TV Review: Revolution [SPOILERS]
Revolution – “Soul Train”
Season 1, Episode 5
If nothing else, Revolution proved it can handle action with a firm and steady hand. Nora’s plan to set a bomb on the train carrying Danny, and Miles’ race to stop it, was appropriately intense. Directed by 24 veteran Jon Cassar, “Soul Train” aws in great hands for the suspenseful action sequences. When the episode took break from repeated plot manipulations and just let the characters face off against the militia it excelled.
Likewise, Eric Kripke and company had another strong story to tell in the days surrounding the initial blackout that would probably make for a more interesting ongoing series than the main storyline.
The main problem this week continued to be Tracy Spiridakos‘ character Charlie. Easily the worst actor on the show (Graham Rogers‘ Danny has made big strides to improve week to week), Spiridakos unfortunately got all the screen time expected of our lead character. At this point, I’d vastly prefer if the series main point-of-view was Miles, Neville, Danny or virtually anyone else. Besides her emotionless performance, Spiridakos isn’t helped by having to act like an entitled idealist with no connection to reality every week. Her decision to trail Neville alone (and not trying to be the least bit stealthy about it) was the latest example of her nearly getting Miles killed rather than listening to him. Revolution seems to enjoy repeating that story every week. But even when she finally gets tough and is meant to inspire the group to march on Philadelphia, Spiridakos came off as detached and uninteresting.
These decisions were meant to come off as justifiably emotional, highlighting one of the series’ themes that people can’t always make rational decisions in such stressful situations. But they came off as a type of blatant plot manipulation to cover weak writing. I was fine with having flawed and human characters that made mistakes (a show about a bunch of perfect people would be dreadfully dull), but nobody wants to watch a show about a bunch of morons blundering around every week. Not even Miles can escape the Stupid Decision-itis this week, as he decided to fight a generic militia train driver while suggesting Charlie take on Neville.
But when the episode switched to flashback scenes, Revolution truly thrived. This week shed light onto Neville’s transition from kindly and mild-mannered insurance agent to bad-ass militia commander, and it was fantastic. Nobody can pull off barely contained rage like Giancarlo Esposito. It was incredibly interesting watching him hold in that bitter rage inside before the blackout gives him the justification to channel it into defending his and his family’s place in the world.
Not to be a picker of nits, but besides wanting to reveal Miles’ buddy Bass as the leader of the militia, I need to understand the geographic logic of the single rider getting a message back to Monroe before the end of the pilot and then having Neville wander around for several weeks getting his incredibly valuable cargo back to the main militia base. If the series spent less time with Charlie and told the modern stories as well as it did the flashbacks, Revolution could become a stand-out science fiction series. Every week the flashbacks and action sequences have improved, so the show seems to be finding its way, but slowly.