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Saturday, June 8, 2013

REVOLUTION Out of the "Dark"

Article first published as REVOLUTION Out of the "Dark" on TheTVKing.

With this week's "The Dark Tower," NBC's Revolution completes its freshman run. Inside The Tower, the race is on to turn the power back on, while outside, allegiances both personal and on a larger scale are rocked by new developments.

After watching "The Dark Tower," I am disappointed that Revolution has still not corrected the issues that have plagued it all year. The plot holes are still numerous, and while the focus has (thankfully) shifted to the adult actors, away from annoying kids, the characters continue to act in ways that don't feel right.

For instance, Jason (JD Pardo) falls in line behind his father, Tom (Giancarlo Esposito), as the new leader of the Monroe Republic (which will presumably get a name change). Yet, they've been fighting all year, lacking trust and affection between them. Granted, they are father and son, so there could definitely still be a level of love there, but nothing in the writing or acting really shows this to us, skipping over the nuances that would have been the clues, and just showing quickly changing minds.

The Nevilles are far from the only relationship like this. Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) spontaneously evolves a mother-like bond for Nora (Daniella Alonso), while hating her own mom, whom she is warm to not long ago. Miles (Billy Burke) chooses Nora over Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell), even though his mind has been on the latter a lot more lately. Rachel coldly murders Dan (Glenn Morshower) when he disagrees with her. Grace (Maria Howell) betrays her friends. Randall (Colm Feore) kills himself.

Now, all of these can be explained through plot developments, but not really by internal motivation. It's not the facts that are wrong, but the emotion. Circumstances seem to dictate how the characters act, rather than personality, values, or beliefs. The characters switch sides without much warning, and while perhaps it's believable that they do so, the writers don't take the time to show the evolution, nor do the actors play to the tiny bits that would give us warning that something is coming.

People die far too often, too. I'm not just speaking of main characters, who we've lost several of already. We are frequently introduced to a new player, and before we even get to know them, they're killed. This has happened with a number of parts played by very good actors who it would have been nice to see stick around. Death is obviously a large factor in the world they live in, but that doesn't mean we need to see someone bite the bullet every week. Let us have time to care about them, so when they do die, it means more.

I wonder if the problem is the pacing. Things happen rapidly and in very quick succession on Revolution. Fast movement can be good, but it also needs to balance itself with natural attitudes and actions. Maybe Revolution is just trying to go too fast.

Though that doesn't excuse the hokey shadow-Lincoln president-in-exile living in Guantanamo Bay. Coming on the heels of Randall's Civil War-esque preaching, this "surprise" ending feels forced and silly.

There are also two questions left at the end I'm not so happy with. One, is Julia Neville (Kim Raver) dead? We see her in Atlanta as the missiles launch, but that would be a crappy, uninspired ending to her, again coming too early. Two, why do we see Aaron's (Zak Orth) wife, Priscilla (Maureen Sebastian) again? She hasn't been much of a part of the story, so her cameo here in unearned. Will she be blown up, too? Is there something else planned for her next year?

Which is not to say that "The Dark Tower" is without merit. I absolutely love seeing Miles and Monroe (David Lyons) have it out with one another, removed from the battle field and distractions of others. We finally hear Miles's explanation as to why he couldn't kill Monroe, and we learn why Monroe hates Miles so much. There is a true brother bond between them, no matter what happens. These words make sense, and if more of this occurred, there would be less to complain about.

I also like seeing Miles mourn over Nora. They didn't quite work as a couple, but this acknowledges the real feelings between them. It also removes Miles and Rachel's obstacle towards being together, which means we won't have the pining and conflict that the predictable love triangle brings.

Thirdly, it's nice that the power comes back on. This dystopian future is cool, but given the way the story has been moving, it would have been very disappointing if it didn't happen in this episode. We still don't know if it's back everywhere, or what this will mean for the U.S. and the world, but it does move the plot along in a direction that it needs to go.

Revolution is full of so many good ideas, and the premise is fascinating. There are some really terrific stars in the ensemble, too. If it would only be allowed to truly breathe and live, rather than being forced to check off a predetermined 'to do' list, it could be really great.

Revolution will return next fall to NBC.

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