‘Revolution’ Season 2 Premiere Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated September 27th, 2013 at 8:40 am,

Tracy Spiridakos Billy Burke and Elizabeth Mitchell in Revolution Revolution Season 2 Premiere Review

To say that in its first season NBC’s Revolution had a difficult run of things would be a bit of an understatement. The series, headed up by Supernatural creator Eric Kripke and given the ever-popular seal of approval by J.J. Abrams (the importance of which seems to have waned somewhat in the wake of programs like Alcatraz and Undercovers – though may once again become the gold standard for sci-fi television should Almost Human prove a hit) began life with an interesting premise and a pilot that didn’t exactly instill the greatest of confidence, despite being directed by Jon Favreau.

In the weeks that followed, the series quickly demonstrated two things: that it had little idea where it was going, and that despite having talented actors like Billy Burke and Giancarlo Esposito – who also shared the show’s only onscreen chemistry – Revolution was determined to make it by focusing on two generic teen characters that no one in the audience seemed to like very much. By the halfway point in the season, the show took a four-month hiatus to try and retool what it could and salvage the remaining episodes, in the hopes that the powers that be at NBC would grant the program a second season.

And so here we are, at the beginning of Revolution 2.0 – or so it seemed, after season 1 culminated with ‘The Dark Tower,’ an episode so filled with nonsense it wouldn’t have been surprising to see the series reboot itself and treat the entirety of the first season as a horrible dream for Billy Burke’s Miles Matheson. Instead, we jump forward six months, after the events at the Tower that saw Randall Flynn: Patriot (Colm Feore) launch two nuclear missiles at Philadelphia and Atlanta, mere minutes after Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Aaron (Zak Orth) managed to restore the power by shutting down the nanomachines responsible for the worldwide blackout.

Giancarlo Esposito in Revolution Born in the USA Revolution Season 2 Premiere Review

When season 2 opens with ‘Born in the USA,’ some of the questions left unanswered by season 1 remain part of a growing mystery involving Aaron and what he believes are strange goings-on caused by the energy-sucking nanomachines that has something to do with fireflies. The other primary concern, of course, is what happened with the two nukes. The episode begins by making it look as though Aaron and Rachel had successfully turned the power back off, thereby disabling the missiles, but it is later revealed that a computer glitch prevented them from interfering and both the Georgia Federation and what was left of the Monroe Republic were largely obliterated.

Despite it sounding like a last ditch effort to incorporate some drama into a narrative that had run completely out of gas, the fallout caused by the nuclear strikes actually works in favor of the series. This is a program that has attempted to define itself by having its protagonists survive in horrible situations, and for the most part, season 2 appears to have that aspect well under control. ‘Born in the USA’ isn’t a complete reboot; the events of the first season still happened, but the characters are essentially back at square one – the only difference being they (and by extension, the members of the audience) have the benefit of established character dynamics.

With the getting to know you part out of the way, season 2 is ready for a fresh start, one that Kripke and his staff – which now includes former Supernatural writer and producer Ben Edlund – have apparently decided will be free of the pursuit to turn the power back on (for now), as Miles, Rachel and Aaron find themselves living a mostly quiet life in Willoughby, Texas with Rachel’s father Dr. Gene Porter (Stephen Collins). Certain things have changed – Miles is going by the alias Stu, and Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) has headed off to New Vegas in search of none other than Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons) – while some things haven’t – Miles and Rachel continue their tortured infatuation with one another by mostly trying to ignore that its there and saying things like, “Bad things happen when we’re together.”

Meanwhile, the fallout caused by Flynn’s missile launch (as ordered by the supposed President of the United States, who is represented by a group known as The Patriots) also serves as our re-introduction to Captain Tom Neville – who, like Miles and Monroe, is also operating under an alias. While the others are off in Texas dealing with a war clan headed up by Magic City‘s Matt Ross (seemingly doing a bang-up riff on The Walking Dead‘s Governor character), Neville has made it his mission to destroy The Patriots from the inside, since he’s convinced they were responsible for launching the nukes and, by extension, his wife’s death (though the latter has yet to be confirmed).

Billy Burke in Revolution Born in the USA Revolution Season 2 Premiere Review

Still other changes involve additions to the cast, which include Adam Beach and Stephen Collins (who made an all too brief appearance in season 3 of Falling Skies). Though his character is built of little more than a generic paternal instinct, Collins helps to balance out the Miles/Rachel dynamic by giving them someone other than Aaron or Charlie – i.e., someone to whom Rachel might actually listen – to play their agonized romance off of.

