Remember that old FX show ‘Rescue Me’? Dennis Leary as a firefighter? I think NBC needs to get together with FX to license this name out, because it would be a much more fitting title for this post-apocalyptic soap opera than ‘Revolution’.
Seriously, it seems like the plot of every other episode of ‘Revolution’ involves someone being captured or trapped, and the rest of the group choosing to rescue that person despite great danger. It’s not even a theme at this point; ‘Revolution’ has gone to this well so many times in its 17 episodes that I’d consider it part of the premise of the show. Like, the TV Guide description could be, “People get trapped! Other people rescue them! Then more people get trapped!”
Having said that…
This was arguably the second-best episode of ‘Revolution’ to date, behind only the hour where Maggie died – and as I wrote at the time, that episode was a Pyrrhic victory in that the show killed off its most interesting character for one jolt of drama.
In broad terms, “The Longest Day” worked for two reasons. First, it pulled the series’ three best current characters – Miles, Nora, and Neville – together and gave them hero business (even if that business – rescuing Charlie – was more or less the same plot we’ve seen half a dozen times already). And second, the series finally leaned into the audience’s utter disdain for Rachel and gave her a fairly satisfying heel turn.
Let’s start with Rachel and Aaron. Their interminable trek across the country has been borderline unwatchable most of the time, but here “unwatchable” took on a different meaning as we were treated (?) to a very gross scene where a robot heals Rachels’ wounded leg. This was best that ‘Revolution’ has handled the Aaron character to date, and he’s finally starting to take on some character traits. He’s hopelessly naive, loyal to a fault, and a technical genius.
All three of those things were on display here, as Aaron refuses to abandon Rachel, then constructs the high-risk piece of technology needed to repair her leg, only to be blindsided by Rachel betraying the family of a dying child and revealing that her only motivation is revenge against Monroe.
That’s what I’m talking about! I (and most everyone else, based on Twitter) have hated Rachel since she became part of the regular cast, so it’s about time the series stopped trying to pass her off as a hero. In general, that’s been a major problem with ‘Revolution’; all our main characters are bland, uninteresting heroes who talk the same way and view the world the same way. That’s certainly been the case with Rachel and Aaron until this point, but now there’s finally a real divide between them. Aaron is motivated by fixing the world, Rachel is motivated by revenge. He’s compassionate, she’s ruthless. Hopefully ‘Revolution’ has the courage to stick with this tack, because it makes their dynamic much more interesting.
The main story this week was, again, nothing we haven’t seen – the militia attacks, this time with drone strikes (timely!), decimating the Georgia forces. Charlie’s trapped in a building and it’s up to Miles, Nora, and Neville to rescue her and Jason. The group comes across Jason first, and Neville takes it upon himself to help his son escape. Neville is too far gone to ever become a good guy, but I’ll buy him refusing to let his son die, mostly because Giancarlo Esposito sells it so well. Meanwhile, Miles and Nora launch their attack to get Charlie back. They do, but Nora is captured, so now it’s her turn to get rescued.
It’s all pretty bland and repetetive storytelling, but I’ll take what I can get from ‘Revolution.’ There were plenty of explosions, action sequences, and scenes of Monroe acting crazy to make the hour go by pretty quickly, especially with the Rachel/Aaron story operating at an acceptable level.
In big-picture terms, the two biggest improvements ‘Revolution’ has made since its hiatus are toning down the Charlie character and providing a more clear structure to episodes. Here, the A-story was rescuing Charlie and Jason, the B-story was Rachel and Aaron, and the C-story was Monroe and Jeremy. Clean and simple. While I’d like it if those stories were more interesting, it’s episodes like this that give me faith that ‘Revolution’ isn’t a complete mess. Progress!