My biggest reservations about this episode, unfortunately, revolve around the writing. Number one is the entire premise that our heroes would have been running out of oxygen that quickly and to the extent that they would have been hallucinating. They were in a large tunnel that wasn't air tight. While I am willing to accept that Charlie wouldn't have been hallucinating as quickly because she is smaller than Nora, Aaron, and Miles that still doesn't explain why no one else in their party does. While I realize that the budget and time constraints would have limited giving much of a storyline to the "extras", this was rather an extreme case of ignoring them completely, with the exception of Ashley and Sergeant Weebley(?). And having the Sergeant be the only character to really have anything to do made it pretty obvious that he was going to turn out to be working against them. That said, the only hallucination that felt like it accomplished anything in terms of plot was Miles'. So, I have to ask, why not simply find a way for Miles alone to have an hallucination? It would be more believable if he'd been hit in the head during the cave in. While having Charlie hallucinate at the end of the episode for much the same reason might have seemed a bit clunky, it would still have been an improvement on this very clunky plot device.
I'm expecting a climactic meeting between Miles and Monroe next week, and on our way to that moment, this week's episode gives us some great insights into the relationship between Miles and Monroe. Miles expresses concern to Charlie about coming face to face with Monroe, but Charlie doesn't understand that this could be a problem. Charlie asks Nora about what Miles was like when he was General of the militia because that is when she was with him. She tells Charlie that Miles and Monroe had been very close, but Miles had tried to assassinate Monroe. In the end, he hadn't been able to go through with it. Charlie is shocked, and once again, she grew on me a bit in this episode as we see her be a bit more vulnerable, as when she's trapped on the mine, and be a bit less stridently idealistic. She still has faith in Miles even as she learns more about him and even in the face of his revealing some of his own weakness to her. She overhears his hallucination with Monroe and admonishes him to pull it together. She tells him they won't make it without him. In the end, I'm counting on the bond that's forming between them to be the strength he draws on in his meeting with Monroe.
Not surprisingly, one of the two scenes that I really liked in this episode was Miles hallucination of Monroe. The bright lighting of the scene gave it a stark contrast to the dark tunnel - the darkness Miles was traversing mind and soul on his way to this meeting. The door opening to Monroe's office was completely reminiscent, in my mind anyway, with Dorothy opening the door of her house into Oz. I don't think they could have picked a better scene in which to use Zepplin's Kashmir, and as Monroe turns to Miles, the lyrics "all will be revealed" completely underscored the action. We learn that Miles turned on Monroe because he felt Monroe had gone too far, and that Miles is tired. Perhaps tired enough to sell out his friends. Monroe in a nicely self-reflexive note tells Miles that he's in his head and therefore knows exactly what Miles is thinking. He knows that Miles "dirty little secret" is that he wants to make it up with Monroe and be welcomed back with a hug. But we also learn that this is not a foregone conclusion, that Miles is only scared he might do this. There are enough other hints in the rest of the episode that this won't be the case, however.
Aaron's discussion with Ashley over why she's fighting ties into this theme. He asks her how old she is and if she even remembers the United States which she's fighting for. She tells Aaron that she's doing it to honor her father who brought his family to the US from Syria so his kids wouldn't grow up fearing their country. Once again, honoring family, protecting family is paramount to people's motivation. Aaron is surprised when she asks him why he's risking his life to fight for the US, and he says he just realized he was. Aaron's hallucination is about his wife - back to family. She asks him why he could be so strong on the quest for Danny when he hadn't been strong for her. It's a good question. The answer seems to be that he had to learn to be strong.
The second scene that I absolutely loved was Charlie's hallucination after she is shot. I'm betting this scene may not be universally loved, but if you are a Wizard of Oz fan, the parallels to Dorothy finding her way home after a quest in Oz are hard to resist. Kripke loves to pepper his stories with Oz references - Supernatural's Winchesters are from Kansas for a start. Once again, the lighting in this scene is brighter and more infused with color as Charlie is reunited with her father. But she knows she can't stay, that she has to save her brother, and it's Miles' voice that pulls her back. She regains consciousness with her own version of the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion bending over her, drawn back to the real world by her family, just as Dorothy is. Tracy Spiridakos is excellent in this scene. Charlie's hallucination also nicely parallels Miles'. She is tired and tempted to stay where life would be easier, but she returns to save her brother. She tells Miles that he saved her by calling her back. Hopefully this is even more reason for Miles to choose his family when the time comes, as it, no doubt, soon will.
Back at militia headquarters, Rachel reveals what she is willing to do to save her family. Neville detects
that she's not being entirely honest and Monroe brings Dr Jaffey in to verify what she's doing. Jaffey reveals that she's actually building a bomb not a power amplifier as she said she was. Instead of helping the militia to power up its jets, missiles and tanks to kill thousands, she's been working to kill Monroe. Monroe tells her he's going to kill Danny and he no longer needs her, so she manages to get a weapon and kill Jaffey - her friend. Elizabeth Mitchell is doing an amazing job keeping us guessing about Rachel. Is she good? Is she bad? Is she simply willing to do anything to protect her family? This week's episode has me thinking she is definitely not willingly working for the militia, and she is certainly anguished as she stabs her old friend, but she is definitely ruthless.
Next week sees our last episode until March. I can't help but think that such a long hiatus is going to be a mistake though other series have managed to weather them. I'm pretty much sure that we are going to have a no holds barred cliffhanger in next week's episode. I know that I'll be back in March, will you be? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below...