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Revolution 2.20 "Tomorrowland" Review: Visions of the Future

    This week’s episode of Revolution, “Tomorrowland,” was written by the team of Trey Calloway and Ryan Parrott and directed by David Boyd. Parrott moves from writer’s assistant to writer with this episode – he was also listed as assistant to JJ Abrams on Star Trek Into  Darkness. Boyd’s other directing credits include The Walking Dead, Men of a Certain Age, and Friday Night Lights. The title is a reference to the Tomorrowland theme lands that can be found at Disney parks. They are designed to depict the future, but as the future is always changing, they run the risk of becoming yesterdaylands, mired in the past if they don’t change quickly enough. One attraction was the Carousel of Progress that featured vignettes of ideal, futuristic houses...

    As the episode opens we see that Truman (Steven Culp) has new orders and Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) has outlived his usefulness. Aaron (Zak Orth) has had enough of Priscilla-bot (Maureen Sebastian) who is currently fascinated with the happy people she has found in magazines. Once again, it’s clear that while she thinks she understands people, she does not. Aaron has clearly given up even trying to explain to her that the people in the pictures aren’t happy, they’re just pretending to be. Which makes me wonder whether actual people could pretend to be happy and fool her.

    Miles (Billy Burke) is on the mend with Gene (Stephen Collins) looking after him. Miles tries to tell Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) about the significance of the guitar pick, but she clearly doesn’t have the same memory. Monroe (David Lyons) is getting impatient to take the fight to the Patriots.

    Everyone is drawn outside by a gigantic flock of birds. Aaron asks Priscilla-bot if it’s her doing it, and it’s hilarious when she tells him to run because he is the slowest. I loved Monroe wondering where Fatboy Slim was going – always with the nicknames! Of course, things quickly turn horrific as a noxious yellow cloud suddenly envelopes the group and men come through it wearing gas masks and rubber trench coats. It’s mustard gas – and a shout out to the VFX team for a great effect! Anyone who runs to higher ground or is caught in the gas is picked off by soldiers with guns. Our intrepid group, including Gene, Monroe, Miles, Rachel, Aaron, Connor (Mat Vairo), Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), and Scanlon (Billy Lush) hide in a convenient – and apparently airtight – tanker. Airtight until the Patriots shoot three holes in it – and miraculously don’t hit anyone inside with the bullets... details, details...

    When they emerge, Priscilla suddenly appears and throws herself into Rachel’s arms for comfort. She tells them she hid in a fridge – yep, airtight. In fact, so airtight, I doubt an adult could stay locked in it for long...

    The gas attack has everyone thinking more urgently about the future and what they want that future to look like. Monroe is more determined than ever to re-establish the Republic and spearheads the plan to get some canisters to use on the Patriots. Miles and Rachel apparently fight and break up over Miles siding with Monroe. Their fight does seem to pick up from where we left off last week with Rachel and Monroe fighting over Miles. Rachel says she’s through competing. Miles does a convincing job of playing along. He teases it out of Monroe that his vision of the future isn’t just securing the Republic from the Patriots – he’s determined to take the whole eastern seaboard now that Georgia is out of the picture too.

    It was interesting watching Vairo finally get to do something as Connor stands up for Monroe. When Scanlon starts to worry that Miles and Monroe are going to get them killed using them for bait, Vairo is pretty scary as he tells Scanlon that he doesn’t know anything about him or what he’s done. This finally seems more like the guy who was the right hand man/adopted son of a psychopathic warlord!

    Meanwhile, Marion (Reiko Aylesworth) interrupts Truman as he’s unpacking. After he leaves, she looks in his drawers and finds a gas mask – only one! – and his orders. Later that night, Charlie and Gene abduct her from her father’s grave. They bring her back to camp to show her the mustard gas that Monroe, Miles, Scanlon, and Connor have just returned with. It seemed jarring to me that Rachel was mixing something up and Charlie and Gene suddenly waylaid Marion, until the whole plan was revealed. Rachel has neutralized the gas, but they’ve used it to convince Marion to spy on Truman. Miles is even hopeful she’ll be able to convince others to join the cause and start an underground.

