Revolution: 1.04 The Plaque Dogs Review – Spoilers Ahead
“The Plaque Dogs” is strongest episode of the season so far. This episode establishes why Miles would want to stay with Charlie. In the early scenes it was a bit frustrating seeing Miles flip-flop between staying or leaving. Just make up your mind will you? His justification for leaving is because he’s wanted by the militia which poses a danger to the group. The funny thing is, Charlie and the gang are headed straight for the militia which negates his reasoning. Deep down Miles does not want to get emotionally attached to anyone. There’s a dark sadistic side to him as seen in the last episode which he is trying to repress and in his mind it would be easier if he goes it alone.
It’s compelling how a handful of flashbacks scenes can add layers of depth to Maggie. I did feel for her in the previous episode where she saw her children’s photo on her iPhone for the first time in fifteen years. Her back story of how she walked from Seattle to the east coast to find a ship to sail across the Atlantic is pretty harrowing. In the pilot, Charlie was resentful of Maggie as a substitute Mom so it was awkward seeing them so chummy when they met up. Without Danny, Maggie is the closest Charlie has to family so her reaction is understandable. Miles is her uncle but they spend most of their scenes bickering with each other.
Maggie’s performance was moving when she explained the Matheson family gave her a reason to live. The problem was that the flashbacks felt rushed and we never got to see why she felt that way. I’m assuming that Maggie is in-fact dead which is a shame because I just starting to like her character and her relationship with Charlie. I thought it was a little too quick for Miles to say “I’m staying” just as Charlie was crying her eyes out … “everyone leaves me”. Does Miles really need Charlie? On one hand it can be seen as a gesture of good faith to declare he’s sticking with Charlie. What would be interesting if his decision was influenced by his belief that through Charlie he can regain his humanity and find some sort of redemption for his past crimes. If there’s one good thing from the end of this episode is that Miles is not going to be conflicted about staying with Charlie anymore.
It’s only been four episodes but I’m already starting to lose count how often Charlie and Danny are captured. The writers are going to have to find another plot device to create tension. Danny is smart enough to pick the handcuffs but is so gullible. If Danny was a character on Spartacus Vengeance he wouldn’t have left Captain Neville alive; he would have smashed his captor’s face. I am looking forward to see how Rachel will protect her son from torture in the next episode. Also, why did Miles need Rachel to join the militia and abandon her family?
5 Simple Ways To Improve Revolution
I still believe there is a lot of potential in Revolution. Most TV series go through growing pains before it can hit its stride. I’m enjoying the show for what it is and in hopes for what it could be. The most common nitpick is that the characters are too clean and some performances are weak which are valid concerns. For myself, I’m trying to embrace that it’s a swashbuckling adventure show on a major TV network. It’s not intended to be a gritty, bloody post-apocalyptic nightmare like AMC’s The Walking Dead. I do believe that characters need to make smarter decisions and that the stories must avoid gaps in logic. It’s easy to point out the obvious flaws and shortcomings of Revolution. Instead of complaining, I’ve put together some constructive feedback that can help improve this series.
5. More Giancarlo Esposito as Captain Tom Neville
A former insurance adjuster turned gunslinger … relegated to babysitter. When you have an Emmy nominated actor who steals every scene he’s in it’s simply criminal to under use him. Giancarlo Esposito can give that chilling menacing stare without having to look out from the corner of his eyes like lesser actors. This shows needs more menace and genuine danger; they have it spades in Captain Tom Neville. We got some more background information on Neville and it was clever how he easily manipulated Danny into saving him in “The Plaque Dogs” which is a small step in the right direction.
4. Explain the Pendant
Writer Vince Gilligan once said,” mystery on this show (Breaking Bad) is good, confusion is not.” Revolution writers will need to set up the rules for how the pendant works in the upcoming episodes. They don’t need a technological explanation (which wouldn’t make sense anyways), but determine the extent of it’s capabilities, what causes it to activate, etc or it’ll just be used as a deus ex machina.
3. Build This World
The best way for Revolution to capture the imagination of viewers and get them to invest in this far-fetched premise is to focus on world building. World building is a term often used in science fiction or fantasies which essentially is the process of developing a rich history, culture, geography, ecology and political landscape. It can bring coherency to an otherwise arbitrarily constructed world. It’s not enough for the characters to talk about it. The audience needs to experience it with the characters first hand. The long-term success of Revolution is dependent upon the believability of a living breathing dystopia where the rules cannot be changed at the writers’ whim. In other words, the setting provides a structure for the viewer to know what they can expect and believe. Without a well-thought out world, there is no framework to support the story, characters and mythology.
2. Fixing Charlie & Danny
Before the conundrum that is Charlie and Danny can be addressed the writers must acknowledge the issues. For a lot of viewers, Charlie is too angst ridden, conflicted, insufferable and given laughable dialogue. While Danny as a milquetoast prisoner of the militia is simply uneventful. The highlight of his story line so far is being beaten with a sack. The arc of the first part of this season is the rescue of Danny but the audience has not been given a single reason to root for his reunion with Charlie.
The writers need to change-up the dynamic of Danny’s predicament. One possible idea is when Danny is brought to Monroe’s headquarters he secretly team up with his mom Rachael (Elizabeth Mitchell) to sabotage the militia from within. Assuming Danny survives torture, it would be interesting if Monroe’s keeps Danny within his grasp and allows him to enlist as a new recruit, not knowing his true agenda. Until Danny stops being a prisoner and takes control of his circumstance, viewers will be apathetic to his plight. For someone who has previously never been more than 5 miles away from the farm, the audience should see and experience this brave new world through Danny’s viewpoint.
It may seem counter intuitive but Charlie needs to be released from the burden of rescuing of Danny. Even if their sibling bond can be established through flashbacks, most viewers at this point just doesn’t care. Charlie should be made to believe that Danny has died (for the time being) and as a result unleashes her inner bad-ass. With a renewed purpose, she lives for vengeance against Monroe militia. Charlie has zero chemistry with Nate or whatever his name is. They need to introduce a new character to bring out a more fun-loving, playful side to her personality. No longer will the audience need to suffer Charlie’s mournful/confused look.
1.Write For The Characters
Mythology is important for the success of Revolution however it’s really up to an engaging cast of characters to take the audience on a meaningful journey. Although there were some good character moments in “No Quarters”, overall it felt like the writers determined it was going to be an episode about a standoff at a rebel base. Instead of trying to create an entertaining scenario each week and having the characters react to it, the writers should do it the other way around. Firefly creator Joss Whedon revealed when coming up with each episode he goes primal. Meaning what does a character need to experience? What does the audience need to feel or understand about the character? For example, Whedon felt that he needed an episode where mentally unstable River becomes accepted as part of the Firefly crew/family and thus by proxy accepted by the audience. Consequently, the episode Objects In Space centered on River masterminding the rescue of the crew from a bounty hunter. Revolution needs to devolve and get to the core of why the audience should spend each week with these characters.
How would you improve Revolution? Do you plan on sticking with this show? Are you upset with the fate of Maggie? Sound off in the comments below.