Recap video and review for Revolution – Season 1 Episode 10 – Fall Finale – Nobody’s Fault But Mine
Though Revolution has been inconsistent in some respects, it’s always maintained a theme centering on family, not only in what constitutes a family, but also in what lengths people will go to for their family. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” does a wonderful job of encapsulating that theme in a tightly-packed hour. As is usually the case with Revolution, there’s a lot going on here; however, unlike in weeks past, the fall finale does a better job of juggling the various odds-and-ends of the episode, so that it never feels jumbled or overstuffed. But beyond that, it’s simply an exciting episode, one that wraps its explosive action setpieces around subtler character moments, so all that bombast actually has meaning when the time comes to dual-wield machetes. The episode’s character-based approach means that it doesn’t really do much to advance the worldbuilding aspects of the show, as there’s a lot we still don’t know about this society (such as how the United States was compartmentalized into different territories and warring factions, to say nothing of the details of how the Monroe Militia came into power). But I’m pretty sure the episode was never meant to further our understanding of this world, so the choice to center the piece on the interpersonal stories doesn’t feel like as much of a misstep as it otherwise might. There’s still a lot of work this show needs to do when it comes to establishing the sociopolitical landscape of its world, but for right now, Revolution succeeds by working within the framework of strong character stories.
“Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is a game-changing episode pretty much from the first five minutes. Miles (Billy Burke) brings Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), Aaron (Zak Orth), and Nora (Daniella Alonso) to one of his contacts in the area, who provides them shelter while Miles does a little reconnaissance. This turns out to be a trap, as Captain Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) discovers their location and takes Charlie into custody. Charlie is thrown into a dank prison cell where she meets…her mother, Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell). Both actresses play this scene beautifully, but Spiridakos, in particular, is impressive. Her face and posture essentially transition from shock to defensiveness, and these are all performance traits that don’t require Spiridakos to say a word. Not that Charlie isn’t already too stunned to say anything. Rachel tries to break the silence by observing how much Charlie has grown, but Charlie is working through abandonment issues of her own. She had long assumed that only death could have prevented her mother from ever finding her way back to their family, but the revelation that she’s alive, and in one piece, casts that perception in a new light. Rachel achieves a sort of pained acceptance of Charlie’s hesitation, while Charlie adopts a more immediate approach, opting to set whatever negative feelings she has aside, in service of concentrating on rescuing Danny (Graham Rogers).
Charlie’s renewed focus doesn’t really amount to much, unfortunately, as she, her mother, and Danny are brought before Monroe (David Lyons), who bullies Rachel into finishing his pendant amplifier by having Sergeant Strausser (David Meunier) hold a gun to her kids and forcing her into a Sophie’s Choice scenario. Charlie, in a heartening show of growth, offers herself to be executed, telling Rachel not to give in, since the Monroe Militia would kill thousands more if they were to suddenly able to use the power the pendants provide. She argues that some things are more important than family, which is a considerable sign of her maturity over the course of the series so far, on her part, as the Charlie of old didn’t seem to have much of a concept of the greater good, instead usually choosing to adhere to a moral code in which she tried to save everyone, even if it meant she ultimately risked saving no one. This change in her character is all for naught, however, as Rachel agrees to finish building the device when Strausser, better known as “The only man Miles Matheson was ever scared of”, made it clear that he had no problem blowing Charlie’s brains out. Rachel finishes the device, and now it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge before they start using it.
Meanwhile, Neville fails to recognize that Miles saw his trap coming, and used the head-start to break into Neville’s house and take his wife, Julia (Kim Raver), hostage. Though Julia pleads with Neville not to give in to Miles, the episode offers one of many forays into the heart of what sacrifices and compromises a person is willing to make for their family, and so Neville gives up the information of where Charlie and the others are being held, but not before swearing that he’s going to kill Miles before this is all said and done. With that information, and the knowledge that Monroe will be waiting there, Miles heads off to confront the man he often thought of as a brother, even though the men have been estranged for untold years.
