Last week’s “Dead Man Walking” may have been more hyped on the promotional front, and it’s not that the hour wasn’t good. But “The Patriot Act” was, in retrospect, a much stronger episode in terms of both character development and plotlines, introducing a formidable new villain and lots of new issues that should help continue to steer the show forward as we head into sweeps season and eventually, into the winter finale.
Last week, we were (briefly) introduced to the unsettling Dr. Calvin Horn, Rachel’s former Department of Defense co-worker, better known as Zeljko Ivanek, better known to LOST fans as Edmund Burke, the pesky ex-husband of Juliet. Despite the fact that the show seems to be hell-bent on turning Rachel Matheson into Juliet Burke 2.0, I tend to try to keep my LOST bias out of sight and mind when I watch an episode. However, I have to admit that I had way too much fun watching Ivanek and Elizabeth Mitchell work together again, particularly during the scene where Horn grills Rachel about the nanites. (Somewhere in the back of my brain, I was also shouting for Richard Alpert to come along with a bus, but that clearly didn’t happen.) I feel as though Ivanek has made a living out of playing creepy and unlikeable characters, and casting him was a sharp choice in terms of spicing up the show’s usual one-dimensional baddies – which was much of last season’s issue.
While the Patriots are still trying to infuse the town with fear by placing blame on the Andover clan, our main characters are trying to move forward with their own lives as conflicts continue to pile up. Cynthia found out about Aaron’s powers – and not in a good way – following a nearly botched escape attempt that ended with the Patriots going up in flames and Monroe coming to the rescue. And after a seemingly random explosion comes out of nowhere, Gene goes off on the Patriots, immediately blaming them for putting the town at risk. Though they deny that they had anything to do with the it, the moment, right out of the gate, does allow us to get a sense of just how deep Gene is in with these people. We learned a bit of backstory about how Gene got involved with the Patriots in the first place, seven years after the blackout when they came to town after his wife died. Bribing him with medicine that could prevent needless death from illnesses such as cholera, Gene tangles himself up within their loyalties, soon learning through death and torture that he’s on the wrong side of the law (Come on, Gene. Anytime anyone says, “we’re the good guys,” that’s usually cause to run away.) To his credit, he does try to get out, but as his medicine is the source of the town’s wellness, he’s also caught between a rock and a hard place.
It’s this “hook” that the Patriots, namely Dr. Horn and leader Truman (Desperate Housewives’ Stephen Culp, who will forever just be Rex to me) employ when they’re trying to figure out who wields the power of the nanites, eventually breaking down Gene enough so that he betrays Aaron, and later, the group’s escape plan. Interestingly enough, it’s not Gene’s “evilness” that causes him to act out, it’s the fact that he truly fears for the wellbeing of Rachel – and in true Matheson family fashion, sometimes you have to make the wrong choice to protect the ones you love, even if you know that you’ll get in trouble for them. I really love what they’re doing to Gene this season. Again, in straying from one-dimensional character mode where he’s simply the man who turned on his family, they’re giving Stephen Collins a nice plotline to work with and a lot of emotional ground to cover. Certainly, it makes the character more likable, and it helps the audience feel more of a connection.
As I (and most others) surmised last week, Monroe’s death was faked thanks to some crafty medicine work from Rachel, and the group has hidden him on the outskirts of town while they figure out their next move. The gesture, combined with Rachel’s admission that it was Charlie’s pleading that caused her to save his life, was enough to allow for some mother-daughter reconciliation…though the two still have a long way to go before they start sharing sappy talks and emotional secrets. Still, the partial breakdown of the wall allowed for what ultimately became the episode’s payoff – a grief-stricken Rachel breaking down as she lets herself realize that her father is and has always been a traitor, with Charlie being the one to comfort her. Though I both love and hate to see Elizabeth Mitchell cry thanks to how emotional I get in turn, the moment was one of the highlights of the hour for me.
Jason and Neville are still off on their own adventures, which seem to be on the verge of coming to a resolution. While Allenford is convinced that Jason is dangerous, Neville trusts his son, the result of which allows us to learn that Jason may be back. Thanks to the Patriots brainwashing, however, he’s not exactly the boy he once was: by killing two people in cold blood without blinking an eye, he pretty much establishes himself as a stone cold murderer (and one has to wonder what Charlie’s going to think of all this if and when they ever get reunited.) It’s an entire 180 from the Jason we knew and met back in season one, but it’s also a direction I find interesting. For one, I feel that Jason has been entirely underused – allowing him to take on some more layers means perhaps his character will grow more than it did last season. For another, I love when characters take on darker paths, as it usually allows for more conflicts, both with themselves and those that they’re in relationships with. Having Neville and Jason work together on a ruthless power level really intrigues me, especially with the fact that Neville seems determined to get Allenford and her army out of the picture.
- Next week’s preview shows an angry Rachel going off on another rampage where she’s ready to kill anyone and everyone – even though people she cares about, like her father, may suffer. It’s an reaction we’ve seen before, but it’ll be interesting to see how this plays into Rachel and Charlie’s pseudo-make-up session, and if we’ll be back to square one with them after all.
- “No, Miles, I’m not alright – I’m hungry.” Did I mention how happy I am that the show was smart enough not to kill of David Lyons?
- I do wish Revolution would start to get slightly tighter in the way it tells its backstories – it’s hard to replicate the LOST formula, least of all because of the fact that the show’s characters are nowhere near as layered or intriguing. Revolution does a decent job with flashbacks, but oftentimes, when an episode delves into someone’s past (especially someone new), I feel a little bit confused about the bigger picture. And while I’m not asking for an entire 20-year history in 40 minutes, I suppose I’m looking for more consistency and tighter storytelling – especially if we’re going to continue to use the storytelling tool. It’s not a deal breaker, but it would help the show improve even more than it has.
What did you think of the episode?