Revolution review – 1×02: ‘Chained Heat’

Courtesy of NBC

After a rather perfunctory pilot last week, Revolution settles in with its second episode. How does the next episode fare?

Let’s bitch it out…If we’re being perfectly honest, Revolution remains more intriguing in theory rather than execution (and even that is being kind). With this see-saw of good vs. bad qualities likely to be a regular feature for the show, let’s introduce the +/-/draw game for future Revolution reviews:

+ (Pros)

  • Giancarlo Esposito: He remains the best part of the show, adding depth and great line delivery to an otherwise rote character
  • Monroe (David Lyons): Perhaps it’s simply because he’s mysterious and powerful, but I’m digging this villain, even if he does at times feel like a watered down version of better characters from STARZ’s Spartacus
  • Juliet Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell): Shooting the guy trying to steal the family’s food stash and still being alive (totally called it, btw)? This chick is so Juliet
  • The scenery: The locations are engaging (the lush, overgrown wilderness slowly consuming everything is eye-popping)

– (Cons)

  • Plotting: Revolution plot, have you met Captain Obvious? Clearly, because there’s barely a single interaction that doesn’t feel familiar, dull and predictable. Thus far the show has delivered exactly what you’d expect, which isn’t so much comfort food as snoozy television
  • Characters: If everything were familiar, but the characters were amazing, it would be a forgivable sin. Sadly the majority of these people remain as flat and uninteresting as ever. Tracy Spiridakos’ Charlie is slightly better this week, but her “golly aw shucks I can’t kill someone” routine is already played out and Billy Burke deserves a better break-out vehicle than this Han Solo-lite caricature
  • Danny (Graham Rogers): The kidnapped farmboy remains a nuisance. Not only is Rogers not a match for Esposito’s intensity, his character flip-flops depending on the scene. One moment he’s crying over the death of one of his captors and then next he’s a petulant, indignant brat who calls Neville a murderer. Does he have a backbone or is he emotionally naive? Pick one and run with it…or kill him with fire
  • 8 million storylines: Grace (Maria Howell) is being threatened by a mysterious man as Aaron (Zak Orth) and Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) begin their search for her while Miles, Charlie and Nora do the chain gang thing, while Charlie also flirts with JD Pardo’s Nate (not his real name). Also Neville is traveling with Danny cross country, Monroe is threatening Rachel and we have flashbacks to the days immediately after the flashback. Can’t some of this be streamlined so that we can get to know these people a bit better? It’s not hard to follow, but it does feel unnecessarily spread out
  • Five seconds of C. Thomas Howell: You introduce him as bounty hunter Jimmy, have Miles escape him twice and then never mention him again?! Obviously he’s coming back later, but this is a lacklustre use of a guest star

Courtesy of NBC

Draw (aka Jury’s Still Out)

  • Nora (Daniella Alonso): The new female character could be an interesting addition to an already overstuffed cast, but so far she falls into the “predictable plotting” category. So far she’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect: fiesty, “will they, won’t they” sexually interested in Miles and tough until it comes time to battle when she ends up needing saving (like girls always do in the minds of Hollywood)
  • The rebels: The US flag is now a co-opted symbol of the resistance that (along with guns) is punishable by death. Intriguing that it only takes 15 years to outlaw, but this piece of information helps with the world building and provides a neat little tweak to further distinguish the world of the show from ours. Will it be worth the pay-off? So far it isn’t, but perhaps with time

Lazy Writing of The Week Award

  • The chain gang is apparently so easy to escape from that you can just walk away in the middle of the night. Bonus points: they won’t even notice you’re missing in the morning! Makes you wonder how they got anyone to stick around to drag that helicopter through the woods!

At this point I’m prepared to give Revolution another week or two to find itself, but thus far it hasn’t really captured the imagination very well. It’s still more interesting to discuss/consider than to watch and Charlie & Danny remain insufferably dull/boring/naive/idealistic/annoying, etc. When the flashbacks to Ben (Tim Guinee) and Rachel trying to get young Charlie and Danny out of the city 15 years ago is more interesting than anything happening currently, there’s a problem. P.S. Did anyone else get a The Walking Dead vibe from those scenes?

