Revolution "Ties That Bind" Review: The Rio Bland

By Tim Surette

Nov 13, 2012

Revolution S01E08: "Ties That Bind"

Revolution had one thing for its heroes to do last night... ONE THING! Get across that damn river.

After an hour's worth of mixed messages about family, the scariest villain of all-time doing nothing even remotely scary, and daddy troubles for multiple Monroe officers, I still have no idea whether Pouty Lips, Budget Han Solo, That Lady Who Always Shows Off Her Rockin' Bod, and Wimpy Google Guy ever made it across the river in "Ties That Bind," an episode that I probably should have been watched in fast forward or on a handful of Oxycontin. I know that by the end, Our Gang jumped into a river to run away from the scary men, but was it THE river? Did they come out on the other side? Did the big conundrum get solved by them jumping into the river? You may be interested in Revolution's blackout situation, but now there's a new mystery that I'm way more invested in: DID THEY CROSS THIS RIVER OR NOT?

And I ask this because "Ties That Bind" spent half of the episode trying to solve that problem before abruptly abandoning it completely. Are you stoned, Revolution? It all started off with a simple question: Can Miles, Charlie, Aaron, and Nora get across the Allegheny River river via a militia-controlled bridge in order to continue their quest to save Danny? All the bridges within 100 miles were blown up and the Militia was sinking any boat that tried to cross. Their plight was as simple as storytelling can get: There was an obstacle (a river that needed to be crossed), and the episode was about overcoming that obstacle. It's a classic and effective and oh-so-safe setup for the most remedial of television. Unless you're watching Revolution, that is. In that case, fuck you, river! Fuck you, plot! And most of all, fuck you, audience! Maybe this is a two-parter and that river will be crossed next week, in which case, my apologies. It is a pretty big river, after all. But if it isn't going to be concluded next week, Revolution found another new way to waste our time last night, and that is astounding.

If you were thinking of buying the Cliff's Notes version of "Ties That Bind," let me save you the $3.99 you'd spend on the Kindle edition: Monroe got Aaron's pendant and Neville's wife wants Neville to be the new leader of the Militia. Oh, and Nora's sister is a bitch. There's nothing else to take away from this episode or its poor attempts at developing Nora into something other than a bad actress who can't keep it in her pants around Miles. If you think you'd like to continue watching Revolution, in the coming weeks you should feel free to set your alarm for 10:54pm and just watch the last six minutes of each episode, because the A-stories the series is flushing out are so impertinent to anything else that the show probably makes more sense without them.

But we're going to talk about that A-story anyway! The first attempt at crossing the river was actually an ambush by Strausser, Sebastian Monroe's really mean torturer. You know, the scary guy who ALMOST tortured Rachel. And ALMOST tortured Danny. He may have tortured someone else early in the series, but so far he's living on reputation, knife sharpening, and a satchel full of dental instruments. Miles sniffed out the trap and had a plan: Run away! Which they did, all while Strausser's cross-eyed soldiers fired guns in vain (their hit ratio suggests they might actually being using blanks). But Strausser is a cunning strategist, so he concocted a plan—some might call it a fairly elaborate plan—to use Nora's sister Mia as bait to draw out Miles.

Mia was strung up captive for Nora to see while Strausser shouted, "Hey Nora, we have your sister!" hoping that Nora was around to hear. Nora then planted a whole bunch of explosives that I guess she was carrying around in her backpack, and blew stuff up as a diversion so that the men guarding Mia would run in that direction and die in some of the explosions too while Nora and Miles cut Mia free and took her away. Muahahaha... just as Strausser planned! You gotta wake up pretty early in the afternoon to pull one over on old Strausser. Sure he could have just ordered his men to stay by Mia and not run into these explosions that were blatant distractions in order to capture Nora and Miles, but every villain in Revolution lives by one code: "We shall serve Sebastian Monroe by using only the most convoluted plans to defeat our enemies!" Seriously, it's written on their badges.

Free at last, Mia said she had a man who could get them across the river using a boat (never mind about that stuff about Militia men blowing up boats, apparently), so they went to see him except he was very dead. Mia also waited a day to tell Nora that she found their dad, because talking about how Miles broke up with her a long time ago was more important and dominated the conversation last night around the campfire. Mia said, "Hey let's go see Dad, he's in Texas," but Nora said, "Sorry sis, I made a promise to risk my life and save this stranger's brother because FAMILY IS IMPORTANT." Mia then sat down Nora and explained that because they had the same dad, THEY were family. Nora agreed and said, "You make a good point." The two then said goodbyes and went to find their daddy. (I paraphrased that, but not too much.)

