My major complaint about the episode is that we have our main characters separating yet again and for pretty flimsy reasons. Miles (Billy Burke) is barely back on his feet but insists on going with Monroe (David Lyons) to find his son? Not to mention he drags Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) along against her better judgment – and for once she is displaying better judgment! But to top it off, he leaves Gene (Stephen Collins) – the doctor who could help him if he relapses, because remember, he’s still sick – and Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) – who is one of the better fighters. What? It was kind of cool that Gene used very old school medicine - maggots anyone? - to cure Miles' infection though. Meanwhile, Aaron (Zac Orth) runs off on his own and walks all the way to Oklahoma from Texas in the time it takes Miles, Monroe, and Rachel to ride to Mexico. We know it’s a dangerous world, so striking off on his own like that is very risky, yet he has no encounters worth mentioning until he arrives in Spring City? Okay. Those were my major quibbles.
It does make sense that Aaron is now obsessed over uncovering what the nanotech is up to as he clearly feels guilty over Cynthia’s death. He is determined now to follow her advice and figure it out as her words – “everything happens for a reason” – ring in his head. I wonder if we’ll see her consciousness come back to Aaron through the nanotech – somewhat like the AI girlfriend in Her? It was a nice surprise that the nanotech did lead him to Grace (Maria Howell).
I am a bit curious about what they are doing with Gene. Suddenly, he is totally shocked by Charlie killing people. I think Spiridakos is doing a fantastic job with Charlie this season. I know a lot of people found the character irritating last season. While I liked the character last season, the fact that a fairly sheltered teen was telling the battle-hardened adults what to do did rub me the wrong way. The show has done a great job showing how much Charlie has matured. Last season we really did see the character affected by the killing she did, but she has been through a lot of combat since then. I think Spiridakos does a great job demonstrating that Charlie accepts what has to be done, but I don’t see her as a hardened killer. It really doesn’t make sense for Gene to be this surprised by what Charlie has had to do to survive – he’s certainly done a lot of questionable things himself. I loved the scene when Charlie turns to him and says, “You asked for my help. What did you expect?”
Truman (Steven Culp) is back in this episode after strategically missing going up in flames with his fellow soldiers. I liked the subterfuge of the wagons, making us think it was weapons, then making it look like maybe the Patriots were actually doing a good thing. But what were they injecting into those oranges? Something to make the population more compliant? More of the acid they use on the soldiers-in-training?
The heart of the episode really focused on Monroe finding his son. I did really enjoy the journey too, however. I loved Rachel pointing out the irony that she was being forced to help Monroe find his son when he was the one to kill hers. All three actors made that scene a standout. It was also fun to watch Monroe take the wagon they were on. Rachel thinks it’s time to make a move, Miles is waiting for the perfect time, and Monroe just does it.
The show did a brilliant job in casting Mat Vairo as Connor. He both looks and sounds enough like Lyons to be his son. Their scenes together were simply fantastic. I loved Monroe just going off on him until Miles dryly gets his attention and points out that the guy he’s just called the whitest Mexican in Mexico is his son. Connor is shocked as his mother told him his dead father was a mechanic from East Lansing (an obvious tidbit from Kripke’s mid-west background – Lansing being in Michigan – and the patriarch of Supernatural being a mechanic from the Midwest too (and also dead!)). Connor is clearly the head of the punks running the little town in Mexico and thinks he’s a big deal. He is clearly shocked to hear that his mother is dead and blames Monroe. He refuses to believe Monroe is who he says he is at first.
Miles and Rachel want to leave, but Monroe refuses to give up even though he describes Connor as “a punk with delusions of grandeur.” In another powerful scene, Rachel pretty cruelly tells Monroe that it didn’t matter who raised Connor he was Monroe’s son, so he was bound to turn out that way – just like his father. Monroe lashed back saying that by the same logic, Charlie must be going to end the world. This also nicely points out that genetics is only part of the equation – though we have seen a change in Charlie too.
In an equally cruel scene, Miles tells Monroe that Monroe was never going to be “some normal kind of dad that was never in the cards for you.” Monroe is clearly hurt by Miles also painting him as having always been irredeemably bad. Remember that when Monroe was first going to be a father, it was the death of his wife and baby that sent him over the edge. It’s very possible that Monroe would have been a much different person had that not happened.
In their second encounter, Monroe tries to break through to Connor. He wants to reclaim his republic and make it a dynasty. He dangles the promise of more power in front of Connor. However, Connor refuses to believe that Monroe can make good on it as he’s already lost the republic. When Connor asks about his mother’s death, Monroe does a great job in subtly laying the blame at Connor’s feet, telling him she died asking for her son. Connor seems a lot more interested in exacting revenge on the person he holds responsible for his mother’s death than bonding with his new found father, and has turned him in to the man really in charge of the town. Of course, this leaves Rachel and Miles to rescue Monroe.
The episode also takes us to the White House. What exactly does Allenford (David Aaron Baker) have in that briefcase? Whatever the file is, it has Horn’s insignia on it and when Jason (JD Pardo) manages to get a look in the file, he looks shocked. Does it have to do with the nanotech? Charlie? His own re-training? Whatever’s happening with the oranges? Whatever it is, Allenford is certainly nervous about it the entire episode.
A really interesting dynamic is blowing up between Julia (Kim Raver) and Tom (Giancarlo Esposito). Raver and Esposito deserve a special shout out for chewing up the screen in this episode – they are definitely the couple you love to hate! Julia is clearly enjoying herself as she climbs quickly up the social ladder and she’s not afraid to use Tom to further her own ends. Tom is clearly jealous of her being farther up the ladder than he is and her sleeping with Doyle (Christopher Cousins). Tom is also wary of trusting whether Julia is doing what she is for “them” or just for her – I’d be wary too, Tom! Tom, of course, is helplessly in love with her. When his attempt to kill the Secretary of State is thwarted, Tom risks even more to sneak into his room and overpower him to do it. I can’t wait to see if Julia really is going to manage to get Tom promoted or whether she’s going to just enjoy her own new position.
While there were a few things about this episode that bothered me, overall, I thought it did a good job in setting up a number of plot threads for the second half of the season. Which plot has you most intrigued? What’s happening with the Patriots? Aaron finding Grace? Monroe finding Connor? Will Julia support her man or find support in any man she can? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.