Revolution (NBC): Is It Getting Too Weird, Too Fast?

Revolution Episode 16 The Love Boat (2)

With just two episodes left in season one, it’s time to pause for a moment and take stock of where Revolution has been and where it’s going. When we began this journey through a post-electricity world, Revolution appeared to be an adventure series with sci-fi leanings. It was a dusty kind of tale with ravaged landscapes, post-apocalyptic societies and epically cool sword fights. The storytelling was relatively small scale: our intrepid heroes embarked on their fair share of side quests, but their primary goal was to find Danny. The pendants hinted at a larger mythology, but the human stories drove the series. Now Danny is dead and we have drone strikes, nanites and The Tower. Nearly everyone has access to some form of electricity, and the mythology is threatening to swallow the characters whole. Is this the show we signed up for? And is it the one that we want?

Personally, I’m a fan of weirdness, so while I’m apprehensive about what The Tower means for Revolution‘s future, I still appreciated the introduction of the Level 12 mystery. It’s hard to go wrong with creepy rooms featuring unseen horrors. Unfortunately, The Tower also signifies Revolution‘s forthcoming leap into the unknown. There’s no coming back from nanites and mysterious sci-fi mumbo jumbo; either the series is going to have to embrace its slowly emerging insane sci-fi mythology and deliver a second season that commits to delivering bigger, stranger stories, or it’s going to have to blow The Tower sky high and get back to its roots. Good things could come from either approach, but the middle of the road strategy that’s been on display in the back of half of this season has been nothing but frustrating.

The characters haven’t entirely been abandoned in service of the plot, but the focus has shifted from family dynamics to war games. This has certainly upped the action, but at the same time it has stripped away much of what made Revolution distinct. The Neville family continues to offer up the complex, interpersonal dynamics that ran through so much of the season’s first arc, but the Mathesons, whose journey back to each other gave the series a purpose, have been reduced to little more than soldiers who happen to be related.

Equally distressing is how thoroughly the once promising Monroe vs. Miles arc has fallen apart. The history between these two men was so dense and so brutal, it was thrilling all on its own. Then Miles denounced Monroe and Monroe began his descent into a cartoonish mad man. By the time the utterly personality-less Emma was introduced in the mix to further the bad blood between them it was clear the writers were intent on squandering what little momentum was left in that story.

So what does that leave us with as we head into the final two hours? Mythology. That means whatever is in The Tower needs to be not only game changing, but also cool enough to convince us to come back next season. Revolution seems determined to move away from its post-electricity roots and return to a world where electricity and science are major players in the same way Charlie and Miles are. Maybe this gambit will lead to a more focused story in season two, Fringe certainly got a boost when it embraced its weirder whims, but at this point, I’m not entirely convinced Revolution is capable of successfully marrying its heart (the characters) with its emerging desire to transition into a more traditional sci-fi series.

Are you enjoying the show’s new direction? Do you miss the adventuring of the early episodes or do you prefer the mysteries of The Tower and nanites? Sound off below!

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