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Revolution 1.16 "The Love Boat REVIEW

TV REVIEW Soulless, steam-powered and starving.

Revolution 1.16 “The Love Boat” TV REVIEW

Episode 1.16
Writer: David Rambo
Director: Jon Cassar

THE ONE WHERE Tom Miles are forced to work together, while Aaron and Rachel face starvation.

VERDICT We only knew Emma as the childhood sweet heart of Miles and Bass for one episode, but her death at the end of last week hangs over both men like a big cloud of doom. Bass is injured and particularly snarky for the short while we see him this week. As for Miles, his face has almost fallen off with bitterness and regret. He's angry, doesn't care who knows it and it's turning him unto the cruel 'old Miles' that used to work for the militia, a version of himself he's tried so hard to run away from.

The Georgian Federation gets some intel on a militia base producing anthrax, and it's down to Miles's rebel/federation coalition troops to take care them. Not only that but the Intel is brought to Miles’s attention by none other than Tom Neville. Yes, Tom Neville. Former top Monroe militia general who went on the run when his own son turned traitor. The Same Tom Neville who kidnapped and tortured Danny Mathson, interrogated Rachel Matheson and was instrumental in the death of Ben Matheson, Miles’s brother, way back at the beginning. That Tom Neville. He's been in the hands of the rebels before, but never on the same team, now he's been employed by the Georgian Federation to work with Miles and keep him on a short leash.

It provides a shot in the arm for the dramatic tension, but er.. really? Come on rebel guys, why did no-one simply shoot Tom when he walked into the room? In the opening scenes Miles shows no mercy in condemning a militia soldier to death by firing squad, but two minutes later when Tom turns up waving some paperwork, Miles says, "Tom, I'm going to kill you," but fails to do any such thing over the next 40 minutes. It's a Revolution trick of trying to have its cake and eat it, by presenting a harsh world where folk have to make tough choices, but then asking the audience to suspend its disbelief to disproportionate levels is a bit unfair.

B-PLOT Far more fun is the B-plot. Not only does Rachel and Aaron's journey feel more relevant to the overall show, but they both turn in more believable performances and sell the desperation and survival a little better. A simple desire for food drives them into a situation where both are nearly executed. The B-plot is also where more of the show's lore and twists seem to come from. Why is Aaron's newspaper clipping in Dr Warren’s “Spellbook” journal? Why is he relevant? What's on level 12 of the tower that can make grown men scream and kill them instantly? Killer robots? Why do the numbers on the lift increase on the way down instead of up?

STEAM-POWERED PERIL Miles, Tom, Charlie, Nora and Jason board a steam boat, locate the anthrax production facility and trash it. They kidnap a scientist who has been held against his will to make the poison, but Charlie is quick to see the changes in Miles, who wants him for information. With Jason and Nora’s help, Charlie performs a coup. They find the scientist's family who are held hostage, and escape an attack from the Monroe Militia.

It's all well executed dramatic fun, but lacks any real depth. With Tom and Miles sharing cabin space the inconsistencies are on show, and only results in a punch in the face when Tom threatens Charlie.

One saving grace is Billy Burke who finally – against previous form – nails the darker side of Miles. In conversation with Nora and Charlie, he manages to look a little haunted. Nora finally gets something to do. I wasn't strictly necessary for her to get her top off, unless the show is worried about ratings, but it's a neat reminder of the history between the characters which hasn't been touched on in a while.

MEN IN UNIFORM The Monroe militia are quite easy to spot with their “M” shoulder badges and natty collarless shirts, but is it a fashion choice or cloth rationing? The Georgian federation are a bit harder to spot as they also wear green and I've not noticed any equivalent “G” motifs yet.

PLAIN STUPID They might like to execute folk who steal food, but the Plains nation guards are really stupid. Hiding in the back of a van, Rachel shoots through the back boor at them, but when she runs out of bullets they don't shoot back, instead climbing into the van to get ambushed by Aaron, the fools.

UNFORTUNATE VICTIM OF THE WEEK The Burl Ives look-a-like in the plains nation looks almost put out that the has to get off his horse to execute Rachel and Aaron for stealing a crunchy snack. What a time to find out Rachel is packing heat, and is a blooming quick draw too. But are they hungry enough to eat him too?

BEST LINES:
Bass: “What are you saying, Flynn?”
Flynn: “I'm only asking you to look at the bigger picture, your methods have been a bit severe lately.”
Bass: “I can't imagine why.”
Flynn: “The goal is to stop insurgents, not radicalise more of them.”
Bass: “Are the rebels pulling their punches? We have to do whatever it takes. If that means anthrax then so be it.”
Flynn: “’Cos that'll show Matheson.”
Bass: “Oh, Mr Flynn, you're my IT guy. If you say something like that again I'm going to rip your throat out.”

John Cooper @JohnCooper_uk

UK airing information: New episodes of Revolution air on Sky1 on Fridays at 9m

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