Revolution is a show that is cursed with an intriguing premise. A show like Mad Men can rely on it’s drab office setting to contain its intense character drama. Game of Thrones can contrast its Lord of the Rings-lite motif with its adult sensibilities. However, there is almost nothing past or present that is similar to Revolution. It makes the audience yearn to know more about the surrounding universe, it brings up logistical questions, and it distracts from the character moments that are at the heart of any good series. I find the premise of a post apocalyptic world without power fascinating, but the writers of Revolution seem to be unwilling to truly dig into this premise, setting the stage for an uneven beginning to the popular show’s second season.
“Born in the USA” starts off right where the previous season ended. Randall Flynn has just committed suicide after launching nukes at the warring cities of Atlanta and Philadelphia. Rachel is screaming at Aaron to turn the power back off to stop the missile’s guidance system as Miles counts down the blast. Then, without warning, a six month flashforward occurs. We quickly learn that the bombs did drop despite Aaron’s mashing on a keyboard, and it seems that our heroes have scattered to the winds. This very much seems like a series reboot to this observer.
The Monroe Republic was decimated by the bomb, being replaced as big bads by the surviving remnants of the US Government who just happened to be hanging out in Cuba for 30 years or so. We see them address a refugee camp in Georgia where Neville and Jason are searching fruitlessly for Neville’s wife, before accepting that she probably perished. We see Charlie wander into a camp titled “New Vegas” (REAL ORIGINAL GUYS) and she’s attempting to murder Monroe who has adopted an anonymous life as a pitfighter after the fall of his empire. Aaron, Rachel, and Miles have taken shelter with Rachel’s father, and are now fending off attacks from bandits and a seemingly religious cult.
This is all told through a barrage of flashbacks, and between that and the skips between all of the characters, it feels a bit jumbled. Instead of teasing the viewers with mysteries that will be solved halfway through the show, I feel like showing those same scenes chronologically would have given the entire ordeal its proper weight. Remember, two nuclear bombs just went off, but those emotions don’t really even emerge until after all the characters are set up in their new situations. Their heads seem to be in the right place, as last season seemed to be getting out of hand storywise, so a reboot is wise. It is just their execution which makes the whole thing seem scattershot.
So, were they successful in making some intriguing premises out of what they had last season? Perhaps. Outside of the cult that Miles finds, there wasn’t even that much progression in this episode. There was some action, but with random bandits instead of any actual threats. It’s all just set up, which would be fine if this were a pilot, but as a second season premiere it falls flat. I have high hopes that they will find themselves again, as I still remember the brass knuckle swords I saw in the original pilot and I still think that any series that could have produced those is worth another chance.