This review contains spoilers.
1.4 Plague Dogs
It’s been a disturbing week. Revolution has had a full season order, the reason for which I can only assume was inspired by the strong viewing figures. Inexplicably, it seems more people are watching Revolution now than when it first started.
Why is this so, as what the show has so far presented is a puzzle? Have I missed some wonderful subtle subtext to which the general populace are better attuned? Or are people just rubber-necking, like at the scene of a especially horrific traffic accident? Whatever the reason, they’re watching, undeterred by the wooden acting, trite dialogue and corny excuses for plot development.
I’ve seen people fervently arguing that Revolution should be given the same amount of respect as Lost, which also didn’t make much sense from the outset. I’d counter that by saying that Lost had one of the best TV pilot episodes ever, some really interesting characters, and snappy verbal exchanges, and Revolution has none of these things. Depending on where you sit in the Lost debate, the slack it was cut in holding explanations back was either entirely justified or just not ultimately deserved.
Episode 4 of Revolution, The Plague Dogs, brings us more of the same dreary and uninteresting junk that we’ve now suffered from the previous three episodes. It starts with a now-familiar interlude where Charlie whines to Miles, who eventually tells her to shut up, representing the viewers’ perspective. They then meet up with Maggie and Aaron, and Charlie makes a face like she’s had the therapy they used on Jason Bourne. She makes that face often, mostly when she’s asked to represent an emotion she’s never heard of before, which is most of them.
Then they meet the Plague Dogs, who still look like family pets despite not having been born as such. Before this show started, I’d watched a number of documentaries about the projected events should mankind be wiped out for whatever reason. One of these predicted an explosion in the wolf population, but Revolution‘s budget didn’t stretch to them, so we got a Doberman, a German Shepherd and a Great Dane instead. Then again, they bite Aaron, so they’re not all bad, are they?
The gang wanders into the abandoned theme park occupied by the crazy guy with the attack dogs, and Scooby Doo wanders off to find some snacks. I really hoped at one point the crazy guy would appear in a glowing diving suit, or talk about ‘pesky kids’, but him failing to do so didn’t mask the origins of this laughable idea.
Meanwhile, there is a lightning storm brewing, causing another problematic issue for the writers to address when they decide to explain the lack of electricity, if they ever do, that is.
There’s a side story where they try to explain that there were sailing and steam ships but they all got destroyed in the ‘war’, so Maggie can’t get back to Blighty even if she wanted. Perhaps she should have tried earlier? Or at least considered that you can theoretically walk to France if you head in the opposite direction in the winter.
The effort that goes into giving Maggie this elaborate back-story is completely misplaced, because by the end of the episode she’s dead. Once she was stabbed I didn’t give her much chance, because without modern antibiotics, even if she didn’t bleed to death she’d have died of infection.
She goes through plenty before she finally dies, including a dialogue exchange with Charlie so painful that’s what probably killed her, not the knife wound. When she’d gone I actually appreciated her more, because while Anna Lise Phillips didn’t exactly set the screen on fire as Maggie, she tried acting much more than most of those left behind.
There were some odd allusions to The Wizard Of Oz and the twister that didn’t actually get to the point of ever joining up. I’d talk about the bits in the barn and Rachel’s continued refusal to join the Mickey Mouse club, but none of it made any narrative sense. Now we’re told that Rachel left her family because Miles told her to, but that doesn’t make him any more ambiguous a character then we’ve already been sold.
Episode four was by far the toughest yet in terms of watchability, I’m not sure there are many more rungs beneath where it currently stands in presenting a story. My guess is that next week, the inspiration for that episode will be the classic Flintstones story where Barney gets promoted to be Fred’s boss!
For those wondering why I’m continuing to review this given that I find it so bad, when I commit to do something then that’s it, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the brilliance of Dexter or the banality of Revolution. So I’ll be sticking with it to the bitter end, through the bitter middle, I predict.
Read Billy’s review of last week’s episode, No Quarter, here.
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