Revolution, Ep 1.06: “Sex and Drugs” opts for world-building at the expense of moving the story forward
Revolution, Season 1, Episode 6: “Sex and Drugs”
Written by David Rambo
Directed by Steve Boyum
Airs Mondays at 10 pm (ET) on NBC
While some people like to view what kind of scenarios would trigger an apocalypse and the collapse of civilization, others find the ensuing breakdown and re-adjustment of society, and how particular individuals react to their new circumstances, particularly compelling to watch. Revolution has not been hesitant in exposing, bit by bit, the types of people who have managed to survive, both physically and mentally in its universe, and this episode was no different, as the show took a look at another side of villainy, one not associated with the Monroe militia. The result, while lacking any progressions in the show’s major storylines, was nonetheless compelling.
The progression of the character of Charlie Matheson has been interesting to note through the series’ brief run. While other post-apocalyptic shows have had characters who were unaware of the true nature of the world they were living in, these characters often become supporting players, even when they are part of a larger arc. Charlie, on the other hand, is very clearly the central character of Revolution, which makes her clear inexperience a bold move by the writers. Out of all the characters that have been introduced to date, Charlie serves as the perfect stand-in for the audience to better explore the world of the show; however, putting her at the centre, rather than on the sidelines, also provides a rare opportunity to witness, from a close range, how a character reacts to being exposed to the harsh conditions of a broken down society. Charlie’s perspective, and ensuing character development, is unique in that she is at a stage that Aaron, Miles, and Norah have already passed, and while the flashbacks are helpful in showing how those characters became who they are today, observing it in real time via Charlie is more effective.
Seeing the backstory of Aaron was also interesting. To date, the writers have only provided snippets of what his life was like before the blackout, but to see how he coped in the ensuing months following the blackout, especially in light of the frustrations he expressed to Maggie in Grace’s house regarding the new societal structure. With Maggie’s demise, the potential is now there for the writers to flesh out Aaron’s character more thoroughly, especially as it seems apparent that his importance will exponentially increase as more people learn how to turn the power back on. There’s a reason Ben Matheson chose to leave the pendant in Aaron’s care, and it will be nice if Aaron’s motivations for his actions following the reveal of that reason are given better context.
The character of Drexel was also interesting to watch, providing a nice foil to the band of rebel fighters led by Nicholas that Charlie and co. met in No Quarter. It is logical to assume that some individuals would look to profit from the lack of structure and open lawlessness, and getting a glimpse of that adds another dimension to the society that Revolution operates in. Drexel’s presentation as a more theatrical type of villain also provided a nice contrast to the likes of Neville, Jeremy, and Monroe, establishing why he wasn’t part of the militia, while also indicating that he was not someone to be taken lightly. While the possibility of his return was nullified by Aaron, there is very little chance Miles’ other acquaintances will be cut from a different cloth.
The main issue with this episode, however, is that it failed to progress any of the main storylines in a significant fashion. Aside from a few tidbits, most of which the audience could have inferred from the proceedings themselves, nothing in this episode has any bearing on any of the numerous larger plotlines of the show. This feels at odds with every other episode to date, which managed to move the show forward in some manner even while primary storylines in the episode revolved around actions without larger consequences. While the show may end up lending itself well to standalone episodes in the future, at this point in its run there are still numerous avenues to explore, including the history of the militia, the twelve pendants, and what caused the loss of power, making an episode like this feel like a cheat in its refusal to address any of these points. This could have been largely mitigated, or perhaps even avoided altogether, if the characters were compelling enough to watch on their own, but it’s too early in the show’s run for that amount of investment as well.
Overall, however, this was an exciting episode, despite the issues. It will be interesting to observe if Aaron’s wife, or even Sean, make an appearance in the show’s present day, and what shape they’re in after all this time. Nora’s story, when it’s told, also promises to be fascinating, as the tidbits given about her paint an intriguing picture. While this episode didn’t indicate it, there are still numerous large mysteries wrapped around this show, and waiting to see which one the show chooses to address next is reason enough to tune in next week.