Revolution episode 3 review: No Quarter

Review Billy Grifter 2 Oct 2012 - 14:27

Despite a slight upturn, Billy continues to find Revolution less-than electric viewing. Here's his review of No Quarter...

This review contains spoilers.

1.3 No Quarter

It's the third episode, and I've now come to the conclusion that I need to get over the lack of scientific logic in this show, because otherwise I'll whine about it until Revolution ends (possibly in about five episodes' time, by my reckoning).
I tried to rationalise it in my mind by thinking about Star Trek, in which, whenever the plot required technology not to work they used the expression 'dampening field', which sounded more scientific than 'jammer'. In Trek, these devices where everywhere and jammed everything it seemed, but in this show it is just electrical power running in engines and electronics it appears, thus breaking Heisenberg's uncertainty principle about what it is you can know about an electron. Maybe it has a Heisenberg compensator?

Joking aside, I just have to accept that we'll get no believable explanation as to why the inevitable meltdown of the sixty-three nuclear reactors (not to mention those on subs and aircraft carriers) didn't make the eastern half of the US uninhabitable for the next seven and a half million years.

That said, this was a much more interesting episode than the previous two, though I'd hardly call it gripping by any stretch of imagination.

What it tried to do was put some flesh on the bones of the Miles Matheson character, who up until now has appeared to just be a surly sociopathic version of MacGyver. For this purpose we're given an insight into the early days of the power outage when he and 'Bass' Munroe wander around delivering justice where it suits them. Given their original relationship and the current situation, that poses the question of how things changed for them. A series of flashback sequences and more recent revelations attempted to explain some, but far from all, of this.

One thing I've never really understood, but for which I'm sure someone in talkback will have an explanation, is why they've gone with the idea that the Stars and Stripes is outlawed. Historically, repressive regimes usually take the symbols of the past and link to them as a means to project themselves as the rightful holders of power and connected to a common heritage. When this first appeared I wondered if some political Tea Party message was being hinted at, but I've since convinced myself it's just a symbol of what came before. The trouble with any sort of upheaval like the power going off for fifteen years would be that even if it all got turned on tomorrow, things would never actually go back to how they were before, as far too much has changed in the meanwhile.

The revelation that Miles is one of the co-founders of the Munroe Republic (so why is it not called the Matheson Republic?) comes at the end of a siege where he, Nora and Charlie get holed up in a derelict diner with the 'rebels', who don't have a proper name for their revolution yet. The quality of these rebels is very variable, I noticed. One of them is excellent with a sniper rifle, and another one can dig like a prairie dog, but they don't have a strategic thought between them. Why they never posted anyone outside to see the approaching militia seemed silly, and that they've not been easily killed already is implausible.

The digging of the escape hole didn't make much sense either. Because they were surrounded and they've no idea where they're digging to, they could be heading into a flooded sewer. It would also take many days to dig the tunnel we see collapse.

But redemption is at hand! Well not narrative redemption, more the production employed someone who can actually act to bolster these mechanical proceedings, the excellent Mark Pellegrino as Jeremy. He's got a track record in TV and movies (Lethal Weapon 3, National Treasure) that goes back a long way, and he can play the heavy easier than breathing. He's so natural here that it really highlights those who have much less experience, and sadly, more screen time allocated to them. If the show was built around Giancarlo Esposito (Captain Tom) and Mark Pellegrino then it might have some legs, but Tracy Spiridakos (Charlie) is quite clearly entirely out of her depth and Zak Orth (Aaron) is painful to watch.

What we miss this week is any sign of Rachel and Grace or any more about who Randall is. The revelation that power can still work through the Aaron and Maggie subplot was one that needed to be made, though why it worked temporarily wasn't explained. Maybe the table that Aaron left the amulet on had an inductive charger in it, who knows.

Also, in this scene Aaron seems surprised by hearing music, even though it's quite easy to make a record player (yes, vinyl records!) that works on a clockwork winding mechanism, surely? Sorry, I've started thinking scientifically again!

The message I got from that and other things that happened was that the power-off premise of the show was just that; a start-point. Once they'd set that up, the show's makers kicked their intriguingly unexplored idea to the wayside and focused instead on character interactions and the odd revelation to keep things bubbling along. Given the quality of what's so far been told and presented, that leaves us with plenty to regret.

Read Billy's review of last week's episode, Chained Heat, here.

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