This review contains spoilers.
2.23 Declaration Of Independence
I suspected this last week, but Declaration Of Independence made no narrative account of being the last ever episode. In fact, it didn’t make much of a stab at being a season finale, either. Instead it delivered a rather weak wrap to the Patriots story and a minor development in the nano-threat plot. That not one single major character died, or even got a nosebleed, revealed that the NBC memo regarding the future of their show wasn’t read by this production team. The only conclusion that I can come up with is that said team is supremely confident that they can get some other network to pick up this junk, and therefore they’ve left the characters intact. I’ll be amazed if it is.
So, having suffered forty-two episodes of this remarkably inconsistent show, the conclusion never materialised, it just ended with all the straws in the wind. And, in many respects, those that are still watching probably deserve that.
That the final images of the zombified populous heading to Bradbury, Idaho, and the laughing clown summed up the show rather perfectly. If I’d not had to write +30,000 words on this god-awful show, I’d be laughing too. Because of that I’m not going to deliver any more analysis of what went into the final episode, it just wasn’t of enough significance. I can’t even be bothered to laugh at a show that thinks after seventeen years of not being used, that only two street lights in Bradbury main street wouldn’t work when power was turned back on.
Instead, let’s talk about where did Revolution went wrong. Let me count the ways, because they are numerous.
The show started by asking the not uninteresting question of what would happen if the power went off, totally. And then, even in the pilot it made entirely stupid assumptions about what would happen, conveniently forgetting that lots of machines work without electricity, and even diesel engines can be fudged to run without power.
But it didn’t take many stories for the writers to entirely given up trying to make his real, as they would put things in that just wouldn’t happen without electrical, like thunder claps. Initially some of this seemed to be aping Lost, where things didn’t make sense because they weren’t meant to.
Eventually they came up with an explanation for some of the insanity, which involved billions of nano-robots, designed to deny the Taliban vital power. This lacked any logic, as it’s not like there’s an Apple shop in Kandahar, and in 2012 just 33% of the population of Afghanistan has electrical power. If the nano ate the heroin poppy, then that would have been imaginative, but they didn’t.
But being able to pull Revolution apart technically was far too easy, because clearly none of those writing it appeared to have much clue about how anything actually works. That included guns, helicopters, WiFi, electricity, aircraft, and even steam trains. In Revolution we were expected to believe that with electricity gone for fifteen years almost no inventiveness would occur to address this shortcoming, and that the memory on an iPhone would still contain images if it got some power. Oddly, when the power did come on briefly at the end of season one, the street lights lit up, like the power stations suddenly started generating power instantly. Eh?
Most episodes had head-scratching moments, and others complete head slappers, like the one set in the subway tunnel (S1 EP09) where just a few people used the millions of cubic yards of air up in a matter of hours.
But, and it’s been pointed out numerous times by others, sometimes if a show is good then people will accept quite illogical things or coincidences. They do, but when it’s as bad as Revolution has been, it becomes really difficult to ignore the huge plot holes and pre-school technological understanding.
Along with science borrowed from cartoons, the show also couldn’t deliver any compelling characters, despite hiring some skilled actors to play them. Both Giancarlo Esposito (Tom) and Billy Burke (Miles) are seasoned performers, but even they seemed at a loss to make this show watchable. The characters weren’t interesting or complicated, and they didn’t appreciably develop with the narrative.
The point I realised how wrong the character had gone was the death of Danny in season one. This should have been a shocking event, but his character was so thinly developed it was purely a plot point. Even his mother and sister have hardly mentioned him since, demonstrating just how perfunctory his character was. The problem was that almost none of these characters would be missed, so it didn’t really matter who they put in jeopardy.
They also got rather hooked up on the sheer scale of the USA, where without modern transport it would take months to travel between states, even with horses. People walked hundreds of miles in mere hours, and always bumped into others they knew in millions of square miles of open country.
When season one ended with a bang, the writers clearly decided the whole show needed a major reset, and so they nuked the Munroe Republic. Initially this new but still broken world looks more promising. But, gradually what variation could be drawn out of the changes, including the now maverick nanites and the villainous Patriots began to unwind. The show started to revert back to season one, with all the undocumented-tunnels-to-vital-places junk that defaced stories before.
Even mildly inventive episodes like the Matrix homage couldn’t divert me away from the conclusion that Revolution was a failed experiment, and the show needed to end for all our respective sanities. In the end I’d put it above FlashForward in my all-time-stinkers list, but that’s hardly a boxset recommendation.
Revolution ended up a curious idea that evaded all attempts to convert it into a watchable TV show, even after forty-two episodes. Quite why it took a second season to underline that in red marker, I’ll never follow.
Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, Memorial Day, here.
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