‘Revolution’ Episode 7 review: ‘The Children’s Crusade’

Peter’s brother Michael explains how all of the parents disappeared in “Revolution.”  Credit: NBC

REVOLUTIONThe Children’s Crusade
Season 1 Episode 7
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writer: Matt Pitts
Director: Charles Beeson

When I first saw this episode’s ragtag community of kids living sans parental supervision and in fear of any adult, I was initially reminded of the “Miri” episode of the original “Star Trek.” For a few seconds I had hopes for a more involved pop culture tribute this week, but sadly the kids-on-their-own dynamic was as far as the resemblance to any past sci-fi glory went.

There was even a mini-clone for each of the lead characters (chubby kid for Aaron, updo hairstyle girl for Nora, back-talking, annoying brat for Charlie), but that parallel ended up going nowhere. The kids simply turned out to be just so much set dressing. Instead, “The Children’s Crusade” was yet another long, drawn-out rescue mission scenario, with the same basic set-up as last week’s “Sex and Drugs,” only this time with kids instead of pimps.

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson in “Revolution.” Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

“It’s irritating when a dumb kid tells you what to do, isn’t it?”

Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) decides to rescue the kidnapped leader of a kid-only community that she and the gang have stumbled across because the boy reminded her of her own missing brother Danny (Graham Rogers).

Miles (Billy Burke) is initially opposed to a rescue mission, but caves because he suddenly feels responsible for the kids’ rebel parents all having been captured and killed, as he figures that must have happened while he was the big bad Commanding General of the Monroe Militia.

Charlie’s rescue idea involves getting herself captured and taken to their Boot Camp Ship where the kidnapped boy Peter (Griffin Freeman) and others are being indoctrinated as new Militia soldiers. She plans to locate Peter and take him off the ship to safety. Amidst an armed company of soldiers. Stationed on a ship out in the middle of a vast lake. All by herself. Yeah, I think you see where this will end up.

Zak Orth as Aaron and Daniella Alonso as Nora in Episode 7 of “Revolution.” Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Hackneyed “Perils of Pauline” storyline: beyond boring now.

Why Miles, the ex-Marine with years of expert military training and super-duper fighting skills would agree to Charlie’s supremely ridiculous solo rescue plan is beyond me.

Of course, Charlie screws up and gets caught (in the process getting hot-iron branded as an official Militia soldier — which will no doubt help when somewhere down the roadshe has to infiltrate Monroe HQ…like we don’t see that coming…and which I guess was really the point of this whole episode) and has to be rescued YET AGAIN by big, strong Uncle Miles and Nora (Daniella Alonso). Why? Because that’s what they do every week, that’s why.

After the inevitable fisticuffs and swordplay fight aboard ship is won by our gang (during which inexplicably none of the Militia leaders saw or heard the second rescue team approaching), Aaron (Zak Orth) reveals to Miles that Ben gave him the power amulet and what he has seen it do.

Conor O’Farrell as Dr. Bradley Jaffe in “Revolution.” Credit: NBC

Like daughter, like mother.

Charlie must get that whining gene from her mom. Back in a Monroe HQ prison cell, mom Rachel is pressured into ratting out one of her husband’s former colleagues and then trying to get him to reveal where his own power amulet is hidden, but Dr. Jaffe (Conor O’Farrell) is far too intelligent to fall for her poor acting skills.

Let’s face it, Rachel is so determined to save her son Danny from threatened torture that she was willing to turn Militia spy. Because of her short-sightedness about the bigger picture, we learn that Dr. Jaffe’s daughter was captured by the Militia and is now in direct peril. No amount of weeping on Rachel’s part can wash away her responsibility there.

Yet the character of Rachel has suddenly become more interesting now because I like her actions so much less. Her choices have directly imperiled other people and their children, and the revelation of her flaws have finally made her far more fascinating than the bland mother icon presented up ’til now. Unfortunately she also has a tendency to weep copiously under stress just like her daughter, which is just as annoying.

Colm Feore as DOD Assistant Secretary Flynn in “Revolution.” Credit: NBC

Finally, something interesting happens!

We find Grace (Maria Howell) also being held in the Militia prison, but she has been far less cooperative than Rachel.

Flashbacks reveal that the Mathesons, Brad Jaffe and Grace were part of a scientific research team trying to discover a new, low-cost power source, but had unexpectedly discovered a way to turn off the power instead, albeit in a limited way.

Seeing the potential uses as a weapon, the Department of Defense became extremely interested in acquiring and developing Ben’s new power-limiting device. (It’s always the big bad government’s fault, right? Not that that’s an overused plotline.) We see slimy DOD agent (Colm Feore) offering the reluctant Rachel medical help for her problem pregnancy in exchange for access to the new technology.

It could be inferred from this that back then Rachel had a choice and presumably chose the worst possible option in order to help save her then-unborn son. You really have to ask yourself, does doing the wrong thing for the right reasons make it okay?

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Only one sentry on deck duty aboard the Militia’s recruitment ship at night? Really? If so, the Militia is really lousy at this whole Bootcamp indoctrination thing.
  • Based on the force and impact of Charlie’s punching ability this week, I guess I must have missed the episodes where Uncle Miles taught her hand-to-hand combat. She did immediately get decked for her efforts, though, so that’s was plus.

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Charlie didn’t cry this week! Unless you count when she was getting branded with the Monroe insignia. Oh, so I guess she DID cry after all. Well, she had a good reason this time.
  • The graffiti in the kids’ hangout was really cool. Kudos to the production designer! As usual, set design, dressing and cinematography were excellent.

My take: I can’t believe that it took seven episodes to finally get even a hint of science talk into this so-called science-fiction show. I wasn’t expecting any detailed explanation of the worldwide power outage by now, but the number of facts revealed prior to this episode about the science of the power outage have been mind-numbingly few. So few, in fact, that I would have stopped watching “Revolution” after last week out of sheer boredom except that I am committed to reviewing it for the full season. At this point all I can do is hope that it will get better.

It does seem odd that out of the first seven episodes of the first season, two have been almost purely filler episodes that did next-to-nothing to advance the plot. It all feels like too much padding. I can only hope they hurry up and get to Monroe HQ where the real story seems to be.

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