NBC‘s Revolution Born in the USA TV Show Review. Revolution: Season 2, Episode 1: Born in the U.S.A. brought back memories. I will admit, I was not excited by the early trailers for Revolution, some two Super Bowls ago. For one thing, the timing of that first spot seemed reminiscent of The Hunger Games‘ first TV trailer, which also aired during a Super Bowl broadcast; the connection possibly leaving me with a bias against the show, based on an unfair sub-conscious comparison. Having sat through the better part of a season one marathon, as prep for season two, I can now say that the comparison wasn’t just fair, it was justified. Revolution seemed to draw heavily from shows like Lost and The Walking Dead, among others. With the launch of season two, however, Revolution promised evolution.
Season one ended with a cliffhanger meant for viewers too busy asking: “What happens next?” to ask: “WTF was I just looking at?” With the power returned then retaken away, ICBMs having decapitated both The Militia and The Georgian Alliance, and arch-villain Randall Flynn (Colm Feore) out of the picture, Revolution had effectively rebooted itself. “Flash forward” (groan) six months and the show’s new direction was already in progress. Rachel Matheson (Elizabeth Mitchell) had gone from the single-minded, driven counter-revolutionary, determined to bring the power back, to a morose shell hollowed out by the consequences of her momentary success. Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) had gone from ascendant warlord to pieces since his wife Julia (Kim Raver) went missing. He spent most of the episode in something of a reversed role with his now more dominant son Jason (JD Pardo). Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) was now living on the Id – apparently she had kept herself going on a diet of sex and vengeance. I can’t honestly say I know what was up with Miles Matheson (Billy Burke). I can only guess it had something to do with: 1.) the death of his one love Nora (Daniella Alonso), and 2.) the death of Rachel, thus rendering him in a deep depression. The only one who seemed at all well-adjusted to this new backdrop was Aaron Pittman (Zak Orth). He was settled in with a new love and doing fine but the Great Plains territories, though far removed from the war torn settings of the Georgia/ Militia conflict, had its own inherent dangers.
I would have enjoyed Revolution much more had I just been able to ignore everything everyone often did wrong. Charlie got a lead on Sabastian Monroe (David Lyons) by way of a one night stand and found him living as a bare-knuckles prize fighter. Monroe won the fight but not easily and without even being winded. I didn’t yell at the screen. Charlie arranged an ambush for him with her signature crossbow but missed by inches when Monroe was knocked out and abducted by some new players. No one noticed the bolt go by or impact nearby. I didn’t yell at the screen. When tribalistic plainsmen became the seasons first new threat, Miles warned the town sheriff that they were acting like Great White Sharks – taking little bites, while circling around, before the main strike. Great Whites don’t take little bites. I actually said that aloud; but not in a yelling way.
When the main strike did come, it was close quarters brutal. By now I’m convinced the show’s creators wanted it to be a visceral experience all along, which would explain the overuse of digital splatter (visual and audio) and the inexplicable shortage of guns across a country the NRA built.
The writing, acting, and dialogue that so hamstrung season one had shown no sign of improvement for the season two premiere: Revolution still seemed derivative. A last minute miracle, having saved Aaron from being a bookend causality (opposite Nora), might turn out to be akin to Rachel’s miracle capsule. The nanites had clearly been evolving; yes, they were in everyone; and yes, I thought of The Walking Dead‘s virus every time the nanites came up. J.J.Abram‘s involvement, the use of flashbacks (and occasional flash-forwards) for plot/character development, and the casting of Lost veterans, like Elizabeth Mitchell, only invited comparisons between these shows. Being able to contrast Mitchell’s performance on Lost, with her current role, made that comparison an unflattering one for Revolution.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just prefer character portrayals that draw me in rather than leap out at me. Maybe I just prefer story telling that captures my imagination rather than making me a passing spectator. Maybe I just prefer a show that puts some effort into telling a story rather than placating its audience with contrived violence and melodrama. I may just not be representative of Revolution‘s target audience.
That said, I did appreciate the show’s fresh start. We may finally get to see the rest of the country, maybe even get some sense of the blackout’s global fallout. If Revolution‘s take on blackout U.S.A. has been debatable up to this point, I really would like to see what they do with “the new world order.” Let’s see if the evolution will be televised.