Revolution Season Finale Review: True American

By Tim Surette

Jun 04, 2013

Revolution S01E20: "The Dark Tower"

Revolution's first season came to a close last night in a more spectacular fireball than even I could have imagined with the nonsensical "The Dark Tower," an hour's worth of last-minute saves, puzzling reversals of allegiance, and Rachel being awesome Rachel. There was even a nod to one of my favorite scenes from The Event, another attempt at a network sci-fi show that I had a steamy love-hate affair with, and it was just so appropriate and made everything we've been through with Revolution feel worth it. Revolution is almost always bad (more on that later), but at times it's just the right kind of bad that it can't help but be fun to watch, and there's definitely a place on television, particularly NBC, for that kind of entertainment.

"The Dark Tower" was really the second of a two-part finale exploring the mysteries of the Tower, a government defense outpost that also served as the nation's fuse box. Last week's episode introduced a new threat to our heroes: The inhabitants of the Tower had been tasked with making sure the power stayed off for fear of a one-in-a-billion chance (their words, not mine) of turning the world and all its creatures into a huge chunk of smoldering charcoal. So "The Dark Tower" became a question of whether or not (and how) they should flip the switch and turn the power back on and risk Hell-ish levels of immediate climate change. Just to give you an idea what a one-in-a-billion chance looks like, it's this: 0.000000001. Let's say the events of Revolution were real life and I was playing the part of switch-flipper. If the odds were one-in-a-hundred, I'd have a good ponder over it. If this were real life, and the odds were one-in-a-million, I'd punch that button without hesitation. One in a million? I like my chances. But this is television, where all risks should be cut down by a factor of 1,000 because it's television and it's not real. Have you ever played poker with fake money? All in, every time. Why? Because who cares, it isn't real, and the stakes are pointless. So why Revolution decided to dilute the stakes to one-in-a-billion is beyond me. Wouldn't one in 100,000 worked?  What about one in 78,317? Even one in 10,000 makes for better TV drama, especially if they tightened the tension with an imminent threat to Georgia if they didn't get power to defend themselves in time. But one in a billion, and let me number it out for you so you can see how big of a number a billion is—1,000,000,000—seems like a no-brainer given what I'm calling "television stakes." That's what we were working with in this finale right off the bat. So did they plug in the world once again? Of course they did, and we'll get to that. 

First, the show took steps like those of a lightweight at a St. Patrick's Day drinking contest, stumbling around in directions that made no sense. Rachel, Charlie, and Aaron were held captive by the Tower Defense Force and threatened with their lives if they attempted to turn the power back on. Yet they were left unsupervised enough that Aaron was able to hack the Tower's operating system (lol) to discover that it was based on code he created at MIT. Meanwhile, Miles, Nora, and Monroe found a common enemy in the Towerfolk and teamed up—yes, Miles and Monroe became friends in the heat of battle and Nora didn't even blink an eye—and then were swept away in what I can only assume were the currents of the Tower's sewage system and shot out onto a beach. Upstairs, Neville managed to convince 100 men that they should start a coup against Monroe and he took control of an army in the middle of nowhere in Colorado. Annnnnnd we were off! 

We'll concentrate on Charlie, Rachel, and Aaron because all you need to know about Neville's storyline it that it became a holding pen for people being captured and rescued, and Miles and Monroe's odd coupling was so fascinating that it requires its own separate article (look for that to be posted soon). Aaron and Charlie must have come around to Rachel's need to turn the power on, because they were fully on board. The problem was they needed a keycard to access the Tower's brain (Aaron's 1337 hacking skills only go so far). Rachel called in Grace for a last-ditch attempt to convince her that powering up was the right thing to do because dead Danny deserves revenge, and when that didn't work, Rachel chloroformed Grace and took the keycard out of her pocket. I need to say how awesome it is that Rachel must keep a bottle of chloroform in her purse at all times. I LOVE Rachel. 

