Wednesday, October 30, 2013

REVIEW: 'Revolution' Commits a Death that Feels Like It Has Meaning in 'Dead Man Walking' - Unsure If It Actually Does

NBC's Revolution - Episode 2.06 Dead Man Walking

As Charlie, Rachel and Gene question Monroe's true allegiance, Miles himself is weary of his former friend's intentions. Meanwhile, Aaron continues to have visions that lead to endless questions.

I really like the creative direction that Revolution has opted to go down in its second season. Throughout these first six episodes, I do get a strong sense of everything building up to something. And each hour has been entertaining and purposeful. The series has taken on a much more serialized approach. It no longer presents little stories that start and end in the course of one hour. But the first season did burn a huge bridge for this show. So I'm still very hesitant to declare that I'm loving this season. That's all from the thought that it could go flying off the rails so easily just like it did whenever it incorporated an interesting concept during that first season.

So with all that said, I respect what "Dead Man Walking" actually does even though I think it is the weakest episode of the second season. I'm really proud of the show in making the decision to kill Monroe and actually going through with it. When Rachel and Gene were shown as the two to give him the lethal injection, I was fully expecting them to give Monroe something to knock him out and break him out later. That felt like a strong possibility given the sequence where Charlie just tells Rachel off and mentions how Monroe saved her life. I have absolutely no clue what that final scene with Rachel digging up his grave means. But I really hope that the next episode doesn't start with the reveal that Monroe is still. That would really diminish the point of this entire episode.

Monroe's death was also the first instance that this show has carefully planted the seeds of his demise and made his death feel impactful to the rest of the core characters. Too often in the first season the show would simply get rid of characters just because they could or needed some big moment for a midseason premiere or finale.

"Dead Man Walking" is solely about the downfall of Sebastian Monroe. The hour starts with him all high and mighty during what he enjoys doing - staging the death of Jim Beaver's Texas ranger and torturing a Patriot soldier for information. But he's soon caught by joint Patriot-Texan soldiers and given the quickest trial and execution ever. It's a rather quick descent but ultimately felt like a lot for a character the show never really had a firm grasp on.  In the first season, he largely felt pointless or was being written with qualities that David Lyons simply could not portray well. The second season did do some meaningful work to redeem the character but never to the point that I actually cared about what happened to him. That detail really undermines how effective "Dead Man Walking" is as an overall episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • Revolution really needs to stop with the flashbacks. All they are is pointless. Did we really need to know that Monroe almost had another kid? No, not at all. They take time away from the stories that are actually doing stuff. Whenever they pop up, they're momentum stoppers.
  • The show is also asking for a lot of patience with the Neville side story. Because of Giancarlo Esposito's commanding performance, it has a strong grounding force. But with the stuff in Willoughby taking over more and more of the show, the leash is slowly diminishing on how much more of this story I want/need to see.
  • I have enjoyed the twist of Aaron's new combustion skills. It's the kind of batshit crazy detail that makes that character stick out. However, when this episode focused on him, it has hitting that detail a little too on-the-nose.
  • I've also really liked Stephen Collins as Gene Porter. It's a character slightly different than what he typically does while still feeling quite at home in. But who wasn't expecting that episode-ending twist. It is a clever one though and one I'm interesting in seeing the ramifications of.
  • Hey, Rachel's Lost husband is in Willoughby now.