At the end of the first season of NBC's Revolution, there was some discussion about what kind of a show we'd be getting in season two if the lights were back on. After all, Eric Kripke sold the network on a show set 15 years in the future that was in the dark-- literally and technologically-- and how the people have adapted and survived in that world. If suddenly the lights came back on, and so quickly, there would be some adjustments, sure, but it certainly seemed like the world would just get back to normal. And who wants normal on TV these days? Well, as it turns out, not Revolution. Though the first season finale ended with an iconic and well-lit moment, the second season premiere, "Born in the USA," continues the format, tone, and yes formula of the show as we've known it to be.
Time is anything but linear on Revolution, and there, too, the second promises to be no different. True to the first season that started those 15 years in the future and only flashed back occasionally to the early days after the blackout to see the chaos and fear that consumed, "Born in the USA" sets its action six months in the future after that fateful day at The Tower and flashes back occasionally to the first few days after the bombs were dropped-- and even then only as it relates to our core characters, not the cities that were destroyed. In fact, it appears that even six months later, word of those bombs did not spread much farther than their initial points of impact. Some of our characters, like Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) reacted typically-- for her, it's specifically bars, boys, and dreams of revenge on Monroe (David Lyons). Some of them, namely Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) turn into seemingly different characters. We're thrust forward in time and story and just expected to fall in line emotionally with them, but it's kind of hard to care about the broken people they are when we haven't journeyed with them to see what made them that way.
While Miles (Billy Burke) certainly wobbles a bit unstably, Rachel especially is a shadow of the tough, guarded, and yes, questionable woman we knew in season one. She shattered in the wake of those bombs, taking the guilt on herself but also taking a Carrie Mathison-esque drive down conspiracy lane. She has a book of crazy and everything, just trying to make sense of what is going on. Changes in migration patterns of fireflies and other occurrences for the gang seem to her not to be the world shifting and adjusting with remnants of bomb debris and who knows what kind of radiation permeating the air and soil but some kind of message of something greater going on. Rachel may be grasping at straws, but Mitchell is completely in control of her character's descent.
When Revolution returns, Charlie, more so than ever before, is the audience's way into the story. The Rebels are all split up, and she has gone her own, again not-so unique way. She's drifting somewhat aimlessly, looking more for distraction than Monroe, so when she finds him it all just seems a bit too lucky. She finds him at a carnie park of sorts that boasts having "the last remaining Friend' in one of its tents, performing episodes live for the audience, which is easily the best line of the episode by miles. Considering some other spots of dialogue are actually discontinuous with action we just saw performed, the bar wasn't set very high, though.
With Charlie off on her own story, so are the Nevilles (JD Pardo and Giancarlo Esposito), Miles and Rachel-- and Dr. Gene Porter (Stephen Collins) who has strong feelings about both of them individually but especially together, and Aaron (Zak Orth). The Nevilles make an odd pair, given all they've been through and the glint that restores in Tom's eye about potentially regaining power. Miles and Rachel, as aforementioned, are somewhat lost-- he actually aimlessly so. And Aaron has rebounded nicely, settled in a life not unlike the pre-pendant one, but he's still a big, sweet guy, and sweet is something of a liability these days. But where the Rebels lack, there is room for a new group to step in and call some shots, and here that is one calling themselves Patriots and quite literally sailing in on a Mayflower-esque ship, waving Ye Olde American flag, determined to take back and the country and make it something great again. Hindsight really isn't 20/20, we guess, because we were pretty flawed before, and these new age politicians are probably even dirtier than ever before.
The Patriots and the potential they represent actually are the most interesting thing about Revolution's second season premiere, and we have to hope we can follow them more closely, embedding in their "camp," so to speak, the way we were with Monroe's in season one. That will take some time, though, so if this premiere episode is any indication, it will be a slower burn on that end with a lot of random distracting fighting thrown in to keep the audience occupied, entertained, and adrenaline-filled, as well as the hint of something inexplicably perhaps slightly supernatural involved, too.
It's a way to cover more ground and introduce more conflict about which only some are "in the know," but again it feels like a repetition of last season. We know they're going to have to come back together to fight whatever's coming next, and we've already seen them trek to find each other, barely learning and growing along the way. There is no reason to believe this time around things will be any different other than the fact that the person with the answers before is now the most lost of all of them.
Revolution returns to NBC on September 25 2013 at 8 p.m.
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