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Revolution 2.21 "Memorial Day" Review: Nothing Is As It Seems

    Revolution’s penultimate episode “Memorial Day,” was written by the team of David Rambo and Ben Edlund and directed by John F Showalter. While the show’s formal announcement of cancellation only came this week, I’m still hopeful that the writers knew it was coming and we’re going to see some kind of resolution by next week. However, the action doesn’t seem to be leading to that, it seems to be leading to a pretty major cliffhanger. On the other hand, there is a pretty strong campaign going to try to save the show.

    This episode picks up pretty much exactly where the last one left off, with Monroe (David Lyons) in a standoff with Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) who has Connor (Mat Vairo) at knife point. I was a little disappointed by how much this episode made me feel like we were back at the beginning of the season with none of the characters having learned anything. Neville is back to marching to Washington, killing as many as he can along the way, to shoot President Davis in the face (Cotter Smith). It really feels to me like Jason’s (JD Pardo) storyline meant nothing. Neville seems to have been reduced to a killing machine. Although I did love when he told Monroe, “You had me at mustard gas.”

    The other thing that I didn’t like about this storyline was that suddenly Connor seems to be ramping up to be the bad guy. Admittedly, they’ve seemed to be going in this direction for the last few episodes, but it’s still a big change from the characterization in episodes like “Happy Endings” or “Fear and Loathing.” He’s clearly jealous of the relationship between Miles (Billy Burke) and his father – who he actually refers to as “Dad” in this episode. I thought the conversation between Neville and Connor was interesting when Connor pressed Neville to explain the relationship between Miles and Monroe. Neville replies with “Don’t ask, don’t tell” making a joke that their relationship is romantic. Connor replies, “No, really,” and Neville says he’s been asking himself the same question for years. He doesn’t understand the bond between the two. He likens them to Cain and Abel, but the bottom line is that the relationship makes them both look weak. At this point, Connor is worried that that will stop his Dad from being able to take the Republic back and as much as asks Neville to kill Miles.

    In the final scene, there were so many double crosses going on, I almost got whiplash. Scanlon (Billy Lush) has been Monroe’s mole all along. Monroe, Neville, and Connor attempt to steal the tanker from Miles. Neville goes off-book and points his gun at Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos). Miles, of course, jumps between them. It seemed odd to me at first that after sparing Charlie, Neville would suddenly be determined to kill her, but perhaps he was counting on Miles jumping in front of her – that way Neville could deny he shot Miles on purpose. Of course, Monroe jumps in and points his gun at Neville, eventually being the one to disarm Neville and knock him out. Learning the Patriots’ true plan, Monroe agrees to help Miles stop them. At this point, Connor has had enough and refuses to go on a “suicide mission.” So, does this mean that Neville and Connor will be the “bad guys” against Monroe and Miles – the “good guys”?

    Miles and Charlie have a number of great scenes in this episode, and I couldn’t help but reflect on how this relationship out of all the others, really has grown. I’ll admit that I did not like either of the characters particularly at the outset, and I really didn’t like the dynamic between them. Miles was too sulky and Charlie was just too everything! Here’s this 18 year old who has really seen nothing and done nothing telling a seasoned war veteran and co-leader of the Republic what to do. But now, we’ve seen both change – Miles has learned from his mistakes – and I refuse to call Monroe one of them – and Charlie has gained the battle and life experience to make her his equal – or close to it. Burke and Spiridakos have a terrific chemistry, and I’m going to miss seeing it develop further – as much as I will miss Esposito’s conniving Neville.

    Miles tells Charlie that he’s trying to think like a good guy and base his actions on what a good guy would do. Let’s not forget that the seeds of the Republic were truly sown when Miles and Monroe saved Jeremy (Mark Pellegrino) from thugs. This is a really great scene between the two, and there is a terrific close up of Spiridakos’s face as Miles says he’s trying to be a good guy. We see a small smile creep across her face as Charlie is both proud and amused by him, replying, “Being a good guy sucks.” Because of course, the right choice is the harder one – learning to trust.

