Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 1, Episode 16 of NBC's "Revolution," titled "The Love Boat."
It took six weeks into this back half of the season for "Revolution," but finally, this is the show that we've been wanting to watch. Finally, this is again the show that so mesmerized audiences with its powerful pilot. It's hard not to attribute at least some of that renewed sense of energy to the powerful performance of Giancarlo Esposito as Tom Neville.
Whether he was sneering at his son, pointing a gun at Charlie or squaring off against Miles, Tom brought out new facets of these characters who'd become stale and flat in recent weeks. Miles especially seemed invigorated by his presence, even if it wasn't in the most positive way. In fact, he rather fell back on old habits, justifying horrific behavior because "this is war."
I can't help but wonder if the writers got as tired as I did of Miles always saying, "We don't have a choice," "You don't have a choice," "I don't have a choice," and on and on. It became the most annoying mantra on television, and mostly because it's so wrong. There's always a choice, and so Charlie spoke for all of us when she basically told him what the right choice was.
Of course, because this is Miles and he's the most stubborn man on the planet, she had to lock him in his room and make the right choice for him, but he finally came through ... while being shot at by Monroe's men. OK, maybe it was as much about saving his own skin as doing the right thing, but he did set the doctor free.
That's what was so remarkable about this episode. It was basically a throwaway story that served no other purpose than to put Tom and Miles together in order to shake things up. This way, Miles could see that he was really no different from Tom -- and Tom's basically a monster -- so that he could just knock it off. See the world through Charlie's eyes for a change and realize there's a better way to go about doing things.
As if to emphasize the "Miles is Tom" point, the episode started off with Miles interrogating a prisoner. When the man refused to give up any information, Miles callously executed him. His justification was that Monroe will never hold back. So if you're fighting a monster, you have to become every bit the monster he is. Only that's not so, either.
It was also about time Charlie stood up to Miles and forced him to see things the right way. He's a damaged person with a dark past, and some very bad habits. Charlie is basically the conscience he lost somewhere along the way, but she needed to be more assertive or she'd lose him completely.
While it's hard to believe that Tom is fully committed to Georgia now, he at least made a reasonable argument to his son as to why he'd defected. It was because Jason was a traitor to the Monroe Republic -- and Tom didn't take care of the problem -- that Tom and his wife had to flee. If an opportunity to go back were presented, with a full pardon, would Tom go back? It probably depends on who has the better offer at the moment, which makes him tremendously dangerous.
Putting him at Miles' side creates the best possible chance for friction and tension. That was proven this week when Monroe was relegated to a throwaway scene so he could glower at Randall and make empty threats. Randall seems to humor Monroe and his immature tantrums, but that humor will likely only extend so far.
As for Rachel and Aaron, they apparently had the only moment significant to the larger arc. Starving and on their way to the Tower, Rachel broke her leg in a very nasty way -- as in bone-sticking-out nasty. She tried to convince Aaron to go on without her, and then told him that there was some significance to him being there because of a clipping of him in the book. And ... that's it. That's all we get for that storyline.
Then, there's the creepy cliffhanger. Grace got the elevators open in that place she's being held at, and one of Randall's men decided to take it down to Level 12 -- no idea what's down there still. But the elevator stopped at Level 7 and something nasty got on, killing the video feed. The episode ended with the bloody elevator doors opening and Grace looking terrified. Is this the end for the woman who first told the audience that power still existed in this world?
What's remarkable about this episode is that it proves a serialized storyline can have a fantastic installment, even if it's basically a "filler" episode. As long as there are strong character moments and interactions, as well as some genuine excitement and danger, we don't care if the storyline is creeping along. This was mastered by "Lost," and yet character seemed to be the last thing on the minds of the "Revolution" writers.
Conflict can bring out the best and worst people, so dropping Tom in the middle of the rebellion was a brilliant move. So far, it's paying off in spades as it makes me find Miles and Charlie more interesting than they've been in weeks. With "Revolution" already picked up for a second season, I find myself with a renewed excitement to see where the next four episodes take us.
Threat of the Week
It wouldn't be an episode of "Revolution" without a ridiculous threat from the most insecure villain in television history: Monroe. This week's gem came after Randall called him out for having a personal vendetta against Miles.
"Oh, Mr. Flynn. You're my IT guy. If you say something like that again, I'm gonna rip your throat out. We clear?"
"Revolution" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.