After taking a week off for the presidential debate, Revolution is welcomed back into the lineup with the one-off episode ‘Sex and Drugs.’ Thankfully, instead of the twisted indecent proposal that had been teased in the series’ advertisements for the last two weeks, Revolution actually goes in another direction that helps define Aaron (Zak Orth) as a member of the group.
When last we saw them, Miles (Billy Burke) and Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) had narrowly missed rescuing Danny (Graham Rogers), and that means he is now hundreds of miles away and in the clutches of Monroe (David Lyons). Meanwhile, in a brief moment of grief-induced insanity/rebellion Jeff Fahey’s character put a knife in the tough-as-nails Nora (Daniella Alonso) before scampering off to (possibly) be seen in a later episode with some flowers and a homemade “So I hear you got stabbed” get-well card. And while it seemed like an injury that Nora would be able to shrug off, the group instead find themselves desperate to find a doctor before she succumbs to her infection.
Besides checking in briefly with Danny at the Monroe compound, the episode takes a much-needed detour into nearly self-contained territory to tell a story about a local drug dealer named Drexel (Todd Stashwick) and the bloody dispute he currently finds himself embroiled in with the O’Halloran clan down the street. Taking the various players away from their pursuit of the youngest Matheson works out to be a decent way in which Revolution sets the stage for the next point in Charlie’s maturation, while finally giving the audience a chance to see Aaron (briefly) in his prime before the lights went out.
It’s only natural to assume that given the things he’s seen done by Miles, Nora, and to a lesser degree, Charlie, Aaron might be feeling a bit out of place considering his particular set of skills have little value in the current environment. So, much of Aaron’s flashback sequence takes the time to set up just how difficult the transition from having a corporate jet at his beck and call to mistakenly giving his wife sewage-rich lake water as a beverage was for the man. Aaron once spoke to Maggie about how he’d been at the mercy of bullies before in his life, and after choosing a path that valued brains over brawn, his accomplishments had largely been taken away from him, and the world once more was in the hands of those more physically capable. Men like Drexel.
As Drexel, Stashwick becomes part of a trio of Justified actors that includes David Meunier (Sgt. Strausser) and, in this particular episode, David Andrews (O’Halloran) – who plays the corrupt, mustachioed Kentucky lawman, Tillman Napier. Drexel grows and distributes a vast quantity of heroin to the republic and, naturally, has a history that involves Miles in his pre-desertion days, telling the group, “I lined his war chest with so much gold you could dive right in and swim.” And as impressive as that may have once been, as soon as Miles did the ol’ cut-and-run routine, Drexel apparently suffered as a result of his affiliation with the former commanding general. So, being the kind of guy to hold a grudge, Drexel insists that Charlie pose as one of his girls and assassinate O’Halloran, in return for providing the medical attention that Nora needs.
The episode splits to illustrate a little bit of growth for both Charlie and Aaron. While on her quest to save Danny, Charlie’s story arc has been primarily to see her toughen up and act in the kind of no-nonsense manner of her uncle, or even Nora. There’ve been glimpses of her having to make hard choices, but facing the consequences – like the time she killed the guard so Nora could swipe the sniper rifle – hasn’t always come easy to her. Here, tasked with infiltrating the compound of an ex-cop, who is, for all intents and purposes the good guy in this situation, Charlie seems ready to follow through with the kill if it means saving Nora’s life, and, by extension, Danny’s. In the end, Miles stops his niece from stabbing O’Halloran, but as far as the evolution of Charlie’s character, this might prove to be a turning point for her.
Meanwhile, Drexel cements himself as a larger-than-life villain by pitting Aaron and Nora against one another for their lives. Here, Aaron’s history comes into play as we learn his inability to provide things like clean water, fire and protection for his wife, brought him to the conclusion that she would be better off in the company of those who could. So, when faced with the prospect of shooting Nora to save his own life, Aaron chooses instead to shoot himself – seeing Nora as more valuable to the task at hand than he is. Playing on the fact that Revolution did away with Maggie in ‘The Plague Dogs,’ it seemed plausible that Aaron would actually have sacrificed himself – choosing to be of some use to the group in death. But instead, it was all a bit of clever manipulation to lure Drexel close enough that Aaron might put a bullet in his chest.
Even though Drexel served as a one-and-done character, ‘Sex and Drugs’ serves as a turning point for both Charlie and Aaron. So moving forward, their characters may begin to carry more weight in the overall storyline of the series.
There’s even a little bit of development back at Monroe’s headquarters, as Captain Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) gets a surprise promotion to major (making him Major Tom) while his son Jason (J.D. Pardo) learns that Monroe is planning to send Strausser in search of the pendant. Apparently, Strausser’s tendency to not leave survivors is of some concern for Jason, so perhaps we’re looking at another defection from the Monroe Republic in the episodes to come.
Revolution returns next week with ‘The Children’s Crusade’ @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview of the episode below: