Revolution "The Stand" Review: The Rebels Strike Back

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Revolution S01E11: "The Stand"

Fellow Revolutionaries, it feels good to be back! It's been one day shy of four full calendar months since we last checked in on the adventures of Charlie Matheson, humanity's pouty-lipped last chance for survival. Love, hate, or really hate Revolution, you have to admit that you were kind of excited for it to return, in the same way you might be excited to see how your drunk uncle ruins Christmas this year. I know I was.

But let's not forget, Revolution actually ended 2012 on a slightly-better-than-decent note, with the midseason finale "Nobody's Fault But Mine." Some boob even said that "'Nobody's Fault But Mine' very well may have possibly been the best episode of Revolution so far maybe!" And I'm going to have to agree with late-November 2012 me. David Lyons gave the finest performance of his career—surpassing even that time he got the cape in The Cape—as a distraught Sebastian Monroe who missed his old pal Miles. Rachel went crazy and murdered a torturer who never tortured anyone, just one episode after she went crazy and murdered a scientist who she backstabbed. Miles did everyone a favor and called Charlie an idiot. Rachel's amulet amplifier allowed 'Bas to launch a helicopter that was about to shoot everyone before the show went black. And most importantly, after 10 episodes WE FINALLY FOUND DANNY AND THE MATHESONS WERE REUNITED! Yay!

So of course Revolution's logic was to immediately kill him in the next episode. After all this time, after all the hallucinatory tunnels and evil dogs and child soldiers we encountered on the hunt for this floppy-haired asthmatic, Danny was reduced to a MacGuffin. And once Charlie found him, his importance as a motivating plot device was complete. So Revolution threw him into the open and let him eat a bunch of bullets from an attack chopper! What I would have given for his final line of dialogue to be: "Can I get a hot tub... in heaven!?"


You aren't alone if you wondered what the writers were thinking when they chose to kill off Danny... after spending 10 hours searching for Danny. That's like spending all night making a fancy dinner and immediately flushing it down the toilet as soon as you finish cooking. In a conference call with reporters held last week, series creator Eric Kripke addressed that concern, saying that "I think [killing Danny is] exactly the right type of shocking development that really ramps everybody up emotionally for their mission in the second half of the season. It really emotionally escalates everything." 

I love Kripke (I still insist that Supernatural in Seasons 3, 4, and 5 was outstanding television, and as good as anything else on at that time) but sorry, the whole "motivation" excuse sounds like horseshit to me. Killing a character to provide motivation for other characters is fine and dandy and happens on television all the time, but it's only necessary if those other characters need the motivation because they didn't already have it (or it was waning and needed a boost). Wasn't Charlie already motivated enough to stop Sebastian because, oh I don't know, his men killed her DAD? Maybe the fact that Sebastian held her mom prisoner was also enough to get Charlie off the couch? What about the standard "Sebastian is a mad despot who is looking to take over the world by slaughtering the last of the innocent 'Mericans" line of encouragement? Or in case Charlie's memory is still suffering from the time she hit her head in the Tunnel of Lucid Dreams, may I remind her that earlier in this episode, Monroe ordered the annihilation of a rebel camp and tried to kill her twice? He JUST tried to kill you and all your friends, Charlie. Pick up a newspaper and get caught up on current events, girl! All of these instigators also apply to Miles, Nora, Aaron, and Rachel in some form or another, but I'm still boggled that anyone would think these characters needed more motivation to stick Monroe's fingers into his own powered-up electrical outlets than what they've already experienced. 

But that's Revolution for ya, and bizarre turns of events are part of the reason it's a fascinating and perplexing show to watch. They killed Danny! DANNY! They just decided that now would be a good time for someone to die because... who knows why? The series did something similar with its last big death when it killed off Maggie in the fourth episode after spending a big part of the episode showing us her backstory and giving us a reason to like her. About as much time was spent establishing Nora's fear of aquatic reptiles as was spent setting up Maggie's death. It's like the show decides to kill people off and then can't wait to push them out the door, instead of doing the logical thing and making their deaths part of a larger story arc to really rip our hearts out.

