Revolution’s pilot was rough. It raced through plot and refused to slow down and let us connect with and care about the characters. As excited I was for the Abrams/Kripke creation, the pilot left me worried. If Revolution didn’t slow down and not just tell me plot, but actually give me a reason to care about the people fighting for their lives, I would have no reason to care what was happening. “Chained Heat” was Revolution’s chance to prove that I should keep watching.
Charlie, Miles and company have left Chicago to plan their rescue of Danny from the evil militia. My prayers were answered and “Chained Heat” actually moves at a pace appropriate for the material being presented. Right off the bat we have Miles defending a vicious attack from a bounty hunter. After brutally knocking the bounty hunter unconscious, Miles is stopped by Charlie before he can deliver the killing blow. Whether this is from Charlie’s naive, small town nature or a general respect from life isn’t clear, but it did serve as a setup to make Charlie that girl character who doesn’t believe in killing.
We’ll get to Charlie’s world views later. Revolution likes to take steps towards stereotypes but, at least in this episode, it quickly diverts from them and actually grows its characters. Miles’s search for his ‘friend’ Nora leads them to a sketchy bar. That bounty hunter Miles spared returns and takes Charlie, Maggie and Aaron hostage. Tracy Spiridakos does an admirable job as Charlie. Every time I think she may be a bit overacting, she surprises me and you can see the betrayal and pain in her eyes.
After Miles gives up, escapes his cuffs and systematically takes out the bounty hunters, I was cheering in my seat as he chased down the ringleader he spared and snapped his neck in the center of the marketplace. Sure, I may be a bit morbid and disgusting, but he was a sick bastard who deserved what he had coming to him and Revolution made me feel that. Miles leaves the group to find Nora, who has been taken to a prison camp and Charlie sneaks after.
Giancarlo Esposito continues to prove that he deserves all the accolades he received during Breaking Bad and his performance is incredible, though his and Danny’s plot in this episode is much less interesting than last. We’re also shown more of militia leader Sebastian Monroe, played by none other than The Cape himself. It isn’t until the end of the episode that anything really interesting happens with characters outside of Charlie’s group.
Maggie and Aaron leave to find Grace, as per Ben’s dying words to Aaron. Charlie, as she tries to catch up to Miles, briefly runs into Nate again for a very anticlimactic and almost useless scene. Once she does reach Miles, they find that Nora is a part of a militia-led slave chain gang. After they ‘rescue’ Nora, they find that she was only in the gang to steal the warden’s sniper rifle and could have escaped at any time. Nora is helping the rebels and Charlie agrees to help her steal the rifle because she is disgusted by the slave ring.
The scene where Charlie calls out Miles and Nora on ignoring the fact that prisoners are being used as slaves was impactful. This whole section was interspersed with flashbacks to when Charlie was a little girl and her family was gathering supplies after the blackout. A man grabbed her and threatened to break her neck if they didn’t hand over their food. Ben couldn’t shoot the man, but her mother did. Right after her mother shot the thief, Charlie walked up to the warden, pretending to be a lost hunter, and shot him in the heart with the hidden gun Nora rigged up.
Watching Charlie hardened by the darker aspects of a post apocalyptic world was fascinating. The episode ends with reveals that Charlie’s mom isn’t dead and working against her will for Monroe and that Grace was attacked by one of the people with electricity. Both were potentially interesting developments, but they seemed thrown in at the end and were a bit confusing. Regardless, “Chained Heat” turned out to be the saving grace that Revolution desperately needed. I guess it just gets to join the club of good shows with terrible pilots.