In ways both colossal and subtle, “The Patriot Act” continued to demonstrate the overall improvement in quality that has so remarkably characterized REVOLUTION’s second season. Well written and well acted in equal measure, the episode continued to advance the story by staying focused on what matters most, the characters.
Specifically Dr. Gene Porter, who in an emotional and extremely well acted portrayal by Stephen Collins, anchored the episode. Through flashbacks, we learned his involvement with the Patriots began just after his wife died of cholera. In a coincidence of timing that was in no way suspicious, he was approached by a Patriot and recruited in exchange for access to vaccines (including a cholera vaccine, surprise, surprise) and medical supplies. These flashbacks earned Porter our sympathy as we witnessed the terrible actions he undertook in order to secure medicine for Willoughby.
I’m appreciative of the writers for immediately following last week’s reveal of Porter’s Patriot ties with an episode largely dedicated to exploring his Faustian bargain with them. It was necessary to maintain the integrity of the story and it was well executed, both in how it was written and in the inner conflict so apparent in Collins’ performance. It turned a plot twist that could easily be seen as a contrivance into a compelling aspect of the story.
Equally compelling was Zeljko Ivanek’s performance as Dr. Horn, whose machinations were largely responsible for moving the story forward this week. Ivanek imbued Horn with the desperate menace of a man wielding power to mask his own fears and inadequacies. This revealed itself in his interactions with other characters, primarily Rachel.
The wounded way in which he realized that she had no memory of him, conveyed as his smile of recognition faded into barely masked disappointment, immediately gave the impression of a man perpetually unnoticed before the blackout, with little to no real importance. The pride with which he related the story of his rise to power was apparent, and indicative of his desire to impress “prom queen” Rachel. Their conversation was more about him showing her how important he is now than it was about the nanobots.
In just a few scenes, Dr. Horn was shown to be a capable villain with the kind of complexity that makes for an interesting character. I enjoyed the dynamic between him and the other characters and hope he sticks around for a while.
While this episode was largely dominated by doctors Porter and Horn, REVOLUTION’s other characters were given moments that continued their development as well.
The most impressive being the growth in the relationship between Rachel and Charlie. With two simple scenes, we’re shown that their argument in the kitchen last week meant something. The first is when Charlie asks why Rachel saved Monroe. In typical Rachel fashion, she pragmatically says, “Because we needed him.” Then, more tenderly, “And you asked me to.” She listened to Charlie’s assessment of her last week, and Charlie acknowledges the beginnings of a stronger bond between the two when she comforts Rachel as the episode ends… which was an awesome way to go out, by the way.
The theme of parental reconciliation continued with Neville’s attempts to reclaim Jason from the Patriot trainee program. In scenes that maintained a terrific sense of tension, Neville had to decide whether or not to trust Jason over the protests of Justine Allenford. It’s a testament to the acting of JD Pardo and directing of these sequences that even after Jason proves his trustworthiness by killing the two recruits, you still don’t quite trust him.
Aaron’s story continues to move along a pace that intrigues me without making me impatient for an explanation, which we got the beginnings of during Rachel’s conversation with Dr. Horn. Slowly revealing more about his newfound abilities while steadily bringing them to the forefront of the story is the right choice, and I’m grateful to the writers for avoiding the temptation to focus completely on it. Just please have a plan for this… please.
Honorable Mention this episode goes to David Lyons, whose characterization of a Monroe drugged up on was hilarious and touching. Using this opportunity to show this character with his walls down was a stroke of genius. That first scene when he awakes to find Miles watching over him and says, “Hey buddy!” was awesome.
There are television shows that you look forward to all week. These are shows you watch live because you can’t wait to see the story continue. REVOLUTION has become one of those shows for me. It’s truly found itself this season, and is consistently balancing the kind of character development, pacing, and writing that earns your investment on a weekly basis.
REVOLUTION has become the show I always wanted it to be.