Revolution – Season Finale Recap: All of the Lights
Recap video and review of Revolution – Season Finale – The Dark Tower:
Since the series premiered back in the fall, Revolution has been building to the moment where the power would be turned back on. But I didn’t believe, at the time, that we’d be getting that moment within the show’s first season. In many ways, it’s a testament to the series that it can tell a story that feels inevitable (the power being turned back on) while adding in a wrinkle to the story that subverts the expectations tied into that inevitability (the power is turned back on, but it isn’t the Monroe Republic that uses it for evil — it’s the United States Colony). The second half of Revolution‘s first season has been considerably darker, and that plays well into the season finale, as “The Dark Tower” is one of the more portentous episodes of the show’s run so far. And it damn well should be, given it’s the season finale. In nearly every respect, “The Dark Tower” delivers, wrapping up the ongoing, serialized stories of the first season while setting up the overarching conflicts of the second. It definitely helps that the conflicts being set up are every bit as compelling as those that are being left behind. Also helpful is the paring down of the cast, as the ranks thin out in dramatic fashion. While not an Emmy-caliber season of TV by any means, you always knew what you were getting with Revolution, and the show always delivered in spades. This finale in no way breaks from that tradition.
The finale picks up where the cliffhanger of last week left off, and we immediately get some explanations: if Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) turns the power back on, there’s a small chance that the nanites, which have replicated to a seemingly-infinite degree in the Earth’s atmosphere, could malfunction and set the world ablaze. Rachel insists that won’t happen, at which point it’s revealed that Aaron (Zak Orth) shares a certain level of culpability in this entire ordeal, as it was his own design code that served as the basis for The Tower’s network. Aaron had no idea that his work had been sold to the Department of Defense, nor did he have any idea that Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee) actively sought him out, and that their meeting, and subsequent friendship, was no mere happenstance. Yet there isn’t really time for any of this to sink in, as Rachel chloroforms Grace (Maria Howell), steals her access keycard, and absconds to Level 12 with the others. In the ensuing battle, Nora (Daniella Alonso) is able to kill the faction of Tower defenders, but takes a bullet in the process. Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) argues with her mother that Nora’s life is more important than getting to Level 12, but Rachel has come too far to hear her daughter. Charlie then tells Rachel that while her heart is broken over Danny, she wishes Rachel would see that she has a living daughter standing in front of her, reaching out to her. Yet Charlie’s desperate pleas aren’t enough. Rachel leaves with Aaron to go turn the power back on, promising she’ll be right back to help escort Nora to the infirmary.
Meanwhile, Miles (Billy Burke) and Monroe (David Lyons) fall through the sluice gates of the Tower and end up washed out on the bank of a river. And it’s there that they finally have their big fight, an action sequence that is remarkably effective, despite the overuse of shaky-cam gimmickry. Though the fight is broken up by Jason (J.D Pardo), who fires at Monroe from a safe distance, the battle continues as Miles tries to get back to the Tower to save Rachel. As Nora told Rachel earlier, Miles is in love with her, and will always place rescuing her above anything else. More tellingly, Nora claims she can see that Rachel is in love with Miles too. And so Miles continues his trek back to the Tower, despite Monroe tailing him the entire way. Throughout these scenes, we get flashbacks to the falling out between the two men, ten years after the Blackout. When a Rebel bomber nearly kills Miles and Monroe, the formerly straight-arrow Monroe exacts vengeance by having the bomber killed along with his wife and children.
