Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review of Episode 11 'The Stand'

Review Episode 11 "The Stand"

Review by SpoilerTV

   And we’re back! Revolution returns with a strong episode in “The Stand” written by Anne Cofell Saunders and Paul Grelling and directed by Steve Boyum. Boyum, of course, also directed a number of Supernatural episodes for Kripke and has already directed “Sex and Drugs” in the first half of Revolution’s season. Boyum is adept with both the emotional scenes in the episode and the action – and this episode had lots of both. I think we are going to have to prepare ourselves for every episode Saunders writes, as she was also the writer of “The Plague Dogs” in which we lost Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips). This was a good episode, tightly written and well-paced, but I’m curious to see what the ratings are like after such a long hiatus. I confess that some of my enthusiasm for the show had worn off, and I wasn’t as excited for its return as I was for its initial premiere. That said, I am pretty excited to see where we go from here as this episode unfolded a lot like a second premiere, setting the stage for the rest of the season.

   The episode begins with a quick re-cap of the first half of the season, re-setting the stage, which was particularly helpful after the long hiatus. And then, we’re right back to our group facing down an armed helicopter. It was a bit implausible that no one was killed or even wounded as they ran away across an open field, but perhaps the helicopter pilots and gunners were rusty after not having flown for fifteen years.

   Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) is the one who has to tell Monroe (David Lyons) that Miles (Billy Burke) has gotten away again. Interestingly, Monroe seems to suggest that Neville isn’t trying very hard to capture/kill Miles, so perhaps, there’s more of a backstory there that we will see unfold. We do learn that Monroe is much more interested in expanding his Republic by destroying the Rebels, Georgia, the Plains Nation, and California than he is in killing Miles, however. This is a great set up for where the series is going. They’ve already cast the leader of the Georgia Federation. President Foster will be played by Leslie Hope. It will be interesting to see where our band of heroes fits in – will they end up fighting with Georgia against the Republic or is Georgia corrupt too?

   Meanwhile Charlie (Tracey Spiridakos) and Nora (Daniella Alonso) are smuggling the rest out of Philadelphia in coffins. It was great to see Charlie’s brand come back into the story and serve a useful purpose: helping convince the guard to let them through. I’m betting at some point in the future it will be a problem, however, and she will have to convince someone that she isn’t a part of the Republic...

   Nora kisses Miles as soon as he gets out of the coffin while Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) watches. Later, after Miles and Rachel have gone off on their own, Miles apologizes to Rachel for leaving her, saying he saw a body and it was her. He leans in close enough to almost be kissing her and she tells him to “Step back. Please.” There was obviously something between them, likely when she went to him when he was still leading the militia. Nora clearly picked up on there being something between Rachel and Miles, and it will be interesting to see that play out going forward. I suspect that Miles will feel guilty for having feelings for his brother’s wife and for having left her behind, and yet, he also has shown he has feelings for Nora too.

   Aaron (Zak Orth) doesn’t have a lot to do in this episode, but I suspect he will have a great deal to do once the power comes back on and they need his computer genius. He does, however, clear up one question that was bothering some viewers of the show. He did know Rachel – as a mild-mannered housewife – before she left her family to go after Miles. He is also the one to suggest she knew a lot about the power going out and the necklaces and he wants to know what happened. She puts him off. Why? Obviously, it’s to keep the audience in the dark and draw out the suspense, but it is starting to be the elephant in the room. They are walking – she could be talking, yet she tells them she’ll explain later. Not surprisingly, in this episode, Aaron figures he’s done more than his fair share, and he wants to go back “home.” Rachel quickly sets him straight that there is no home left to go back to – it would be the first place Monroe – or Neville - looked most likely.

   When they come upon the destroyed Rebel hideout, Charlie is shocked. For all that she’s lived through, she still hasn’t seen war like this. But Miles has. Rachel is consumed with guilt, saying it’s all her fault and up to her to stop it, thus beginning the next arc of the series – or at least, so we think until the end of the episode. The group breaks up again for the episode with Rachel and Miles going for re-enforcements.

