by making Miles into something more than an unstoppable badass with a chip on his shoulder. It also goes a long way in providing better reasoning for Monroe’s interest in Miles than simply his potential knowledge about the blackout.
And since questions about that still need to be answered, ‘No Quarter’ manages to handle the topic quite well with a particularly convincing scene between Aaron and Maggie. After finding their way to Grace’s (Maria Howell) empty house, the two nearly leave empty handed. But while Aaron laments the monumental rise of the bully in the new world order, the medallion somehow turns on and activates several electronic devices in the room, including Maggie’s iPhone, which provides her a fleeting glimpse of her children. Questions of electronic integrity aside, the scene actually plays out with some emotion, as the two take short pleasure in simple things like listening to a CD and viewing a photograph locked away in digital device.
Aaron and Maggie learn that the medallion is only able to power the devices in its immediate vicinity for a short while, and the larger issue is revealed that whatever has disrupted the world’s energy is not going to be corrected by being in possession of the medallion alone. Making the medallion less of a deus ex machina will go a long way in keeping the quest for power interesting, while the overall conflict between the rebels and the Monroe Militia hopefully heats up.
There’s not a whole lot of Capt. Neville in ‘No Quarter,’ but what we do see offers a few clues as to what his ongoing arc with Danny might entail. After Danny winds up on the receiving end of some beatings from a soldier seeking vengeance for his dead friend, he takes a bit of action and nearly strangles the soldier in full view of Neville, who perhaps begins to recognize the boy as something more than just a feeble prisoner. Either way, as both the Matheson siblings are Revolution’s weak links, seeing Charlie and Danny do more than act defiant and sulk, paints them in a much better light.
Revolution is taking small steps, but seems to be going in the right direction. We’ll see if things continue to progress as the season moves on.
Revolution continues next week with ‘The Plague Dogs’ @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview of the episode below: