Revolution: What to Expect


by Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)

We’ve been waiting in anticipation for NBC’s new sci-fi thriller, Revolution, from creator Eric Kripke and executive producer J.J. Abrams, for some time. The pilot episode, though available online for weeks now, premiered last night to television audiences. Reviews are flooding in, and the general consensus seems to lean toward “let’s wait and see” rather than “I’m on board.” This is a healthy response and if nothing else, assurance that the pilot has done its job — intrigued viewers enough to leave them wanting more.

I find myself along this same line of thought, reserving judgment for more evidence. By all accounts, the show is poised to fill the sci-fi/drama sized hole in viewer’s hearts after numerous attempts from several networks to do so. The question is, will Revolution do it well? We’re not looking for Lost 2.0, but we are looking for authenticity.

A brief recap for those who missed the premiere: Revolution is set fifteen years after the “blackout,” when technology as we know it has collapsed world-wide. The plot centers around the Matheson family, with Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and her Uncle Miles (Billy Burke) serving as the cornerstones, though there is a strong ensemble cast with several potential scene stealers in the lineup. Danny Matheson (Graham Rogers), Charlie’s younger brother, is taken by the formidable militia leader, Captain Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) as collateral to be used against Uncle Miles. The militia wants something that Miles has, and they will go to any lengths to get their hands on it.

As of now, there are several questions looming for the audience. I’m not so sure how believable it is that the American government collapsed entirely and so rapidly just fifteen years after a blackout. It seems there would be some remnants of organization left standing. Another detail causing some eyebrows to rise: the U.S. military is non-existent. The “Monroe Republic” is seemingly a corrupt offshoot of what once was the U.S. military. The evolution from democracy to dictatorship is easier swallowed than the theory of total military collapse. The fifteen-year time gap does pose some uncertainties, but I can appreciate that the series picks up a good amount of time after the initial “event.” This allows for a steady, established setting, granting us a reprieve from those chaotic reaction scenes in most apocalyptic dramas.

While questions linger, there are several things we can definitely expect from this series; one is a cool set. The pilot was filmed in Atlanta, but production chose Wilmington, North Carolina for the series’ filming. This is a good move for aesthetic reasons. I’m expecting some sweeping landscape shots, and in a world where society is now heavily revolving around farming and hunting, the geographical makeup of North Carolina will lend some authenticity. Easy access to rural areas is a must.

Another aspect I’m looking forward to is the contrast between modernity and the charm of days long past. The blackout reverts these characters to a time where people read actual books with actual pages, a time without computer screens and smart phones, a time where not working means not eating. Evening tasks are done by firelight, and one relies solely on the company of others for entertainment. It’s essentially a modern-day period piece. I’m interested to see if there are still signs of a difficult transition. Are these characters fully immersed in their culture, or are there days of longing over past memories?

I’m most excited about the potential for a strong female lead. Charlie has some spunk and it will be interesting to see how her character develops. She isn’t that overtly powerful girl, but she’s resilient and still has an emotional side, which is relatable. If there is anything a show needs for people to invest in it, it’s relatable characters. Charlie is the linchpin in a shaky family dynamic, and her role as a leader will continue to gain strength throughout the series.

As Revolution gets rolling, we can be sure that some interesting blanks will be filled in the coming weeks, like the mysterious download, and the puzzling relationship between Miles and General Monroe — leader of the “Monroe Republic”– to name a few. Is there a literal revolution coming? The series is perfectly positioned for a rebel army to form and rise up against the villainous militia. General curiosity about plot development is enough incentive for me to continue watching for now. The blueprint for something good is there, we’ll have to wait and see what’s done with it.

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