The confrontation between Miles and Monroe delivers on the build it’s received, thanks in part to several last minute flashbacks to times both before and immediately following The Blackout, as we first see Monroe refuse to abandon an injured Miles on the battlefield, and then flash back even farther, where it’s revealed just how emotionally-ravaged Monroe is. In this particular flashback, which takes place two years before The Blackout, Miles tracks a despondent, drunk Monroe to a cemetery, where the future leader of the Republic is in tears, clutching a gun in one hand and a bottle of booze in the other. He’s recently lost his parents, a devastating hit that only exacerbates the pain he’s feeling over the loss of his younger sisters, killed by a drunk driver on the way to see a Harry Potter movie. Miles talked Monroe down by telling him they were family, and Monroe took comfort in his friend’s words. Flashforward to the present (well, the show’s present), where Monroe tearfully pleads with Miles to rejoin him, stating that things were easier when they were in this together. But Miles can’t bring himself to go down that path again. He cuts all ties with Monroe, telling his former brother-in-arms that he’s nothing to him. Monroe is understandably devastated by hearing Miles tell him that he doesn’t consider him family any longer.
The sword fight that follows is the usual kinetically-edited jumble that many of the fight scenes tend to be when they involve Miles, but it has a lot more dramatic heft to it, given the circumstances surrounding the fight. Even though it doesn’t have a real conclusion, having been interrupted by Monroe’s men, it was a fitting physical representation of the emotional conflict at the fight’s center, which made for a more tense struggle. The fight is easily among the show’s best action setpieces, and perhaps its best one-on-one fight, though that’s hardly a big surprise, given the climactic nature of the duel. I would also be remiss in not mentioning just how good David Lyons is, as a mad ruler who’s masking a pathos of his own, but who is also becoming gradually more unhinged as the people around him either doubt him, desert him, or die. It’s a wonderful performance that outweighs many of his two-dimensional villain characterizations in previous episodes.
The action continues with Rachel, killing her second person in as many episodes, stabbing Strausser and escaping with Charlie and Danny, and meeting up with Aaron and Nora, who’ve created an escape route with carefully-placed explosives. Charlie’s child-like grin at seeing her uncle materialize out of the smoke is one of the best little moments of the series, for me, as it shows just how far the relationship between Charlie and Miles has progressed without having to address it directly through dialogue (although Miles admits his connection to his family more overtly, when he tells Monroe that he just wants his family back; in both cases, we’re given to understand how both Miles and Charlie have come to depend and rely upon one another, and even love one another in that way only families, whether biological or surrogate, ever really do). The triumph of the escape is short-lived, however, as Monroe activates the amplifier, leading to one of the series’ best reveals, as an attack helicopter materializes from above the horizon in the distance, its machine guns beginning to spin in the moments just before a spray of fire comes raining down on our protagonists. It’s a hell of a close to an episode as tightly-wound as Revolution has ever been.
“Nobody’s Fault But Mine” brings much of the series, so far, full circle, though it smartly leaves enough for us to mull over in the four months that the show will be on hiatus. For instance, what are Grace and Flynn up to? And why did Rachel leave her kids all those years ago, and then never return? How exactly did Miles and Monroe bring the Monroe Republic into existence? And how did one device knock out the power across the world? There’s still plenty to sink our teeth into, but it’s the characters that give those questions meaning, and I find that, after this week, I’m far more invested in Charlie than I’ve been at any point of the season so far. She feels like an actual character now, in a fully-formed sense, and though she’s still a distant second to Miles, there’s still room for her to continue growing as a heroine. There isn’t nearly enough for the rest of the ensemble to do, but given how young the show is, I imagine this is something that will be ironed out with time. This finale delivered in significant ways, blending action with thematically-resonant character arcs, elaborating upon a season-long narrative that is only just getting started.