Reviews

REVOLUTION: “The Children’s Crusade”

In the days leading up to tonight’s Revolution we were promised answers and reveals – two things that were, for the most part, doled out in a satisfying way (or at least, as satisfying as could be given our place in the series.) We got some intel concerning the origin of the blackout, we got some background on Rachel’s choices that led to her capture, we found out what happened to Grace, we figured out who the identity of “Randall” was. And in a moment that actually played out very well on camera, we got a glaring look at how very well the coveted pendants can work when the lighthouse Aaron was hiding in acquired power for the first time in 15 years, ultimately exposing his secret to Charlie, Miles and Nora.

Just like that, Revolution upped its game considerably where its mythology was concerned and grabbed our attention in a way it never had before. The hour also showed us how good the show can be when it puts engaging, talented actors in a room together and builds a story around them. In one of the best scenes of the night, Monroe and Neville interrogate Rachel about the pendants and the fact that they can’t seem to find any of the people whom she had previously told them about. The scene is short, filled with quiet exposition rather than overly flashy effects, yet between Elizabeth Mitchell’s quiet subtlety, David Lyons’ understated danger and Giancarlo Esposito’s amazing nonverbal expressions, all three actors captive you with an emotionally charged exchange I completely bought. Well done, indeed.

The title of the episode did more than refer to one of the main plotlines of the hour – it served as its underlying tone, reminding us that Revolution, above all else, IS a children’s crusade. It’s about our future and about fighting for a world that we want to protect for the people we love. Charlie is fighting for her brother, Miles is fighting for Charlie, and Nora is fighting for her lost child. Ben died to protect them both and Rachel, as we found out, did everything in her power to put her children first even though it meant putting her own life in danger – something she’s still doing years later. More so, unlike last week’s misleading “Sex and Drugs,” “The Children’s Crusade” set out to accomplish what its title implied, as Charlie and Co. came upon a group of kids whose parents had died at the hands of the Milita. Turns out that Peter, a young boy Charlie had previously seen getting carted off by soldiers, was the brother of Michael, one of the “left behind” boys hiding out in refuge. Apparently captured young children aren’t just taken into the Milita – they’re made to serve on a slave-type ship where they’re brainwashed into becoming stone-cold fighters. In typical Charlie fashion, she latched onto her own crusade of needing to save everyone, especially when she found herself personally connected to Michael’s story of his brother’s abduction. Surprisingly, Miles didn’t talk her out of her decision for once which means either he still has guilt over taking Rachel away from her kids or that when he was in the Milita, he was involved in similar situations that he since regrets. Perhaps he’s a direct link to the fact that these kids are taken and brainwashed in the first place. Regardless of the reason (which may or may not eventually be revealed) it felt like the character finally got a few more substantial layers, all of which I look forward to seeing become revealed when we have our big face off with Monroe and Miles before the end of the season.

Miles isn’t the only one who gained some character development in this hour. Last week, I mentioned that with Aaron’s step forward in taking control, I hoped to see him do more than just play the funny guy. Not a week later, he effectively succeeded in taking out two Milita men to save the kids he was left to look after and he also did a decently good job standing up to both Miles and Charlie when they confronted him about the pendants. As for Charlie, putting her on the other end of the “headstrong, rash decision making” spectrum by allocating her usual actions to Michael and watching her react to things she’s used to doing herself was a nice role reversal that showed maybe Charlie’s not as one-note as a lot of people seem to think. I still am of the opinion that the ultimate problem with Charlie’s character lies with the fact that there hasn’t had much to explore, aside from her relationship issues with Miles and her determination to save Danny. The good news is we know the Danny storyline won’t last forever and maybe it’s the fact that the show keeps getting more enjoyable, but I keep getting more confident that Spiridakos will turn Charlie into someone who does more than just defy rules in every situation.

I was thrilled to see lots of involvement from both Elizabeth Mitchell and Tim Guinee in this episode; with Mitchell’s Rachel taking center stage in what could be considered the most we’ve seen of her character so far. Arguably the strongest part of the hour, her scenes with Guinee were so spot-on that they garnered more interest and emotion than most storylines that we’ve spent 30-40 minutes invested in. The flashbacks to the early days before Danny’s birth were a welcome dose of information and plot development, and I loved seeing more of her relationship with Ben – which apparently wasn’t all sunshine and roses. In fact, Rachel was actually the one to warn Ben about the consequences of the device they developed with the help of Grace (their former co-worker), a gone-wrong invention in an attempt to create a low-cost, clean energy source. Ben, meanwhile, was too blindsided by wanting to help his family to consider what unpleasant possibilities could occur if the government got their hands on the device.

I’ve said it before and will continue to say it so long as there are episodes that warrant it – Mitchell does more with her face than most actors can do with complete lines of dialogue. There were multiple scenes in this episode that completely got to me emotionally (among them: Rachel’s face when she found out about the condition hindering unborn Danny’s life, her desperate pleading with her friend Brad to give up the location of the pendants, the all-consuming overload of guilt when she realized her actions unknowingly led to the capture of Brad’s daughter) and caused me to realize how good this show is when it uses its best resources wisely. Bottom line: can we please just figure out a way to put Elizabeth Mitchell in every episode from here on out, flashbacks or no flashbacks?

It was refreshing to see Maria Howell’s Grace again, if only for a short while – but at least her presence was enough to satiate us for now. What do we know? She’s alive, she’s being kept in the same kind of well-groomed confines that we’ve seen Rachel in, and she seems surprisingly calm given the entire nature of her situation. We also now know the identity of her attacker – none other than Flynn, the seemingly harmless Department of Defense employee who initially pressured Ben to give up his device and who at one time approached Rachel with a deal for a medical trial that would save Danny. We don’t know if there’s more to this story than meets the eye (we’ll assume for now that Rachel took Flynn up on his offer, but things aren’t always what they seem) and I’m wondering if this is going to start to delve into X-Files territory where we find out that there’s more involvement by the government than we would probably ever consider.

Final Thoughts:

  • Anyone else want to petition with me for the Miles and Nora show? I’ve decided that I need some more flashbacks of their past, especially if it involves them kicking ass together.
  • It’ll be interesting to see how, upon reunion, Rachel reacts to Charlie having the Milita symbol. However much it’s not indicative of Charlie’s choices, I can’t imagine that seeing your daughter branded with the one thing that’s representative of what you hate most would sit well – no matter how much you were able to talk your way out of it.
  • Like mother, like daughter – Charlie learns the hard (and painful) way that sometimes it’s not worth it to save everyone…at least, not without great cost and consequences. Rachel learns the same when she’s blindsided by Monroe, who kicks out the rug from underneath her when he uses her information to capture Brad’s daughter and leaves her in a puddle of guilt.
  • “Another month, and we won’t be able to leave the lights on,” says Ben to Rachel when he learns that she’s hesitant to accept the DoD’s contract. Hey, it’s the irony that counts, right? (And I actually did find this line amusing.)

What did you think of the episode? And with only three hours left before the four-month hiatus, what do YOU want to see revealed?

2 thoughts on “REVOLUTION: “The Children’s Crusade”

    • Jim – the full reasoning behind Rachel’s decision was not entirely explained, but it’s known through earlier flashbacks that Rachel voluntarily left her family to join Miles when he was head of the Milita. All we know is she told him “I came, just like I promised” – but we don’t yet know what the rest of that background is. It’s assumed that she knew people were looking for her family and chose to sacrifice herself to keep them safe.

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