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Siege tactics build character on 'Revolution'

Charlie should really reconsider ponytails.
Charlie should really reconsider ponytails.
NBC Universal

Revolution Episode 3


There are some things about Revolution that we as an audience may just have to accept. Some have criticized the show for its portrayal of the post-electrical world: too much swordplay and flintlock guns, not enough non-electric tech like steam engines, the regression of society is all wrong, and there’s too little insight about, seriously, what would really happen if all the power went out. A show that covered all that would be welcome, but this isn’t looking to be that show. Instead, Revolution is content with being a pretty standard adventure series set after the apocalypse, with a handful of compelling characters and a decent overarching plot, with a chance to hopefully tell an awesome addictive story in the process. They’ll have plenty of time to make it happen now that NBC has picked up the show for a full season. At the very least, it’ll be fun every time they cut to commercials for cars, smart-phones, power tools, and other things the show celebrates losing.

The good news is that “No Quarter” takes steps turn our heroes into fully realized characters, as well as introducing a host of new villains to menace our ragtag bunch. The main nemesis is Jeremy, a militia commander played by the always efficient Mark Pelligrino (another Lost alum, god knows there’s plenty to go around). He makes his debut as an eeevil guy by playing a one-sided game of Russian Roulette with a captured rebel (I laughed out loud when he said “Where is the rebel camp?,” making it an unintentional Star Wars reference. See? Standard.) He tracks the gang to their hideout and spends the episode laying siege to the place with his squad of riflemen just as Charlie, Miles, and Nora are getting comfortable.

Once Jeremy’s group starts shooting up the place, the good guys send a shooter up to the roof with the assault rifle from last week to start picking off his men while our heroes work on making another exit. I wasn’t quite feeling how much attention the rifle was getting, the way everyone treated it like such a valuable MacGuffin, until I remembered a bit on Falling Skies where the characters jockeyed for a 50-caliber machine gun. In the apocalypse, whoever has the biggest gun has the power. To deal with this, Jeremy employs Zapp Brannigan logic: keep sending guys in to get killed until the shooter runs out of ammo. This made him a lot less threatening, as a smarter villain would have come up with a plan that wouldn’t cost him so many guys. (Apparently he’s got a lot of guys though, because the plan works.)

Tensions rise inside the hideout, where Miles insists that they have to retreat, but Charlie’s tired of running and wants to stay and fight. This attempt at character development could have crashed and burned, but it really works: neither Charlie nor Miles are the moral paragons here. Charlie goes so far as to provoke Miles by calling her own father a coward for trying to appease the militias most of his life. But Miles is certain the rebels have no chance of defeating the well-armed and organized militia, and he may be right: the rebels spend much of the episode running around and getting the crap kicked out of them.

So the gang pulls a hail Mary by capturing Jeremy, which gives him the chance to reveal this week’s Big Twist: Not only was Miles a former militia commander, he helped form it in the first place with Sebastian, and served as Jeremy’s mentor. (I have my doubts that the writers thought of this before now, but it’s only the third episode and there’s plenty of ground they can cover with this reveal.) This is further elaborated in another round of flashbacks, where Miles executes a gang of bandits and saves Jeremy, making the decision to form the militia. This, Miles says, is why he knows that the militia is to powerful: because he made them that way. But it turned into something he didn’t intend and so he abandoned it in favor of solitude and booze. So Miles agrees to give himself up to Jeremy's squad to end the siege. Despite this revelation (and their earlier argument), Charlie won’t give up on her uncle even though everyone else in the camp does, moving her out of the brat zone and closer to bad-ass hero chick territory. The episode climaxes with Charlie and Nora pulling off a pretty spectacular bridge rescue, reuniting our gang for the next adventure.

Danny spends time in Neville’s B-story camp getting to know our next villain, played by Michael Mosely (who you won’t recognize unless you watched Pan Am last season). He’s got a beef with Danny, who shot this guy’s best friend, so Danny’s got to endure the guy pounding him in the face with a sandbag for a while. He scores a small victory against the bully in the end, faking an asthma attack to get the drop on him, which was pretty slick. (Neville hangs around in the background with no lines. I guess if you can’t develop your main villains, you can develop some other villains instead.)

Aaron and Maggie’s C-story is mostly a big fat lead balloon. They reach Grace’s house, find that she’s not there, and it’s just a waiting game before they see the Illuminator’s magic. Aaron has another nice speech, talking about how he was bullied growing up and his success as a computer magnate was his revenge, until the blackout put the bullies in charge and made him helpless again. They finally see the amulet turn on and off all by itself long enough for Aaron to listen to some music and Maggie to see what her kids look like. It’s a great moment, but these two better have more to do than sit around and shoot the breeze.