From there, Aaron explained some techno-gobbledygook about a "back door" in his code that could allow him to access whatever controlled the power, I guess? But that wasn't the important part of this scene; the important part was how Rachel and Charlie reacted to him geeking out. Rachel groaned, "Not now Aaron," when he began to talk and rushed him through his speech, and Charlie thought Aaron was literally talking about a physical back door. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but I can see Charlie's ignorance because she grew up in a world without Person of Interest reruns. This series has shown a definitive lack of humor ("Run you idiot!" being an exception), but this was some subtle genius at work right here. Watch for yourselves.

Then they ran into Nora, who was walking down the hall by herself, because where else would Nora be? After a chat between Nora and Rachel during which Nora took herself out of the running for Miles' heart and gave her spot to Rachel (sorry, Rachel, but Miles' heart belongs to Monroe), the gang came across a huge group of Tower Power Protectors huddled in a tight ball near the doorway to the 12th level, where the power switch was located. Rachel needed to get down there, but how? A tripwire bomb made out of twine and old liquor bottles, of course! I'll ignore how they acquired the parts and asume demolitions expert Nora devised the explosive and strung it out across the width of the hallway since all Charlie can do is put herself in danger, Aaron is a pussy, and Rachel likes to look into the eyes of her victims as they expire. Bombs aren't her thing unless she drops a grenade at your feet. Cue a noise distraction, and the entire group of stairway defenders huddle-marched down the hallway in a formation particularly vulnerable to explosions. But Dan (Landry's dad from Friday Night Lights) saw the tripwire before it could blow them all to smithereens! Knowing they were hosed unless they could get to Level 12, Nora grabbed a fire hydrant, popped out into the hallway and chucked that thing at the wire, setting off the bombs and blowing up all the bad guys. All of them. Because they all left the door to Level 12 in a tightly packed group. I'm not talking three people, there were about a dozen. But in the process of being a badass, Nara also took some nasty shrapnel in her stomach. Now I know she's survived two stabbings in the stomach before, but this one was on the side of her stomach that wasn't indestructible. More crunches next time, Nora!

The group found safety in a hall closet and it was decision time: Tend to Nora's wounds by going to the infirmary or move on with the mission and keep pushing toward Level 12 because all the guards were dead and more would be coming any second. They only had one keycard, so they couldn't do both. Charlie was into saving Nora, but Rachel didn't give a damn about Nora because she needed to get revenge for Danny, so she took the card and Aaron and they moved on with a half-ass reply of, "We'll be back in time to save Nora." While everyone was arguing about what was best for Nora, Nora was begging everyone to leave her alone and let her die in peace.

But even Nora couldn't die quietly, and one of her painful grunts was heard by a nearby militia dude who entered the room and beat the crap out of Charlie. And you know what happens when Charlie is in danger! Miles, who we'd last seen outside, showed up 11 floors underground to save her ass, doing so by knifing the guy in the throat! (For a giant underground government installation filled with coilgun-toting separatists, it sure is easy to regroup in this place.) Remember last week when I begged for better kills? It happened! Thank you, Revolution! Miles wouldn't leave Nora there alone, so he carried her toward Level 12, but then the unthinkable occurred. Game of Thrones may have been pretty tough this week, but it had nothing on "The Dark Tower." Nora died. In Miles' arms. And Miles was sad for a long time. Inspired by fan reactions to the now-infamous GoT Red Wedding scene, I recorded myself watching Nora die in Revolution:

Upstairs, Neville's men got word that there was a race to get to Level 12, and they intercepted Aaron and Rachel on their way to the control room. And you know what happens whenever one of the good guys gets in a pickle! Miles showed up just in the nick of time to kill 93 percent of Neville's men. [*Bang bang* *Cut to guy falling backward dead* *Repeat 12 times*] In the ensuing chaos, only the good guys made it into the control room, where they locked the door behind them. OKAY GUYS, THIS WAS IT. CLIMACTIC FINALE. But first, Rachel asked where Nora was, and Charlie I-told-you-so'd her with a spiteful, "She's dead."

