Look, I don't know if last night's episode of Revolution was any better than the first two, but I did notice some minor improvements over the course of this hour that rose above the problems that are endemic to the series. I'll lob a compliment with my backhand toward the show and say that "No Quarter" at least didn't seem as consistently bad as "Chained Heat" or the pilot, but that's not to say there weren't a lot of boneheaded decisions made by both the writers and the characters on screen. And just so we're clear: Revolution has a long way to go before I stop dreading Mondays. Garfield was psychic!
In keeping with the adventure-game analogy last week, this week's
Level 1 tutorial quest had Miles and Charlie running one more task for Tight Yellow Tank Top Norah: Save some rebels from being slaughtered by the Monroe Militia. But really, the episode was all about Miles, and having a story with a point was just the kind of change of pace the show needed. What it also needed was guest-star Mark Pellegrino, who you should recognize from Supernatural and Being Human (this episode was a Being Human reunion between Pellegrino and Tracy Spiridakos!) and from the really old flashbacks on Lost. Pellegrino is genre television's bacon; he just makes everything better.
Pellegrino's Jeremy was a mean dude and one of the many micro-villains (Level 1 Boss) we'll see in the series moving forward. But it was his past connection to Miles that was scary. Miles got some badly needed character complexity when Jeremy told everyone that Miles was the former commanding general of the Monroe Militia and the second-in-command to Sebastian Monroe himself. Of course, this came as more of a shock to the characters than it did to us, as we've seen Miles in flashbacks with Monroe since the opening seconds of the pilot, but hey, as long as someone is getting a surprise out of this, right?
It's what transpired before that revelation that reminded us that Revolution is still a show working out some tangles and that the writers might want to take a few courses in military strategy or, you know, join the rest of the world and play five minutes of Call of Duty or something, because there was some supremely idiotic battle strategy going on. There was a scene where a rebel sniper was perched on top of the base—now surrounded by the Militia—to buy time for Miles while he came up with the genius plan to dig a tunnel out of the compound. The guy was a great shot, and Jeremy's men were taking headshots all over the place. That's because Jeremy chose to send his men out one at a time, right into the sniper's line of sight, with the hopes that the sniper would eventually run out of bullets. I think it's safe to say that even the most undecorated French grunt wouldn't do something as stupid as this. For a minute it felt like Revolution had become a comedy, as men were sent to their death in single file while Jeremy prayed for the never-ending supply of bullets to deplete. He even let out a sarcastic, "Terrific," when his right-hand man was debrained, a sure sign that at least one writer knew the whole scene was completely ridiculous. Obviously the correct strategy would've been to call in a tactical air strike, but other options might've included attacking en masse, laying cover fire while a small squad flanked the sniper, or, I don't know, waiting for him to reload. Just a thought. Genre shows need to know that the type of people who watch genre shows are also the type of people who own multiple gaming consoles and love action movies, so we have a bit of experience with this kind of stuff. Don't treat us like our power is out, too.
Eventually the sniper did run out of bullets, so I guess Jeremy can say "Haha!" to me, and the remaining Militia swarmed the building. Miles' brilliant tunnel plan literally collapsed on itself (thanks for wasting our time on that!), so you know what that meant: SWORDFIGHT! Jeremy was taken into custody because Miles displayed superior blade skills, and that's when he spilled the beans on Miles' previous job. Miles eventually came up with a plan to make everyone happy, and volunteered to be taken into custody in exchange for his friends' freedom. Jeremy agreed, and not too long after, the rebels blew up a bunch of stuff with bombs that were triggered by a tripwire, freeing Miles and don't ask me how they managed to get so far ahead of the Militia troops that they were able to stage an ambush with bombs, but they did! Oh, and Charlie channeled her inner Katniss and shot a flaming arrow into a satchel that was full of explosive stuff to blow up the bridge behind them so that Jeremy couldn't follow them. If you ignored all the details and logic, it was pretty impressive.
As usual, the flashbacks of how Miles actually first met Jeremy were a lot more interesting than the action in the "present" time. Six months after the blackout, Miles and Monroe came across a man being beaten by some thugs, so Miles shot the thugs to death and for once we saw some interesting ambiguity in a character. And you know who the guy getting beaten up was? Jeremy! That was pretty cool, I'll admit. Also predictable, I'll admit that too. But it served to inform us that Miles has more blood on his hands than the guy who delivered Octomom's babies, and that he could be a lot dirtier than he appears. I love how the show is using flashbacks, but that's three weeks in a row where we wished we were watching flashbacks the whole time.
The rest of the episode's 43 minutes were devoted mostly to unimpressive adventures for other characters. Danny's still being held captive, and to show us that he's still alive the writers threw in some story of an angry guard who was holding a grudge because Danny killed his friend with a crossbow. It really amounted to the guard threatening Danny a bunch over and over and hitting him with a sack full of something that's apparently heavy enough to really hurt but also light enough to be swung around like a pillow. And the story came to a conclusion when Danny faked an asthma attack (that old trick!) and choked out the guard after the guard all of a sudden became very concerned for Danny's well-being. Angry guard who wants Danny to suffer, you're doing it wrong!
Meanwhile, Aaron and Maggie hiked to Grace's farm to get to the bottom of the whole power-outage thing, but instead they found a bunch of boxes of computer guts. Then Aaron told a painful (to us) story about how he was bullied in school by Billy Underwood and then he had the audacity to compare the wedgies he used to suffer to the murderous rampages committed by the Monroe Militia. This was supposed to endear us to Aaron, but instead it made me hate the guy more than anyone else on the show. We get it dude, you were a nerd, you got rich, and now you aren't rich anymore. Guess what, it's pretty tough for everyone else out there, too, in case you haven't noticed. I realllllly hope Billy Underwood makes an appearance on the show and splits Aaron in two with a super-wedgie.
And after that stupid story, the magic USB locket pulsed on, providing wireless power to a nearby clock radio and Maggie's phone. This was the hook that's supposed to make us come back next week, and so far it's the most intriguing thing that's happened in the series. Far better than last week's abduction of Grace by a man with no head, a thread that was never touched on in this episode.
It was another middling week for Revolution thanks to disjointed mythology reveals and another story-of-the-week that went nowhere (though at least we learned more about Miles). NBC may trumpet the early ratings for the show, but I can hear people fighting each other to jump off this horse-drawn bandwagon.
– It's nice to see that, according to the flashbacks, no one except Charlie has visibly aged since the blackout happened.
– I was hoping that at the end of Jeremy's speech about the scarcity of bullets, he was going to chop off the head of the rebel with a sword. But instead, he wasted a perfectly good bullet. C'mon, Jeremy! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
– I know the acting hasn't been great, but last night it was awful. How does Daniella Alonso (Nora) continue to get jobs?
– There was only a flicker of Neville in this episode, and no Rachel or Grace. That's an episode without the show's strongest actor, not to mention the two people who are currently in the most interesting situations. So I guess it's a good sign that this episode wasn't noticeably more awful than the first two?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom