Wednesday, 3 October 2012

REVOLUTION, 1.3 - 'No Quarter'

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

written by Monica Owusu-Breen / directed by Sanford Bookstaver

I'm the first to admit people don't give television shows enough of a chance these days. There was a time when I routinely didn't expect many shows to get good until their second seasons, and was prepared to watch them try and find themselves until everything clicked. (The modern Star Trek's routinely never got good until season 3 or 4!) These days, viewers make snap judgements based on pilots (which are largely just a marketing tool to get a show off the ground), and bloggers like myself have to be selective about what they review because you simply can't cover everything. Revolution struck me as another show with a Big Idea that will get progressively harder to sustain, so I was prepared to stop writing about it after episode 2. The reason I'm now blogging about the third episode, "No Quarter", is simply because it feels right to show positivity when something deserves it.

Despite having the least amount of Giancarlo Esposita, this hour was easily the best that Revolution's produced so far. There was a big reveal (swordsman Miles is the militia's erstwhile second-in-command and founding father), an unexpected development (geek Zak discovered one of those locket thingummy's that can restore power and used it to power a CD player and iPhone), the introduction of a memorable villain in militia commander Jeremy (Supernatural's Mark Pellegrino), some decent set-pieces (a siege with a sniper and tunnel; a bridge escape with an explosion), a flashback that revealed why the militia was created (it dawned on Miles that society will tear itself apart without something to fill the law and order void), and some enjoyable character moments throughout.

Monica Owusu-Breen wrote this episode (a veteran of shows like Alias, Lost and Fringe) and you could sense a more assured hand at the wheel. This was the first time when the characters and their situations meant more to me than pondering the concept of the show through their eyes. And there's already been more character growth in three episodes than I remember happening in FlashForward, The Event or Terra Nova at this stage—so even if you're still unsure about the prospects for this series, it's at least getting something right. The moment when Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" started to play, followed by an iPhone displaying a family photo, also really sold the emotional losses that come from a world with no power.

I still don't think Revolution has a story worthy of being told in a weekly television format, because ultimately it's about a group of people traipsing around a wasteland, avoiding the militia, with their journey interrupted by sword fights and a tease of the central mystery being revealed. But credit where it's due, "No Quarter" was more consistently entertaining than the previous few hours, and it delivered enough surprises to earn it a reprieve... for now.

1 October 2012 / NBC