Aaron hopped on the computer, stroked some keys, and then it was time to "get the command line," "run the shutdown script," and authorize some execution! Aaron hit enter and then... cut to commercial. Ugh. But back from commercial, the power started to return, as shown by a montage entitled "The Secondary Women of Revolution Watch the Lights Come Back On." Julia was reading a book by candlelight in a cocktail dress (?) when the overhead lights flickered, Aaron's wife heard her boombox power up (sweet battery life), and President Kelly saw the Atlanta highrises brighten. Me, I would have said something like, "HOLY F*CKING SH*T THE POWER IS BACK ON AFTER 15 YEARS, THERE IS A GOD NOW WHERE'S MY XBOX?" But the ladies were just like, "That's nice." Except for President Kelly, who immediately called for all her tanks and helicopters to go blow up Philadelphia. Really? Just go to war right there and then, eh? What the heck?

Meanwhile, Monroe was wandering around by his lonesome outside and there was a bunch of lightning. I'm not sure what the point of that was. What the heck?

But that wasn't the ending. No siree. Remember Randall Flynn? He had gained access to the control room a long time ago, but had to wait for Rachel to turn on the power before doing what he'd really come to do: be so damn patriotic that he'd kill a ton of Americans. After calling Aaron "portly" (low blow) and muttering cliches like "When you burn down the old, new things grow," Randall flipped a few switches in another totally separate control room (but one with big windows so Rachel could see what he was doing) and launched ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) to wipe Georgia Federation HQ Atlanta and Moron Republic central Philadephia off the map. "A house divided amongst itself cannot stand," he monologued. "I'm a patriot, Rachel." And then he shot himself in the head. What the heck? If that's what being a patriot is, then screw you, America. 

BUT THAT WASN'T THE END! Cut to a mysterious office where a man flicked the lights on and off and another man said, "Randall Flynn did it. It's time to go home... MR. PRESIDENT." Then the camera zoomed out with the shadowy president standing in the window looking out over GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA, where apparently the President of the United States has been chilling this whole time! What the heck? Mind blown. Well, strike that. Mind confused, really. It was the kind of cliffhanger that makes you say "What?" more than "Whoa!" and it was just crazy enough to out-crazy everything that'd happened before it. That's exactly what I was looking for.

As far as I can tell, after the blackout the president established an American colony on Cuba and has been waiting 15 years for the power to come back on and for Randall to blow up the warring militia states on the East Coast. Neville is trying to gain power over the Monroe Republic (Neville Nation, baby!), Monroe might be friends with Miles, and our heroes are locked inside the most powerful building in the world. What the heck?

Look, I don't know what it all means or why Revolution took the direction it took to get here. Throughout the season, characters had all sorts of problems, many of the storylines wore out or were simply ignored, and even the overall mythology—which should have been laid out before the season started—seemed clueless as to where it was going. And that was all reflected in this crazy—but gleefully entertaining—finale. Now who is going to pay the electric bill?


– I'm very happy the finale started off with one of the Kripke-style music-based montages that were so wonderful on Supernatural. It wasn't really necessary, but it's always nice to see Kripke's footprints.  

– I did not ignore the homosexual subtext between Miles and Monroe. In fact, I wrote so much about it that, as I mentioned above, it's getting a separate article... so keep an eye out for that. It was BY FAR my favorite part of the finale and series. "You have a borderline erotic fixation on Miles Matheson," Neville told Monroe. AND HOW!

– Is it worth mentioning that the secret keycard Randall found was hidden behind a picture of George Bush and that Randall broke the picture to get to the card? Nah, not really. Hollywood hates Bush, what else is new? 

– Why is Jason working with his dad? Do people actually get mad at each other on this show or do they just yell at each other?

– Rachel to Grace: "Did I ever tell you about the day Danny was born?" No, and we never asked!

– Remember when this show was about Charlie? She's been completely pointless for a long time. 

– I like how when Miles picked up Nora to carry her down to Level 12, the first thing he said when we saw him carrying her was, "How much further?" like he already regretted the decision.

– Did you see the Easter Eggs I put in the first image?

– Thank you for reading these reviews all season long! There were lots of times when I wanted to going to quit writing about Revolution but several of you talked me back into it. And now I don't regret watching and reviewing the season at all, it was a blast. 