    Miles vision of tomorrow doesn’t include killing innocents because they are supposed to be the good guys – and the good guys save people, they don’t kill them. Miles insists that Monroe is never going to change – in essence his tomorrowland has turned into yesterdayland – Monroe’s way is never going to work. This still ignores the fact that we know that Monroe started on the path he did because of Miles lead. Miles himself has changed because of his family. I felt like this was a step back for the show. Maybe it’s just me, but Monroe has always been the most interesting character for me. Lyons has delivered really terrific performances all along. I was rooting for him to become one of the good guys and Miles simply giving up on him, not trying to help the guy who was like a brother to him just continues not to sit well with me. I find myself less sympathetic to Miles. Miles locks Monroe out both physically and metaphorically from his life.

    Miles even tells Rachel why the guitar pick was so important to him. It made him remember the first time they met. Music is an emotional touchstone for him as he was playing guitar when he met her. It was that pick that reminded him of her and that Rachel and Charlie were the ones who pulled him out of that hole. I did like that he starts off by telling her that she’s a miserable person. That they both are. That she ended the world and he put the nails in the coffin. He tells her that she should be cynical and hopeless, yet she is trying to build something better and he can’t do any less than what she’s doing.

    Meanwhile, Aaron becomes caught in Priscilla-bot’s tomorrowland. He stumbles upon a house that is eerily like those in the Carousel of Progress, except her mannequins are actually live Patriots still dressed in their gas masks and trench coats. The only way to really tell they are alive is the tear one of them sheds and the fact that he’s shaking slightly holding up the newspaper.

    Priscilla-bot tells Aaron she has news. I loved Aaron’s “There’s no way any of your news is good.” She tells him that people are the problem because they’re miserable, violent, and irrational. She points out that Aaron is afraid of them and doesn’t like people either. He agrees but points out that it’s just in their nature. Priscilla-bot – who Sebastian plays chillingly – says what if I could change their nature. Her view of tomorrow would have everyone happy and content and this would make everything alright. Aaron tries to leave, but she won’t let him, telling him they have much to talk about.

    Given the discussion that Rachel and Miles just had – Miles making the point of saying that they are both miserable, horrible people, yet they are trying to make the world a better place – simply underscores that Priscilla-bot isn’t really paying attention to what’s going on around her. She hasn’t followed up her observations of Miles to see this new attitude and direction he’s assumed. And I can’t help asking myself whether she learned anything from the time that Aaron was locked in his head. He was happy – he had everything he wanted, and yet he still struggled to end it and get back to the real world which is pretty horrible for him.

    Finally, the episode gives us another great performance from Giancarlo Esposito. Truman has sent Shaw (Waleed Zuaiter) to take care of Neville. Neville greets him, apparently inviting him in for a drink. As Neville’s back is turned, Shaw draws his gun and makes the mistake of stepping forward into a trap that Neville has set. With his leg trapped in spikes in the floor, Shaw is at Neville’s mercy. Neville is clearly on the verge of completely losing it as he’s still grieving over Jason. He takes great – and chilling – delight in torturing Shaw – who is a terrific screamer by the way! Neville suspects that Julia is either dead or is about to be killed, and Shaw confirms it, sealing his own death. Neville is tormented by the knowledge that Jason was right and he didn’t listen to him. He tells Shaw, “that will haunt me the rest of my days.” Esposito’s acting in this scene is just a master class as we watch the grief wash over Neville.

    On a complete geeky aside, I happened to be in Washington DC this past weekend, and I visited the reflecting pool and sat on the bench where Julia and Neville met in “Captain Trips.” And FYI, the benches aren't on the walkway right beside the pool...

    Neville then goes looking for Monroe, and finally finds him. As he tells Monroe, it’s ironic: “You were my ticket to everything and now that I’ve found you, my ticket’s expired.” I thought there was a good chance that Neville would take revenge by killing Monroe’s son as his own had been taken, but then there would be no love interest left for Charlie – except Monroe himself, of course! We now have Monroe who has been pushed away by Miles and Neville who is solely motivated by revenge apparently teaming up. Things are getting interesting. I do feel, however, that most of the season was trying to bring these characters over to the side that we could root for them on, and with them simply sliding back to the dark-side, it feels like a lot of this season was a bit pointless.

    What did you think of the episode? Did you find Priscilla-bot as chilling as I did? Whose vision of the future do you most buy into? Should it be guns blazing to get the job done or slow and steady with as few casualties as possible? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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