05/21/2013 11:43 am ET Updated Jul 21, 2013

'Revolution' Recap: Rachel Confronts Monroe


Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 1, Episode 18 of NBC's "Revolution," titled "Clue."

At least Monroe was nice enough to give Nora a pretty little dress for her torture. Now normally, he's shown being paranoid and impulsive and generally making terrible decisions -- that still somehow work in his favor -- but in this case, Monroe's torture regimen proved very effective.

Poor Nora tried to hold out and not betray Miles and the Georgian alliance, but after 21 days of torture, she'd had all she could take. She broke, and spilled the beans. It was a powerful scene, well acted and well written. Even better, the character of Nora stayed true through those sequence and in the aftermath, when one of Monroe's men helped her escape and get back to Miles.

It's notable because so many of the other characters on "Revolution" betray their characters so often. It's that tired case of the plot taking precedence over the way the characters have developed. Thus, you have Aaron inexplicably supporting Rachel's suicide mission this week, despite how hard he fought to keep her alive and stay by her side so recently. Rachel's character has been the most crushed, though we're probably supposed to believe the loss of her son is what broke her.

And she is broken. At this point, she's not even a compelling character as much as she's just tragic. While she's been driven by the mission to get the power back on -- though she was ready to die just a few weeks ago and entrust Aaron with that -- she became completely blinded by her personal desire for revenge. That said, I can't fault her plan to go in and blow up Monroe, thus causing a commotion that Aaron can use to infiltrate the base and get into The Tower.

It was a little convenient that all roads suddenly converged on The Tower this week. Aaron and Rachel have been on the road to this place for weeks, suffering hardships and nearly dying, but suddenly, Monroe and Miles are heading there in no time. It's a good illustration of how much technology can change how things work in this world. Monroe just found out about The Tower, and yet, he got there before Rachel and Aaron. These are the kinds of subtle things that "Revolution" does right to flesh out this world and make it believable.

After Sanborn helped Nora escape from Monroe (by pretending to kill her), he agreed to take Miles -- and the usual Scooby gang -- to The Tower as well. If they hadn't had to stop to siphon fuel in the Plains Nation, they'd probably have gotten there by now as well. But the writers needed to waste time revealing that there was a mole. At this point in the story, with the war all but lost, it doesn't even matter that there was a mole all this time. Had they revealed it while the war was still going on in the plot, maybe we would have had reason to care more. Instead, it just looked like they wanted to distract the good guys for a while, and this seemed like a fun way to kill some time.

I found the whole whodunnit sequence irritating. Was there no better way to reveal that Jim Hudson was the mole, giving up information because Monroe had his wife? It was a ridiculous game of "Revolution Clue," with everyone a suspect once the bodies started dropping. I'm sure it was intentional, considering the episode is named "Clue," but this is a show that has relied too heavily on trite and predictable plot turns in the past, so taking a full plot from a movie is a bit hard to take. It also doesn't seem like the kind of show to do an homage to a cult comedy film -- and besides, "Psych" just did it and their take was much better.

By the way, when the pilot and Other-Random-Dude agreed to go along with the main cast members on this journey, did you all assume they were wearing "Star Trek" red shirts underneath their regular clothes like I did? Yeah, that move was telegraphed a little too obviously, too. And, of course, they both died right away. I will give the writers some credit in that they were doing a pretty good job of making Sanborn look guilty until Jim was revealed. But the whole plot was so trite and stupid, it was hard to forgive the fact that it existed at all.

It was made even worse when Jim planted the knife in Jason's pocket. It was time for Cliche-town as Jason proclaimed his innocence and then felt crushed that Charlie wouldn't support him (but they'd been kissing!). And then, it was Jason who saved the day. I get that "Revolution" isn't trying to be groundbreaking drama, but it's been most compelling when it was unpredictable. This is an interesting premise that's been established. Keep us on our toes, and we'll be more invested.

I'm glad that the "Revolution" writers and creators have seen a lot of action and mystery movies, but they don't need to borrow so heavily from them. We like it when the ideas are innovative and unexpected. If we can see the "shocking" twists coming five scenes in advance, they lose most of their punch. Then we miss your big reveals because we're too busy rolling our eyes.

I was genuinely interested in the developments with Randall Flynn this week, because they made virtually no sense. Was he so unnerved by Monroe finding out about The Tower that he lost all of that bravado and nerve he'd shown in every previous appearance? He was so quickly reduced to a whining coward begging for his life that I felt it was a disservice to what had been a compelling character to that point. I can only hope he's playing Monroe in some way. Flynn has often felt like he's the smartest man in the room -- and let's face it, Monroe comes across as someone who's kind of dumb -- so I want to believe he has a plan. If he doesn't, then he's just another character who's personality was altered to fit the needs of the story, and that's a shame.

Rachel had a plan, and her plan is how the episode ended. She walked into Monroe's tent with a live grenade, pulling the pin and activating it as we went to black. Previews reveal an explosion, but the only people who ever die on this show anymore are red shirts. Everyone seems to get into The Tower, so the big question now is will the power get turned back on? And what the hell came up that elevator? And how will everyone manage to come out of this alive?

Tune in to "Revolution" on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.