REVOLUTION 1.02 ‘Chained Heat’

Miles insists upon rescuing a friend from a slave labor camp as Danny gets a front row seat for Neville's cruelty.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Chained Heat"

Writer: Eric Kripke

Director: Charles Beeson

Previously on "Revolution":

Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

For week 2 of "Revolution," it's clear that the show's biggest problem is still the leading cast. There are definitely a lot of scripting issues as well, but it would be easier to overlook those flaws if we could get behind the characters and start to care about them.

Instead, Tracy Spiridakos' performance as Charlie is so stiff and joyless that watching her is a chore. There is no excuse for this. Charlie is the lead character on a major television series, so she should at least be entertaining or memorable. At this point, I'd settle for a genuine emotion from Charlie, but Spiridakos appears to be going through the motions and she lacks the conviction to pull off the part. To be clear, the script does Spiridakos no favors and Charlie's dialog was pretty bland and uninteresting. On the plus side, Charlie was able to save herself this week and the hidden gun bit was fun. That still doesn't make up for the rest of it.

The scary thing is that Spiridakos is a better performer than most of her co-stars. Graham Rogers was so wooden as Danny that he couldn't even sell the moment when Captain Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) was choking him out. Nor did Danny's rebuke of Neville's righteous attitude ring true. I hate to bring up "conviction" again, but it would be nice if we could at least buy into the idea that the actors believe the words coming out of their mouths. 

After Miles (Billy Burke) and Charlie run off, Aaron (Zak Orth) and Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) literally have nothing to do but spout exposition at each other. Let's just say that played out like this: Aaron: "For no particular reason, I'm going to explain why this thumb drive I have may mean that the blackout effect was man-made and could possibly be reversed." Maggie: "Okay, but first I want to tell you why I'm still carrying my iPhone." Screenwriter and "Revolution" creator Eric Kripke has been around a long time and he knows all too well that the same information could have been conveyed in ways that didn't cram the infodump down our collective throats all at once. Charlie, Danny, Aaron, Maggie and Nate (J. D. Pardo) are not characters. They are simply chess pieces to be moved around at the whims of the story.

Perhaps Kripke realized this when coming up with Nora Clayton (Daniella Alonso), the woman from Miles' past who is introduced in this episode. In just a few scenes, Nora comes off like she has an actual personality and an agenda that's not necessarily lined up with the one that Miles and Charlie have. While it's understandable why Charlie and Miles want to rescue and protect Danny, Nora's aspirations aim a little higher when it comes to helping people.

The one thing that "Revolution" does really well are the action sequences and the prison camp sword fight was the best part of the episode. And again, Charlie's follow through with the hidden gun had some actual tension… even if she looked a little weak in the immediate aftermath of using it. On another front, Esposito managed to keep Neville's scenes bearable by sheer charisma alone. But both Neville and Miles are in danger of becoming too one note despite being the best characters on the show.

It's also a little disheartening that "Revolution" is dipping into the "Lost" and "The Event" playbook of featuring flashbacks that are theoretically tied to the main story in some way. Aside from the parallel between Rachel Matheson (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Charlie as they discharged their guns, it was pretty pointless. Kripke also seems intent upon throwing some twists in the show with Rachel's fate and the incident at Grace's (Maria Howell) home. But neither of those turns was able to connect. So far, "Revolution" just feels empty and soulless.

I'm holding out hope that Kripke and company can turn "Revolution" around, but I'm not convinced that writers are fully aware of the things that are already holding the show down.