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The Messy First Season of ‘Revolution’ Ends Tonight. Here’s Why You Should Tune In…

The Messy First Season of 'Revolution' Ends Tonight. Here's Why You Should Tune In...

Tonight marks the season finale for Revolution, the Giancarlo Esposito co-starring first
show to premiere from this year’s TV season and unusually, because of its four
month break earlier this year (and being preempted because of news coverage of
the Boston bombing), the last major network one to finish.  While Revolution began strong, leading it to be the first show renewed
for the 2013-14 season, this show about a post-apocalpytic America and its
denizens forced to live without electricity and technology, a concept ripe for
boundless potential, fell wayward early into its first season.

By seven episodes in, silly and implausible scenarios overtook
the show as it seemed creator and showrunner Eric Kripke (creator of Supernatural) and his writers did not know
what stories they wanted to tell or which character should be center stage: teen
eventual-revolutionary Charlie or her uncle, the redemptive ex-militia bad guy
Miles.   Viewer attention
waned, as did NBC’s investment into the show, which at first drew excellent
ratings and fans because of its lead-in from The Voice as well as NBC’s brilliance of premiering the show on
Hulu weeks before the official network premiere.  But upon the  March 26th return said ratings, while repeatedly winning
its 10pm timeslot and performing considerably better than its temporary
replacement, Megan Goode’s wanna-be sexy thriller Deception, dipped and NBC cut the episode order by two marking
tonight’s broadcast at the unusual number 20.  This show returns this Fall in the NBC death knell timeslot
of Wednesday at 8pm, smack dab in family hour despite the show’s violence.

Still, despite the reluctance of critics and audience alike
to give Revolution much credit for,
well, solid storytelling, beyond continuing to watch to see how much crazier
the show can get, I want to make some defenses for why especially our readers
should still tune in tonight and next season:


What would you really
do to survive?

Though Revolution
has taken divergences in its plotlines, which is fine because even a well
thought out show has to develop organically, past the ‘world without power and
technology’ plot the above question is the major theme of the show.  Once causal viewers got over that show
co-lead Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) was not Katniss Everdeen just because she
sported a bow and arrow (In a world without tech? What a surprise!), they could
focus on the survival aspect.  For
Miles, played by Billy Burke from the Twilight
series of films, when the world went into chaos he became a heartless killer in
order to attain power for what became the Monroe Republic, one of America’s
biggest new territories run by his childhood friend, the increasingly
Hamlet-like Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons), before abandoning them under a new
wasteful life.  For Rachel
Matheson, the mother of Charlie and Miles’ sister-in-law/could-have-been lover,
she would give up her freedom and surrender herself to the Monroe Republic in
order to divert him from her family – though that plan only worked for nine or
so years before they killed her husband Ben in a firefight.    And for rebel fighter Nora (Daniella Alonso), looking to restore America to its pre-blackout
unity, she gets captured and tortured so brutally that she gives up her fellow
fighters location to Monroe, something they way too casually forgave her for (but the act was nonetheless was amazingly unforgivable, especially internally for her).

Essentially, the show is all about making the hard choices
and then dealing with the fallout from that, which in the fictional and real
world is never as neat as we wish and can create both
lasting tragedy and drama.  This is
not a novel for concept for storytelling, much less on a show produced by JJ
Abrams (see every episode of Lost, Fringe, and Felicity’s controversial haircut), but it is one the writers
should focus on instead of all the testosterone-filled gunplay they have shown
in the second half of season one. 

 

Tom and Jason:  A rarely seen complex Black father & son
relationship 

For Tom Neville, played intelligently and deviously by
Giancarlo Esposito, he turned from a pre-blackout geeky guy taking verbal and
emotional from his superiors into a man who would kill, and lose his soul, in
order to make sure his wife and ungrateful son Jason (JD Pardo) not have to live in squalor.   Tom constantly tries to make a ‘man’ out of Jason, and
ultimately fails.  Tom started the
season as a Captain Tom Neville, the right hand man to General Monroe (a
position once held by Miles), with Jason serving as a soldier under him
infiltrating Charlie’s group when they were on the search for her kidnapped
brother Danny, before falling in love with her.  But when Jason’s constant betrayal with his repeatedly letting
Charlie and company get away drives a wedge between father and son, Tom had to
choose between his son and his wife, and ultimately chose her over his traitor
son, brutally beating Jason and leaving him to fend on his own yet declaring to
Monroe that he Jason died in battle. 
Jason ultimately joins the rebel army and reunited with Charlie, even
pulling a double-cross on the eventually captured Tom to prove his new
loyalties before Tom could escape the rebel camp. 