It’s still early in the season, so if you remain skeptical, then you’ve got company. While ‘Born in the USA’ has inklings of what Revolution promised in the beginning, before the storyline became too dependent on things like pendants and portable power generators, the “Duchovnian” levels of weird Aaron speaks of and his apparent resurrection at the episode’s end may leave viewers saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…”

At any rate, no one can possibly blame the audience if they’re not ready to drink the Kripke flavored Kool-Aid after just one episode. There are certainly some tweaked aspects of the show that seem better off – the focus on survival in a harsh environment as opposed to the rescue of a character no one ever liked is evidence of that. But right now, the series isn’t merely rebuilding its story and its focus; it’s rebuilding the relationship with the audience it sullied a few months back. It’s doubtful that anyone watching is ready to go steady, but there may be some who’re willing to listen to what Revolution has to say.


Revolution continues next Wednesday with ‘There Will Be Blood’ @8pm on NBC.

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  1. Just started watching Revolution on Netflix, only watched pilot episode so far, but it was decent. Not great, but watchable, so will continue watching it. Article above mentions Alcatraz…I tried watching that one, but it just was not doing it for me. Faceless forgettable baddies of the week, same old plot-line for goodies and baddies alike, started with possible decent plot-line as main idea but never seemed to get off the ground while adding more confusing details and people without really showing much relevance. Too bad as I really would have liked to have liked that show much better, but it kind of turned into meh-meh-meh.

  2. I was very disappointed with season 1. the last couple episodes got a little better. I wasnt sure if i was gonna stick with this show, but i figured i would at least check out the season 2 premiere. It was alright but i remain skeptical, ill check out next week.

    If anything ill probably watch this show every now and then if im bored and have nothing better to do.

    Glad Charlie didnt have a very big role. Hopefully she gets killed of in a couple episodes, then i would enjoy the show a little more.

    • Not sure what you mean about Charlie not having that big of a role. She is the main character in the series! If she or Miles goes, there goes the entire show.

  3. so much hate for this show man, I really love Revolution. I think it’s interesting.

    • I like the show for what it is, pure unbelievable escapist entertainment. it doesnt have to all make sense, it doesnt have to be plausible or even possible because its not real. its a television show that is meant to entertain while you relax on your couch after a long day, and it succeeds as long as your willing to accept it for what it is and not over analyze it. its science fiction, not reality. it doesnt have to be believable to be entertaining, and entertaining it is. give it a chance

      • Well it’s not “mindless entertainment” for me, I like it for all its flaws and its story. I’m not based to anything.

        It’s really interesting to me, and I feel it’s something different.

        Sorry I’ve voiced my opinion.

  4. Season 1 was brutal and the finale underscored that the best way to enjoy this show was to laugh at its many ludicrous plot lines. I do give the writers credit for actually having a finale scene where a villain threatens to fire nukes at the two main cities used in the show and follows through!

    The premiere of season 2 was not horrible but it’s painfully obvious this show is sticking to its season 1 tendencies. We ‘ve already seen Giancarlo Esposito’s character infiltrate an army for the purpose of undoing it from the inside. We’ve seen Miles forced to enlist with an army before. We’ve seen Charlie hesitate at the moment of killing someone a MILLION times. And of course we’ve seen the deus ex machina nano nonsense before. So while this season seems like a reboot on the surface, I think the reviewer missed the many same season 1 chords being played in the background.

    • Thanks for pointing that out !
      Same thought here !

    • The show has been a convoluted mess from the start & the main reason it survived was because of a strong lead-in. This move to Wednesday might be the network trying to sink the show quietly.

  5. The cry from the producers, especially Kripke, that everything has got better was proven to be misinformation again. We should not be surprised, since they tried the same claim just before it returned from hiatus, and there was little improvement there.

    The plot holes are back, so that has not changed. At the start we see the warhead tracking system which is suddenly rewound with the missile only having reached the first 1/3 of their path. Strange since they were *three bars* away from hitting their targets at the end of last season. Even so, Marshall talked for two minutes while they flew from point A to point B. In this season they can make that trip in only 20 seconds! If you PVR’d it, go to ~5:25 at take a look at the bottom computer display. Yes, that is a bomber-dropped nuclear *bomb*, not a *missile*, not even a warhead. That was after I was done trying to figure out where in the hell the cameras were that recorded the nukes hitting.

