REVOLUTION is getting a lot right in its second season. The combination of better writing and actors who’ve had time to grow into their roles has really led the way in a noticeable improvement in the show since its return. “Patriot Games” was another great example of how far REVOLUTION has come. The acting, writing, and story were all top notch, combining to produce the most well constructed episode of perhaps the entire series thus far.
The best illustration of the show’s progress is Charlie. She’s been REVOLUTION’s weak link since the beginning. An infuriating pendulum of naiveté and an undeserved overconfidence, the show’s writers have had trouble finding a balance for the character. This was a huge problem throughout most of the first season, when Charlie’s story was anchoring the rest of the show.
Charlie has (wisely) been given less screen time so far this season, and in her case less has proven to be more. By focusing on her driving forces, hatred of Monroe and disillusionment with Rachel, the show has made her a lot more tolerable. She’s no longer the Katniss Everdeen wannabe of the first season and is now a fully realized character in her own right whose actions are a natural progression of her journey over the course of the series up to this point.
Charlie’s also been given a perfect foil over these first few episodes in the form of Monroe. This unlikely and unexpected pairing was a brilliant move on the part of the show’s writers, who have used scenes between the two to get the audience to accept the changes in both their characters. Charlie’s self righteous, emotional tendencies and Monroe’s cold, ruthless pragmatism counterbalance each other very well. I’m looking forward to seeing if the writers can continue these characters’ progression next week when they reunite with the larger group.
Another member of that larger group whose character shows improvement is Rachel. The episode’s revelation of a suicide attempt during the six months between the season one finale and the beginning of this season makes it even clearer that events have had a major impact on her. This gives the character a poignant pathos that solidifies our understanding of who she is and further informs why her desire to fight against the Patriots is so strong.
She feels responsible. This responsibility drove her to attempt to atone for her role in the blackout by reversing its effects. When her quest resulted in another unimaginable loss of life, including her son’s along the way, it destroyed her. This was all conveyed superbly in the scene between her and her father this week. Rachel’s not a character who can just let things go, especially with the enormous sense of guilt she carries. Being confronted with the forces that sabotaged her chances for redemption offers her yet another opportunity for atonement, and it’s clear she intends to take it.
In typical Rachel fashion however, she jumped in with both feet and nearly drowned because of it. She tried to recruit long time friend Ken’s help in fighting the Patriots only to discover that he was actually a member of the group himself. While his turn was handled hastily and suddenly pushed him into creeper territory when he admitted his feelings for her before stroking her face (we don’t need over the top villainy to sell a bad guy turn, folks), it was successful in adding another facet to the overall growing menace of the Patriots.
Ken’s admission of being a Patriot for seven years was a great way to further reveal the extent of what is turning out to be an awesomely insidious plot. They’re literally everywhere, and their plan is being written with enough care and attention to detail to make it plausible. But after four episodes, I think it’s time to start asking, what exactly do the Patriots want?
A plan as detailed and far reaching as theirs has to be for more than just control over the ashes of the former United States, right? So what’s their bigger, long term goal? They’re clearly after something and have a very specific plan to get it, so what is it they want?
I get the feeling that we’re about to get the answers to some of those questions through the show’s MVP, Tom Neville. In another reliably excellent performance by Giancarlo Esposito, Neville continued to move up through the Patriots’ ranks by finding a weakness and exploiting it as only Neville can.
It was obvious from the moment Cook threatened to kill Neville at the earliest opportunity that Cook wasn’t going to make it through the episode. Watching Neville give Cook that sly smile (the same one he gave him as he administered the overdose that killed Cook) was a pleasure because you could already see the wheels turning. When Neville was shown to have assumed Cook’s place and later received the go ahead from Justine Allenford to carry on, you had to smile along with him.
I’m not sure yet whether or not to smile at Aaron’s newfound “abilities”, I guess it depends on the purpose for which they’re being introduced. The show is venturing into some heavy fantasy elements with this plot thread, which could be dangerous as the show is finally hitting its stride.
We need a logical explanation for this firefly situation, or at least the beginnings of one, sooner rather than later. When the rest of the story is playing out so well, it’s crucial that the most drastic departure from what the story has been is seen to fit in with the rest of it. It has me interested though, and that’s a wonderful thing.
It’s wonderful because for the first time in its history, REVOLUTION has me asking genuinely curious questions about the plot! I truly am invested in this show and where it’s going. Congratulations, REVOLUTION, you’ve officially got me (and a lot of people judging by the online reaction) back. Please don’t mess this up.
Loved Rachel’s, “That was Randall’s exit line.” A snappy piece of dialogue delivered effortlessly.
Also loved the editing of the sequence where Rachel and Neville were cleaning the scenes of their crimes. The music, lighting, and quick cuts worked beautifully there and drew parallels between the two I hadn’t previously considered.
Neville’s single mindedness in demanding to know his son’s whereabouts was refreshing to see. It served as a great reminder of what set this man on the path to becoming who he now is, concern for his family. The best villains are always heroes in their own mind.
I’m really enjoying Stephen Collins’ performance as Rachel’s father, Dr. Gene Porter. He brings a calming influence into the equation, and he has great chemistry with everyone else on the show. With such a warm character, I worry he’s not long for this world…
I was VERY glad to see Titus Andover return for a curtain call in a performance by Matt Ross that once again showed how wonderfully frakked up the character truly was. His twisted, but no less genuine caring for the people around him was a great way to ground what could have been a villain of the week. Seeing Titus driven to such despondency over losing everything that mattered to him, and blaming the Patriots for it, was a fantastic way of using a strong, lesser villain to make the stronger, more formidable villains look even worse.
Click here for our review of REVOLUTION’s previous episode, “Love Story”.