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Revolution 1.20 "The Dark Tower" Review: The Bonds of Family

    This week’s season finale of Revolution, “The Dark Tower,” was directed by Charles Beeson. I have to admit, I either missed it, or there was no screen credit for a writer for the episode, but it sure felt like an Eric Kripke penned finale (FYI? The story was by Kripke with Paul Grellong getting a co-writing credit for the teleplay). We begin with a classic rock montage from the season – just as every Supernatural (Kripke’s previous show) finale does. The overlay of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” helped to drive that theme home for the audience. The song was for a time a bit of an anthem on Supernatural. The song’s basic premise and melancholy tone suit Revolution, especially this episode. This episode tied up a lot of season one and opened a lot of doors going into season two.
     I want to first comment on some truly powerful performances in this episode. Billy Burke delivered his best performance to date on the series. David Lyons and Giancarlo Esposito have been impressive all season, so it would be easy to simply take their performances for granted, except that’s impossible. Tracy Spiridakos and Daniella Alonso are likewise magnificent in the episode, delivering a season’s best for Spiridakos, and sadly, a series best for Alonso. Finally, Colm Feore also delivers a series best though he has little screen time, and Zac Orth once again makes Aaron the character you most want to bring home with you. It’s simply staggering to realize that I’ve named almost the entire cast here. And that’s not to negate the other performances, these simply deserved a special mention.
    For me, this was an action-packed episode that still managed to hit some satisfying emotional climaxes. The theme of family was carried throughout the episode. Both Jason (JD Pardo) and Charlie (Spiridakos) find their parents wanting. Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) being driven by revenge for Danny even when her living daughter begs her to stop, shows how destructive revenge can be. I felt this nicely paralleled the similar storyline in Supernatural when John sacrifices his relationship with his living sons in order to devote his entire life to exacting revenge for his wife’s death. It’s also a great scene for Spiridakos, in which Charlie really does come into her own.
    For his own part, Neville (Esposito) is obsessed with killing Rachel. Neville manages to convince Jason to back him up and have his back, but for once, the audience clearly sees that he is as ruthless and untrustworthy as ever when he kills Franklin (Ramon Fernandez) after telling him he’d let him go and then makes it look like Franklin tried to kill him. Jason tells his father that he wants Charlie and her mother taken alive, and is once again disappointed to learn his father was not going to listen to him.
    It’s always a joy to watch the many faces of Giancarlo Esposito at work, but his best scene is when Neville finally has Monroe in his power. It’s a great piece of writing too. The scene harkens back to Neville’s backstory from before the blackout when he was a browbeaten insurance salesman. He towers over the captured Monroe and tells him exactly what’s been wrong with his performance – and he’s not wrong, Monroe has been “deranged.” Most tellingly, the first thing he says is “there’s been a change in management,” making the obvious connection to his corporate job before the blackout. He points out to Monroe that they have different leadership styles: “You frighten. I inspire.” This is a common management technique that continues the analogy to a corporate culture. Neville also points out that Monroe has “an erotic fixation” on Miles. This is also a shout out to Supernatural as the brothers have been told by one of their enemies that they are “erotically co-dependent.” It’s a nice parallel to reinforce the brotherly bond between Miles and Monroe.
    The most powerful scene, for me, was Miles finally confessing to Monroe that they would always be brothers whether he wanted that to be the case or not. The devastation that that remark brought to both characters’ faces was a really powerful moment. Burke and Lyons do have undeniable chemistry on screen. While their continued face offs have been a bit ridiculous, including Monroe continuing to come out of nowhere and attack Monroe, the climax of this face off negated the silliness. It’s a great moment when it only takes the flick of an eye to warn Monroe that the tower people are coming for them, for Monroe to shift back into having Miles’ back. It’s another great moment when Miles finally tells Monroe that he’s asking the wrong question. He needs to ask why Miles couldn’t kill him. We do finally get to see what lead to that. It’s a credit to both actors that we see both sides of the argument. After Monroe has the rebel and his wife and children killed to make an example of them, Miles and Nora are clearly appalled at how far Monroe has gone. Monroe, however, is clearly terrified of losing Miles. We’ve seen all season the lengths to which desperate people will go to save and protect their family, and perhaps, in that context, it’s not so hard to feel some empathy for Monroe, who we know has lost his entire biological family too. In the end, Miles saves Monroe from Neville and tells him, “Run Bass.” The last shot we have in the episode of Monroe looking back during the violent thunderstorm is a beautiful shot. It also emphasizes the storm that turning the power off had unleashed in Monroe.
    During the flashback, we see Nora react to the discovery of the Rebels. As it was a bomb that went off in the bar, even though Miles was almost killed, I had to wonder if Nora was already involved in some way with the rebels given her reaction. She clearly recognized the group and given her explosive expertise, one has to speculate. Nora is, at least, given a hero’s death in the episode. She sacrifices herself by throwing herself in the line of fire to protect the others from the Tower people, but she also convinces Aaron to go with Rachel guilt-free rather than saving her. Even before this, it’s clear that she is going to sacrifice herself for Miles happiness when she tells Rachel that Miles loves her. I was really relieved that Miles stayed with Nora and tried to save her even after she tried to make him go to Rachel. I hope that Nora is wrong, and that the show doesn’t push for a Miles/Rachel storyline. I was very much sad to see Nora go. She was a strong capable woman, and those are still a relatively rare breed on television.
    Aaron finally gets to have his moment as he's the one to turn the power on. We learn that Ben may have actively been seeking him out, in fact. Orth is able to infuse his performance with a lot of the comic relief without resulting in Aaron simply being either a joke or a caricature. Hopefully, the writers will continue to do justice to the character.
    The cliffhanger of the season, is the aftermath to turning on the power. We are left with the death of Randall after he’s launched the missiles. I will very much miss Feore. Of course, it’s unclear if the missiles will actually hit their target or explode when they do. I didn’t think it completely logical for Randall to kill himself. After all he does seem to have set in motion the return of the President who one would assume would be grateful to him. Meanwhile, Miles, Charlie, Aaron and Rachel are still trapped by Neville on level 12. In the end, it seemed ridiculously easy for everyone to end up on level 12. Finally, the actual fate of the Georgia army and the cities that bombs are supposed to hit are left in the air. Our final shot of Monroe is him getting away in a violent thunderstorm, which we are left to assume is a by-product of turning on the power. The Tower people seem to have been effectively neutralized. I was disappointed that Glenn Morshower (Dan) didn’t have more to do – but then, we haven’t seen his body, so who knows?
    What did you think of the season finale? I thought it did a really good job of closing off much of the first season mystery while opening up lots of possibilities for season two. I will say that I thought having the President still alive and hiding in Cuba was a little on the nose. It was recently revealed that Ben Edlund and Rockne O’Bannon will both be coming on board for season two, and both have strong personalities that should serve to shape season two. Let me know your thought and feelings about the finale in the comments below. I hope as well that you will come back in a couple of weeks to read my season end review as well.

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