    Add to that the fact that missile based warheads detach at the apex of the flight path, and that the warheads do not require electricity to detonate, and you will see the scene for what it is – an excuse. They wanted the magical nanites back, and they have them. Of course in doing so they invalidate just about everything that happened in Season 1, which is probably why Rachel went a little crazy. Danny was not avenged. Nora died for nothing. The “epic quest to find out what happened to the electricity and turn it back on” (Kripke direct quote) was achieved in the last 10 episodes of S1, and invalidated in the first episode of S2.

    When they left the Tower everyone apparently left all the guns and ammo. Considering that when the fighting started, everyone was armed, and by the end almost everyone was dead, that means there are a lot of weapons lying around. The Tower was a military facility meant for Presidential level protection, so there would have been armories of standard weapons aside from the magical (infinite power cells, infinite ammo) railguns. Perhaps the nanites have gone back to eating guns again. Heck, they did not even have smooth-bore rifles like they did in S1!

    No one mentions how the power is still working around the destruction zones of Atlanta and Philadelphia. Four nuclear warheads on each city means a very large EMP would have hit those areas. If the nanites are immune to EMPs (like they are to heat & cold and UV & Gamma radiation) then they just went from being 10K years into the future to 20K. How Kripke could lie and say they were possible with today’s technology just gets more ludicrous with each new power.

    A man is 30 miles away from away from Atlanta when the *four* nuclear bombs go off. He is hit with a blast of heat so powerful that his jacket melts, and so does the skin on his shoulder. Apparently though, these were *clean* nukes with 0% radiation, since aside from the burn, he is perfectly healthy 6 months later. At 30 miles he would have absorbed about 800 REM from *each* of the bombs, for 2400 REM total. That would kill him in mere hours. Even we ignore the other three warheads, and say there was only one, it would have killed him in 2 to 14 days.

    The music. In the day to day of survival, who taught the musicians these old songs without being able to let them listen to a copy? I am guessing there are a lot more pendants just being used to play MP3s in hidden speakeasies.

    Even with advanced warning there are only three people guarding the town before the bikers *sneak* in. The entire biker gang is only about a 10 minute walk away and none of the scouts for the town managed to see the 100+ group? The town, knowing their defenses are that poor, did not mobilize all the adults? A group of Girl Scouts could have taken that town, and 6 graders could write a better segment.

    Continuity Errors (not quite plot holes)
    The scenery is still mostly pristine. The horse barn with Miles and Rachel for example, where the brickwork looked new all the way to the rafters. Even the graffiti behind Rachel at one point in the scene was pretty fresh. This carries over to just about everything. Some of the clothing is grungy, but even the tents looked new. It just destroys the immersion, and could all be fixed with a little CG (not much, and not that time consuming). After all, they did it for the Pilot if you remember.

    Miles leaves the tactical and visual advantage of his horse, to make a long sprint after abductors into a withered cornfield. Forgets he is a master tracker and immediately loses their trail even though one was carrying a squirming woman while running over the stalks. Then after Miles takes out the one baddy left behind for him, he decides to give up on tracking the woman, finally remembers he has a horse, and uses it to transport the body back for no particular reason as if his word is not good enough. Best part – he does not even bother to report the abducted woman!

    As Phoenix Jones points out above, many of the new storylines are just recycled from S1.

    So with all that, it sure looks like the same old show to me. The only thing that did change is that they had better directing or a more relaxed shooting schedule. The actors were not rushed, and they displayed 500% more character, especially Tracy (who is usually singled out). That was a genuine and meaningful improvement for Rev. Now if they could just stop with the stupid writing and plot holes, this could actually survive. Too bad that ain’t gonna happen.

    They know that Aaron turned them back on, which can only mean they had AI before they were shut down. Aaron is now their friend, and given that they can do anything short of time travel (I am sure that would be coming in Season 3 or 4 if this were to survive that long), he has joined Rachel in the immortal club. Remember that Rachel can heal nearly as fast as Wolverine now.

    • Man, thats getting nit picky. I agree with you on some things. not much though.

      The music that they are playing is perfectly fine to me. Yeah its older music, but who knows, maybe they were alive when the power was on and learned it before hand. Or had someone teach them from memory. or hell even found some sheet music. You don’t need a recording to learn something.

      With the whole aaron thing, I really wasn’t surprised they did that but i really hope they play it out right. It could end up being really cheezy.

    • Also they did jump 6 months ahead. We don’t know what happened right after when they got out of the Tower. Which is kind of a disappointment. Hopefully they will look back at that in the next couple episodes.

