Plot: It has been six months since the power came back on for four minutes, and during that time everything changed. The cities of Atlanta and Philadelphia have been completely wiped off the map due to ICBM strikes. Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) has now split up from her uncle Miles (Billy Burke) and her mother Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) due to personal reasons, while Aaron Pittman (Zak Orth) is becoming keenly aware of the strange happenings all around them. Down in the Savannah Refugee Camp, Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) is desperately searching for his wife. He is about to give up hope, but then changes his mind when a startling sight rolls into the harbor.
Revolution had quite an identity crisis during its first season. The show was initially marketed as a post-electrical blackout thriller with people trying to survive in a world without technology. It was a very interesting premise that could very easily have carried the show on its on accord. However, as the season moved forward, more and more sci-fi elements were thrown in like electricity controlling nanobots and an all-powerful tower that can control the world’s electrical power. The introduction of these sci-fi elements wasn’t exactly a surprise (JJ Abrams is tied to this show after all), but the show seemed to get too overly complicated for its own good. To set the show back on track, this Season 2 premiere decides to make sci-fi the absolute focus from the start with other side stories thrown in. Does it lead to an engaging premiere with promises of a stronger season? To put it simply, there’s a lot that works with this updated change but not all of new updates work in the show’s favor.
The first thing I noticed about this new season is the fact that it completely erases the big accomplishment of Season 1: Turning on the power. Getting the power back was the entire focus earlier this year and yet that’s washed away in under a few minutes. Turns out the power was shut off after four minutes to shut down the targeting systems of the ICBMs. That plan didn’t exactly succeed but now we’re back to the familiar, no electricity world. For me, this is both good and bad. It’s great that a show about “no power” really has “no power” but it makes me wonder what the whole point was. It almost makes all of that conflict we saw in Season 1 unnecessary.
Then we get into what “Born in the U.S.A.” was actually about. This episode was nicely divided into three sections. You have Charlie somewhere in the Plains Nation, Aaron, Miles, and Rachel in Willoughby, Texas, and Tom and Jason Neville (JD Pardo) in the Savannah Refugee Camp. Each story had their own major developments but the primary focus tonight was obviously on the trio in Texas. Aaron has found a new lady (Jessica Collins) and Rachel is suffering from extreme PTSD from the destruction of Atlanta and Philadelphia. Seeing as she was a crusader for bringing the power back, she blames herself for the deaths of countless people. Conflict is brewing though as Miles notices that bandits have arrived on the outskirts of town and they subsequently attack everyone.
It is the story in Texas where the unnatural elements are thrown back into the forefront. Before the bandits attack, Aaron notices hundred of fireflies glowing abnormally bright and flying in a particular pattern. He firmly believes this is because the tower was activated but Rachel simply shrugs it off. It’s only when Aaron is killed by bandits and subsequently returns from the dead that we know for sure nature is completely out of whack. The truth is, I’m definitely interested in this part of the show. I’m a big sci-fi guy and I’m a sucker for this type of ridiculous mystery. Yes I know the “he’s dead but not really” twist is incredibly overused and cliché but I still liked it.
The Charlie story got the second most attention tonight and it was pretty average at best. I like how Charlie has now become extremely self-sufficient after needing so many people last season. It makes her character that much more interesting. Also, it was cool how she came upon the fallen Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons). Monroe now spends his days as a successful prized fighter in New Vegas. Charlie tracks him down in hopes of getting revenge for the horrors he has wrought, but is interrupted by an unknown man who also seems to have a vendetta against the former dictator.
Yet what held this story back was how it felt very strangely placed within the entire story. Everyone is moving forward with their own conflicts but apparently Charlie is still stuck six months in the past. It’s also never actually explained WHY Charlie is wondering on her own now. We know she had problems with her mother Rachel but does this mean she is just traveling aimlessly? Or was her goal this entire time to find Monroe? I hope these questions are answered mighty quickly.
Jason and Tom took up the rear this week with extremely little focus on their own personal issues. In fact, there was no development with them until near the end when the still existent United States Government returns from hiding in Cuba. Yep, this means that the former President of the United States is still alive. Always the one to question authority, Tom wonders why it took the President so long to show up, conveniently after two warring cities are obliterated. It’s hard not to connect the dots so I really can’t blame Tom for being suspicious. It’s clear that fighting authority is his reason to live too as Tom cleans himself up completely once the President’s Secretary makes an appearance.
What I found to be exceptionally bizarre was how the return if the United States Government was almost completely relegated to the background tonight. The big reveal in the last finale was that the President was still alive in Cuba using a force called the Patriots to restore him to power. Surely you would expect that to get more attention than a bandit attack correct? Nope, that’s not the case. We know the President’s return will have to be a huge part of Season 2 so why they don’t just dive head first into it is completely beyond me.
It’s clear that “Born in the U.S.A.” is doing everything it can to keep Revolution on a relatively straight forward path. We have three clear stories happening at the same time that will most likely connect later on in the show. If this season can avoid becoming overly complicated I can honestly see it being one enjoyable hour of television. We’ll just have to keep watching and hope we’re that fortunate.