Well that was quite another episode of As the World Turns in Revolutions, wasn't it? Forget the power outages, pyrokinesis, militias with poor aim, and Charlie's luscious caterpillar lips—as a way of anchoring its sci-fi premise to the real world, Revolution has always touted itself as being about family. Miles and Ben. Rachel and Ben. Charlie and Rachel. Rachel and Miles. Charlie and Miles. Tom and Jason. Dead Danny and the rest of the Mathesons. The brotherhood between Miles and Monroe. Grandpa Gene and his extraordinarily complex but entirely bland relationship with Rachel. And now Monroe and his long-lost son, the Whitest Mexican in Mexico. These family trees are becoming a forest, but I'd rather they all get cleared for a parking lot.
After more than a year of letting Revolution's tiring family drama glide by, the dam has broken; I'm entirely sick of the infighting and arguing among family and group members that the show relies on for drama. Contrary to its title, there was nothing friendly about "The Three Amigos," an incredibly boring and suspense-free episode. Tom assaulted his wife after she chastised him for not murdering someone. Rachel went into full-on bitch mode with Monroe (and the bitchiness was returned) after Miles somehow convinced her to help him find his son. (Miles' argument: Bad things like people dying happen when it's just him and Monroe, and for some reason he still thinks the group needs Monroe.) And Monroe finally met his kid, and the two acted as though they'd just stepped on each other's brand-new Air Jordans. Why is everyone such a dick on this show?
It's exhausting! And more importantly, it's not at all fun to watch. The soap-opera approach of shoveling more and more shit onto character relationships works for soaps because soaps are garbage. Revolution links progress with an increase in obstacles and tension in relationships, and for some reason it equates obstacles and tension with longstanding anger and grudges. I understand that Rachel is still pissed at Monroe for his role in Danny's death (though to be fair, standing out in the open in front of a military helicopter kinda falls on Danny), but her endless harping on it does nothing to make Revolution any more enjoyable. Although maybe we should side with Rachel, because there's still no convincing reason that a goddamn lunatic like Monroe should be part of this group in the first place. The second he made the executive decision to kill Jim Beaver's Marshal Whatshisface should've counted as strikes one, two, and three. But in the end, it doesn't really matter because neither of these characters is likable; if they were, their squabble would be more palatable. Instead, I feel like I'm in the middle of a unending fight between two people I don't want to hang out with anyway, and I can't think of many things less interesting than that.
I'm also tired of various group members' incessant need to ostracize themselves and strike out on their own, either for personal missions or just so they can be alone, and, you know, sigh. At various points since the beginning of the series, Rachel has gone solo, Miles has gone solo, Charlie has gone solo, Monroe has gone solo, and Aaron has gone solo (and he did so again in this episode). I can understand some of the headstrong characters needing some "me time"; Charlie's early Season 2 walkabout made a lot of sense to me. But would a pussy like Aaron really take off all by his lonesome? In a lawless world without power or modern conveniences, would anyone really want to be on their own? If Revolution is all about family, why are people always abandoning their kin (whether they're related by blood or by circumstance)? And just to make things even more confusing, family is also the reason they eventually return.
And family was the reason the so-called Three Amigos charted a course toward Mexico, as we dive into what actually happened in the episode. Making good on his promise to tell Monroe where his long-lost son was, Miles grabbed a reluctant Rachel (I guess because she's the only one who knows Spanish; also, Rachel's white-girl Spanish is el-oh-el) and they hoofed on down south of the border. And it was ridiculous. In Revolution's post-apocalyptic world, Mexico somehow kept itself together a lot better than America, and now Americans are hovering on the Tex-Mex border looking for day-labor jobs and fighting over the right to pick strawberries.
¡Holy caca! I laughed a lot at all of this. I suspect the writers' did it with a wink, even though it didn't make any sense. No disrespect to the wonderful country of Mexico, but this ain't happening in this post-apocalyptic world. If Mexicans were so well-off that farmers had to find day-laborers in the U.S., then we would've seen some opulence in Mexico. But nope, it was more of the same dusty trails and dirty clothes that bogged down the rest of the world (except fashion-forward Atlanta). In a post-apocalyptic society where everyone has been blasted back a dozen decades, is there no available Mexican workforce that would take these jobs at the same rate? No one is doing well in this universe. I love the idea of an economic switcheroo between Mexico and the U.S., but Revolution should be in the business of real world-building; its setting is a big part of the show, and this felt like parody.