    • Your comments on the show are probably more thought out & written more at length then some of script synopsis of the show itself.

    • Your analysis is so strong that you could well work in the entertainment business as a Show Runner. Really impressive writing!

  6. really like Burke and Mitchell. whatever they are is part twisted part endearing. I continue to hate Charlie, i’m sorry but she is plastic and unconvincing, if this show has a chance of surviving i suggest they drop her all together. the Aaron thing was completely predictable. other than that it was a decent premiere. I don’t see it doing to well once Arrow returns though.

    • yeah, the move to Wednesdays is what has me utterly confused. That will kill this show come October

  7. Know what sucks?

    I loved this show but it won’t air here until next March (it started here in March and ran week after week until June or July and now I have to wait a long, long time until it returns).

    I hope we get to see more of Munroe though, he’s a great character played by a great actor (who I still think should play a movie version of Barry Allen in the DC Movie Universe).

    • Yeah i thought he was great in Season 1. I am interested to see what they do with Monroe as a character now that he isn’t in power anymore. If they will just kill him off, or maybe have him try to redeem himself in others eyes.

  8. ** Spoiler **

    What would save this show would be the explanation for Aaron reviving is he is now a nanite-zombie and Season 2 would be about fighting zombies. :)

    I know I keep saying that but as ridiculous as this show has been, you never know.

    So these are my takeaways:

    1. Charlie has become a tramp, what happened to her love for Jason?
    2. How is Monroe not recognized by these people?
    3. Aaron is finally losing weight.
    4. Where are The Others (the Tower People)?
    5. So the President is now the Big Bad?
    6. I can understand why they turned the power back off to “stop” the nukes, but why leave it off? Why couldn’t they turn it back on?
    7. All last season, Aaron is pining away for his wife, and now in only 6 months he has shacked up with another woman? I guess maybe when his wife rejected him that made him strong enough to move on?
    8. Reveal that Charlie is Miles’ daughter already.
    9. Why would Cuba take in the President?
    10. Zombies!!!

    • Answers
      1. Charlie a tramp? No either she is live her life and expressing her freedom or some sort of PTSD.
      2. Munroe isn’t reccgnized cause he destroyed his arm tattoo and its not like they have technology for everyone to have had seen him before. Plus, the only people that would no his face would be his soldiers and obviously none were there.
      3. Agree he looks thinner
      4. Not sure about the others
      5. President bad? He might not know about stuff going on as his “cabinet” may not tell him everything.
      6. Can’t turn power on because they don’t want any other “society” to do what just happened. They are afraid the same thing could happen again
      7. I get why he is over his wife. He is a good guy who feels unattractive and found a girl who is attractive and likes him. Plus, yes, she rejected him AGAIN.
      8. Charlie as Miles daughter…I thought the same thing early last season too!
      9. Cuba thing, I missed that…I will need to revist episode
      10. NO to zombies. Too played out in pop culture. But I could see some humans as having advanced longetivity and less chance of dying cause of the nano tech in the air.

  9. I watched it. I still enjoy it. I felt as if the characters had a lot of development in this episode.

    Some may say Charlie is a tramp, and I say that she isn’t nearly as naïve as she was in the first season. She knows how the world works and wanted some sex…big deal. That one night stand let us know that she’s growing up.

    Monroe bare knuckle fighting all alone with no weapons showed us how tough he could be with or without a militia.

    Neville’s son seemed way more “grown up” and not as much as a brooding teenager.

    Aaron seemed stronger and a little more curious in how the world works.

    Elizabeth finally showed remorse for her actions for her revenge…she seems to carry that same burden that Miles does.

    Miles seemed like Miles but with Kickin’ Wing as a partner this time around.

    And Neville had a moment of weakness before turning into his villainous self.

    They did a good job with this season’s opener. I’m intrigued in what direction the plot will take us…or will they go right back to trying to restore the power?

  10. Glad to see it returning. It’s nice to see something original take a completely new direction. Has my thumbs up and i will look forward to seeing Miles and Sebastian once again when it hits the UK.

  11. At times I sure felt like I was watching a Bad Walking Dead Knock off last night, with a bootleg Rick and bootleg Governor, Thank God for Ginacarlo Esposito, he is really saving the show this season, hope it lasts

  12. They don’t even review the show on Screenrant anymore, wonder what that’s about ?

  13. I can’t believe this show has survived this long. It’s terrible. IMO. I stopped watching it half way through the first season. Just took a brief look(5 seconds) as I was switching through channels. It still sucks. IMO.