Need. More. Character. Development.
Does that count as a review?
It must be depressing to be a television creator on a major network (and I don’t include the CW as major), as you have no time to win over the audience. Get the ratings immediately or die. I know this isn’t a new complaint, and Seinfeld (or The X-Files) is trotted out as the example that best exemplifies the “show that would have been canceled in its first season” if it were on the air today.
There must be a sense that ACTION, ACTION, ACTION is what brings in the ratings and that actually caring a smidgen for the characters comes later.
It’s the only reason I can think of for the Revolution writers to wait this long to give the audience anything to grab on to with the character of Charlie. And I single-out Charlie over any of the other characters because you get the sense that she’s meant to anchor the action, but unless they write her some better scenes it’s not going to work. I’ve read a few critics who argue that once again a show is set around young people with no depth, and at first I thought they might just be grumpy, but it’s true. For Danny and Charlie to work, they need to improve their storylines, because you know what? Charlie doesn’t listen to what she’s told to do – I GET IT! Stop making that her narrative of the week.
However, what really works this week is the building mystery around Miles, Monroe, and Jeremy (new addition Mark Pellegrino). Their lives are intertwined nicely pre- and post-apocalypse. Their roles in both times being slowly fleshed out, although Miles is so Han Solo that he even wears a similar belt and barks out lines about the futility of the Rebel Alliance. This seems to be the storyline the writers care for the most – or maybe it’s just the most naturally acted scenes in the show.
One smart move was taking Aaron (Zak Orth) and Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) away from Charlie and into their own action. Their visit to Grace Beaumont’s house, where her absence, rather than dead body, implied kidnapping, gave the pairing something to do and allowed Aaron to serve as more than just “funny quip guy.”
But, still, this episode was about action. The majority of the episode was centered on the newly revealed rebel base being attacked by a militia group led by Jeremy. Burke’s portrayal of Miles, as usual, carried the rebellion scenes, but it was hindered by clichéd dialogue, especially when Nora fights to get Charlie back into the action and out of her “surrounded by death” funk.
Pellegrino, however, saves the militia moments, by incorporating the same tone and humor that he brought to his role as Lucifer in Supernatural into his scenes and character. I’m hoping Jeremy lasts for a while, because Kripke knows how to write for Pellegrino – so well that I was, for some moments, rooting for the Militia. . .mainly because I wanted more Jeremy zingers.
Revolution is trying to manage a large cast, and to tell stories about most of them. Right now they’re spending a bit of time on all of them. In order for us to care about these characters, they need to take a page from the book of season one LOST. They really need to spend an episode focused on a character, rather than jumping around all of the stories. One of LOST’s greatest strengths was that it made us love the characters, even while this surreal, catastrophic story was being woven around them. The way it did that is by having us invest in their personal stories – one by one – narrative by narrative. By the end of the first season, we had in place a mythology, but, more importantly, the audience was invested in the future of the survivors.
I’m still cautiously optimistic at this point, but there is work to be done.