Yes, it was obvious that Mia was a plant for Strausser, but Nora is really dumb so let's give her a break. When Strausser showed up, Mia stole the pendant from Aaron the night before and handed it and the whereabouts of Miles (and Charlie and Aaron) over to Strausser so that he could kill the rebel scum. Nora was not happy about this! "You just killed my friends, sis!" Mia tried to explain that she did it to save Nora, but she really should have shown some class and let the Militia kill her instead in order to save Nora and her friends because that's what good people do. Don't be so selfish, Mia! Also, that whole about their dad? Lies! Nora left Mia behind, and that's the last we saw of adult-sized Mia (there were flashbacks, more on that later). Good riddance, loser. I hope the Monroe Militia figures out how to build a cannon and shoots you out of it.

Then Nora single-handedly took down Strausser's hunting party while the others hid behind cars. Miles brought an empty gun (LOL Nora used all the bullets) to a knifefight with Strausser, the only man Miles said he was scared of, and we were all prepared for a brutal brawl. Except Miles kicked Strausser's ass very easily. I'm beginning to think this Strausser guy is a real wuss. Why are we scared of him again?

Before the chaos could settle, our heroes went to the very reliable tactic Operation Run Away but found themselves with no place to go except over a cliff into a river (was it THE river?), so they jumped into it to get away from Strausser and his men. And that was the end to this story. This story started with a river and ended with a river, like one of those lazy rivers at The Mandalay Bay, and the circle was complete. It's very fitting because this show is going around in circles.

Meanwhile, back at Monroe's, Jason/Nate was getting the black utterly beaten out of him by Monroe's men for bribing someone for info on Strausser's mission because he has a total boner for Charlie. You and me both, bro! Monroe, in his most lifeless, dead-on-the-inside, bored-just-to-be-there voice, told Neville that he was going to ship Jason/Nate off to California on a mission of diplomacy. Sounds great, right? A little sunshine, some killer buds, and I hear you can still go down the drop on Splash Mountain on a cardboard box. Except that was Old California! New California is full of rabid mountain men who kill anyone that doesn't end every sentence in "dude" or "gnarly." In other words, Jason/Nate would only need to pack his funeral suit.

What Neville needed was another officer's son who was doing something even worse so that Monroe's attention would be on that kid instead. But where? What are the odds he would find someone like that? It would take a miracle to find––oh, nevermind. Someone appeased the convenience gods, and Neville's wife brought in a Latina maid (I know, I know... ugh) that was cleaning another officer's house and overheard that his son was a member of the Resistance! So Neville ratted on him without a thought, and the father got tortured while his son and his friends all died horrible deaths. There wasn't much drama to the situation, just a series of things that happened. It might have been more interesting to put Neville in some moral quandary about whether to get his officer friend in trouble or not, but what do I know!? Instead, a solution to Neville's problem fell into his lap and said, "Exploit me!" because tension had the day off.

This taste of victory combined with Monroe's instability and paranoia got Neville's wife Julia all power hungry, so she suggested that Neville start making plans to take over the army while she lazes about and does nothing. Hey Julia, get a job you damn freeloader!

Finally, the ending may have looked familiar for all you Alcatraz fans out there. It was revealed that Grace and Randall, who live in some super high-tech sewer bunker, had a series of computers that are tracking all the pendants in the world and noticed that Monroe now has one of the pendants. So Randall told Grace she's going to do something about it. Revolution loves these cutaways to "big" moments at the end of episodes lately, but by now we're all too smart to fall for them. Right?

"Ties That Bind" asked us a question, "How will these guys get across this river to get a tiny bit closer to saving Danny?" and then interrupted itself with Nora's backstory, Neville's kid problems, and useless flashbacks before forgetting what question it asked in the first place. The episode was self-contained alright, but it didn't have a beginning, middle, or end. Where's my closure, Revolution? I've been able to get some enjoyment out of this show at least through making fun of it, but this was so lifeless and bland that I couldn't even get that. I'm going to cry now. Thanks a lot.


