Revolution episode 17 review: The Longest Day

Review Billy Grifter 16 May 2013 - 07:02

Revolution finally gets round to some character development, but it's rather late in the day for that, according to Billy...

This review contains spoilers.

1.17 The Longest Day

After sixteen episodes, what do we really know about these characters more than we knew when they first appeared? Well, we know that Nora can only have passionate sex when she's used heated curlers. And, that Tom loves his wife dearly, especially when he's far-far away from her.

From the outset in this story the writers set out with the objective of layering the very thinly drawn characters, starting with Nora and Tom, and later on progressing to Rachel and Bass. While I'd like to point out that this is far too late in the day to now engage the audience, one can't help but note their attempts to at least provide something more.

I'd even say that some of it sort of worked on a very simple level, but within minutes of some scenes that contain vaguely interesting interaction, we shift to the drone attack where all logic flies into view, and then out of the window. Revolution is abysmal with action sequences, and this one is a stinker from the outset.

A clue to the writers: the whole point of drones is to attack without revealing themselves, rather than overflying the target at low level. But creative licences aside, how did the missiles still work when they left the drones? And, if the answer to that is that the amplifier generated a field around them strong enough to launch a missile to a ground target, then it would also be enough to power any ground based missile defence.

But then none of this attack makes any sense, because Ashland KY is right at the edge of the operating range of the drones shown, and would require a airborne data relay platform, as in an AWACs jet or communications satellite, to communicate with the control base. They don't have nearly enough amulets to power all the things they need, unless Randall has been mass-producing them.

But by far the funniest sequence was that later part where Charlie tried to escape from the rubble of the bell tower, by moving the fake pieces of brick wall like she was the very She-hulk reborn. The section she moves easily would conservatively weight more than 150lbs, yet it slides like it's on greased rollers. When the set dressers can't even make rubble look believable, you know they just don't care.

But then I knew that before the jigsaw brick sequence, because of the entirely laughable bit where Aaron is called on to make a working computer to reprogram the hardware that Rachel dug out of Danny, to fix her leg.

As we're continually reminded, Aaron worked with computers, so he can do anything with them, because he's an uber-geek. In this sequence we see him dismantle an old Apple Mac SE/30, plug the screen into a Raspberry Pi computer, and then attach an old LSI PCI SCSI controller to that. Making any of this work is a feat the likes of MacGyver would have been proud, especially the bit where he gets the black and white display from the Mac show text in green. Aaron, he's beyond amazing.

Shame he's not got the sense to ask any probing questions about how his software development is related to the nano robots, and instead is decides to obsess, but about what he's no clue. I vote him as the next character to die, please.

The trouble with all this is that it's a huge distraction from the point, which is that here lay some interesting character parts going on with Rachel, who is just as ruthless as Miles and Bass, given half the chance. 

The best scene of the show however was given to the excellent Mark Pellegrino, playing hapless friend of Munro, Jeremy Baker. His defiant speech just before they shot him was one of the best in the whole seventeen episodes, and the fact they've written him out now does seem a mistake in hindsight. They couldn't resist ruining the impact though, by categorically underlining that he didn't try to have Bass killed, and that Munro had slaughtered yet another of his loyal soldiers through paranoia.

What the writers could seem able to do here is provide the viewer with any contribution of their own, instead choosing to spell everything out like they're relating to small children. What they left out instead is any critical details that make the show believable, like how Nora got the 525 miles from Ashland to Philly, seemingly in the blink of an eye.

My conclusion is that show is still garbage, but now it's got a sugar-coating of character development, like that addresses the utter contempt for the audience with which the creators patently have. The next story is called 'Clue', and my guess is that Major Tom is the killer, with the cutting remark, in the Study.

Is it me, or is this the longest season of a TV show, ever?

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, The Love Boat, here.

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The fact that within like 30 seconds, Aaron was apparently able to 'reprogram' the nanobot to 'fix bone' was unbelievable. This was after both he and Rachel had been talking about getting fried to a crisp in one small mistake...

I was hoping Jeremy would survive this episode and eventually kill Monroe for the greater good. He was one of the few interesting characters left on the dark side.

Lighten up Billy. Of all the science fiction series I've followed in recent years, Revolution gets the "biggest 1st season improver" award from me- it's getting noticeably better as the series goes on. Sure, the abrupt killing of Danny (who was apparently "more important than you know" in one of the early episodes but is now a far-distant memory) was genuinely baffling, but otherwise the hokiness and implausibility of the characters, plot and setting seems no worse than Falling Skies, Fringe, V, Warehouse 13 or any number of similar kinds of shows— but Revolution is better than most in terms of generating suspense, having fun with an intriguing premise, and constructing genuinely unpleasant villains.

I like how 15 years after a power apocalypse you can still find an electronics store that has not been ransacked and that you can program chips so advanced in "nanotechnology" with a regular old Macintosh SE 30. How did Aaron manage to hook up a USB keyboard? I truly want to know because if Aaron had little issue so far in the future I should be able to hook my USB keyboard up to my SE 30 today.

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