Revolution season 2 episode 15 review: Dreamcatcher

Review Billy Grifter 7 Mar 2014 - 09:15

Revolution continues to channel The Matrix in this week's uncharacteristically enjoyable episode...

This review contains spoilers.

2.15 Dreamcatcher

Not often does anything that happens in Revolution surprise me, because it’s usually constructed with the complexity of TV aimed at small children. But the end of the last story threw the sort-of crazy twist that only science fiction - or maybe Dallas - can. Aaron’s attempt to end the rule of the nanites ended with him waking up in 2014, with the post-electronic era relegated to just a crazy dream.

Dreamcatcher started with that same altered reality, and then decided to ride the concept around, like a feral child on a motorbike he’d stolen. It pains me to say so, but for forty minutes or so, this was much more entertaining than the usual Revolution guff, by some considerable margin.

As I said last week, this was either a Bobby Ewing moment, or an illusion, and pretty soon the writers decided it was the latter, and went full-bore Matrix. The significance of 2014 historically was that it was the moment the bad nanites code was written. And, presented with familiar faces at the office, Aaron is given the opportunity to fix it. It’s not obvious to Aaron, initially, but this is exactly the same scenario he’s just refused to follow, though his subconscious sees the threat and inserts Crossbow-wielding Charlie into the illusion to spice things up. It works.

From this point onwards we’re on a wild ride, as Aaron hunts around his own brain to locate his team, consisting of Rachel, Miles and Bass, pursued by nano-agent, Dr. Horn. It was nice to see him back, and even Daniella Alonso briefly appeared as Nora.

After someone bizarre parts in which Aaron got to convince people who aren’t real and just figments of his imagination to work with him, we eventually came to the point where Aaron really understood what was happening and possibly how to fix it.

HIs solution, to jump off the roof of a building and virtually die might have worked, if the nanites weren’t actually running his brain. Instead, he was transported to another meeting with Doc Horn, just before he had his Neo revelation, and discovered that he has more control than he’d imagined. 

The next sequence was the bit that really annoyed me, because while his subconscious had been instrumental in pointing out the reality before, it entirely missed the very obvious trick this time around. Thinking he’s woken, he and Priscilla walk back to Willoughby, just in time for Rachel to get stuck by lightening, and for her to live he must fix the code. This whole sequence underlined the big problem with Aaron’s character from the outset, which is that he’s forced to be both smart and unrelentingly stupid at the same time. I know smart people can be forgetful or insensitive, but I don’t accept they can be clever and dumb in the way that it’s presented in Revolution.

Of course, I might be falling into a trap by assuming Aaron didn’t realise the situation, and that he’s written some more junk code that will eventually do for the nanites. But he’s never done anything that smart in this entire show, ever.

The final disappointment was that after forty minutes of 'Aaron visits The Matrix', the show went back to where it was before they ever went to Lubbock, as if it never really happened. For one horrible moment, I considered that this was a test run to see if people might accept that the whole series wasn’t a reality, in a rather desperate attempt to explain why almost nothing about it made sense. That fear was amplified by Aaron's comment in which  he explained the future to Priscilla, who replied, ‘You do realise from a physics standpoint that makes zero sense?’ Aaron says he’s 'aware’, which is odd because he’s never brought up the total implausibility of the premise before in this show. That’s either an acceptance that as good an idea as it seemed on paper, the writers realised during season one that it wasn’t ever going to be something they could explain as being real.

So while Dreamcatcher has very few implications for the ongoing story, it might be the starting point for an escape hatch the show can jump through as a conclusion. Who knows, but we’re into the final part of the season, and quite clearly those running it have decided to get a bit crazy. Whatever they do I can’t see this getting another season, so there isn’t much point in not allowing them to be creative.

The next story is called Exposition Boulevard, which presumably means we’ll get plenty of spoken details about events that were too expensive to shoot?

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, Fear And Loathing, here.

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Disqus - noscript

Two huge problems in this story line... One, the act of merely typing code apparently affects the nanites - you don't have to compile the code into a program, and even more nonsensical, you don't even have to run the changed program! Apparently, the writers are so clueless about computers they even think that merely typing code on ANY computer that happens to be lying around can affect quadrillions of nanites all over the world.

And the second shark-jump - the "flickering" lights as evidence that the nanites are losing their control over electricity. Are the writers equally clueless about electricity? Do they think that it just floats around, always there unless something like nanites are suppressing it? They don't realize that electricity comes from generating plants that would have shut down about 15 years ago? That if the nanites were to lose their impact on electricity then people would have to go around to each generating plant and restart the generators - after much maintenance (lubricating rusty motor shafts comes to mind)?

This isn't science; this isn't science fiction. This is fantasy; this is magic. The sad part is I believe the writers think they're really writing science fiction. That's what happens when the intellect of the writers falls short of the intelligence of the story - or the characters. That's why they can't write a consistently intelligent Aaron - because they're not smart enough to! Aaron can't be any smarter than the writers, and sadly, that doesn't seem to be a very high bar.

I can buy the bit about typing the code into any old computer, because the nano's will be able to see it and implement it both inside and outside of Aaron's head, given their omniscience. I also loved the above mentioned "in terms of physics that makes no sense" and the "girl in a belly shirt after the end of the world" lines. Also the reference to civil war uniforms and Monroe's fear of snakes. I wonder if the last one was a dig at his repressed homosexuality?

I love these reviews, but I have to say I enjoy the show a whole lot more when i don't read them, so I generally watch several in a row and then read them. This isn't a show that can endure too much thinking.

This show requires a lot of suspension of disbelief

Aaron does bring up the total implausibility of the premise before this episode. don't blog without knowing your content. Go back to early season one you will hear him say something like "We should have been able to fix it" "Physically it makes no sense"

Learn to spell lightning. This show uses it a lot.

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