‘Revolution’ Episode 20 review: ‘The Dark Tower’

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe in REVOLUTION. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe in “Revolution.” Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

REVOLUTION “The Dark Tower”

Season 1 Episode 20 (Season Finale)
Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Teleplay: Eric Kripke & Paul Grellong
Story: Eric Kripke
Director: Charles Beeson

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Miles (Billy Burke) and Monroe (David Lyons) temporarily join forces to escape the Tower guard and end up falling into a tunnel filled with rushing water. Nora (Daniella Alonso) manages to grab onto something and stays behind. The boys get washed out of the Tower onto a sandy beach and immediately resume fighting (because that’s what they do), only stopping when a Militia soldier appears and fires. Monroe identifies himself as the soldier’s commanding officer and is shocked when the man continues to shoot before running off. In the confusion Miles disappears.

Up (or down, as it were) in the Tower, Grace Beaumont (Maria Howell) is still whingeing on about not knowing what will happen if they turn the power back on, but Rachel insists that the chance that everyone would die is only one in a billion. Grace is not convinced and feels it is too dangerous to try. Dan warns Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) that any effort on her group’s part to gain access to Level 12 will result in their death. So, of course, doing just that becomes Rachel’s top priority.

Aaron (Zak Orth) goes snooping on a Tower computer and recognizes some of his own work from college. He confronts Grace and learns that they are using his code for the Tower’s operating system.

Randall Flynn (Colm Feore) finds the Tower’s bunker and smashes the framed photo of George Bush that Rachel was staring at so fixedly in the last episode to reveal a hidden key card. In the building’s medical unit, Rachel chloroforms an unsuspecting Grace so she can swipe her personal key card. Aaron and Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) look on as co-conspirators in Rachel’s plan.

In the Militia camp, Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) kills the soldier Franklin (Ramon Fernandez), and lies to his son Jason (JD Pardo) that it was an act of self-defense.

Aaron remembers that he built a virtual backdoor in his code and says that he thinks the worldwide blackout was done intentionally (well, DUH.) Nora suddenly reappears and is welcomed by Charlie.

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

In a flashback to their Militia days, Miles and Monroe are together in a restaurant when it is bombed. While recuperating afterwards, Miles learns that Monroe has had the rebel bomber and his wife and three children killed in retaliation and as an example to other rebel forces. Monroe is pleased by his own actions, but Miles and Nora look on in dismay as the family’s coffins are being unloaded.

Back in the present, Monroe and Miles meet up and continue fighting and sniping at each other like two ex-lovers (because that’s what they do). Miles is still angry that Monroe changed for the worse once he came to power, and Monroe is still angry that Miles betrayed him, and whines that everything he did was for his friend. While they are bickering, a helicopter pops up and fires at them, causing them to run. A Militia soldier manages to knock out Monroe and then takes him back to camp under guard. There he is greeted by Neville, who snarls, “There’s been a change in management.”

Monroe threatens to kill Neville and his wife and son, but his former captain is unfazed. Neville believes that Monroe has become deranged and has a “borderline erotic fixation” on Miles (worst kept secret EVER). He plans not to kill Monroe, but to put the General on trial. “You frighten, I inspire.” (Someone has read too many management books.)

Old buddy Miles comes to the rescue, removing Monroe’s handcuffs and saying, “We’re still brothers… and that’s never gonna change,” before telling Monroe to flee.

On the way to the Level 12 stairway, Nora admits that she knows that Rachel loves Miles, and tells Rachel that she thinks Miles loves her as well. “He’ll choose you every time.” Aaron, Rachel and Nora use explosives to take out the stairway guards, but Nora is hurt in the crossfire.

The Militia blows open the doors to the Tower (they didn’t need no stinkin’ 32-character access code, did they?), and Neville and the soldiers go inside and stumble across Grace. Miles slips inside again, too.

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, Daniella Alonso as Nora, and Billy Burke as Miles Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, Daniella Alonso as Nora, and Billy Burke as Miles Matheson in “The Dark Tower.” Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

While working on the injured Nora, Rachel hears the Militia approaching. Charlie wants to take Nora to the infirmary, but Rachel thinks their priority should be turning the lights back on. Charlie pleads with Rachel to stay and help Nora, reminding her that Danny is dead but that she still has a daughter who needs her help, but her mother refuses.

Rachel takes Aaron and leaves Charlie behind with Nora. A Militia scout hears them and breaks in. He is choking Charlie when Miles arrives to stab the guy in the throat and save the day (well, sort of). He tries to carry Nora to the infirmary, but she dies in his arms in the hallway. (Told you so! This was blatantly foreshadowed in Episode 17 “The Longest Day.”)

Neville and his men stop Rachel and Aaron on Level 12. Miles and Charlie appear and wipe out most of the red shirt soldiers, except for Neville and Jason (because they have season two contracts). Grace slips away. Rachel, Charlie, Aaron and Miles use the key card to get into the Level 12 Command Center and lock the doors behind them. While Tom searches for a way inside the room, Aaron runs the shutdown script hoping it can turn on the world’s power again. The screen goes black for several moments.

