A badass writ from the cloth of Sarah Connor and a stack of inconsistencies so enormous that it surpasses a mole hill fight for screen time this week on Revolution. I certainly won't be the only one to find problems with the behavioral inconsistencies fed to us this week. Leaps in logic so profound that more than once I cocked my head as if to ask if the blackout shut down all critical thinking on the planet too. This zaniness isn't confined to objects, it extends to broken character motivations. We have characters not even remaining consistent to their core driving factors within this single episode. Before we turn this into a one sided whipping session though, let's talk about where this week's episode succeeded (some).
We can return to brutalizing bad writing after we discuss how this world's mysteries have had a light shined on them. Make no mistake this was a middling filler episode, but it was one during which we discovered a great deal more about the circumstances surrounding the blackout. Foremost to grab my attention was that the device or cause itself is a virus. This potentially renders prior speculation on some sort of EMP field completely incorrect. It also breaks my pet theory about the pendants creating a protective anti EMP field. How would this even work though? I suppose it's possible that a virus could be built which is adaptive, creating it's own entry into all manner of computer dependent systems, but this doesn't explain how it disabled older model cars which don't contain those type of advance systems.
We learn a little bit more about The Tower, getting a peek into the minutes leading up to its deployment. If the elevator's out, and the Tower pretty much a locked down underground facility, does that mean a crew of emaciated military corpses await Randall when he reclaims the lower levels? Secret government facilities which house super weapons rarely possess the requisite emergency exits (at least not to OSHA compliance level standards). The flashback to Randall and Mrs. Flynn receiving the news of their military son's death in the middle east is the most powerful and wrenching scene of our hour in Kripke town this week. It's simply shot, the leveraging loss of focus and the dulling of sound which both characters themselves must have been experiencing. Still it introduces one of the many inconsistencies. Randall's motivation seems to switch from urgency in deploying this new technology to disable any enemies of the United States, thus sparing the parents of any active service member who would otherwise perish in combat, to a desire to watch the world burn. Then it changes again, becoming a Machiavellian drive to reset the world, placing the controlling power into the hands of an intellectual elite. Neither of the latter two desires feel grounded in the want to spare other parents from the pain he experienced or trying to right the wrongs he contributed to.
On the other hand Charlie's evolution actually makes sense. That the death of her brother would push her into needlessly endangering herself on patrol missions to dull the pain is a completely believable extension of her personality. The skills she's accumulated have blossomed, and she's become a one woman crossbow wrecking crew. The bit where she ambushes a shock trooper, driving an arrow into him was he passes her hiding place, is indicative of the lethal killer she's become. I am surprised she hasn't added a pistol to her armament though, for these situations when there's not time to reload. Before the praise wagon can pull the Charlie parade into town she acquires a high tech gun, and transforms into Rambo. It's a pretty big stretch of the imagination to accept that she's instantly familiar with this new, beefy assault rifle. I can buy her success with it in close quarters, but taking out an entire squad of men trained with it, then miraculously spraying it in her mom's direction to take out her captor, yet leave her unscathed, while moving at a run? Come on Revolution, that's pretty absurd math no matter whose abacus you're counting with.
Now these mystical pendants, which Randall can remotely ping to track the location of, consist of a housing unit and a flash drive component. Worried about being tracked? Disengage and destroy the flash drive component. Wait, couldn't they just disconnect the detachable flash drive, thus disabling the units so they can't be followed? This way they can also still have access to power up devices when needed and can still build an amplifier at a later date. No? Alright then shouldn't they at least take the housing portion of the two disabled pendants with them, so that they don't have to rebuild them from scratch? I mean, couldn't any old flash drive with the correct program be plugged into the pendant? Leaving them behind is a massive oversight, and had me nearly screaming at the TV. What about asset denial?
Concurrent to these events, Miles and Nora quest to locate former militia mate Jim Hudson, who has built a life as a small town librarian. This is really an excuse for a big sword battle between the three badass rebel sword saints and an entire militia kill squad. Revolution takes the mystery thing to the next level by making the entire affair completely unwatchable. Even my ADD enabled brain couldn't follow the rapid succession of quick cuts as Miles, Nora, and Hudson rip through overwhelming numbers. I have to imagine it looked awesome....because they certainly didn't allow us to see it unfold in any sort of fashion we could follow. Pull the camera back a few feet, stay with it for a few seconds at a time, and rely on your choreography to impress us.
Overall this was a fairly forgettable affair, with only the liberal use of mystery reveals and Charlie's stone cold badassery redeeming our time. For some that may be enough, but we've seen how cool the show can be when it combines smart use of its mythology with solidly shot action and compelling character drama. This felt like a Mania "C", but arguments could be made to attach a plus or minus to that letter.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Saturday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famousColonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.