Revolution 1.05 “Soul Train” TV REVIEW
Writer: Paul Grellong
Director: Jon Cassar
THE ONE WHERE The Matheson gang try to rescue Danny from a train while blowing it up at the same time.
VERDICT Steam trains and horses! It's the wild west in Revolution this week, as our band of revolutionaries arrive the small town of Noblesville where the militia is holding Danny. Revolution does the “modern-day-western” thing really well and it's all on show this episode.
This week’s flashback comes from Tom Neville, showing how the cruel bully captain was once just a timid man who got fired from his job, then forced into defending his home from a looting neighbour. It should be a great character piece but comes off as flat and derivative, almost black and white in its morality. There might as well be a giant neon sign next hovering above his head saying, “I never used to be like this”. Giancarlo Esposito is a fine actor, and if you've seen him in previously in the show Breaking Bad you'll know how intense he can be. He's doing a great job in Revolution , but you can’t help feeling his whole flashback would scene could be better served by a simple scene, set in the show’s present, perhaps over a camp fire, where Tom Neville simply describes what happened to him during the blackout. Normally the rule is “show not tell” but in this case there isn’t much exciting to show. And Esposito would have told the story magnificently.
But Revolution has its strengths. The well-populated town of Noblesville, the steam trains and horses action, and last week’s tornado storm FX all show off the great production values. It's the scripts that really need a bit of attention and direction.
Not having mobile phones isn't an excuse for bad communication and planning. Miles and Charlie guess that kidnapped Danny is going to be on the train leaving town and plan their rescue. Nora meanwhile meets up with with guest star Jeff Fahey (playing a fellow rebel seeking vengeance against the militia after the death of his wife), and decides it's more important to blow up the train and everyone in it, even if that means killing Danny too.
As a conflict between the regular characters it plays out clumsily. The gang of Charlie, Miles, Aaron and Nora all hide out in the same shed from the militia patrolling the town, but are too busy carrying out their own plans to tell each other what they're up to. Nora in particular just passes on a message to Aaron to tell Miles what she's doing as opposed to telling him herself.
Nora plants the bomb on board the train, but within minutes is full of regret for her own actions. Jeff Fahey's character – who we've only just met – refuses to let Nora sabotage her own plan and pulls a knife on her, stabbing Nora in the stomach.
It's almost identical to poor Maggie's fate last week, though for Nora a knife in the guts is merely an inconvenience. Miles and Charlie then have a race against time aboard the train to rescue Danny before the bomb goes off. I'll not spoil the end, but in hindsight preparation is everything. If our motley crew had sat down for a minute this week, I'm sure they could have worked together on a simple priorities list i) rescue Danny, then ii) plant the bomb, not the other way round.
Last week showed a lot of promise, this week not so much. A nice face-off between Tom and Miles, and another little twist at the end. Good, but must try harder.
UNFORTUNATE VICTIM OF THE WEEK The train driver – he's just doing his job!
ELECTRIVIA There are 12 of the magic electricity pendants, but will the show last long enough for us to see them all?
IT’S WOSSERNAME That'll be genre legend Jeff Fahey. The helicopter pilot from Lost and former Lawnmower Man . You’ll also spot him in this trailer for Darkman 3: Die Darkman Die .
Captain Tom Neville (standing in the same room as Charlie): “Bring the girl to me, bring her to me. I'm going to shoot the bitch.”
John Cooper @JohnCooper_uk
UK airing information: None As Yet.
Read our other Revolution reviews