After a few silent seconds of doubt, we see power begin to return all across the globe. Apparently nobody bothered to flip any switches to “off” 15 years ago, because lights start flickering on en masse everywhere, and of course, people react with amazement at their electrical appliances suddenly working again.

Seeing the power return, Georgia Federation president Foster (Leslie Hope) makes immediate plans to attack Monroe Militia headquarters in Philadelphia. Monroe himself is now wandering out beyond of the Tower in the midst of a terrific electrical storm – something the world hasn’t seen in 15 years.

I guess this means no Dragon*Con this year?? Credit: NBC

I guess this means no Dragon*Con this year?? Credit: NBC

Flynn blasts his way into the Command Center, locks himself in the control booth and launches the Tower’s nuclear weapons towards Atlanta and Philadelphia. He tells Charlie and company that he wants to unite the nation, and declares himself “a patriot” right before shooting himself in the head. With no way into the control room and the clock ticking down, the group can only watch the screen as the ICBMs make their way to their targets.

The President of the United States Colony in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba marvels at the return of electricity. An aide arrives, announces that “Randall Flynn did it,” before adding “It’s time to go home, Mr. President.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • How exactly did Miles and Monroe get washed down and out of the Tower when the Tower is completely underground?
  • I used to like the flashbacks because they were often better written than the modern storylines, but they have become too repetitive and don’t really advance the story any more. Just drop them.
  • They blow open the Tower’s blast doors with plastic explosives? Really? Surely the vice-presidential bunker would be better shielded than that. You should need nukes to get in, at the very least.
  • What exactly was the point of Randall’s suicide? There was just no need to kill himself whatsoever.
  • Most of the “science” in this episode was so nonsensical that it made my head hurt. Just how far away from Atlanta is the Tower? In range of the expected nuclear fallout, perhaps? Are remaining seasons (heaven help us) all going to take place entirely underground because everyone is avoiding the radiation? And don’t get me started on the implausibility of all of the world’s unmaintained electric power plants suddenly springing instantly to life and the power grid automatically restoring itself without any human intervention whatsoever. Ridiculous! I could go on and on, but why bother?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Effective use of blacked screen and then cut to commercials after Aaron hits the enter key. Too bad this was the first (and only) truly suspenseful moment in the entire series to date.
  • Guantanamo Bay being the home of the exiled President was a nice touch.
  • There were no shoehorned-in pop culture references this episode, except for the title. (And, BTW, the continuing choice of episode titles with their often tissue-thin connection to the stories? Ugh.)
  • Nora got a decent-enough death, and Miles even cried.

My take: Daniella Alonso did a nice job trying to flesh out her sadly underwritten part for nearly 20 episodes, and it’s my opinion that her departure is for the best, especially for her, as this show is going nowhere fast.

Since the entire premise of “Revolution” was centered on the idea that the world was completely stripped of electricity, and now it’s not, it can be assumed that the producers intend to take the second season in a completely different direction. So what exactly was the point of the first 20 episodes, then? What a waste of a good premise! It seems that no one knew how to really make use of it except to smother it in tired tropes and then abandon it for lack of creativity. What a shame.

‘Revolution’ Episode 19 review: ‘Children of Men’

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson and Zak Orth as Aaron in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

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

REVOLUTION “Children of Men”
Season 1 Episode 19
Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writers: David Rambo & Jim Barnes
Director: Frederick E.O. Toye

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Monroe

Monroe (David Lyons) and Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) are surprised when they gain access to the Tower. Credit: NBC

Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) gets tackled by one of Monroe’s bodyguards and the live grenade she brought to execute him with gets chucked outside, so that instead of the General only a few Militia soldiers get killed. Aaron (Zak Orth) fearfully watches the explosion from a distance and later sees Rachel being marched off to the Tower.

Monroe (David Lyons) demands that Rachel open the Tower’s electronic doors. She is just as surprised as he is that her handprint works as a key. Flynn (Colm Feore) assumes that Grace Beaumont (Maria Howell) reprogrammed the system to allow access.

Two Militia officers left outside by Monroe to guard the entrance discuss the General’s decisions, with one expressing a growing dissatisfaction with his leadership. They watch helplessly as the Tower’s doors automatically close behind Monroe’s group.

The residents of the Tower watch Monroe and his forces arrive. Credit: NBC

The residents of the Tower watch with trepidation as Monroe and his forces arrive. Credit: NBC

Watching on monitors from the safety of a control room, the mysterious Tower People grab some big guns and prepare to face down the intruders. Now inside, Flynn tells Monroe about the amazing resources available within the Tower, the “crown jewel” of the US Military,” and reveals that any person in the world can be spied upon or killed with just the push of a button. (Shades of the Tantalus Field weapon in the “Star Trek” TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror.”) But he adds that they have to get to Level 12 to access all of that good stuff.

