“I feel like I’m Han Solo, and you’re Chewie, and she’s Ben Kenobi, and we’re in that f**ked-up bar.” – Jay from the movie, Dogma.
If you’ve seen the movie Dogma and are a fan of Star Wars, then you probably understand the reference of that line and that’s the best way to explain my feelings after watching the second episode of Revolution, “Chained Heat.” The similarities are not subtle either.
In Revolution, an apocalyptic world where all of the energy and power was shut down in a world wide blackout, left broken civilizations to survive as militias rose up in 15 years and created a self-governing rule over what used to be the United States. Our main character, Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) is stuck in the rural suburbia, seeking adventure but tied to the responsibility of taking care of her asthmatic brother, Danny (Graham Rogers) until her father is killed and Danny is kidnapped by Captain Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito). She’s enlisted the help of her estranged uncle, Miles (Billy Burke) who like Solo is reluctant to help out, only wanting to know how it will benefit him to save a nephew he has never met before. Also tagging along is her late father’s cranky girlfriend, Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) and a big, hairy, Yeti-like man named Aaron (Zak Orth) who used to be a Google executive.
Luke and Han Solo
Charlie lays the family guilt trip on thick, as usual, in “Chained Heat” and Miles feels obligated to help her after ditching her once more, but tries to find one of his friends first. Nora (Daniella Alonso) can help them out in the future because she’s this world’s Fiona Glenanne (Burn Notice) who can put together explosive things out of house hold items. But to pull Nora out of her imprisonment, they have to retrieve a sniper rifle from a militia chain gang since it has a high value in the black market. Charlie steps up and proves to Nora and Miles that she can hold her own and that she’s willing to do the bad stuff (if it helps others) so long as she gets help to find Danny.
So again we get a Star Wars comparison where Charlie is constantly getting in over her head and Miles must show his deadly kung fu grip to save the day and most importantly, his own neck. Then Charlie risks her life time and time again to prove to Miles that she’s sorry, she’s worth helping out, she’s got the same blood flowing through her, she’s really not that annoying (oh but she is) and that she’s not a liability. Sound familiar?
Return of the Jedi
A flashback with her mother Rachel Matheson (Elizabeth Mitchell) reveals where Charlie got the killer genes from. A bigger reveal showed Rachel is still alive, working with Monroe, and probably against her own free will. What will Charlie think when she finds out her mom is alive and has been working for the
Emperor Monroe Republic? Will she stumble around like Franken-Vader and yell out, “NOOOooooooOOooOOOO!” One can hope.
What’s a Nubian?
Neville looks and feels more and more like a Darth Vader type character, traveling through what used to be the Ohio Valley or the great farm states on horse back knocking out the triflers out or simply killing them for violating the Baltimore Act–not exactly a tie bomber, but what else is Gus Fring to do with no power? There’s a problem with seeing Neville horseback riding through the Great Plains, we have no reference as to where he is, how far their destination is and how much time has passed. In the pilot, viewers were led to believe the trip to Chicago would be this giant trek but they were there within 24 hours. Now we have no idea how long back the trip will be to Monroe.
Wait in the Millennium Falcon
That leaves Revolution’s version of Obi Wan Kanobi and Chewbacca, Maggie and Aaron to hash it out after being ditched by Charlie who went after Miles. Maggie’s character revelation is that she stares at her useless iPhone because it contains the last pictures she has of her family. Let this be a reminder to all who use digital cameras, you’ve gotta print those out still, people.
Aaron can’t contain his secret any longer and reveals to Maggie that there may be a way to start the power again but they need to get the pendant flash drive to Grace (Maria Howell) who may be compromised by a mysterious figure named Randall who bursts in on her while she’s doing whatever she can do with a 1980′s monochromatic computer.
This War Needs A New Hope
Machete fights are no light saber duels, and still look too much like they belong on the high seas than they do in a grassy field. Next week we’ll see a modern day reenactment of the Civil War. I’m not joking. Revolution is beginning to look more and more like a mish-mash of genres–another network that wants to do a sci-fi show, but without the cool things that make it truly sci-fi.
Still, there is enough curiosity to where this goes, but barely. I want to know who’s on the other side of the computer talking to Grace. I want to see more of Mitchell’s Rachel in the past and present and this sick, and the twisted part of me enjoys seeing Giancarlo Esposito blast holes the size of personal pan pizzas in people. I don’t exactly know why, I just do. I fear that the answers to what I’m looking for won’t be answered soon enough.
The main problem is that the other protagonists still feel wooden. There’s no connecting to these characters or their desires and that could be problematic for many audience members. None of the Militia men are interesting, simple caricatures of the angry mob type. Militia goons and rebels are killed off quickly but lack any impact. Justified’s David Meunier played Sgt. Will Strausser in this episode and that could be worth waiting for but the pickings are slim.
Billy Burke especially, has no charm or humility and the rest remind me too much of characters I’ve seen in other stories that have been done much better. At least with Star Wars we saw an awkward boy turn into a Jedi Knight. With Revolution, Charlie’s already this expert hunter and crossbow killer, we just want her to tone it down. Miles is already a witless stiff; I don’t know what growth are we about to witness but it better get there quick.