ANYWAY, Rachel told the farmers she'd do anything (ANYTHING WINK WINK) to get the job even though the wagon was full, and the dude said okay, and then Rachel said btw these two men are with me, and the dude still said okay (?) and everyone made it through. Then they hijacked the wagon, beat up the Mexicans, and left a bunch of Americans stranded in the Mexican desert to "live the Mexican dream." (That line was genuinely funny.) What a bunch of jerks. And after all these dead-ends searching for Monroe's son's aunt and uncle who were looking after him, how did they find the kid? They randomly bumped into him at a bar. Then Monroe and Connor (that's his name) bumped chests and accomplished nothing. Seriously, they called each other names and at some point Connor just walked away, only for Monroe to find him later to give him a dad talk that went something like: "No son of mine is going to be a two-bit thug in Mexico, he's going to be a two-bit tyrannical leader of the giant army I'll pass to him! Oh by the way, I don't have an army."
The other big chunk of the episode followed Tom, Jason, and Julia moving among the Patriots. Tom and Jason have been in their own story for so long, it almost feels like a separate show, and a show that doesn't seem important. What IS Tom doing? He infiltrated the Patriots to get them back for vaporizing his wife with bombs (spoiler: she's okay), and now he's slowly moving up the ranks of the Patriots to get back at them and into the old routine of power-coupling with Julia? Is he really going to try to take the Oval Office by killing everyone who's in line in front of him? Is Tom the next Frank Underwood from House of Cards? Tom's journey needs to link back up with Miles, Charlie, and the rest of the gang, or Tom's in danger of flying out of orbit and becoming the star of an entirely different program.
Also, Aaron didn't set anything on fire. Boo.
"The Three Amigos" was a dismal effort from Revolution, especially for a return-from-break episode. We're now at the halfway point of Season 2, and the show is struggling to find direction. Though a trip down to Mexico was entertaining, it's taking Season 2 of Revolution away from focusing on a sense of identity and relying on the same old ingroup bickering that makes this series such a chore to get through. Stop fighting, people! It was bad enough when Sam and Dean did it all the time in Kripke's other show. But at least Sam and Dean had some good times together. Can't these guys sit back and have a smile for once?
– The episode's big cliffhanger was Grace showing up in the town that Aaron's imaginary child friend told him to visit. Composer Michael Giacchino's strings tried their best to make it a WOW moment, but it was only worth an, "Oh, her again." Maybe Giacchino should use a slide whistle and a novelty spring that makes a big BOING! sound for his Revolution scoring instead.
– The other big last-second tease? The Patriots in Willoughby are poisoning oranges! With what, I don't know. Mind control? Roofies? Artificial flavoring? It's unclear. And because no one we care about lives in Willoughby anymore, who cares? Did I miss something?
– Pretty cool that someone had a bowl of maggots laying around for Gene's surgery on Miles. And if Gene can clear up Miles' infection that easily, should we be scared of any grievous injury in this show? People get hurt—they die, even—and then there are no repercussions.
– Monroe, upon seeing the crappy town his son was supposedly taken to: "You brought my son here, Miles? Nice, what did you do, buy him a handjob and an eight ball?" Please, Miles would at least spring for a blowjob.
– This whole secret-society stamp thing (that Jason found on that pouch) is a really piss-poor way of staying secret.
– Good god the writing in this show! Let's consider the hunt for Monroe's son and the big poisoning plan to kill the chief of staff; both plots devoted a good amount of time to setting up specific entry points, finding Connor's aunt and uncle was supposed to lead the group to Connor, and Tom and Julia's big plan to kill the chief was to poison his drink at a mixer. Neither plan panned out, but both goals were still accomplished in the clunkiest of ways. Monroe randomly found Connor at a bar, and Tom just assaulted the chief in a bathroom. What was the point of the plans except to stall for time to stretch out the episode? There's way too much fat in this show.
– Apologies for not finishing a review of Revolution's mid-season finale on November 21. I was all ready to write one up and then next thing I knew I became a dad instead. As much as I wanted to pound out 500 words on #Charloe, this new little squirt took priority. She's doing great and I'm having a blast being a dad.
– Starting with next week's review, you'll notice that these Revolution writeups will be shorter. It's a combination of the old saying, "If you can't say anything nice..." and not really having much to say about a floundering show in the first place. I hate discontinuing coverage of a series in the middle of a season, so I discussed the predicament with my lovely editor Jen and we decided that quicker, more concise reviews are the way to go moving forward. It's either that or abandon them altogether. For now, they'll still be a place on TV.com to discuss Revolution episodes if you're still into the show.
What'd you think of "The Three Amigos"?
AIRED ON 5/21/2014
Season 2 : Episode 22