Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Episode Review & Discussion: 1x07 "The Children's Crusade"


Review by SpoilerTV

   Revolution, “The Children’s Crusade,” was another finely crafted episode, written by Matt Pitts and directed by Charles Beeson. The aspect that I liked best about the episode was the way in which the various plots all carried the same theme forward. The thing I continue to like best about this show is that is manages to answer questions and still ask enough new ones to keep the plot moving and keep my interest well and truly piqued.

   This week’s theme was children, and it ran through the Charlie and company plot, the Rachel plot, and the flashback plot. Given that the show is strongly about family, it was completely consistent to focus an episode on what people were willing to do to protect their kids and their family.

   Charlie is motivated to help Michael, played by Supernatural alum Colin Ford, free his brother Peter from the soldiers who are conscripting children into the militia. Ford is a solid actor and delivers an excellent performance. Hopefully, we’ll see him again. At first, Miles is reluctant to help the band of orphans until he realizes that they were orphaned when the militia killed all their parents seven years ago – when Miles would have been the one in charge of the militia. I have to admit that when the band of kids takes Charlie and company prisoner, I flashed to Lord of the Flies, the lost boys/girls of Peter Pan and then to an old Star Trek episode in which only the children are left on a planet. Turns out that when they reach a certain age, they would catch a disease and die. The parallel here is unmistakeable. When these kids are old enough, they are conscripted into the militia to die.

   Aaron, we learn, is not comfortable around kids and references Children of the Corn and then calls them “a pack of hairless Ewoks” – another Star Wars shout out. I suspect that Aaron doesn’t like kids because he was probably bullied as a kid. Nora points out that it’s a bit ironic that he was the teacher in the settlement. In the end, we get to see Aaron be a hero and save the kids.

   Rachel would seem to be all about saving her own children in this episode. In the present she is motivated to save Danny from Sebastian torturing or killing him and to that end, she tries to get her old friend Bradley to reveal where he’s hidden his pendant. He was only brought to Monroe’s attention when she turned him in. Interestingly, Bradley isn’t fooled when Rachel suddenly turns up in the cell next to him and refuses to give up the location of the pendant. Given some of the other stupid actions by other characters in this episode – more on that shortly – it makes me wonder if Bradley isn’t suspicious of Rachel because he knows something about her that we don’t - yet. It seems ridiculous, for instance, that it doesn’t occur to Rachel that Monroe would have had his men pick up Bradley’s daughter to use against him.

   The flashbacks in this episode fill in some significant information. We learn that the Department of Defense, in the form of Assistant Director Flynn, wanted to buy into Ben’s company to obtain the technology he and his team – including Bradley and Grace – were developing. We also learn that they were trying to develop a cheap, efficient energy source and the power off switch was simply an interesting accident. Rachel wants nothing to do with the DOD until there is a complication with her pregnancy and it looks like she will lose the baby boy she is carrying. This is three years before the blackout, so no doubt, she is carrying Danny. Flynn offers to help her get into a medical program at Columbia if she simply agrees to be his friend. We don’t see her answer, but considering Danny is alive, it’s fairly easy to assume that she said yes. In a nice parallel in the present, Randall is revealed to be none other than Flynn. He’s holding Grace captive and tells her he only wants to be her friend.

   I read an interesting article this week that posited that our only real evidence that the militia is bad is that Charlie doesn’t like them. I’d have to say I think that argument is weak given that we’ve seen Neville and Strauss torturing people, but we’ve also seen that the general populace was out of control after the blackout and needed some form of governmental control. It will be interesting to see if the militia or whoever Randall Flynn works for ends up being the real bad guy. I’m also interested to see who Rachel is ultimately working for. Even Danny is suspicious about why she isn’t doing anything to get away. Is it possible she’s a plant for Flynn in the Monroe camp, or that she’s actually working with Sebastian? I’ll be interested to see how much Elizabeth Mitchell knows about Rachel’s motivations at this point, or whether she was kept in the dark. She is giving a nuanced performance in this episode, and I’ll be really interested to know if she’s leaving room for possible scenarios or if she knows which side Rachel really is on.

   A quick shout out to both Giancarlo Esposito and Colm Feore. We got very little Neville in this episode but Esposito was just so creepy in the scene when Monroe tells Rachel about having had Bradley for three weeks. A simple smirk and raised eyebrow from Esposito is an entire scene unto itself. Likewise Feore didn’t have a great deal to do, but he is a wonderful actor and is able to very subtly convey that there is more to this character than his desire to befriend everyone and “help” them.

   Tracy Spiridakos is slowly winning me over. I enjoyed Michael subjecting her to some of her own medicine when he kept refusing to do as he was asked, resulting in everyone being in more danger. Charlie was less whiney in this episode, and there’s no question that the character is physically brave. This episode sees her step up to help someone else save their brother and it seems she is starting to see more of the bigger picture of what’s going on in the world.

   Having covered most of what I really liked in this episode, I do have some quibbles with the episode as well. If Rachel isn’t working undercover for somebody, she is making some fairly stupid mistakes. Why wouldn’t she know that Monroe would go for Bradley’s daughter? That’s how he got to her after all. I’m still annoyed that any adult is letting a child call the shots. Miles allowing Charlie to dictate what the group does is ludicrous given that he used to be in charge of the militia. While Michael looks like he can handle himself and proves to be a good shot with the bow, why would anyone agree to take an eight year old – or possibly younger – child on a rescue mission? Why did Charlie have to infiltrate the ship if it was possible to storm it at night to rescue her?

   The episode ends with Aaron finally revealing the pendant and Ben’s last words to both Miles and Charlie. Miles wants to destroy the pendant immediately, and strategically, that would probably be the most sensible thing to do. I still think Aaron is right to want to protect it, however. I’m also curious about what is turning the pendant on. It seems to actually be attuned to Aaron’s emotional state and turns on when he is upset.

   There were lots of interesting plot developments in this episode, and more great acting from both the core cast and the guest stars. Once again the episode felt tightly written and directed, nicely weaving several storylines together. What did you think of this week’s episode? Can we trust Rachel? Who is most likely to turn out to be the real enemy or is there room for two? Let me know in the comments below and don't forget to rate the episode "The Children's Crusade".