March 25, 2013




Of all the mysteries that surround the events of NBC’s REVOLUTION, the one that definitely won’t be answered this season is how the show would rate if it didn’t have The Voice as its lead-in.  NBC decided that it would be safer to keep Revolution off the air for 4 months than to air it even once in an unprotected timeslot, and as a result, we don’t and won’t know if the show would continue to be a success on its own. (The record of Go On suggests that its path would be problematic at best.)  In any case, the series returned for the second half of its season tonight, and for the most part, wasn’t very different than the show we’d left last year.

The electricity is still mostly off (unless you have a lucky amulet or amplifier, whatever they may actually turn out to be), and our plucky band of ex-Militia leader turned reluctant hero Miles Matheson (Billy Burke), his niece Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), rebel Nora (Daniella Alonso) and nerd Aaron (Zak Orth) continue to be on the run from the forces of evil, represented by local dictator Monroe (David Lyons), his lieutenant Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) and, somewhat more ambiguously, Neville’s son Jason (JD Pardo), who works for his dad but has a hankering for Charlie.  The major event of the fall finale was our gang reuniting with Charlie’s brother Danny (Graham Rogers), whom they’d been trying to rescue since he was taken captive in the pilot, as well as Charlie and Danny’s mother Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell), who has still-mysterious ties with Miles and Monroe and knows untold (for now) secrets about why the electricity went off in the first place.

Although for most of its length, tonight’s episode (written by Co-Executive Producer Anne Cofell Saunders and Supervising Producer Paul Grellong, and directed by Steve Boyum) strongly resembled those of the fall, with the group trudging through woods in search of rebel help, some of which turned out to be in league with the militia (the addition of working helicopters stalking the heroes only made everything seem more like a routine action movie than ever), the show saved what was supposed to be a lurching left turn for its final minutes, one that probably deserves a SPOILER ALERT:  before the end credits rolled on his first episode as a free man, brother Danny–unless this turns out to be a cheat later on–was killed by militia fire as he heroically downed two enemy helicopters.  (There are, incidentally, two reasons to suspect a possible cheat here:  one was the reference to Miles–who knows from corpses–being absolutely sure that he’d seen Rachel’s dead body some time earlier even though she hadn’t died, and the other was the blinking whatzit that Rachel removed from Danny’s body at the end of the episode.)

Let’s assume, though, that events are as they appeared and Danny really is sleeping with the post-apocalyptic fishes.  This twist, while dramatic, had less effect than the producers seemed to expect.  Partly this was because Danny just wasn’t much of a character, eliminated before he had any chance to interact meaningfully with the other leads.  Also, it made the whole first half of the season somewhat self-defeating and meaningless, in a series that doesn’t really do “dramatic irony.”  In any case, no one off screen will particularly miss Danny; he really was the most expendable regular.

And so there was nothing in this first spring episode of Revolution to make a viewer excited that the show is back:  no revitalized purpose, no broadened mythology (even though Rachel, who presumably knows many of the answers, is now one of the core group).  If anything, the newly amped-up action sequences make the show less distinctive than it was before.  If Revolution is to convince us it can stand on its own, eventually it’s going to have to live up to its title.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."