    The scene in which they steal the train is a great one. It’s wonderfully choreographed. I loved Charlie reporting that she’d taken care of it, only to have the siren sound, followed by Miles, “I thought you took care of it!” and Charlie’s “I did!” The fire fight and escape are also great  - and another thing I’ll miss about the show. The best scene, however, is perhaps the end of the sequence, when Miles turns to Charlie and declares that was actually fun and Charlie’s response is a huge grin. It has been a fun ride.

    So far, we have seen that doing the right thing doesn’t pay off for the good guys. Marion (Reiko Aylesworth) does the right thing and helps bring the rebels intel on Truman (Steven Culp) and members of a resistance. The scene of her going through Truman’s office was nicely cut with shots of him approaching the office to ramp up the tension. Gene (Stephen Collins) essentially forces her to return to camp when she admits she’s terrified to do so. No doubt, if we had more than one more episode to go, Gene would be angsting about that for a while, but I’m betting he will get over it by sacrificing himself – finally – in the last episode.

      Aylesworth does a terrific job of acting like she’s acting. We can see that she’s now terrified of Truman, but it’s subtle enough that you can believe he’s in love with her and self-centered enough not to see it. Culp has done a good job of playing Truman so you can’t quite tell if he’s as much of a monster as the rest of the Patriots, but his true colors come out in every way in this episode as he cold bloodedly kills Marion after telling her how much he really loves her and then takes back the necklace he gave her. Of course, we only see him with one gas mask, so it’s pretty clear he was going to kill her along with the rest anyway...

    Meanwhile, we still have another plot thread that is in danger of being left hanging. Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) has determined that Aaron (Zak Orth) and Priscilla (Maureen Sebastian) are missing, but as problems are piled on the group, Miles sends her off on her own to find them – little suspecting how much danger he’s putting her in. I have to say that I was thrilled to see the take-no-crap-Rachel back! Why, oh why, couldn’t they just have written her like this all along?!

    I loved Rachel hauling off and slapping Priscilla-Bot and then calling her her science project! I also loved her telling Aaron to smarten up. Kudos once again to Sebastian who is all kinds of creepy as Priscilla-Bot. I loved her promising never to turn away from them because she loves them both. Of course, as Rachel points out, Priscilla-Bot really doesn’t know what feelings are or what that means. I also really enjoyed her showing Rachel around their home. When she shows off her first experiment and Rachel remarks the floor is moving, Aaron tells her “We have a rat room.” I’m really going to miss Orth’s dry delivery! Chillingly, Priscilla-Bot relates how she started her experiment with trial and error, but now they are content, mindlessly circling the floor. There’s a great flashback to Rachel’s discovery of the dead rats. Thank you Kripke for tying up the loose ends. Priscilla-Bot tells Rachel that she can fix the insanity of their species which drives them to inflict pain on each other and be caught in an endless cycle of eat, kill, orgasm. It’s her promise to “upgrade” humanity that results in the slap. Of course, she’s not wrong about that seeming cycle...

    Two things give me hope that they can out-wit or over power Priscilla-Bot. It did seem – and again kudos to Sebastian – that there was a glimmer of Priscilla when she woke up from being electrocuted and before her eyes rolled up in her head. Secondly, Rachel speculates that the longer the nano is in Priscilla, it is weakened somehow. It clearly doesn’t see them setting up to electrocute it while it’s out getting a new test subject.

    While Miles and Monroe riding to the rescue, a la Butch and Sundance, feels like it could be an ending, I hope we’ll have something a bit more satisfying. It’s hard to see a resolution to the Priscilla-Bot problem also being crammed into the same final hour. It felt like the season was moving toward a redemption arc for Monroe, but they’ve gone back and forth on this so many time, I’ll be hard pressed to trust that it would stick if he suddenly pledges himself to the good guys in this final episode. Perhaps the only resolution that will satisfy me at this point is hearing that the show has been picked up for a finale movie or even on a different network.

    What did you think of the episode? Are you disappointed in the cancellation? What are your hopes for the finale? If you have any links to “save our show” petitions, feel free to share them along with your thoughts in the comments below!