That's not to say this episode was bad, in fact, it was pretty okay! For Revolution, I mean. "The Stand" was no side quest and moved things along pretty well, continuing the events of "Nobody's Fault But Mine" instead of wasting time on some silly standalone story. This is when Revolution is technically at its best, when it's pushing things along in a serialized format (though the accidental humor of the standalone stories is what I look forward to most). But that doesn't mean there isn't room for the series' trademark lazy storytelling. 

The "stand" in the episode title dealt with a rebel camp figuring out how to stop an impending air strike from Monroe's forces, and the crux of the episode involved Miles and Rachel getting some weapons to stop it. The writers' solution? Create a character who Rachel knows and whose hobby is making high-tech weapons AND who also has a power amulet! Well, that was an easy and convenient way to get a power amulet back into the hands of the good guys. The writers also threw in a wrinkle where he'd already been "got to" by the bad guys, and he knocked Rachel and Miles out with a "sonic cannon" with the intent of handing them over to Monroe. But not only does the power not work in this universe, knots don't either, and for the millionth time in the history of this series, someone (Miles, joining Charlie and Danny) broke their bonds with a few flicks of the wrist. The Monroe Militia really needs to include a knot-tying class or the course "Zip Ties 101: How to Pull That One End Through The Other End" in its basic training. Miles knuckle-struck the scientist, and Rachel and Miles bolted with a guided rocket launcher to shoot down the helicopters.

They arrived JUST IN TIME (phew!) to use the hardware on the choppers because fortunately the helicopters forgot they had missiles that could have blown everyone up and instead shot at the ground a lot. There was some serious gunfire exchanged despite the well-known bullet shortage, and Miles was knocked down from the explosion of a missile, opening up the door for Danny to become a hero after Charlie told him to run inside like a scaredy cat and assume the crash position because she couldn't let him die. I have to give the show credit: It really felt like they were only setting Danny up to prove his worth to the group by shooting down the helicopter, which he did. A hero was born! But then he was killed. Either way, his death was very unexpected! I mean, as unexpected as can be when a guy just stands there right in the open while helicopters are shooting at him.

Surprisingly, the episode didn't milk the death as much as I would've expected, and after a commercial break, mom and sis were just sitting there like, "Well, I guess we have to kill Monroe now" like their vacation had just been cut short, instead of mourning the death of their brother/son. And in the final scene of "The Stand," Rachel cut dead Danny open and pulled out some sort of flashing medical device (above) that was implanted through some experimental medical procedure to help out his asthma, I guess? I don't know. Anyone out there know what that was all about? Was Danny a robot? Did he swallow a Lite-Brite when he was a kid? Was it some sort of GPS tracking thing? Was it just another moment of Revolution randomness? 

Revolution returned from its break with a huge death, but not much else. Kripke promises that answers are coming soon, and I have it on good authority that one of the series' biggest questions gets answered two episodes from now. But will the answer to that question give us any more reason to watch the show? That depends on the inevitable million new questions that arise once we know the details of the power outage. Anyway, it's legitimately great to have this show back.



NOTES

– The picture above is a screenshot of Danny right before he gets shot. I like how the girls are all, "Yay! You did it!" and the guys are like, "Duck behind some cover, dude!"

– Haha at Charlie and Nora dragging a horse-drawn cart of coffins and corpses out of Monroe territory and getting checked by the border police. Charlie: "Smells killer, huh?"  Revolution felt that it was necessary to show us how the gang got out of town, even though we weren't concerned about it at all. And now all we're left wondering is how they got that cart and the dead people in the first place!

– Captain Tom Neville and his son Jason finally had their falling out. But my question is this: How did Neville get out of the closet from the last episode?

– In case of helicopter attack, jump into a walk-in fridge. You'll be fine!

– It's still kind of hard to care about Randall when we don't know much about him. So he's working with Monroe, but what can he offer?

– The most interesting thing to come out of "The Stand" will be Revolution's ratings. NBC has a lot of hope riding on the show's return, but will the audience come back, or did the four-month break kill its momentum?



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter if you want to: @TimAtTVDotCom