– Will you be tuning in for Season 2?

  • Comments (236)
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  • TrevPlatt Jan 05, 2014

    I get it now. No, seriously. It was the one in a billion thing that did it. You see, I watched the first two episodes but there was no way I as going to watch the entire season so I read Tim's brilliant reviews instead and all the indications point to one thing. Think about it:
    *An incapacity to understand relationships and sex
    *Fight scenes are "the good guys going, "Pew Pew!" and the bad guys going, "Ugh I'm dead!""
    *A complete incomprehension of the meaning of adversaries - hate, loyalty, determination
    *Misunderstanding the significance of numerical values - who is likely to think that 1 in a BILLION sounds more significant than 1 in a 1000.
    That's right, the show is written by children.
    -"Yeah, but if they turn it on the world will burn",
    -"Yeah there's like a 1 in a 5 chance the world burns",
    -"No, it needs to be bigger",
    -"yeah, 1 in a BILLION",
    -"yeah, cool, that's massive"
    Sounds massive, but they could possibly turn it on 999, 999, 999, times without incident.
    I suspect the kids took over somewhere between five minutes into episode 2 and the end of episode 3, but I could be out by a few seconds.
    Right, I'm off to watch the Season 2 opener, my fingers are crossed that Edlund and O'Bannon have sent the Season 1 writing team back to school with a fresh apple and a song in their heart.

  • alcalde Oct 27, 2013

    >Meanwhile, Monroe was wandering around by his lonesome outside and there was a bunch
    >of lightning. I'm not sure what the point of that was. What the heck?

    Monroe needed to learn the power was back on too, but he wasn't near a light switch. If nanites were absorbing all the electricity for fifteen years, that would have meant no thunder storms! Seeing the lightning for the first time in 15 years was Monroe's way of realizing the power was on.

    I'm surprised that you didn't call out the fact that the Tower had huge blast doors and since it had facilities to launch nuclear weapons presumably also hardened against nuclear attack. Yet in Revolution a small pile of C4 is enough to blow a hole "under the door"? What, under the door was just some bricks and dirt and not 12 feet+ of steel-reinforced concrete like other nuclear-hardened facilities? And how did "all thumbs" Randall manage to target Philly and Atlanta? There's no way the missiles were targeting our own cities by default. I'll allow that if the President was in on it, he could have provided the access codes needed.

  • cybill Oct 10, 2013

    So for 15 years a bunch of people kept on turning up to work at power stations across the country to keep them all running, despite the fact that electricity didn't work, all so that when the power went 'back on' there would be a plentiful supply of power for the grid ... I think they are the real heroes of the story.

  • BlueNexusAmbi Mar 14, 2014

    That's exactly what I have been raising hell about since day one after they got the power on again.. There is no way the power grid would come back online immdiately or even months later. No one is tending to the power stations and even if they are they have no equiptment to keep everything maintained so the power stations would be half rusted and rotted away. Not to mention most of the power lines that has degrated or been taken down for other uses or just destroyed. Electricity is produced somewhere, we don't magically make it then run it through powerlines. Even if someone had been waiting at all of the power plants and had found a way to maintain them, there would still be a boatload of other things that would have to be done first before they could turn it on again. But we know there was no one obviously. So what the Hell. Yes, the show is fiction, but unless it's supposed to be a show based on magic or magically powered super heroes then you have to keep some things legit, or at least logical. Apparently the producers and writers are dumb or they think everyone that watches their show are too dumb to know this... BZzzz wrong! The only way I can see them fixing this is maybe to say the nano's were dying because of it and their dying was powering things up temp.

  • KansasGuest Jul 11, 2013

    I'm wondering if Nora really is dead. Once those nanites were activated again, why couldn't they have healed her like they healed Rachel's leg?

