Revolution: The Pilot’s 5 Greatest Assets

The highly anticipated J.J. Abrams/Eric Kripke co-production Revolution premiered last Monday to strong ratings and mixed reviews. There are concerns that the show is destined to be another post-Lost failure in the vein of Terra Nova, Flashforward and the half a dozen other genre shows with sprawling casts and endless mysteries that have failed to make it past their first seasons in recent years. I would say those concerns are valid, but despite suffering from a bit of pilot-itis, Revolution showed promise in its first outing.

Instead of focusing on the areas that need work, I decided we should discuss the good stuff since this is our first Revolution-themed TV Chat together. I’m sure there will be plenty of time for nitpicking later in the season, but for now I want to focus on the things in the pilot that made me eager to return to this post-electricity society where people miraculously still take regular baths.

The Flashbacks
 

It’s frustrating that our primary guides through this brave new world are two young characters who have little recollection of what came before, but the writers have wisely included flashbacks to supplement their narrow worldview. The first moments of the show revealed what happened when the electricity stopped and set up the family dynamics which will be the show’s driving force moving forward.

We not only met a young Charlie and Danny, but also their father, Ben, who knew the blackout was coming, their mother, Rachel, who is played by the immensely talented Elizabeth Mitchell and who therefore must be far more important than she appears to be at this point, and Uncle Miles and his good friend, Monroe (more on him in a second). The adults’ backstories are intrinsically linked to what caused the blackout as well as the reason why the militia are currently pursuing our young heroes and Miles, so having a way to explore their pasts each week will be vital moving forward. This is doubly true now that Ben, who seemed to know everything, is dead in the present.

The Focus on Family
 

Things dragged a bit right up until Billy Burke’s drunken, Han Solo-ish Miles appeared on the scene and then promptly broke out his swords. Every tale needs its rogue/reluctant hero and Revolution has found a pretty solid one in Miles. Not only does he have a tragic and mysterious past for us to delve into, he also has the potential to serve as a mentor to his niece Charlie.

The backbone of Kripke’s Supernatural has always been a strong sense of family, and he has handily set up the same framework here. In fact, Supernatural opened with the Winchester family’s youngest son being dragged back into the family business, and we have a similar situation here with Miles, who has been lying low since the blackout. Now Charlie has enlisted his help in finding her brother Danny, forcing Miles to put his loner tendencies aside in the name of family.

By placing a strong emphasis on the family dynamics–Charlie’s devotion to Danny, Ben’s attempt to protect the whereabouts of Miles, Miles ultimately agreeing to help his niece–the show established that it intends to tell us character-based stories moving forward, which is important because it was the characters that made Abrams’ Lost worth coming back to long after the mysteries stopped making sense.

Captain Neville and Aaron
 

The pilot introduced us to several characters, and not all of them were immediately compelling, but at least two of them were: Captain Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) and Aaron Pittman (Zak Orth). Neville is a part of the powerful militia that rose up post-blackout and like Esposito’s terrific Breaking Bad villain Gus, he’s a speak softly and beat your enemies to death with a big stick kind of fellow. The former insurance adjustor vacillated between mysterious and badass during his time onscreen, but he was always interesting. (Who could expect anything less from Esposito though?)

Aaron, on the other hand, is our resident geek. He’s the Hurley of the bunch and as a result he’s saddled with all of the quipping duties. What made him a stand out was his Google exec past. His technological prowess puts him in a position to give us a unique perspective that none of the other characters can offer, and makes him the perfect person to figure out the significance of the technology that Ben entrusted him with before his untimely demise. (And okay, his quipping was nice too.)

The Post-Apocalyptic Landscape
 

revolution wrigley field

The image of the overgrown and desolate Wrigley Field was easily the pilot’s most striking image. It was also the most tantalizing because of what it suggested: there is a whole post-apocalyptic world out there that’s begging to be explored.

Both Kripke and Abrams suffer from serious cases of wanderlust, and they have already set the characters of Revolution in motion, which is good news for us. That means we don’t have to worry about staying in one place for too long, and really what’s the point of a post-apocalyptic show if we’re not going to go adventuring?

The Last Five Minutes
 

Pilots are designed to set up a show’s premise and Revolution‘s was no different-there was a lot of exposition, a lot of character introductions and not a whole lot else, at least not until the very end. Then it got kind of awesome.

In a matter of minutes, the identity of the mysterious Monroe was revealed, a potential resistance movement was introduced and we learned at least two people are still using the internet in a scene that was heavily reminiscent of the moment in season two of Lost when Michael made contact with The Others through the computer in the hatch.

Unleashing that many twists on the audience in such a short span of time was a risky move, but it’s also one I can see paying off. The Monroe reveal alone was enough to guarantee I’d be back for episode two.

 

I’m going to turn it over to you guys now: what parts of Revolution did you find the most promising? Which parts didn’t work for you? And will you be tuning in again this week? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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