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In the review for the episode "Patriot Games" here, TatraFan and myself had an interesting conversation in the comments speculating about the shows ratings, survival chances and weaknesses. TatraFan believes its problems are ideological, writing:

"The problem with the first season is still plaguing the series: the ideological differences between the factions at war in the series. Revolutions tend to have a strong ideological element to them. Think of the Marxist-Leninist Revolutions in Russia and China (later Vietnam) and so on or even the American Revolution. It is as the old saying goes: "hearts and minds" must be won. We ran into the same problem in Iraq as we did in Vietnam-- we couldn't really win over all the factions "hearts and minds" especially not with Bombs! So, until Kripke comes to grips with the rather lack of ideological context of his villains and heroes he will always have a flat show. "

My reply is as follows:

I agree about there being an ideological problem, but I also believe its rooted in poor character development.

For all the talk of Monroe being a sociopath or evil, we actually saw more of Neville as a big bad - he was, and is now more devious and amoral than Monroe.

Monroe never really developed as a character and his stalker like relationship with Miles added to this problem. It seemed like he wanted him dead but wanted someone else to kill him - which made him weak in my eyes.

Also it would seem they were aiming for the Patriots to be the overall big bad from the start, with Randall somehow easily manipulating Monroe and eventually setting off the nukes - which might e the reason for not fully developing Monroe as a bad guy, but leaves the audience with a poor villain.

Not actually showing Monroe commit atrocities or even planning them- and instead having henchmen do most of them out of fear - stopped the audience hating him.
In Breaking Bad we see Walter plan and actually do horrible things, so we know he is capable, with Monroe its all implied.

The poor development doesn't stop there though.

Without a strong bad guy, the good guy does not inspire viewers either, so Miles is hamstrung for the whole season. You can have all the sword skills in the world, but without a protagonist the audience truly wants to root against there is no substance to the cause

Charlies brother was another problem - we never knew him really, so when he was killed we didn't care and had no emotional investment in Charlies revenge motivation.

Rachel actually comes across as a unsympathetic. She left her family to save them, but we never saw her put up much resistance - we didn't see her fight for her family - then when she is finally reunited with Charlie she goes off with Aaron, basically abandoning her in favor of stopping the nanites. There is no real connection between them because of this and Rachel ends up looking like a poor parent - and no one will empathize with a bad parent. In fact her parenting style easily draws parallels with Neville.

The lack of good characters, motivation or any real development stopped the audience investing in situations or the protagonists

Of course we could both be totally wrong and Revolution is an EMMY deserving show that neither of us truly understand.
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You're not wrong. I watch Revolution pretty half heartedly. It' s an OK show, but frankly I'm feeling a bit sympathetic to Monroe, you're right they never developed a real bad guy. Tom Neville is coming across as a bad guy but he's doing so at the expense of the Patriots who are supposed to be the bad guys. I find it odd that this show choose the US Gov't in exile and "The Patriots" as the bad guys? Are the writers Jets fans? LOL.
Odd cheering against the guys flying the American Flags.
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Both of you have a point. But, as so often pointed out in the discussions under Tim's reviews, most viewers watch it with just a centimeter deep involvement, they just want to see people fight, things going off, someone getting punched etc. And the series delivered in that. We look further than the end of our nose and we see waht is wrong with it. That's why I treated it as a comedy last year and looked out for Charlie being punched.

I sometimes wonder who is more happy: we or the 'viewingly' challenged as they just enjoy without any thoughts.
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I have absolutely no problem with the action (or viewing it as a comedy) - its the lulls in between that need work.
Season 2 has improved on this by cutting down on all the walking - by just switching between plots in different locations.
This works well up to a point, but if they stall on smart plot progression and character development, the audience will give up
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I agree with you on the point that if they're only stopping with the mindnumbing thrills, start with real storylines and forget to develop them, there probably will be something missing for a part of the audience. Let alone if they start asking some intelligence from it's audience. Then most of the viewwers will leave.

Until now, I'm a bit in, althought they're asking a lot from my imagination. And I'm not talking about the fireflies, I'm curious about those, I'm talking about things like Monroe and Charlie.
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The enemy of my enemy is my friend... But at this point I think they are stretching it so far out of whack that I have time believing Monroe and Charlie. The problem I have is that we don't have any reason at this point for Charlie to not want to kill Monroe. It isn't exactly like how the United States and Great Britain needed Stalin and the USSR to bleed Germany Dry. At this point we don't see any reason for them to trust each other. Now, if the Patriots had Rachel, Miles, Aaron and Gene in custody-- I could see a reason to team up with Monroe to save them. At this point I just believe she would see any need to do so.
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The problem for with Ideology in this series is that we don't have any clear sense of what the goals are of any of the participants in the series. For example are the Original Rebels (Patriots if you will) actually attempting to promote a true return to the United States of the pre-blackout era? Or do they have some sort of idealized vision of the world? The same can be said be said for the Monroe Republic--what exactly did Monroe and Miles attempt to achieve with the Monroe Republic? Were they merely just out to empower themselves? Or, did it start out as something more interesting and slowly it evolved into this despotic regime? Those were the questions of the last season about who or what America should be.

