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With just three more episodes left in the season, “The Longest Day” serves as a set-up installment for the series, not necessarily advancing the narrative in a significant way, but guiding the characters into the situations necessary to reach the season’s conclusion. There has been a lack of plot progression in the past few episodes, as Miles and his group have been stuck fighting insignificant and uninteresting battles while Aaron and Rachel continued their lengthy trek to the tower, which provided some mythological information and minimal character development. Those past episodes seemed to suffer from the lack of narrative and repetitive plot structure, but “The Longest Day”, even though it employs similar storytelling techniques (Miles and the others overcome an obstacle while Aaron and Rachel journey to the tower) is one of the better episodes of Revolution we have seen so far.
The use of flashbacks in this episode definitely elevates its quality, primarily because it is a flashback that we have been anticipating since the fourth episode of the series. Finally, Miles and Rachel’s shared past is explored and those scenes provide essential personal information for both characters. We haven’t gotten much exposure to "General Matheson" in his full capacity and this series of flashbacks communicates how much like Monroe Miles used to be. There is something about Billy Burke in those flashback scenes, with the slicked back, dark hair: it doesn’t necessarily make him look particularly younger but evokes the sense that he is another person entirely. He looks much more menacing and threatening in the flashbacks, probably because it is hard to be intimidated by a dude with floppy, feathered hair. Still, it is clearly evident that this "General Matheson" is not the Miles we have come to know, and definitely not the Miles Charlie has grown to love.
Again we are presented with the reappearing aspect of Miles’ past: his quest for redemption. He insists, “I’m not gonna leave Charlie for dead. I did it to her mom, not gonna do it to her.” By saving Charlie he takes one more step towards his redemption and away from "General Matheson." The flashback provides a contrasting image of Rachel, as well as one of Miles. While we see the brutal man Miles used to be just a few years ago and appreciate how he has attempted to better himself, in exchange we see how Rachel has essentially become undone and fractured as the time has passed. She was the morally righteous one of the two, but that has ceased to be the case, as is emphasized in the episode. Giving the poor, worried parents false hope about their son’s well being is an insanely cruel thing to do (imagine the poor woman eagerly awaiting her son’s rescue as the husband lies unconscious in that store), and the fact that she is able to do it so easily is frightening. She can turn on the charm in a second, appearing to be warm and nurturing with ease, all the while plotting her escape. It is a lot of fun watching Rachel unravel as the series progresses. She had been almost a semi-normal person for the past couple of episodes but the writers really upped her crazy on this one. Elizabeth Mitchell is fantastic in measuring out the lunacy; her progression from irritated and frustrated to downright batshit insane is sublime.
Unlike Miles, Rachel has absolutely no interest in redeeming herself or helping others (making up for all the damage she’s done), which doesn’t necessarily make her the most likable or sympathetic character, but instead one of the most interesting to watch. Her ruthlessness and determination to reach her goal adds an important element of unpredictability to the character and her actions, and to the show itself. She will do just about anything to avenge her son’s death and that opens up possibilities for surprise. Also, don’t get in her way because she will drop you; I’m talking to you, Aaron. If she continues down this path, which seems likely, she won’t be much different than the man she wants so desperately to defeat. Monroe has grown so irrational and paranoid (especially following the assassination attempt) that he has offed one of his most trusted advisors; the closest man to him after Miles, really. Jeremy’s breakdown as he realizes Monroe suspects him is surprisingly well written, so it doesn't feel overly dramatic just effectively direct and honest. Mark Pellegrino’s performance is superb, successfully communicating the hurt and frustration of the character. It’s sad to see him go, (although there is the slight possibility of flashback scenes with Jeremy) but he is given a nice scene with which to make his exit. Still, Jeremy’s death proposes an interesting dilemma for Monroe, who later realizes that his paranoia cost him his right hand man. This could either provide an epiphany for the general and spur some change in his tactics or send him even deeper down the deranged spiral in which he is current caught. Is it possible for Monroe to be even more irrational?
The final scene of the episode suggests that Monroe will indeed continue his brutal and ruthless way of conducting matters. Yet again, there is a hostage situation introduced; this time Nora is captured by the militia and handed over to Monroe. I had a mini rant about the repetitive use of hostages on the show on last week’s review, and of course the writers decide once more to employ the overplayed plot device. The series has essentially repeated the same story multiple times, swapping out some characters for others, never adding anything fresh or new to the situation. Ugh, it is so frustrating; it’s like the writers are actively sabotaging the show. Hopefully this situation with Nora could be done with more intrigue, since she must have some information that Monroe would find useful. The question of whether she would divulge any significant information is intriguing and, since we don’t know exactly what Monroe might do to her, the possibility of her talking is plausible. It also introduces a new character dynamic between Nora and Monroe, since we know they knew each other in the past, but the nature of their relationship is unknown. With any luck David Lyons and Daniella Alonso will have chemistry together and their scenes will become more than the standard “I’m holding you prisoner to get to Miles” situation.
Despite some hiccups here and there, “The Longest Day” is been one of the more enjoyable episodes of Revolution in a long while. The flashback story is compelling and provides some much needed background information. Rachel and Mile’s relationship is one of the more appealing story threads in the series, so the more we get of that, the better. Billy Burke and Elizabeth Mitchell have great chemistry, and the tension in their scenes together is always evident. More of that, please. With Charlie buried beneath a sizable pile of rubble, she isn't able to provide her customary annoyance. As I said before, this is a set-up episode, placing characters where they need to be for future conflicts; Nora is now held prisoner by Monroe; Miles, Charlie, Neville, and Jason are all in Georgia; it seems like the alliance between the Federation and the rebels will soon be broken, leaving Miles and the gang to attempt to rescue Nora or make their way to the tower; and Rachel’s leg is healed and she and Aaron are nearing the tower. With only three episodes left Revolution is gearing up for a promising finale.
-- Aaron is suffering a bit from “Charlie Syndrome,” trying to convince Rachel to show some compassion, but while Charlie has been quite fruitful in her pursuits with Miles, Aaron is completely shut down by Rachel. It is going to take much more than Aaron’s appalled astonishment to make Rachel human again.
-- Neville has a heart!
-- So Rachel and Miles had some kind of romantic relationship before the blackout. Was it while she was married to Ben or before? The show seems to be moving towards the “Charlie is Miles’ daughter” twist (cue Liz Lemon eye roll), “Oh brother.” I really hope this is all misdirection and Miles really is Charlie’s uncle. But since the writers’ penchant for soap opera storylines is well established, I dread the day the show makes the “shocking revelation.”
-- In the flashback Rachel says she wants to turn the power back on, but she knew that the nanites were keeping Danny alive. Was she just lying to Miles?
-- About the nanites, they sure did a speedy job on her leg. This is where total suspension of disbelief is necessary to enjoy/tolerate the show because those nanites are magical (they’ll cure anything!), and there are some inconsistencies in the way they seem to work. We still don’t know everything about their creation and programming, etc., so there might be explanations coming.
-- All the time the writers had to come up with a decent ominous name for Miles and they came up with the “Butcher of Baltimore”?
-- Didn’t see Nora running out to help save Charlie coming; it was a surprising and selfless move on her part. Does she do it because Miles mentioned (vaguely) what happened with Rachel?