Comic-Con 2013: Revolution Is Blowing Up Its World for the Better
Okay, we all know how Revolution's first season went, somewhere between okay and a whole bunch of bad words. Series creator Eric Kripke spent the offseason beefing up what was probably the show's weakest link by recruiting his old friend and Supernatural fellow Ben Edlund, the mad genius who penned some of the Winchesters' most memorable episodes, along with with Farscape and Defiance creator Rockne O'Bannon and CSI:NY's Trey Callaway. I have no idea if they'll be able to fix what ailed Revolution in Season 1 (flimsy characters, inane plot developments, emotional vacancy, Nora, a total abandonment of the show's main premise, nanite wizards, concussion guns, the hallucination tunnel), but dammit, I was dead set on asking them.
First, let's lay out the details we have about Season 2, according to the cast. Our first guest in the press room was the lively Tracy Spiradakos, who's a much more joyful woman than the gloomy Charlie she plays on TV (hey, if you were getting punched in the face all the time, you'd be a little gloomy, too). "I can tell you that the bombs do drop, so there's an aftermath to dealing with that." Holy moly! Randall completed his mission in destroying Atlanta and Philadelphia, apparently, and the destruction of those cities will completely change the feel of the show. The militias will be broken up, the show that was once all about being on the road will now settle into a particular spot near Texas, characters will be more consistent, and the stories will have some room to breathe since people won't be as busy running from Point A to Point B. Additionally, even though the power went on in the finale, there will be a time-jump of about three months, and you can expect that it will be shut off again pretty soon.
"From the first half of the season last year to the second half of the season it became a heightened version of itself," said Billy Burke, who plays Miles. "And now it seems to be—instead of reaching for things, it's getting underneath itself. It's a much deeper, darker show we're moving into now."
Edlund was a little more specific: "[Season 1] developed itself along the lines of a lot of military stories, so that was the fabric of it," he said. "I'd say the core fabric of [Season 2] would be they land in a town, and so instead of becoming a road movie and a picaresque, it's actually about settling down for a little bit. It will allow for the deepening of culture [of living without technology]."
But my favorite comment came from Kripke himself, who almost went on a rant about his own creation. I mentioned the way the show is dropping bombs, breaking up militias, bringing in new writers, and that it seems to be resetting itself. And he responded with one of my favorite answers I've ever heard from anyone, so I'm just going to reproduce it verbatim. Enjoy, especially those of you who weren't particularly into Season 1:
"I think we're continuing, you know Monroe is still a villain, our heroes are still struggling to figure out how to be a family. A lot of the emotional storylines are all still there," he said. "But I wanted to push through—let me start over. I'm probably the hardest person on Season 1 that there is. There was a lot of things we did right, I think there was a shitload that we did wrong. I really am aggressively building a better machine for Season 2, and really looking at what worked and what didn't work. If anyone knows the way I run shows, I'm very relentless about hearing how the fans feel and I'm really relentless about that, and I feel like I have something to prove a little bit. So for me, it was the simplicity of the Season 1 storyline that was limiting, ultimately, that was my analysis. It was just about this war, and then it was about should we flip the lightswitch on or off."
By this point, he was getting pretty animated, and it was awesome.
"Should we turn it on or should we turn it off? 'Here's why I want to turn it on!' 'Here's why you shouldn't turn it on!' And it was small, in a way. And yet the canvas was so big that it almost had ADD because we're going from town to town, then we're going to Atlanta. I wanted to make a storyline—and frankly, it's because I really honestly thought that, going into Season 1, the search for Danny would sustain us. Just like how in Supernatural the search for dad—I was like, 'We did the search for dad, we can do the search for Danny.' But we're halfway through the season, and I'm like, 'Oh shit! No one's buying it!' So then I kinda scrambled a little and then it became a little more. But I think the thing we really did right was we pushed through all that story, we brought it to as hot as it could be. We got them to the place where they turned on the power. Even though it was scary for me, and even though I watched a lot of the episodes in Season 1, I was like, 'Huh... a lot of power in this show without power.' Like, when the drones start flying by, I'm like, 'Who am I?' And so, it was really good to push through the looking glass and wrap that story. Because now we can get to a more interesting place, and I'm glad we did it, because they turned the power on but just enough to destabilize the East Coast and now there's no more power forever [Editor's note: whoa!] and the Tower is basically not functioning and that question is completely off the table and we're back to a neo-primitive dangerous world. And now we have this conspiracy of these guys who Randall worked for coming up from Cuba, these patriots, who even though they say they're America, THEY ARE NOT AMERICA. They're a very dangerous and insidious invasion of people who are wearing a Stars & Stripes mask, and we have them, and we have these warlords, our heroes basically changed the laws of physics in The Tower. So it becomes about America! And God! And being chosen! And still can this family stay together. So it's finding storylines that can unfold that I know can sustain over a season and be more interesting and be more provacative, and not just about whether you should flip the lightswitch on. Then on top of that, there's this intimate focus, because we're mostly staying around and in this one town in Texas, where we can get to know people and dig into character. So all these complaints for Season 1, which were we didn't get to know the characters, we're not dug-in enough on the concept, the storyline isn't unfolding in an interesting way, these are things we really listened to hard to build a better engine in Season 2."
Wow, way to go Kripke. Staggering and much-appreciated honesty. Admit it, you're all a little bit more excited for Season 2 now, aren't you?
– Spiradakos said she's toying with the idea of sending a day living without electricity just to see how it feels. Method acting! When her plan was mentioned to Billy Burke, he replied, "She's fucking nuts. My idea of camping is a not-great hotel."
– Edlund on the state of the militia in Season 2, and where Monroe is at when the show returns: "The militia is essentially a fragmented shell of itself. I don't think we're giving anything away when we say we're dealing with a deposed Monroe, who has to find a whole new way to find a way in this world. What if Hitler didn't take a bullet? [cackles] And then he had to get an odd job?" Never change, Edlund.
– And yes, I had to ask David Lyons, who plays Sebastian, about the homoerotic subtext between Miles and Monroe (I specifically mentioned when Neville said "You have a borderline erotic fixation on Miles Matheson"), and he gave a very thoughtful answer. "That's never how I played it. I get why people say that, they get really weirdly kind of put-off by two men who love each other. And I'm talking about the way family loves each other, and the way brothers love each other. The way I love my best mates." He continued, "But for someone like Neville, who wants to hurt [Monroe], but to say to someone who is that emotionally invested in someone else, it's for this reason, it's because you want to have sex with him, you don't understand. Maybe he believes it, maybe he doesn't. Either way it riles Monroe. No one understands the depth of what he's feeling because it has nothing to do with sex."
– Kripke said the time change from 10pm on Mondays for Season 1 to 8pm on Wednesdays for Season 2 won't change a damned thing. "When we got the email from NBC telling us that we were at 8pm, I'm not exaggerating, literally the first email back was 'Can we be as violent as we were?' And they said, 'Yes, absolutely.'"
– I asked Billy when he was getting his swords back and leaving those stupid guns behind, and he said right away. This show is pressing the reset button hard!
[UPDATE] NBC released the Season 2 trailer at the panel this afternoon, and it has tons of new footage. And it reminded me that David Lyons said Monroe makes a living street fighting at a whore house. Oh, just watch.
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