And this season we have the same questions basically: Who are the Patriots? What do they stand for? What is it that they want to do with the United States? And now we have a new Rebellion (aka Insurgency) and what are its goals? Does it want to rebuild the United States into a Democracy? Or maybe it merely wants to maintain the status quo of the present? Either way we need a strong ideological foundation for the characters to operate with to understand exactly what it is they want to achieve and if their goals are beneficial or not.

As for characters- I don't need black and white good guys and bad guys. In fact, I would prefer characters that are far more ambiguous in nature then at present. I think the real character problem is that this show is written like a CW Series. It is written with a lot of teenage angst and is as subtle in character development as the sledgehammer usage of the foil technique the writers did in season one for the Family Characters. It was terrible. By the episode "Children's Crusade" I was ready to cry with the ham-fisted attempts to foil every character in the show with some random stranger counter part.

So, for example I would like to see have seen a more well rounded character of Monroe. A character that could be perhaps paranoid and ruthless at times, but also played with a strange amount compassion towards certain persons. That would to me make a more dynamic and interesting character. A character that is capable of doing more then just looking like he is about to pass out or something each episode. That too me is where the character failed so badly.

I agree that it would have been nice to have the character of Monroe actually do some of the actual planning of attacks. It would be interesting to see a character that appears to have some of the political and military skills necessary to maintain a Military-Despotic Regime.But, that was clearly not the case. To me at least that is why this character failed as the primary villain.

The problem, I know have is that I’m no more interested in the POTUS arc then I was in the Monroe Villain arc.In fact between the two arcs, I find that I was far more interested in discovering exactly what it was that motivated Miles and Monroe to stop searching for his family and start a despotic Regime instead.That element of the original story I found far more interesting then any long lost girlfriends and potential babies.And now for me without the build up of who or what POTUS and the Patriots being about something more then boogie men—I’m frankly uninterested in really learning who the POTUS is. Which to me doesn’t bode well for Kripke. In fact I’ve not seen one person comment in a review or even a comment to a review that “hey, I’m really into finding out who this POTUS is and what does he stand for.”Instead, I think people are just totally ignoring the fact that POTUS is the true Villain of the show right now.This is an oddity if you ask me that no one has even postulated some theory was to who POTUS was prior to the Coup.I don’t see this fact changing any time soon just because Aaron is now a PyrokenticGeek andthe Gang is all back together in Texas!

Speaking of Texas… Texas is a sovereign state at this point in time. So, basically the Patriots have invaded Texas. No, of course they could have agents in the Texas Government—but even so, it doesn’t bode well for the Patriots to invade Texas with so few people.They cannot possibly have the resources or logistical support to retake theformer US at this point.So, as a credible threat in Texas I don’t see it.All Monroe and Miles need to is export a few well trained persons to the rest of the nation and start Mail Order Insurgent Programs.
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The POTUS angle is a mirror for the original Monroe angle and its flaws. Right now its seems that there is no actual ideology behind the Patriot movement , it just seems like a basic power grab.

I get the feeling they are actually trying to set parallels with the French revolution - so the theme would be one of class war rather than a certain ideological war - the patriots are the aristocracy and the rest are the lower classes.

However, with the POTUS' identity a secret right now, we have no actual protagonist, just underlings to deal with. Because of this, we will probably have the same problem as season 1 - an ambiguous bad guy with poorly defined motivation, who we dont get care about because he is so poorly defined.

The invasion of Texas - in my opinion this is the patriots actually trying to win the hearts and minds of the common people.
It might have actually been better if they had delayed Charlie and Monroe finding out about the other bounties for a couple of episodes, giving the Patriots plan time to germinate - making their real plan seem a lot less obvious.
But they rushed it
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I agree that all of the mystery about POTUS & The Patriots is designed to deflect the audiences' attention from the lack of development of these characters. I also agree that essentially season had the converse of this problem: the writers revealed the characters all at once then failed to develop them. All of that agree with you on.

What I don't agree is with that idea that even a simple power grab doesn't have an ideological root to it. A good power grab also has an ideological element to it. As for you example the French Revolution-- well that too had an ideological element-- the formation of a classless society with liberty, brotherhood, and Justice for all.

I wouldn't mind the underlings so much if they actually did something. I would like to see the Patriots recruiting the refugees and especially the children into like a SA [Strurmabteilung] and Hitler Youth type organizations. I would also like to the Patriots organizing the people into working groups for the rebuilding of the infrastructure. Then you could start to see that Patriots are creating an entirely new regime...

But, I fear none of this will happen.


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Love this method for continuing the conversation. Eager for @TatraFan to respond.
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It was getting a bit messy in the comments for anyone else reading
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