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Saturday, 31 of October of 2020

Revolution – “Kashmir”

“Now you need me.”

Charlie, Nora, and Aaron try to break the door down.

Is this Revolution or Legends of the Hidden Temple?

If there’s one thing I hate about an episode of television, it’s when the episode goes out of its way to tell us something we already know.

I don’t mean the “Previously On” or whatever mysteries we’ve managed to sort out before it’s revealed. I mean spending time in the episode like we’re idiots telling us information we already have because either the show underestimates the audience’s attention or is filling time. We’re talking about awkward soliloquies and, my most reviled breed of television episode, the clip show.

You’ll recognize this tendency mostly in sitcoms when characters rehash a storyline in ten seconds or less when the show comes back from commercial to remind us of what happened. After a lifetime of television, I’ve become particularly numb to that brand of insult, especially since it’s basically one cog in a formula by now. Having a character not awkwardly review what happened two minutes ago would make the show seem incomplete. A network exec might send revisions back just based on that alone.

The more insulting ones are part of the serialized drama. Chuck was guilty of this all the time. As a tool to make a show more attractive to syndication (to lessen the learning curve when stripping the show either out of order or for an audience that isn’t necessarily going to watch 5 times a week) so new, casual, or senile viewers, the plot-thus-far of any of the ongoing story arcs would be reviewed in the first few minutes of the episode. Chuck would rattle off a series of clumsily assembled words to make sure the audience remembers what’s at stake.

What does this have to do with Revolution? Consider that 70% of this episode to be those clumsily assembled words.

Now, I’m not sour on the use of surrealism or dream sequences in order to convey new facts about characters, no fears, or new perspectives. It’s important that these feel natural, however, and not like we’re being ambushed by a terrible plot point. Unfortunately, that’s what the hallucination sequences felt like for this episode. Watching the “Previously On,” you were probably just as surprised as I was to see Mark Pellegrino tells us about Miles being the head of the militia again, and for Aaron’s wife to be brought up, and watching Ben die again. These are all facts we know as part of the mythology of the show by now and the pre-teaser space is usually reserved for the pertinent current events.

Maybe I should’ve considered that this is the penultimate episode before the fall break. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by penultimate episodes in Breaking Bad that I thought this would have more bite than it did. What I did not expect, however, is that the reason why we had all those known facts in “Previously On” is because they wanted to remind us about them in a more expanded way later. Basically, it was a taste of what you already know so they can give you a remedial course on it during the episode.

And even that would be fine with me if what we gained from the course wasn’t so trivial. The hallucination sequence was sprung on us, first of all. The march to Philadelphia might’ve been marked with more engaging conflict but, instead, it was marked with filler with a catalyst so unrealistic that I have to consciously suspend my disbelief. Do you know how pathetic that is? In order to get through the segment, I had to think to myself, “Oh my gah that’s so dumb but maybe? I’m not of doctor so, okay, that could be right. oh wait Nora’s in some water.”

That Aaron had on the tip of his tongue that lack of oxygen to the brain could cause hallucinations was pretty far-fetched (because no one there is a doctor either) and, from my limited amount of research, patients with cerebral hypoxia only have hallucinations during recovery. I’m willing to learn otherwise but the point is that it didn’t sound right to me at the time and, after looking into it, it still doesn’t seem right to me. Things I might have accepted:

  • Nerve gas was sent through the subway at some point
  • Charlie and the gang, so desperate for food, ate some mushrooms they shouldn’t have
  • Everyone has fever dreams at the same time
  • The Trickster from Supernatural

But all of this would’ve been fine had the dream sequences brought anything to the story. Aaron being pestered by his wife like a 10-year old little sister? Charlie having breakfast with her dad who offers her no wisdom or information? Nora being attacked by a what I can only assume is a Street Shark?

And what everyone must have thought was the most amazing idea, one that Eric Kripke, Led Zeppelin fanboy, was able to use the song “Kashmir” to soundtrack, Miles faces Monroe in his own head. But nothing new is illuminated except for a fear that Miles might defect. Though, if that happened, they would have to introduce someone else to lead this team, like, now because Nora is prone to be a maverick, Aaron is scared of his own shadow, and Charlie has only proven herself able to ruin plans and be obstinate.

So the next level we have to examine is if these dreams do anything to develop the characters or make us feel more empathetic. Nora was attacked by something under water. That doesn’t really make her more nuanced. I’d be scared of being attacked by a Street Shark, too. For Aaron, we get a condensed version of his flashback episode. Nothing new there. Charlie loves her dad. Okay. The only one that even remotely conveys a new understanding is Miles with his fear of falling back in line because it’s easier but we know that can’t be true and I don’t think the series has the balls to allow Miles to do it.

So we’re left with the fact that this is filler, a review session before the fall finale. I’m left with the feeling that not much really happened over the past 9 episodes. Just about every episode reset with the our four mains and no real movement has been made since the inciting incident in the pilot. Maybe episode 10 will make me feel like we’ve made some progress but, beyond that, I’m hoping that, beyond the break, the show starts to get moving. Kripke said in Revolution Revealed for episode 9 that it’ll start living up to the expectation in the second half of the season. We can only hope.

Oh, and some other things happened, too:

  • We finally get a clear understanding of what the pendants are: wireless batteries, or at least they’re like wireless batteries. My assumption before was that there was something released into the air that voids electricity but these pendants neutralize that effect. Wireless batteries does, indeed, make me curious (again) for what caused the Blackout.
  • NBC really promoted the heck out of Led Zeppelin being used in the episode despite the fact that only a portion of “Kashmir” was used before a commercial break and “Since I’ve Been Lovin’ You” which is used for story effect but, with how much NBC promoted this thing, you’d think the whole episode was a tribute with wall-to-wall Robert Plant. I mean, come on: even the Godzilla with Matthew Broderick had a version of “Kashmir” in it. Let’s take it down a notch.
  • I guess Jaffe was upset with Rachel so that’s why he ratted her out for the bomb. But you’d think that he might want to keep quiet on that for the greater good. Oh well. He’s dead now. Being Rachel’s friend sucks.
  • Did they give that awesome archer girl a name and a history and then kill her in the same episode? Seems like a waste. Ashley seems like she could be a help where Charlie has failed incessantly.
  • Did anyone else get some Abre Los Ojos flashbacks from Miles demanding she open her eyes?

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