   Rachel takes Miles to see John (Leland Orser), one of a group of people who have pendants. I can’t remember if we saw him in any of the flashbacks, especially those of Ben’s (Tim Guinee) office. He’s not in the credits that I can find. We learn at the end of the episode that his name is John Sanborn. Interestingly there is an historical figure by that name who served as a General in the Union army during the Civil War. John says he doesn’t know where Grace (Maria Howell) is and she’s not answering her computer. Miles admires all of John’s weapons, and John tells him making “stuff” is a hobby. He ends up shooting them with a stun gun he’s designed himself. I wonder if his creative genius may be pitted against Aaron’s. He tells them that Randall (Colm Feore) has Grace and that Randall is coming for them. Rachel says Randall is unbalanced and John cites that as his reason for not being able to resist. John also says that Randall has “gained access to the tower.” In Grace’s one scene, Randall tasks her with getting the elevators working so he can go to the twelfth floor. At the time, I noticed he didn’t say whether that floor were up or down, so I wondered if it might be a missile silo in the ground, but tower would suggest above ground... Miles gets free and knocks John out. They steal what they need and head back to the Rebels.

   Meanwhile, like Charlie, Jason (J.D. Pardo) is also shaken by the violence of this new kind of war. He’s shocked at what his father is willing to do. There is an interesting parallel between the Neville family and the Matthews family in this episode, in fact. Jason digs his heels in and says he won’t be a part of the on-going violence. His father tells him he’s “a shameful disappointment” and proceeds to beat him and then leave him, telling him never to come home. In contrast, Rachel tells Charlie how proud she is of her. When Monroe notices that Neville seems shaken, Neville tells him that his son is dead. I’m interested to see going forward if Neville says this to protect Jason. After all, if – when – Monroe finds out that Jason is alive and working with the Rebels – as is likely inevitable despite Charlie rejecting him at this point – Monroe is going to demand he be killed as a traitor, so saying he’s dead actually protects him. As we’ve almost come to expect Esposito gives another brilliant performance. By the end of the episode, of course, Rachel has lost her son too.

   The first flashback concerns Danny’s (Graham Rogers) experimental procedure which started the entire power failure when Rachel agreed to work for Randall, or so we’ve been lead to believe. Rachel and Ben are letting a young Danny go for the procedure, and Rachel says “he’s not a science experiment.” This seems ironic when she cuts a mysterious, flashing, tiny object from his chest. The second flashback is Charlie saving Danny from an asthma attack by getting him to breathe with her. Despite Charlie trying to keep Danny out of harm’s way during the firefight, he insists that he has to fight for “Dad and Maggie and for myself.” I have to admit that I was shocked that they killed him off after letting him be the hero and take down the choppers with the rocket launcher after Miles is hit. Clearly, being in the flashbacks is not a good thing...

   The end of the episode clearly sets up much of the dynamic for the second half of this season. Charlie vows vengeance on Monroe. We see Randall and John arrive at Monroe’s and the scenes for next week show that they are going to be joining forces. The scenes also show that Miles is going to take over the command of the Rebel forces and is going to enlist the help of his former colleagues from the Militia. I’m not convinced that is was necessary to sacrifice Danny to drive the plot forward, and I feel that, in fact, more is lost in what might have come from the sibling dynamic between Charlie and Danny.

   There were lots of performances here that deserve praise. As a general comment, the actors all seem to have settled into their roles. Spiridakos gave a particularly good performance. Charlie is so much more likable in her role as big sister and capable fighter without being the self righteous teenager who knows better than all those around her. It was a nice development in her maturation to send Jason away, even after he told her his real name and confessed to her. Her grief over Danny’s death was real and touching. I’m starting to like her a lot and root for her rather than merely tolerate her. Mitchell is doing an amazing job providing ever more facets to Rachel’s character. It is still impossible to pin the character down. In flashbacks, she so genuinely loves her children, yet she seems curiously detached over her son’s death. Is she simply that damaged due to years of imprisonment and torture? In the last scene, she does express grief over Danny, then cuts the object out of him and the look on her face at the end is so very detached. And finally, I really want to see more of Maria Howell as Grace. She gives a great performance in the one short scene that she’s given.

   I’m happy that Revolution is finally back, and one of the reasons is the number of strong women roles on the show. It’s one of the things that make the show really stand out. I’m excited about the storylines that have been laid out for the second half of the season, but I’m a bit disappointed that the storyline from the first half, which was to rescue Danny, rescued him only to have him die. What did you think of the episode? Are you excited for the second half of the season? How did the very long hiatus effect your enjoyment of the show – or did it? Let me know in the comments below and don't forget to rate the episode!