They soon find that the elevators will only descend as far as Level 11, and when exiting Monroe and his group are attacked by the Tower People using powerful “coilgun” weaponry that uses electromagnets instead of gunpowder and can apparently fire grenades. (See and read about the real technology behind this type of gun here.) All of the non-credited bodyguards are immediately annihilated, but Rachel manages to flee to safety inside a shielded bunker and Monroe follows her. Flynn vanishes.

Arriving via helicopter about four miles from the Tower, Miles (Billy Burke), Nora (Daniella Alonso), Jason (JD Pardo), Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) stumble across Aaron in the woods. He thinks they can get into the Tower using the Big Book of Secrets.

Hope you looked quickly, because this was your only chance. Credit: NBC

Hope you looked fast at that 32-character access code, because that was your only chance. Credit: NBC

As a diversion, Neville and Jason sneak into Monroe’s camp and blow up the power source, while the rest of the gang fights their way to the Tower entrance. Amidst the intense firefight, Aaron enters the override code gleaned from Warren’s Big Book of Secrets and opens the doors so that they can slip inside. However, during the fighting Neville and Jason get left outside and are surrounded by enemy troops.

Now held captive in the Militia camp, Neville tries to foment revolt by taunting the two soldiers holding him and pointing out the fact that Monroe is acting increasingly paranoid and erratic and must eventually turn on his own men as he has done so many times before. The dissatisfied soldier from earlier returns and releases the prisoners, saying that 12 of the men are now ready to take down Monroe and that the others will follow if they take out Franklin.

Rachel refuses to tell Monroe anything about the Tower or how to access the heavy-duty weaponry he discovers inside a gun locker within the bunker because she blames him for her son Danny’s murder. He reveals that he has a son, too.

Tim Guinee in his thankless role as Ben Matheson in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Tim Guinee in his thankless role as Ben Matheson in “Revolution.” Credit: NBC

In a flashback to four months after the blackout, we see Ben (Tim Guinee) using a power amulet and a computer to try to contact others. Grace Beaumont is the person who replies. Rachel is whining about the downfall of civilization being all their fault (well, it is) and how she wants to just give up, but Ben tells her that they must survive for Charlie and Danny’s sake.

Back in the Tower, Aaron, Miles and Charlie run from Tower People who pursue them and enter an abandoned lab, where Aaron way too conveniently discovers a scrap of blueprint with the location of an armory (it’s a trap, people!), but they find it is empty. In the ensuing fight with the Tower People Miles gains some of their fancy coilgun weaponry.

Monroe (David Lyons) gets to use the big guns at last. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Monroe (David Lyons) gets to use the big guns at last in “Revolution.” Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Rachel catches a glimpse of Charlie on a security monitor and makes yet another bad decision by agreeing to give Monroe access to the gun locker. She and Monroe then rescue Charlie, Nora and Aaron, but Monroe slips off when more Tower People appear. They are taken to meet the group of survivors who have been living underground guarding the Tower and preventing anyone from getting to level 12 and its secrets. Grace is there and steps forward to welcome Aaron as a still-unexplained “big deal” to the Tower dwellers.

Fearing what might happen if they turn the power back on, a former associate of Rachel and Ben’s named Dan wants to burn Dr. Warren’s Big Book of Secrets. Aaron argues that a return to civilized life would be the best thing for everyone, but Grace warns that flipping the switch might do more than turn the lights back on, it might also set the world on fire.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Just like all of the bad guys in previous episodes, Monroe’s handpicked security personnel appear to have attended Stormtrooper School, where being able to hit the broad side of a barn is not considered an essential skill.
  • Why does it take an entire book to hold the secret of getting into the Tower, when all they needed was one 32-character override code? Dr. Warren couldn’t have scribbled this on the back of an envelope or something? And why hadn’t the Tower People just changed it during the last 15 years?
  • How do the satellites work without any power existing on most of the earth to send them guidance signals?
  • Why is it that only the dead female soldier has an open uniform top that reveals an abundance of sexy tank top cleavage as she is turned over? Were the powerful coil weapons set on “unbutton jackets” as well?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Less banal dialogue, more ‘splosions. (It might help if they didn’t talk at all, really.)
  • The sets and cinematography, most especially the lighting and use of color inside the Tower, were again outstanding. I certainly hope they are paying Production Designer Doug Meerdink and Director of Photography David Stockton the big bucks, because their hard work is what is keeping “Revolution” watchable.

My take: Getting into the Tower at last is hopefully a good thing. With the season finale next week, there exists the possibility of new characters, new stories and new challenges emerging in season two. (And more former “24” cast members will undoubtedly show up only to be killed off after only one or two episodes, so at least somebody is getting some part time work out of this.)

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