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'Revolution' Recap: Philadelphia Freedom

By Henning Fog, Hollywood.com Staff

Before we get into the real meat and potatoes of this episode (the gang make their way through the Philadelphia underground, experiencing hallucinations along the way. There, we're done! And in time for some ZEP), I wanted to float an idea by everyone. Not so much a theory, which requires evidence and engagement, but a way of looking at Revolution that I think, for me anyway, helps explain so much of its aversion to being a good show.

Revolution is structured like a video game. Think about it: Each episode since the first has been centered on a particular mission or world, much like you see in… well, any game ever. A train heist. Last night, a subterranean reconnaissance mission. And these plots so dominate the episode of which they're a part as to convey a sort of ""You are here!"" mentality that's only broken by 1-2 errant B-Story scenes (last night, Rachel's Walter White bomb-building). The show's made no bones about Miles' Han Solo role. But he could just as easily be Master Chief or Tommy Vercetti, guiding you at the same time you're controlling him to explosive victory.

The weird thing is when I view an episode like last night's through this video game lens… it actually makes the whole experience go down much smoother. You can forgive more. Where on another show, 42 minutes spent just traipsing beneath the city occasionally but not fatally hallucinating might suggest a show that just fundamentally doesn't have many stories to tell, here we need it. How else are we going to defeat the Monroe Mecha-Bot that emerges next week if not for a major HP augmentation in the wilds outside his castle?

(I'll be returning to the ""Revolution is a weird video game"" well throughout the rest of the season, I'm sure. We've got to write about something, right?)

Nearly 90 percent — felt that way, anyway — of the run time of last night's episode was devoted to the gang making their way through the abandoned Philly speed line. Enlisting the help of a local chapter of Rebels Against Monroe, Miles led the way to a potential showdown with his old buddy. Which would have been great if they'd gotten there! This idea that in order for a show to be ""important,"" it must move glacially slow through plotlines is so absurd. Even the greats have fallen prey to it, sure. But that doesn't mean something can't be done in the future.

And as to the idea of ""hallucinations,"" here triggered by a lack of oxygen in the tunnels… I'm not sure what new information we gleaned. Miles had a dreamscape reunion with Monroe; Charlie found herself on her dad's couch, talking to him like it was no biggie. Aaron was reminded once more he's a COWARD! SUCH A COWARD. But it's all old hat, outdated and misplaced as a ""look how these characters have grown!"" mechanism. Plus Nora gets fake-dragged into the water in one room like she's Luke Skywalker battling the dianoga in the original Star Wars, which is both a nice homage and wickedly, wickedly offensive to me on every level.

ZEPPELIN. TWO SONGS. The episode was called ""Kashmir,"" so of course they played that. Anyone remember what the second (or first) song was? Kashmir had minimal impact considering it scored a known dream scene, which was a bummer. How do you blow your shot at ""Kashmir""?

Under Monroe's careful eye in Philadelphia, Rachel continued to build what she was telling people was a pendant amplifier — something that, in military hands, could effectively control an entire army. Turns out she was actually building a TIME BOMB like a loco person, hoping to snare Monroe in the blast in the process. You'll have to try harder, Rachel! But then, in a move fit only for Walter White, she guns down the doctor who'd offered a dissenting opinion and possible replacement status. In all seriousness — one of the first interesting things to happen on this show!

Little surprise to the fact that one member of the Rebellion camp turns traitor (or had turned traitor) and guns down several rebels before they can finally get aboveground. But Charlie, aka Katniss Everdeen — she's got that spark that won't go out and before long, she's tracked and killed the guy with her bow and arrow. Great work.

Some other stuff happened. It didn't matter so much. I'm fully confident that next week's Fall Finale will at least offer excitement, which we're always begging of this show. Until then…

[Image Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC]

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