Miles could not reconcile his best friend with the man Monroe had become: Miles attempts to kill Monroe, fails, and flees into exile as Monroe grows ever colder, having been betrayed by the man he counts as his only family in this world. Lyons and Burke are tremendous, with Monroe claiming that he did what he did for Miles. Later, when Miles is captured by militiamen under the employ of Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito), Miles comes to his rescue and explains that while Monroe has done many things that should be beyond any man’s capacity to forgive, they’ll always be brothers. It’s a touching, if complicated, moment as Miles proves himself unable to do the one thing that every rebel force in this reshaped landscape has attempted to do since episode one: kill General Monroe. Then again, maybe it would have been kinder to just kill the despot, as he’s currently being hunted by his own man, who have chosen to follow Tom as their new leader. The tables have turned rather suddenly, and while Monroe isn’t exactly a protagonist here, his exile from his own Republic marks him as something of a sympathetic figure. It certainly helps that Tom cuts such a detestable figure as villain, first promising Jason that he’ll allow Rachel and Charlie to live, and then reneging on that agreement once they get the drop on him, locking him out of the control room on Level 12.
Though Miles makes it back to the Tower, he’s too late to save Nora. The irony, of course, is that Nora ultimately proves to be wrong about Miles’s willingness to always put Rachel first. Presented with the choice of either helping Rachel or rescuing Nora, Miles picks Nora. However, she dies in his arms before they can make it to the infirmary, and Miles’s complete breakdown is gripping stuff, as is Charlie’s more subdued misery. She’s still a girl who hasn’t exactly gotten used to losing people just yet, so she still has a hopeful, desperate belief that everyone she cares about can be saved. But this is not to be, and she has no interest in forgiving Rachel for Nora’s death, as she implicitly blames her mother for putting the mission ahead of saving one of their own. This character conflict is a bit of a retread, but it’s still compelling in its own right, thanks largely to Elizabeth Mitchell so expertly portraying the thankless burden of Rachel’s mission, selfish though that mission is. But this all must take a backseat, as we reach the moment twenty episodes in the making: as Miles, Charlie and Rachel look on, and Tom’s men continue to try and breach the doors from outside, Aaron executes the launch command to restart the power.
The power is restored worldwide, though the command has unintended side effects, such as a lightning storm that comes perilously close to killing Monroe, out wandering in the fields following Miles’s display of mercy in allowing him to escape. Unfortunately, though the power has finally been restored, it’s immediately put to evil use by none other than Randall Flynn (Colm Feore), who’s been waiting for Rachel to turn the power back on so he could fulfill his secret mission: to launch ICBMs against New York, Philadelphia and Georgia, giving control of the East Coast back to his superiors. Flynn reveals his motive only moments before committing suicide with his own gun: “I am a Patriot.” We cut to a mysterious figure, bathed in shadow, enjoying the newly-restored electricity. One of the mystery man’s cronies walks in and announces that Flynn has succeeded in his mission. “It’s time to go home, Mr. President.” We pan away to reveal the United States Colony, firmly ensconced in the heart of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The last acting President of the United States is coming to take back his country, and that’s a direction I would not have predicted, going into this finale. Yet it’s a direction that has me unquestionably excited about the second season.
“The Dark Tower” brings many of season one’s storylines to a close, while leaving certain character threads open for further exploration in season two. The mother-daughter conflict between Rachel and Charlie is far from over, while the potential romance between Rachel and Miles is similarly unresolved. In addition, Miles and Monroe are certain to cross paths again, so what happens when that day comes? Will either man ever be able to kill the other? Or will they somehow join forces once again, mending fences in the process? It’s inconceivable to think this would be the case, yet stranger things have happened (hell, they killed off Danny after spending half the season sending our heroes chasing after him). The sheer scope of possibilities for season two has me much higher on this finale than I otherwise might have been, had they not stuck the landing with that tremendous closing tease. But there’s still a lot to recommend here, even independent from that final moment: from the performances of Billy Burke, Elizabeth Mitchell, David Lyons and Giancarlo Esposito, to the mythos that only deepens as the show goes on. “The Dark Tower” may not have been the best episode of the season, but it was still a great way to close out this first season, as it encapsulates so much of what makes this show compelling: taking strong, character-based storytelling and situating it within a larger mythology, sprinkled liberally with great action and solid performances. This season may not have been perfect, but it certainly delivered an engaging twenty-episode run.