Revolution's ratings are finally starting to fall as viewers bail. Last night's episode registered a solid 2.8 rating in the adult demo, but it was a series low. Expect the slide to continue.

– I highly recommend this Entertainment Weekly story on how Revolution was pitched. It pretty much confirms that the show is a product of a half-thought-out idea and studio notes.

– I didn't really mention the Nora flashbacks above, because they were pointless. At least Aaron's flashbacks gave us something to chuckle about. Nora's were just two kids tucking each other into bed.

– "You should know gravity is compressing your sister's organs." Great quote taken out of context. Or even in context.

– At the absolute most, a story should have only one scene where the bad guys are looking for the good guys with a torch but don't explore the area and therefore don't find the good guys. This episode had two of those scenes. Yikes!

  • Comments (100)
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  • AndreaBarrie May 16, 2013

    Sincerely hope your procrastination means that you will no longer spend any more of your (seemingly interesting) time on such a #obviously #shallow #show. I'm tired out with people who watch something for entertainment, only to slate it in extreme arrogance. It's hypocritical, as is life. Main point
    1) it's "THEORETICAL" with the emphasis on "THEORY" pray tell how the F£$€ YOU would cross the river, nevermind survive a #blackout long enough to get to one.
    2) This show will always have inference on a) how shit Americans are. B) how kids today have no real education and C) how faith, hope and indeed, LOVE can conquer all.

    Albeit shitty "lost" type DRAMA with more inconsistencies than fudge, try to look beyond your ego to the sociological relevance of the "message" and maybe you would not distain yourself from the true meaning.

    Hope you will one day understand how to value xoxoxo.....

  • terminaltrip421 Nov 14, 2012

    the abrams fanboys come out in flocks i'm going to assume based on 95 comments the same night the show aired. I made notes that may not amuse anyone but myself and am going to share them a not-so-particular order because i've been drinking.

    only dude that ever scared miles ...even though he appeared to be the nicest torturer ever.

    that chick hanging from the flag pole who vaguely shares your ethnicity is your sister? you don't say. that dramatic pause certainly had a substantial effect. like most with this show.

    only takes an hour to die being hung with your hands above her head. interesting that this wasn't a preferred form of torturous death in ancient and recent history.

    muddied waters between right and wrong. it's just the same thing with j.j. abrams produced shows over and over again. or any other prime time soap i guess. soaps are for the mentally deficient btw.

    never say that to me, nor anyone else [especially not anyone else.] *woman repeats herself*

    "i'm not going to do anything about it" is never followed by a long

    pause and an italic "you are"

    with expectations so low that you're expecting something that's an affront to all senses revolution is watchable and almost enjoyable in all of it's amazingly found on network tv sub-par glory.

    the nora mia flashabck served one purpose: introducing me to a hopefully of legal age (haven't checked imdb) chick who's more attractive than the older version of the character she's meant to portray. LOL, i'm talking about nora btw...

  • stanking Nov 14, 2012

    These characters are so obviously illiterate, and I'm terribly ashamed of Google Guy. When you come to a river like that, he should know your options are (1) cross on the ice below the waterfall like Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Mr. & Mrs. Beaver, or (2) cross on the super lightweight rope that Legolas shot across the river. Duh!

  • hockeyrick Nov 14, 2012

    No muskets or flintlocks! damn!

  • AudioFileZ Nov 14, 2012

    Well...I mostly have to agree. I mean what a waste of a pertinent new millenium catacylsmic event as the end of our powered era! So much could have been done with this, and what this show has shown is so little; what with its pace of watching paint dry not to mention the lame backstories which are only rivaled by the actual big story it never really reveals anything remotely believable pertaining to. I only watch it to see if anything will make any kind of sense. I give it lots of leeway because its sci-fi and good sci-fi stretches things while keeping believability at bay. So far this one fails and how long I can hang in there remains to be seen. Partly this hangs on the characters who are mostly unlikeable, and I'm talking about the ones that are suppose to heroes.

  • GirishStewart Nov 14, 2012

    Really liked this episode. I don't agree that the show is running around in circles. Its moving forward at a good pace, especially with the storyline involving the pendants. Some of the characters are done really well.

  • Papilloni Nov 14, 2012

    I would love to see a crossover episode with Jersey Shore. Another show with great characters.

  • GirishStewart Nov 14, 2012

    Lmao. I'd suggest you watch the spin-off next season then.

