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- Episode: The Plague Dogs (season 1, episode 4)
- Starring: Daniella Alonso, Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Giancarlo Esposito, Zak Orth
- Written By: Anne Saunders
- Directed By: Felicia Alcala
- Network: NBC
Revolution: The Plague Dogs Review
Let slip the dogs of war
By Chuck Francisco
October 10, 2012
Revolution continues to stride forward with purpose, though it's poise still needs work. There's no doubt about the improvements over the last two episodes, bringing the show more in line with the potential which we can all see it possesses. As everything settles in, and the pieces begin to find their places, the larger world around them can take shape. The importance of a well build world cannot be understated. It's critical to the success of films and video games as well, but those two forms of entertainment can succeed upon other virtues, where as TV shows require it. Breathe a sigh of relief 'Luters, your show has arrived. Let's dig into the particulars of last night's episode.
Without doubt, the most important occurrence of last night was the passing of Maggie (Anna Lisa Phillips). This is truly a shame, as she was one of the most compelling members of the party. She possessed a fiercely quiet ruthlessness, which she knew was necessary, but it was obviously she hated that it was. I was looking forward to seeing that develop further. As Charlie's surrogate mother shuffles off the mortal coil, Charlie has a legitimate break down. Though it's been a bone of contention on my end, you won't find me begrudging a truly legitimate grieving moment. In this case, her laments of "everyone leaves me" works to further develop her bond with uncle Myles, who was intending to depart before this all shook out.
Kudos are due to Tracy Spiridakos (Charlie); when she's given solid work to do, she pulls it off well. There seemed to be a compelling missed opportunity in this scene though. As Maggie is fading away she asks for and is given her phone. If she had asked Aaron to "make it work", or if he had done so without her asking, it would have added to the sentimentality of the moment and pulled further at the heart strings. It also would have put Aaron in a truly compelling conundrum afterward, where he'd need to explain to them the nature of his discovery. It might of also forced Myles to consider killing Nate to keep the secret.
On the topic of Nate, I think the production team's decision to alter his look (making him appear less like a Twilight series character) is a vast improvement. His quick decision to provide tactical information to Myles was a short, but fascinating interaction. I would almost muse about his motivation, but I don't think that Nate quite knows what he's after. He'd say that it's his mission, but doubts are clearly forming around his intentions.
After a full episode with only minimal Captain Tom Neville action, Giancarlo Esposito returns in interesting fashion. The road doesn't seem to be treating him very well, or he doesn't quite have a solid coping mechanism. The super smooth operator we've seen is drinking regularly, looks disheveled, and doesn't seem quite as in control of himself as was first suggested. His duplicity is on display, as he very obviously manipulates Danny into saving his life, using the memory of his father. But prior to that, we see some of the real him as he mentions that Danny reminds him of his son, and as we witness true fear in his eyes at the sound and fury of the tornado. He clear cares for and misses his family. It doesn't diminish his bad deeds, instead it fleshed out the character more substantially. He becomes a bad man with a believable motivation, which is very a dangerous combination.
The flashback revelations this week entail the past and present predicaments of Rachel Matheson. Her previously cushy imprisonment does not seem quite so lovely now that we're aware that she's regularly tortured. Oddly, she seems to be completely calm regarding it. Is it possible that she was also a government agent, perhaps assigned to protect Ben and whatever he was working on? Nevertheless, her cool exterior falls apart when Monroe informs her that Danny will soon be joining them, and will shortly be enduring similar tortures. David Lyons has been excellent in this quietly menacing way. Conversely, what is up with the wooden acting of Billy Burke in the flash back scene of Rachel surrendering to him? His face is a plastic mask. Shouldn't he be experiencing any number of emotions? Elation to see her; excitement that she actually showed, trepidation about the reason for his summons- anything would have been better than nothing.
Next week we're going to get some western-esk train robbery shenanigans. We're promised a show down between Neville and Myles, who seem to be well acquainted. Let's hope this next episode marks the turning point from good to awesome, with some well choreographed and filmed train top sword fight action. The momentum has them moving in the right direction, keep your fingers crossed that it continues.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Saturday Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a horror co-host of two monthly film series at the world famousColonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA (home of 1958's 'The Blob'): First Friday Fright Nights andColonial Cult Cinema. You can hear him on awesome podcast You've Got Geek or follow him out onTwitter.