“Home” is a textbook example of how a series’ storytelling and character development shortcomings can derail what on paper should have been a pretty good hour of television.
After last week’s laughably terrible episode that had me seriously considering whether to keep watching ‘Revolution’, “Home” was an unquestionably better effort, one that did a lot of things right. Structurally, the hour was much cleaner than much of what we’ve seen from this series, with two “damsel in distress” plots that began and ended within the hour. There was a healthy dose of action, a fair amount of violence, a high stakes confrontation between Miles and Monroe, and even a twist ending involving Neville, the show’s best character.
On paper, it works. On paper.
That’s where most of my problems with ‘Revolution’ begin: on paper. This entire series feels like it was sketched out on paper in a boardroom, not in the mind of someone with a vision. It feels like some executives wrote down a bunch of things that they think people want (apocalypse! swordfights! MONOLOGUES!) then manufactured a story to hit on all those points. It’s phony. It doesn’t ring true.
And that’s a problem, particularly because so much of ‘Revolution’ relies on audiences caring about these wooden characters and their relationships with one another. In “Home,” a love triangle is conjured up from thin air, as Emma, a former lover conveniently of both Miles and Monroe, is brought into the fold. The fact that Emma is a hastily-constructed plot device designed to pull Monroe and Miles together is so utterly transparent that it’s barely even worth pointing out. In the absence of real storytelling, just throw more characters at us, right?
But don’t worry, because once Emma serves her purpose of bringing our hero and villain together, she’s killed off in short order. This was, I guess, designed to gin up some kind of emotional weight; but how is the audience supposed to feel for Miles or Monroe when the character they’re mourning was literally introduced to us 20 minutes earlier?
‘Revolution’ has only one real trick in its bag: killing characters. But when those characters exist solely to be killed, it strips their deaths of any meaning, and suddenly this show becomes post-apocalyptic ‘The Following’.
Meanwhile, Aaron got his biggest showcase to date, meeting up by chance with the wife he abandoned. This worked better than the Miles/Monroe material, precisely because the series has laid some track regarding Aaron’s backstory – though not nearly enough for this pay off to REALLY hit home. For once, I wish the episode would have focused more on Aaron and given him something to do beyond tackling his wife’s captor and having conversations with her. I’d have liked to see Aaron put those two doctorate degrees to use and, you know, SOLVE something. That character has been such a mess, but the series could so easily turn him around just by giving him A LITTLE hero business. Instead, he continues to be mostly useless, with even his moments of triumph not seeming all that triumphant.
Still, this was Aaron at his most tolerable. Same goes for Rachel, who barely appeared on screen.
I continue to hope that ‘Revolution’ figures it out, but right now as the show limps to the end of its first season, this is a middling series with fundamental problems.