Exploring Revolution's Homoerotic Subtext: Why Miles and Monroe's Relationship Is More Interesting Than the Blackout
Early in its life, Revolution was a drama about society's efforts to survive 15 years after a worldwide blackout. Its themes were simple: family, family, and family. But as family members started dying off, swords were ditched for guns, and the power flickered back on, the show's themes changed. By the end of this week's Season 1 finale, "The Dark Tower," new themes had overtaken the series: gun control, technology's place in war, the dissemination of information, and man's greatest question... should I take the elevator or the stairs? However, one theme that's been hanging around just below the surface all season long went from a simmer to a boil in Monday's episode: unrequited love. But not between Nora and Miles. Not between Rachel and Miles. I'm talking about Sebastian Monroe and Miles Matheson. And while the rest of "The Dark Tower" made very little sense and was very forgettable, the burgeoning relationship between Miles and Monroe was so clear that I can't stop thinking about it.
The finale picked up right where the previous episode had left off, with Monroe going after Miles with the intent to kill him. But things took a turn when a common enemy showed up, forcing/allowing Miles and Monroe—former mortal enemies, as we were led to believe—to join forces and save each other's asses. Anyone who's watched a few episodes of Revolution knows the characters have a nasty habit of switching allegiances for no apparent reason, but this was sudden even by the show's standards, and it certainly elicited a very surprised "WHAT!?" from me. I just couldn't figure out why these two were working together mere moments after they'd been so eager to kill each other. But a few scenes later, the impetus for the change of heart was obvious: Sebastian Monroe is clearly obsessed with Miles Matheson, and it's confusing the hell out of him. And it's not just me who thinks so; even Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) picked up on it, as later in the episode he said (to Monroe), and I'm not making this up, "You have a borderline erotic fixation on Miles Matheson."
Over the course of the series, there's always been something going on with these two. They've been best friends, they've shared women, they've wrestled. But in "The Dark Tower," the brotherly love—which had already become a little steamier than that of a normal friendship—evolved into a possible homoerotic wonderland. Once their common threat was vanquished, they somehow rode the Tower's sewer line/waterslide out to a beach, where Miles lay there unconscious and awoke to Monroe watching him sleep. And then as soon as Miles opened his eyes, the pair started pounding on each other like hormonal preteens—but never to the point of real life-threatening danger. Just enough to work up a sweat and and tussle Monroe's hair.
When they weren't grabbing at each other and punching each other in the face, they were firing off lines of dialogue as if they were working out some relationship issues. Monroe to Miles, embodying the spurned lover: "Everything I have ever done was for you. You care so much about the Republic, I don't care. The only thing I ever cared about was watching your back. That's the only reason I followed you into any of this." This is a man who took control of an army to start his conquest of America, but now claims that he doesn't care about world domination, he only cares about Miles Matheson. That seems like an awful lot of effort to make an impression. Obsessed isn't a strong-enough word for Monroe's feelings toward Miles. Watch how badly he yearns for the old days (and notice how the conversations they have are frequently interrupted by gunfire, helicopters, or other immediate threats that don't allow for closure):
And here's Miles to Monroe, telling Monroe why he couldn't kill him before, but he may as well have been explaining why he can't be Monroe's lover: "Ask me why I couldn't. We're still brothers, and as much as I hate that, let me tell you, I do, that's never going to change." Miles is in denial about the nature of their friendship, but he's also guilty of leading Monroe on at times, like when he gave Monroe a flirty nod to say, "Come on over, I won't hurt you" when they teamed up at the beginning of the finale.
After "The Dark Tower," I went back and re-watched Miles and Monroe's excellent bro-down n the midseason finale, "Nobody's Fault But Mine," to check for consistency... and it was more of the same. Monroe was pleading, practically on his knees, for Miles to come back to him. He went on about how they're better together than apart. And about how Rachel, Miles' one-time lover and sister-in-law, isn't Miles' family, Monroe is. Coincidentally or not, it's in these moments that David Lyons really delivers his best performances. Also coincidentally or not, this is when Revolution is at its best.
This is what I wrote back then about Miles and Monroe's scene in "Nobody's Fault But Mine," and it still stands:
Monroe pleading with Miles to come back smacked of Eric Kripke's accidentally homoerotic fan-fic fodder Supernatural has been so successful with. I mean, for a second, I really thought the two were about to embrace and shove their tongues down each other's throats during that final confrontation. But if we're at least picking that up on our gaydar, it means there's genuine characterization and emotion at play, two basic elements of writing that have been entirely absent from the series so far.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not laughing at any of this. Well, maybe a little. But there's no doubt that Miles and Monroe have, by far, the most compelling and clearly defined relationship in the series. For a show that keeps trying to convince us that Rachel and Miles have a spark, that Miles and Nora are former lovers, and that Jason and Charlie are in love (all three of those relationships are as romantic as a slaughterhouse), it's Miles and Monroe's relationship that feels the most believable, whether it's platonic or otherwise.
And again, there's nothing wrong with this. Absolutely nothing, and I'm being serious. I feel like I have to repeat that because I know everyone thinks I just make fun of this show, but I'm really truly serious! I don't know how intentional the homoerotic subtext is, but it's all over the place. Even no-nonsense Neville agreed with me, for cryin' out loud. You have a borderline erotic fixation on Miles Matheson. So obviously Revolution's writers are aware of it, right?
So that's why I'm begging the writers to go with this. Hell, go as far as giving Miles and Monroe a former fling, or just continue to insinuate that Monroe's fixation on Miles extends to some dark place beyond them just being buddies. I don't know if a story like this has ever played out on television before, certainly not on a network sci-fi show, but go for it. Blaze some trails, bring network science-fiction into the 21st century. Men at war have secrets, it happens. Miles and Monroe's off-and-on relationship is the strongest part of Revolution and it needs more focus than just two confrontations a season.
Because let's face it: They've had plenty of opportunities to kill each other, had their guns pointed at each other's faces, but neither one has ever able to pull the trigger. These two can't quit each other, and they shouldn't.
Are you as struck as I am by Miles and Monroe's relationship? What do you think the show should do with it?
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