“The Love Boat” was a better version of ‘Revolution’ than what we’ve seen lately, and on the whole one of the better episodes this season. But the series is still struggling mightily to make its stories compelling, and relying too heavily on manufactured plot elements to inject drama into the proceedings.
Let’s start, though, with what worked. “The Love Boat” went a long way to provide some basic definiton to roles of the central characters, which unbelievably in episode 16 is something that ‘Revolution’ has done virtually no work on. The show has been playing personality roulette with its main characters for most of this first season, adding and removing character traits to service whatever story the show wants to tell on a given week. That’s subsided recently, as all the main characters became more or less the same amorphous blob of heroic traits and good intentions. That’s not an improvement.
But here, we finally do get some defintion. With Neville in the mix, Miles reverts back to his old self, kidnapping a doctor that Monroe had previously kidnapped to create weaponized anthrax. Miles and Neville’s plan is to repurpose him to create that same weapon for Georgia to be used against Monroe. This actually makes sense for Miles’ character; this is the kind of man he used to be, and now that he’s been put in a military leadership position again, he’s returning to what he knows.
Charlie’s not having any of it, of course, and neither are Nora or Tom’s son Jason. So after their transport boat is inspected by Paul Kinsey from ‘Mad Men’ (apparently he’s settled in to a menial role with the Monroe Republic following his stint with the Hare Krishnas), the three of them stage a coup to free the doctor. The last few weeks, Charlie’s been acting hardened, in a way that’s mostly indistinguishable from Miles. In fact, just last week she was advocating shooting innocent Emma to kill Monroe. But this is a much better look for her, as the still-tough and still-hardened voice of morality that prevents Miles from turning into his old self.
Additionally, Nora’s character has become entirely eclipsed by Charlie in recent weeks, as the show scrambled to toughen up Charlie. So rekindling her romance with Miles is a good look, as it gives her a distinct role on the show so she’s not just along for the ride. Jason, for his part, is still a mess. The series wants him to be mysterious, I think, but the character is so bland and the performance so wooden that nothing at all about it works.
So while I liked the direction of the characters much more in “The Love Boat” than in recent weeks, the show still tripped up on some pretty basic stuff.
Literally, in the case of Rachel. Hey, you know what’s not compelling? Watching a character FALL DOWN while running away from something. It’s been done a million times over the years, and ‘Revolution’ thinking it could get away with hanging a major shift in the Rachel/Aaron story on something like that is laughable. Rachel breaks her leg from the fall, Aaron won’t leave her, they fight off a couple attackers together, Rachel implores Aaron to go on without her because he’s the only one who can do what needs done at the tower. Blah blah, whatever. I’m pretty much done with these two terrible characters.
And even the scientist kidnapping story, which I liked much more, didn’t really come together as well as it should have. The coup staged by Charlie, Nora, and Jason felt like it came from nowhere, and seemed insanely high risk. What if Miles wasn’t understanding about it? The fact that none of the main players in this story died or even got injured makes it feel like one of those cartoons where there’s a lot of shooting but no one ever gets hit. And again, why was Charlie, so unconcerned about the sanctity of human life in the last couple weeks, suddenly willing to risk her own to reunite this scientist with his family?
Basically, if ‘Revolution’ is going to tell ultra-high stakes stories with big gunfights, then it’s going to need to lose some characters. It’s been a while now since Danny died, and every week it seems like all our main characters are in grave danger. These situations shouldn’t consistently result in everyone being safe and sound. A much more tenable long-term plan would be to scale down the action, but then again that’s how the series started and we all saw how that went. This is not a problem that will be solved before season 1 ends. Here’s hoping for a better show in season 2.