Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 1, Episode 20 (the season finale) of NBC's "Revolution," titled "The Dark Tower."
For months now, the quest to turn the power back on has been about giving people a fighting chance against Monroe and his medallion-powered forces. In the "Revolution" season finale, though, Randall Flynn's true motivations were revealed, opening up a larger conflict that's been waiting just offshore all these years. After this, nothing will be the same in this world -- and that's kind of a good thing.
For all of its good points, this first season of "Revolution" was kind of a mess. There was plenty of hackneyed plotting and even worse dialogue along the way, but underneath, it was a solid science-fiction premise. The "Revolution" finale had more of the bad, but offered at least the potential for improvement in Season 2.
One of my dreams for the show did come true this week as Tom finally realized leadership control of the Monroe Republic. As a villain, he's so much stronger than Monroe. It's a little disappointing that he didn't kill Monroe when he had the chance. I did love his line to his one-time boss, though. After capturing him, he told Monroe, "You have become foolish and deranged and you have a borderline erotic fixation on Miles Matheson." Every word of that statement is absolutely true, and it adds a whole new layer to the ongoing fight between Miles and Monroe that played out after they got washed out of The Tower.
While this week's episode saw everyone get into The Tower, Miles and Monroe had a hard time staying there. They also can't seem to stay mad at one another, and they absolutely can't kill one another. Hell, after Tom captured Monroe, it was Miles who set him free! After Tom's speech about Monroe's "erotic fixation," that scene played a lot steamier than was probably intended. There does seem to be some love there beyond brotherhood. How progressive that would be of you, "Revolution."
Considering you didn't have the nerve to kill anyone of significance -- sorry, Nora, you never elevated beyond supporting player in everyone else's narratives so your death was inevitable and anticlimactic -- Monroe is still alive for Miles to finally admit his feelings next season. He could even proclaim it on the jumbotron of some stadium, because they did indeed get the power restored.
In fact, the bulk of the hour was wasted with everyone trying to make their way to Level 12. There was a whole group of people who'd dedicated their lives to keeping anyone from getting down there, but the rebels seemed to wipe them all out pretty easily. Ultimately, though, the good guys got in as we knew they would, so all the back and forth felt really tedious and unnecessary. If you need filler in a one-hour season finale, then you're show doesn't have enough meat to it. Or, in the case of "Revolution," your characters are so paper thin, you can't come up with a B-story for them because even you don't care about any of them.
Rachel once again proved what a jerk she can be by essentially deciding to let Nora die so she could turn the power back on "for Danny." Kind of a dick thing to say right in front of the dying woman. "Oh, you have to die, because I'm doing this for my already-dead son." I'm standing by my statement that Rachel is every bit the villain that Monroe is. Even Charlie pulled away from her again. Of course, Rachel's entire personality was erased to be replaced by this drive to turn back on the power, so who knows what kind of person will emerge from The Tower next season.
"Revolution" had moments of real quality in its earliest episodes, and from time to time in these final 10 episodes. But it's going to need to get itself together if it wants to survive past Season 2. Next year, the show is leaving the safety of "The Voice" lead-in to kick off NBC's Wednesday nights. Now that the power is restored, it's time to focus on fleshing out these characters. For 20 episodes, they've been bland, one-note personalities and the show relied on the narrative story to draw viewers in. Based on the diminishing returns it's been getting, that isn't working anymore.
People don't fall in love with television shows because they love the premise. They may tune in for a good hook, but they stay for the characters. They stay because they come to care about these people as if they are real. "Revolution" has failed to create one well-rounded character in this first season. The closest they've come is with Tom, and that's because of the talented Giancarlo Esposito, not the awful writing and cliche plots.
In fact, obsessed jerk seems to be the most common character trait. Miles, Monroe and Rachel all have this trait, as does Charlie to some degree. Aaron is the coward, Nora and Jason weren't fleshed out much beyond being love interests for Miles and Charlie, respectively, and Randall Flynn was a cartoon villain, all the way up to his final move.
Giving credit where it's due, the final twist did leave me intrigued about the future. Randall wanted the power turned back on -- he really didn't care who did it -- to fulfill his own mission. He launched ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) at Philadelphia and Atlanta. Then he blew his brains out. The final scene, though, showed the so-called President of the United States at his "White House" in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One of his aides tells him, "It's time to go home, Mr. President."
If Philly and Atlanta survive this attack -- and touchdown certainly seemed imminent -- how will they handled whatever tricks this President has waiting for them. And how will the return of power change absolutely everything about the show?
"Revolution" returns for Season 2 in the fall on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.