  • MightyMad Nov 14, 2012

    Unbelievably, this episode was an all-around series's low for this show - it was thoroughly stupid, lifeless and boring. Now, we can say whatever we want about "Revolution" thus far, but, before last Monday, I could at least justify watching it by saying how fun it is to laugh about its complete awfulness every Tuesday. But not for this sorry story - everything about it was just a big ol'... blah.

    Nora and Mia relationship:...blah; Nora and Mia flashback:... bof; Aaron's weekly suckiness - this week, letting a girl pickpocket the only worthwhile thing he carries:... saw it coming; Strausser:.... zzzzzzz; the Nevilles scheme to take over the Monroe Republic:... whatever, (plus doesn't it seem like even Monroe himself any interest he had for the job anyway?); that underground bunker:... so what? And on and on it goes...

    The only good news out of this dread is that I'm finally starting to find "Revolution" too boring to even hate-watch now. If they come up with two other stinkers of this level before the end of the month, I can genuinely said I'll finally be able to move on and do more productive things on Monday evening - like, said, take a nap. Yeah... napping instead of watching "Revolution". That's sounds about right.

  • dref22 Nov 14, 2012

    I sometimes feel like I should join Team Purple...But then I realize reading these recaps is good enough. Btw, that EW article was awesome and I have a problem with this:

    "One of the things that's difficult and frustrating about all the technology we have is it eliminates a lot of potential for drama," Really, Mr Abrams? REALLY? People aren't watching Star Trek because it has epic FX. Geez.

  • e313 Nov 14, 2012

    u know, i stopped watching the show within the first 10' of ep 2, but i still read your reviews :D

  • FringeFanatic Nov 14, 2012


    And right out of the gates the Revolution Haters land body blow after body blow, finishing the combination with a furious uppercut!

    It's almost like the Diehard Revolution Supporters haven't even shown up for this bout!

  • GirishStewart Nov 14, 2012

    Don't worry. There are very few fans who'd stick around and keep coming back even after 8 weeks for these foolish reviews. I praise the show because its unfairly maligned in these forums, not because I think its the greatest and best thing to ever be created. Its the best new show this season though.

  • shox Nov 14, 2012

    "unfairly maligned"? Yeah cause it's a giant internet conspiracy to put down this awesome show for no reason.

    Can't be that this show is actually horrible. Right?

  • GirishStewart Nov 14, 2012

    I wonder if you are this vocal about shows that are actually horrible and not just mediocre (mind you, I still think Revolution is good).

  • John666666666 Nov 14, 2012

    Boy you fanboys are blind to reality.

    Mondays are my fun night I get a good laugh out of to bad shows. Hawaii 5-0 which is boring fun entertainment and Revolution which is turning out to be a great comedy though I don't think that's what the creators intended the show to be. Heck some nights this show is actually funnier then most of CBS's comedies on the same night.

  • GirishStewart Nov 14, 2012

    Correction: 'Sensible world'

  • John666666666 Nov 14, 2012

    @GirishStewart: In Bizarro World that statement might actually be true.

  • GirishStewart Nov 14, 2012

    @John: You know, more than half the episodes of Revolution were between average to good. Last Resort had two truly atrocious episodes and three good ones. So, they're on the same boat as of now.

  • John666666666 Nov 14, 2012

    I agree with you last weeks episode of Last Resort was really bad, but are you really comparing one really bad episode of Last Resort to 8 below average to terrible episodes of Revolution?

  • FringeFanatic Nov 14, 2012

    Who said anything about an internet conspiracy?

  • FringeFanatic Nov 14, 2012

    Some would argue Last Resort or Arrow is the best new show this season. But I've got to say, after reading so many comments that mercilessly (and often justifiably) crucify this show, it's actually pleasant to read a positive take from someone.

    Keep it up, GS!

  • GirishStewart Nov 14, 2012

    Well, those two are my next fav new shows of the season. But, come on. After last week's episode, even Last Resort is looking more preposterous than anything on this show.

  • FringeFanatic Nov 14, 2012

    Haha! Touche! Score one for the Revolution Supporters.

  • Papilloni Nov 14, 2012

    Don't worry, the fanboys are always a bit late to the party, but they will show up eventually.

  • John666666666 Nov 14, 2012

    Or maybe they've finally seen the light that Revolution is only good for the unintentional comedy value it brings to everyone.

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