  • kathleenmarti1 Jul 05, 2013


  • kathleenmarti1 Jul 05, 2013

    love revolution when if the second season comming out

  • ltcomstella Jun 17, 2013

    i actually play candy crush/coasterville/the last one on facebook whilst watching this crap, just cos this show is so retarded thing s change every episode, someone we've known for a while and sort of like is killed off in a such a nooby stupid way...

    now how did the militia get in to the bunker after the c4 pile only damaged the concrete around it ?

    all those big ass 'converted' grenade launchers made funny sounds and the stunt crew must of been knacked with all that bungee cord pulling... plus used alot of fake blood...zap ...pow... splash splot sput....gargle noise...

    omg nora died wow, beaten up drugged, shot/stabbed blown up nope i'll just walk away...suddenly gets shot just be throwing a fire extinguisher is what does her in....writers GTFO...

    will neville survive the icbm launch ? well charlie and jason survived a drone strike so it's possible..

    will aaron turn off the power to stop the missiles ?

    will rachel have to pull out another wild theory of something she has to do ?

    this show is a train wreck where the only people aboard are clowns..

  • derpdderperson Jun 14, 2013

    This show has too much fail to comprehend. I wanted soooooo bad to like it...
    From start to finish, I couldn't stand Charlie. Wish she died. I hate her character, and I don't like the actor portraying her. If I was anyone in that group who understood the way the world was working, I'd have ditched her ass long ago. Very glad they stopped focusing on her halfway through the season.
    Aaron - The last fat guy in the world. In a world with no power, when the only transportation is your feet, when food is grown in the ground or shot out of a tree, this guy started fat (saw his flashbacks) and stayed fat. If I were any of the other people in the community he was living in, I'd be asking where MY extra rations were!
    Rachel - A little too starey...all the time, she stares at everyone. Other than that, I didn't mind her.
    Nora - She aight.
    Miles - What a crappy commander. Who would follow a guy, seriously, that basically took orders from a whiny little girl?
    So many of the situations they were put in were just beyond ludicrous. They were able to walk into the heart of enemy territory, they were the ONLY people with any shooting ability (even Charlie was a master marksman (WTF??))...I could go on and on, but there's been so many that I've forgotten and can't be arsed to watch that show again.
    This last episode...apparently, this top secret super secure bunker has a 6-inch thick ceiling right outside the front door.
    Flynn eats a bullet...for why? And why were nuclear missiles already aimed at Philly and Atlanta? Seriously, he just turned the keys and hit the big red button and they were off.
    Flip the switch, and...the power comes back on. Glad there were folks all over America keeping the infrastructure in good working order in case this day ever came.
    Tom is Tom. The way he flip-flopped these past few episodes, he must have been a Romney fan.
    And the U.S. president in Cuba, apparently sailed there in old wooden ships. Go him. I'm sure the survivors of Philly and Atlanta will welcome him home with open arms.
    Not sure if I'm gonna watch season 2. Probably the first episode and if something spectacular doesn't happen I'm done with it. This is right up there with The Following in terms of shoddy story-telling.

  • toddw3 Jun 13, 2013

    Nobody seems to be picking up on all the hints that Rachel caused the blackout. She did it to save Danny's life - we already know that the proliferation of nanites was keeping him alive. In "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" she alludes to Dr. Warren that she has done horrible things to keep Danny alive and killed "too many people". In a flashback in "Children of Men" she has a suicidal breakdown about over it (although she does not tell Ben the whole truth). And in this episode she hushes up Aaron when he starts to explain how someone used his backdoor to purposely cause the blackout. It was Rachel - crazy-ass Rachel!!!

  • xubxerox Jun 12, 2013

    I have to say, after just watching the finale, I am thouroughly confused.

    If you compare where this show started and where it ended up regarding its mythology it has traveled lightyears. But they did not fill that "travel" with much entertaining and high quality television. The first and the last episode compared, except for some characters, its almost a totally different show.
    To bad, because I thought the pilot had real story and character potential in an interesting universe.

    I am suprised they renewed it. I will check back into the show next season but to be honest, I don't expect much anymore.

    Also, I am suprised by the choice of shows you are reviewing. I think there are shows out there WAY better than Revolution that you could review but don't. Like Banshee, Longmire or Copper.

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