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Revolution 1.12 "Ghosts" Review: Haunting Memories

     This week’s solid episode of Revolution, “Ghosts,” was written by the team of David Rambo and Melissa Glenn who also wrote a solid episode in “Ties that Bind.” Once again, the story deals with family. Most of the characters are dealing with a loss and fragmentation of their family. The episode was directed by Miguel Sapochnik whose credits include another JJ Abrams’ show: Fringe. Sapochnik’s use of tight focus and light and shadow in the first scene between Monroe (David Lyons) and Flynn (Colm Feore) is particularly effective in being evocative of the cat and mouse game the characters are playing as they vie for dominance in their relationship. There is also a beautiful transition between a slow motion shot of Flynn walking in the present to a regular speed shot of him walking in the past.
     All the characters are still reeling from Danny’s (Graham Rogers) death, and Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell), Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), and Miles (Billy Burke) each deal with his death in their own destructive way. While many viewers felt cheated that the entire first half of the season was about saving Danny only to kill him, his death is an important catalyst going forward. It also is in keeping with a precedent that Kripke began in Supernatural when the entire first season was about finding John only to have him die in the season two premiere. It’s also a device used by Abrams in Lost when Boone survives the plane crash only to be killed relatively shortly thereafter.
    Danny’s death, perhaps most importantly, really causes Miles to commit to helping the rebels and he embarks on a mission to gather all his own former senior officers, starting with Jim Hudson (Malik Yoba). Going forward, this supplies us with at least a few episodes that will revolve around the quest to build Miles’ special force and has the potential to supply us with a number of interesting characters going forward. When Nora (Daniella Alonso) tries to reach out to him about Danny’s death, he tells her, “I’m fighting for your stupid rebels, what more do you want from me?” He’s committed to getting revenge for Danny’s death as opposed to the rebels themselves.
    Hudson, for his part, wants no part of Miles or their old life. He’s moved on, gotten married and wants to build a better life – as the librarian of a small idyllic community. Miles tells Hudson, “You can’t run from who you are. You cannot wash that much blood of your hands. Sooner or later it’s going to catch up with you.” Miles is, of course, talking about himself and he obviously feels that the blood of both Ben and Danny rests squarely on his shoulders. He tells Hudson, that guys like them can’t have a family because “if you care about somebody, you’re just going to let them down. Or worse, get them killed.” He tells him “We are killers. That’s all we are.” This is what Miles has become – or at least what he thinks he’s become. In the end, Hudson seems to demonstrate this when he kills his wife’s attacker. I did find myself thinking that in this very brutal world, it seems unlikely that she’s never been faced with violence or that on some level at the very least, she would appreciate being saved from certain death. In the end, Hudson’s love is not enough for her, of course, as the plot demands. Hudson going with Miles only reinforces Miles own belief that he is bad news to all those around him. It may be interesting going forward to see if Hudson is actually going to remain loyal to Miles.
    Both Charlie and Rachel bury themselves in their work. Rachel tries to reach out to Charlie, but when she tries to comfort Charlie at Danny’s burial, Charlie pulls her hand away and refuses all of Rachel’s attempts at mothering her. I thought she was right in accusing Rachel of too little too late in the mothering department. Rachel wasn’t around to raise her children after all, regardless of the reason. Rachel is still keeping a number of secrets, and I still wonder how those secrets may have factored into the course of events. However, Danny’s death has clearly made her realize that she needs to fight, and she destroys the pendants so that Flynn can’t get them and so that no more kids die. Charlie’s coldness helps Rachel to realize just how badly she has let her kids down, especially how much she put on Charlie’s shoulders.
    We see that Flynn’s motives aren’t that much different from Rachel’s. The flashbacks show Flynn and his wife receiving notification that their son has been killed in active duty in Afghanistan. He is clearly motivated by this to design some kind of weapon at the Department of Defense – and we learn that not only Rachel worked for him there but also Ben. Flynn’s motivation seems to be for good, to “stop the bloodshed” so more soldiers won’t die.
    Whatever it is that they’ve designed it is housed in the mysterious “Tower.” I keep thinking of the tarot card “The Tower” every time they mention it. The meaning of the card in its upright position is disaster, upheaval, change and revelation. It’s not necessarily a bad card, but represents the positive changes that can result from a sudden upheaval – creation that can come out of destruction. Flynn tells Rachel that he doesn’t want to turn the power back on. “The blackout wiped the world clean. Burnt it down. When you burn down the old, new things grow. We can make a better world, Rachel. A safer one.” This completely reflects the tarot card. Flynn’s heart may be in the right place, even if his methods are suspect.
    I’m also not convinced that the tower is actually a tower in the way we think. The final flashback talks about “executing” a “virus” – both computer terms. We came very close, I think, to the moment the power actually went out. I wonder if Ben hid some kind of failsafe in the machine/weapon they built for Flynn so that when it was activated it actually killed the power so it couldn’t be used or whether Flynn’s plan was to turn the power off, and the failsafe is how to turn it back on. I thought it was an interesting twist that Flynn is fixated on putting his dream team together again. I also wonder if he knew that Aaron Pittman (Zak Orth), computer genius, was with them, if Flynn wouldn’t want him even more. I’m really looking forward to seeing Aaron get to strut his smarts going forward. We get more clarification that Rachel was the one who first took Aaron in. Rachel promises to tell Aaron everything, including about the Tower. If anyone can help to fix a computer virus, I’m betting it’s Aaron.
    Giancarlo Esposito (Neville) only has one small scene in this episode, and he is magnificent in it. He goes to Monroe because he’s heard about the mission to retrieve Rachel. As he asks Monroe why he’s not on it, Esposito’s voice quavers. Monroe has just asked how Neville and his wife are, considering their son’s passing. Neville’s voice quavering may be because he is nervous that Monroe has found out that Jason isn’t dead or it could be that Neville is simply concerned that Monroe is replacing him with Flynn. Monroe’s answer isn’t designed to set Neville’s mind at rest on either point, as he says that he doesn’t trust Flynn, but doesn’t trust anyone else either – implying that he also doesn’t trust Neville. Again, this could be a reference to Jason or simply letting Neville play a bigger role. Esposito continues to create a fascinatingly nuanced character with layers of insecurity coupled with ambition, troubled by his love for his family.
    While the two parallel fight scenes were exciting enough, there weren’t enough long shots to make the skirmish with Miles, Nora, and Hudson really coherent. Once again, the characters with guns either don’t shoot or are ridiculously bad shots. This week’s pet peeve is about Nora and Rachel’s leather jackets. Fifteen years after the blackout, where are they getting these lovely new leather jackets? The leather is not worn at all.
    Overall, this was a really solid episode. Family remains a consistent theme going forward that motivates all the characters for good or ill. All of the characters are haunted in some way by the “Ghosts” of their past. I’m pleased that they aren’t going to drag out the tension between Charlie and Rachel, but that Miles is still grappling with his own inner demons. Colm Feore is proving to be an intriguing adversary. What did you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments below.

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