What do you think, Revolution viewers: are you enthralled by this new world or are you still on the fence? Which character are you most interested in spending time with? Were you psyched to see Nora join the main cast? If Danny could die one non-electrical way, what should it be? Sound off below and we’ll see you next week!

Revolution airs Mondays at 10pm EST on NBC

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

7 thoughts on “Revolution review – 1×02: ‘Chained Heat’

  1. Found it a little hard to believe someone would be desparate enough to kill a child ONE week after the power went out. Even if someone would make the threat, what is the end game? Kill the child and hope the parent is so grief stricken she doesn’t bludgeon you with the food you’re trying to steal?

    Otherwise I think the show is improving slowly. I will give it a decent amount of latitude especially if it can keep the balance of action and story-moving, new detail sharing at a good ratio. I see the American Revolution and Firefly tie ins. It also has some Jericho thrown in for good measure.

  2. I too believe that it is slowly improving. Aside from the greatness of the producers on this show, the bar for me is set pretty low. That thanks to the lack of “good” real television programming now days. What is comes down to for me is, what else is on at the 9/10 time slot on Monday night.? Well, other than the NFL…absolutely nothing. I am seeing some definite hope for this show and I hope they tie a couple of the plots together as to keep it’s “fan’s” invested and not lacking the emotional attachment that has so been missing since Lost, Heroes, etc…

    • Agree that to a certain extent the show is benefiting from a lack of competition (Castle and Dancing with the Stars have their own dedicated audiences). I’d like to see it pull some of these disparate elements together. I think Lost may be more ambitious than Revolution can achieve, but I am digging the Jericho / Heroes S1 / early Flashforward comparisons (Not so much Firefly, but I’m a bit of a Browncoat so I hold that show to a higher standard than Revolution).

      I think a few more weeks will help to determine whether this show has any kind of staying power. Audiences certainly seem to like it if we judge solely on numbers.

  3. I thought I wasn’t going to watch the second episode, but since I was bored last night and my Hopper records everything on NBC I thought I would check it out anyways. You hit the nail on the head when you called Revolution a seesaw. I love the concept, but lazy writing is exactly what I see. Did anyone think to consult a physicist? And two of the lead characters (Danny and Charlie), are annoying to put it simply. This guy that works at DISH with me said they are just bad actors. I don’t care how good your acting is, if the writers create annoying personas for the characters then that is all you are going to get.

  4. I like the idea o this show, but it still doesn’t deliver what’s promised. I’m ready to wait few more episodes, though. I thought Charlie will be badass chick and she is more damsel in distress. Miles is really Han-Solo caricature. Aaron and Maggie are not important or I can’t connect with them. (But I liked story about children’s pictures on iphone a or story about Google employee whose millions doesn’t matter anymore.) Danny is a problem of the show. Everything about him is just bad. Best thing about first two episodes are bad guys – Monro and Neville.

  5. I’m not enthralled yet but the 2nd episode was strong enough to make me want to see what happens next. Other than getting captured again in the first several minutes of the episode, I didn’t mind Charlie. She did pull a Kate (from Lost) in following Miles, but I don’t have any problems with her wanting to rescue her brother. I might be in the minority but I didn’t enjoy Monroe’s good cop/bad cop interrogation, it’s too cliche even if he kills the guy in the end. I thought they would have waited a few more episodes before revealing Rachael was still alive, then again when you cast Elizabeth Mitchell you can’t keep her in your back pocket for too long. If this show doesn’t get better for you, will you stop reviewing it?

    • I’ll probably keep up with it because I don’t have much else on Monday, but the reviews will either get shorter or bitchier if it doesn’t improve. As it stands it a solid “entertaining, but average.” It’s not great, but it’s not Ringer either