This week, Charlie and the gang discover a startling development in General Munroe’s plan for countrywide domination.

Oh, ‘Revolution’. I don’t know what to do with you. Your concept is irresistible, and a few of your cast members are a pleasure to watch, but on a week to week basis, it’s been pretty hard to care about the mission at hand or the fate of most of the characters. Even though NBC ordered a full season and it’s been doing relatively well in the ratings (that slot after ‘The Voice’ helps), I’m beginning to think that this might be NBC’S ‘Terra Nova’. (Of course, this isn’t to say that NBC hates science fiction, ‘Grimm’ made it to a second season, but that could be because America’s fairy tale obsession hasn’t died off yet.) At the very least, each episode has something going on, lots of twists and reveals, which is more than you can say for a lot of genre TV (looking at you, season two of ‘The Walking Dead’), and this week shaped up to be more of the same. They are moving and shaking the plot up often, but most of the big moments on this show feel rather expected and forced. So this week’s episode, focusing on the discovery of something miraculous – a working steam engine train – by the time it wrapped, sadly, pun intended, derailed.

So last week, Maggie died, and it was actually pretty sad. ‘Revolution’ does well when it’s telling stories about families – families other than Charlie’s because I’m about done with those people – and this week, we (finally!) got some back story on Captain Tom Neville. Tom Neville was a nobody insurance broker, and a pretty bad one, when we see him getting fired in his flashback, and come home to his wife and adorable son. (It should be noted, due to a later important plot reveal, that Neville’s wife is white, and their son is biracial). Once the blackout hits, Neville finally sees the chance to stop being a nobody and wants to teach his son how to use weapons. I wondered how a guy like Neville becomes such a hardass, and the answer isn’t as twisted as you might think – basically a guy sees an opportunity to be an Alpha male (while simultaneously protecting his family) and takes it. In the final scene of Neville’s flashback, he stops his neighbor from breaking into his house, killing him on front of his wife and son.

But going back to the big development of the week – THE TRAIN. This show isn’t doing a terrible job at answering some of those obvious questions – what about outdated technology that doesn’t run on electricity? Well General Munroe has gotten his hands on a steam engine train, even though there’s insistance that it’s too old to work, and intends to take it to Philadelphia, so he can tighten his hold on the midwest, and then the rest of the country. Getting rid of this train could be a big win for the rebels, as Nora insists. So Nora wants to blow it up. She rendezvous with a guy named Hutch (LOST’s Jeff Fahey!) and gets everything in place. But of course, Neville plans on transporting Danny and the rest of his men by train. So there’s a brief power struggle between Miles, Charlie, and Nora. Obviously, if Miles was smart, he’d let Nora blow the train up and get rid of an entire militia squadron once and for all. But of course, (sigh), they have to get Danny back. And I was hoping, that by the end of the episode, they actually would, and could then focus on the actual revolution. But Nora decides at the last minute to not blow up the train, and ends up getting stabbed by Hutch for… flip-flopping. I guess. So there’s that to deal with, and they still don’t have Danny. (Danny is kinda turning into the Waaaalt/Sophia of this show.)

Charlie remains the weak-link of the show, and for a person who tries to champion female protagonists, I wish this weren’t so. She’s… distractingly obtuse, and any chance she gets at ingenuity is underhanded by her bullheaded tendency to try too hard and screw up. Characters are allowed to make mistakes, it what helps them grow but Charlie is just… not bright. The writers seem to bank on her being winsome and spirited but Tracy Spiridakos is, sadly, not very good at this. ‘Spirited’ comes off more as naive and oftentimes whiny, especially when Miles seems to be correct at every turn. At the end of the episode, her team is back to square one, and even worse off now that Nora’s been stabbed. It’s not a good sign, really, if they continually make no progress.

By episode’s end, Danny is finally brought to Munroe, and Rachel is witness to his arrival. Wanting to protect her son from torture, she tells him that the secret to getting the lights back on are those silver pendants. We’ve seen two of them, but there are twelve, probably scattered all over the place. I do enjoy a good macguffin scavenger hunt. The other big reveal here is that Nate but Not Nate, is actually Neville’s son Jason. So let’s hope that maybe the family association will make Nate a little more than a hunk in a tight shirt. Revolution is… moving somewhere but all the twists and convolutions are amounting to a pile of plots but not much tension to hold it together.

Stray Observations:

  • Neville’s backstory reminds me a lot of John Locke’s from LOST: Pencil Pusher becomes the ultimate survivor with a questionable moral compass. Sadly, Esposito doesn’t get material as good as Terry O’Quinn did.
  • One of the passwords for the rebellion is: ‘I’m looking for a biography of Joe Biden.’
  • Philadelphia is the Republic capital. It was also the first of many capitals of the United States before the government was moved fulltime to DC.
  • Neville is not pleased that his son saved Charlie by throwing her from the train. I shouldn’t sympathize with the villain this much.
  • To keep track: Aaron is currently carrying one of the silver pendants. The one from Grace’s house remains undiscovered?
  • Predictions I have made: Maggie’s kids were dead – not confirmed, but probably. Something bad happened to Neville’s wife – false, she’s totally fine.