Revolution Review: "Born in the USA/There Will Be Blood" (Episodes 2.01/2.02)
There’s no doubt Revolution had a rocky first season. Lack of focus, silly gaping plot holes and static characters plagued an enthralling idea from some serious sci-fi heavyweights. The second season is out to prove something, and in some ways the series is hitting a reset button.
“Born in the USA” kicks off the new season, and there is a lot of plot development to chew. Set six months after the first season ended, we find our main characters scattered across the country. Miles, Aaron and Rachel are in the Republic of Texas where they find solace with Rachel’s father, Gene (played by Stephen Collins). This season looks to explore how broken families are in this post-power world more so than the previous season did. But what it seems to want to do, and correctly so, is strip the characters down to their basic instincts.
Already we see Miles as the swashbuckler that he was set up to be in the pilot before the writers tried to make him a complicated character. He can still be complex, but they don’t seem to want to force it as much as they previously did.
While that crew explores the new setting with some new characters, Charlie—who was infuriating at times last season—is on her own in the Plains Nation. The most important thing the show can do for her is to make her more of the badass she was at times in the first season. Instead of being afraid of making her a strong, ruthless character, the show should embrace it. We don’t need to see her struggle with having to kill to live. We’re over that. And hopefully the show is too.
The first episode really starts this season with a jolt. It ends with the typical battle that most episodes have, but this time they decide to kill off Aaron. The final moments depict Rachel trying to save him, only to fail…
But it’s okay! Remember the nantes that keep people alive. Aaron has them in him, and the episode ends with him opening his eyes and taking a deep, dramatic breath. Which leads us into “There Will Be Blood.”
The second episode continues the strong opening to the sophomore season. We’re definitely in a good zone with all of the characters. Aaron is becoming more than just a smart character whose sole purpose is to plot dump scientific facts. Charlie continues to build her savageness. But the two most intriguing plots/characters this episode were Miles (and the psychopathic warlord Titus Andover) and Neville.
Miles is screwed in this episode. He’s captured and is definitely going to die. But not really. The show won’t kill him off because it isn’t ballsy enough. However, it does let the show be smartly violent (if there is such a thing). Revolution really kicked up the intensity and violence to draw in viewers who like that sort of thing, but it’s working. Keeping Miles in such a tight space won’t work for long because we’ll want to see him kicking butt, but for now seeing him squirm is okay.
Neville is interesting for a different reason. The first season he was complex, sure, but he was just a good, old-fashioned antagonist. Now that he is on the outs with the other baddies, he is more tragic than ever. He’s still a jerk and is deservedly hated, but my guess is that he’ll slowly (and sort of predictably) flip and end up helping Miles and the rest of the good guys. We’ll see how it all shakes out.
One thing is certain: Revolution has a different attitude this season. And it’s working.