After all of his and Jason’s recent failures Tom knew that
his life was worthless to Monroe and soon as he made it back to the Republic he
got his wife to safety in another territory, the Georgia Federation.  Tom’s knowledge of Monroe was
invaluable and the GF president made him a top military aide and sent him to
work with the rebels in order to shut down Monroe as well as get hold of some
access to Monroe’s power and tech. 
Tom and Jason’s reunion proved tumultuous, but Tom ultimately proved his
devotion to his son in this past episode when he saved his life, which
unfortunately got them both captured by Monroe Republic soldiers.

While the show writers seem unsure where to take Tom and
Jason, making them floaters amuck in the grey area between the subjective good
guys and bad guys, at least their characters have clear motivations and a relationship
grounded in somewhat of a reality. It is messy, with the immature Jason making
his father seem evil for making hard yet rational life decisions, yet it is
also grounded in the testing fathers and sons have with each other when the
father does not realize that he has to let his son grow up to be his own type
of man.  So yes, the writers have
something going here and hopefully we can see a good resolution tonight. This clip may provide insight on that:

 

Black characters?
That actually do stuff?  Nah?

I have already mentioned Tom and Jason above, but there are
other Black and non-white characters in Revolution
with significant roles. In my first write-up about the series I focused on now
recurring character Grace Beaumont, played by Maria Howell (The Color
Purple
), one of the scientists forced to cause the blackout (*snicker*) and
also the first person we see being able to temporarily access technology
through the use of an USB-ended pendant. 
Grace would ultimately get captured by her former boss Randall Flynn
(Colm Feore) in order to unlock The Tower – a facility with unlimited weapons
that was shielded from the blackout – where is where we last saw her, safe and
sound living with the people who protect The Tower from outside forces.  Her story most likely resolves
tonight. 

Esposito, I should note has some great lines in the second
half of the season, despite the overall plots being problematic.  His best one, as pointed out by
TV.com’s Tim Surette, is:  Neville
(to Miles) upon delivering weapons to the rebel camp – “If you don’t work with me I’ll take it all back, and you can go
back to being the general of my nuts!”

Meanwhile rebel fighter Nora Clayton is played by a Latina,
the aforementioned Daniella Alonso, though no references to her culture, or for
that matter the culture of any character, seems to be mentioned above the fact
that no one possesses electricity. It would be promising to think that the end
of the world as we know it would prompt racial divisiveness, but why would it
end pride in your culture?  Anyway,
at least Latinos are physically represented. 

Jim Hudson is another recurring character. Played by Malik Yoba, most recently seen on the
SyFy series Alphas, he plays a former
captain and tactician of the Monroe Republic who Miles recruits in order train
the rebel forces.  The reluctant
rebel recruit turns out to be a scumbag and betrays the rebel forces after
Monroe holds his wife hostage, causing their numbers to dwindle by the hundreds
after a drone attack (how Monroe get access to drone planes is beyond
comprehension).  After a drag down
fight Miles kills Jim.  The other
significant character of color was rebel leader Nicholas, played by character
actor Derek Webster. Nicholas was a
former minister, and presumed former lover of Nora as well, who after the
blackout was forced to take up arms and fight the good fight.  He had significance on the show before
being killed by Tom Neville in his escape from the rebel camp (see more on that in my previous Revolution writeup – 

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/this-past-week-in-black-television).  

While
three to four speaking characters of color being represented in significant roles is a
not groundbreaking feat, at least it is a step in the right direction. Most of
these characters have of had their own agency, affecting change throughout the
series.  Sadly, the lone Black
female among the group, Grace, had zero agency and was being treated as a pawn
whenever we saw her. 

 

Revolution
has time next season to turn around all the troubles it has, most of which I
did not even mention here. 
Hopefully the show can maintain a sense of wonder, and yes, even
craziness, while correcting the fumbles it created in season one.  As long as they do not mess up
Giancarlo Esposito’s Tom Neville too much, I will be a happy, though reluctant,
camper. 

This Article is related to: Television