Recap video and review of Revolution – Season 1 Episode 16 – The Love Boat:
Revolution works best when it condenses the larger story into smaller, digestible arcs in each episode, usually in the form of some mission or task that the protagonists have to overcome. “The Love Boat” adopts this approach, yet it does so in interesting fashion, as there is a division within this set of protagonists that puts their respective goals at odds. The episode also keeps this one-off mission relative by allowing the action to tell us more about these characters and illustrate how they have (or haven’t) changed over the course of the season. All in all, I was pretty satisfied with how “The Love Boat” turned out, even if I didn’t feel it was the show’s strongest episode, particularly given how solid last week’s episode ended up being. But the series still has a lot going for it, and much of that is in display here, with the intriguing mythology, the ambiguous morality and the big action setpieces that seem to anchor every episode of the series.
Miles (Billy Burke) is horrified to learn that Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) has been made his new right-hand man, by order of President Foster (Leslie Hope). In fact, no one is happy to see him, not Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), not Nora (Daniella Alonso) and especially not Jason (J.D. Pardo), who didn’t exactly part with his father on the best of terms. However, they can’t afford in-fighting right now, as they’ve been tasked with rescuing a scientist held captive within the Monroe Republic. Dr. Stephen Camp (Timothy Busfield) and his family are hostages of General Monroe (David Lyons), who is forcing the scientist to create biological weapons, including anthrax. It’s a mission that is easy to get behind, and it makes sense that our characters would set aside their differences with Tom to get the job done. Yet the mission itself isn’t really where the story is, as the rescue is completed within the first half of the episode. The real meat of the story is in the aftermath of the mission, as Miles and Tom are revealed to be holding Dr. Camp’s family hostage to force him to work for them instead of Monroe.
Thus begins the moral slide for Miles, who may not enjoy having to bully a family man into waging biological warfare, but who feels he has little recourse. The episode isn’t far removed from last week’s assault, in which Miles watched someone he once loved die right in front of his eyes. Charlie confronts her uncle about his questionable motives, saying that what they’re doing to Dr. Camp and his family is wrong, and that they don’t need to do this to beat Monroe. Miles, however, disagrees. He states that Monroe would stop at nothing to win this war, and the only way to beat a man like that is to be willing to do whatever is necessary yourself. Miles states that he did everything he could to escape having to be this person again, the Commander who has to make the hard decisions and get hated for making them. He tried to hide away from the world and drink himself to death, but it’s apparently something he can’t escape, since he’s right back to where he was before, more or less. Disgusted with her uncle, Charlie locks him in his quarters on the boat that’s transporting Dr. Camp back to the capitol. Charlie isn’t the only one disgusted by what’s happening, as Nora earlier told Miles that she’d be transferring out of his company as soon as they reached dry land, since he’s not the good guy she’d thought he’d become. And so it’s not surprise that Nora helps Charlie and Jason in their plan to rescue the Camps. Tom had earlier berated his son for betraying the Monroe Republic, forcing he and Jason’s mother to flee the Republic like criminals, a trek that resulted in Jason’s mother catching hypothermia and nearly dying. The news clearly affects Jason, since his love for his mother is genuine and deeply felt. Yet that same affection isn’t extended to Tom, as Jason chloroforms him and stuffs him in the bathroom of his cabin.
Charlie, Nora and Jason free Dr. Camp before boarding the boat containing his wife and 11-year-old daughter, freeing them as well. Having subdued the Georgia Federation men on-board, everything appears to be clear for the escape. Unfortunately, it turns out that the coast isn’t so clear after all, as Tom has come to from the chloroform, and has escaped. He procures a gun and is able to subdue his son’s little rebellion with the help of the Georgia Federation soldiers. However, before Tom and the men can order the entire lot of them killed, the Monroe Militia on-shore opens fire, and a fight ensues. Miles, who escaped from his quarters through a hatch in the ceiling, prevents Tom from harming Charlie. In coming to his niece’s aid and escaping together with her, Nora, Jason, and the Camps, Miles has eschewed his militaristic persona in favor of asserting the change in his personality. Their boat speeds off, leaving Tom to fend against the Monroe Militia with the handful of Georgia Federation soldiers under his command. Though Tom is later able to escape, it’s at the cost of each one of his men. He vows he’ll find Dr. Camp again, but Miles is certain he never will because, as Miles says, “I’m smarter than you.” Nora has turned the corner on Miles as well, not only agreeing to stay with him, but arriving in his private quarters wearing nothing but an army jacket. As she falls into his arms, Nora insists that Miles isn’t such a bad guy after all, and we’re back to picking up that romantic plot thread that had been left to dangle for the past few weeks.
Meanwhile, Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Aaron (Zak Orth) come upon a settlement and begging the leader of a roving group for food, as they haven’t eaten in three days. The leader (Tom Nowicki) refuses to feed them, rationalizing that any food he gives them will be food he takes out of the mouths of his family. Rachel and Aaron move on, only to be chased down that night by the leader, who accuses Aaron of stealing food off of their grill. Though Aaron tries to deny it, he eventually comes clean and hands over the food he stole, prompting Rachel to apologize on behalf of her friend. However, an apology isn’t good enough, as all crimes in the Plains Nation have only one punishment: death. The man orders Rachel and Aaron on their knees, and while Aaron pleads with the man not to do this, Rachel pulls out the gun Miles gave her, shooting him dead. The duo makes a run for it in the dark, but Rachel falls down a steep embankment, resulting in her tibia (or fibula, hard to tell) protruding out of her leg, in the most gruesome scene of the episode. Aaron tries to fashion a splint for her, but Rachel pleads with Aaron to leave her, as the mission is more important than her well-being. Aaron refuses, even with the camp men coming after them. Rachel berates Aaron to try to get him to leave, stating that, if the tables were turned, she wouldn’t hesitate to leave him.
As daylight approaches, Rachel hides in the back of an abandoned truck. When the pursuers catch up to Rachel in the full light of day, she attempts to fend them off by firing the last of her rounds at the attackers as they attempt to enter the vehicle. But she wastes the bullets firing poorly-placed shots through the door. Vulnerable, the two men advance on Rachel — until Aaron comes out of nowhere, stabbing one and tackling the other. Rachel knocks out the stab victim with the butt of her pistol, and then rescues Aaron from a slow strangling by shooting his attacker in the back with his partner’s gun. Having escaped, Rachel reveals, over the campfire that night, why it’s so important that Aaron be the one to go to the Tower. She reveals to him that a clipping of his in Dr. Warren’s notebook about the Tower, and she states that her husband had to have given the pendant to Aaron, specifically, for a reason. Aaron is confused and scared, having no idea why he’s in this notebook. To make matters even more confusing, the Tower doesn’t appear to be all that safe. Grace (Maria Howell) is handcuffed to her workstation by one of Randall’s men, who has to leave her alone for a moment. As he heads down the elevator, the power goes out, and we only hear the man scream for his life. We then hear sinister, monstrous sounds coming from the surrounding area, as a horrified Grace struggles to get out of her restraints before whatever killed her guard comes for her.
“The Love Boat” mostly works by imbuing the narrative with a sense of purpose and momentum through the smaller missions it gives the protagonists this week. It also helps that the mythology and worldbuilding is getting more substantial, though not necessarily more confusing. It’s a tough balance to strike on a mythology-heavy genre show such as this, but I think Revolution is doing a good job maintaining mystery without drawing those mysteries out for too long. And the overarching conflict, between Monroe’s forces and Miles/Charlie/Nora’s company, is as involving as ever. If the show can continue to be this engrossing, then the show will be able to finish out its season in a far better place than it started.