Revolution debuted tonight on NBC and like most network science fiction shows getting the greenlight in the wake of Lost’s long shadow of success, everything’s wrapped in mystery. The show’s linear framework means that we don’t find out what’s really going on until our lead characters do and right now, thanks to a jump forward in time, our lead characters know almost nothing.
That means every week you’re probably going to walk out of Revolution with more questions than answers. These are the five biggest I walked away with from the premiere, bookmark this page and check back after every week’s episode to see if they’ve been answered.
WARNING! Spoilers follow.
1. What happened to electricity and how do we get it back?
This is of course, more than just a question, it’s pretty much the entire premise of the series. We learn in the premiere that all electricity on planet Earth stops and it never comes back. We’re not just talking about failed power stations here, it’s as though the laws of physics have somehow been changed. It seems as though electricity has simply ceased to exist as a natural force. This can’t be actually what’s going on, of course, since your body uses electrical currents to function and that would mean everyone on the show is dead. This isn’t Lost. But everything from batteries to solar energy seems to have stopped, for no reason anyone really understands. It’ll be interesting to see, as the show goes along, if things like lightning still exist.
One thing we do know is that whatever’s happening is probably a man-made phenomenon. There were at least a handful of scientists who expected this and there was, until he was killed off in the premiere, at least one man who seemed to know how it might be possible to turn it all back on again. So how do we get it back? I suspect that once we get the answer to that question, the show will be over.
2. So computers still work for some people, but only if they’re from the ’80s?
This is a somewhat confusing twist on the lack of electricity, thrown in at the end of Revolution’s first episode to tease future developments. Apparently at least two people in the world seem to have working computers. Grace (played by Maria Howell) goes down into her basement and fires up what looks like an ancient Apple IIe and uses it to chat with someone else, somewhere, on another computer. Why does electricity work in her basement? It seems to have something to do with a flash drive, though since flash drives are just data storage devices and not magical energy producers, right now even this doesn’t make a lot of sense.
For me the bigger question is: why is this woman using such a shitty computer? There have to be millions of Macbooks and Thinkpads lying around unused, all over the place. Yet she’s chosen something that looks like a leftover from the 1982 set of Tron. What’s up with that? I guess she’s solved the electricity problem but still hasn’t figured out Windows 3.1.
3. How much does the guy with glasses know about what Charlie’s dad has been up to?
Right before he’s killed, Charlie’s dad Ben (played by Tim Guinee), talks to Aaron (played by Zak Orth) and hints around that he’s already told him everything he knows about the power outage. Maybe Aaron doesn’t know everything, but it’s certain that the former millionaire Google employee knows a lot more than he’s letting on. It seems clear that his real reason for going with Charlie has nothing to do with a desire to honor her father by keeping her safe, as much as it has something to do with something her Dad told him and he’s not sharing.
All this excessive secrecy could become a problem later on in the show. There’s nothing worse than a show where everyone knows everything but just refuses to talk to each other about it. Whether you’re stranded on a desert island with a group of castaways, or you’re traveling through a post-apocalyptic world without electricity: TALK TO EACH OTHER You’ll be amazed by what you might find out. Besides, it’s not like you have TV. What else are you going to do?
4. Whose side is Nate on?
Nate (played by JD Pardo) is the hot guy who, after an encounter by a waterfall, shows up to keep everyone from being raped. By the end of the show we also know he’s some sort of militia spy, but we’re given reason to suspect that he’s a reluctant one. Whose side is he on? We don’t know.
Actually there’s a great degree of ambiguity when it comes to all of the show’s militia bad guys. Most of them aren’t exactly evil, they’re more like people just doing their jobs, jobs which they seem to think may even be helping to keep other safe. Your average post-apocalyptic show usually turns these militia types into crazed extremists, sometimes they’re even cannibals. The fact that this group is actually pretty reasonable leaves some room for us to wonder if maybe they aren’t doing the right thing.
5. Why are so many people using swords and crossbows?
One of the best things about Revolution so far is all the swordplay. I haven’t seen fencing on this level since the cancellation of Highlander: The Series. If there’s one reason to tune in right now, this is definitely it. Only, they haven’t really explained just why so many people are running around wielding swords and crossbows.
Electricity may be gone but gunpowder still seems to work fine. A lot of people have guns but just as many seem to be opting for more primitive weaponry. What’s the deal? Why would you choose a rapier when you could carry around a pistol? There may be a clue somewhere in the fact that most of the guns being used are of a fairly primitive nature. We’ve yet to see anyone running around firing off rounds from an Uzi, for example. But it’s not like you need electricity to fire an AK-47, so where’s all the heavy weaponry… or at least the more primitive firearms? Why aren’t more people using gunpowder? This question needs an answer so I can sit back and enjoy the kick-ass swordplay without wondering why no one has bothered to strap on a Colt revolver. If you’re a gun expert, and you have an answer, let me know in the comments.
BONUS QUESTION: Why couldn’t Terra Nova do this or, why doesn’t Revolution have dinosaurs?
The fact that Revolution works so well and Terra Nova didn’t says a lot about just how awful the writing on Terra Nova was. The look, feel, and style of Revolution is pretty much everything I think nearly everyone was hoping Terra Nova would end up being, minus the dinos. Only Terra Nova had a much easier to grasp, slam dunk plot and Revolution has kind of an uphill battle with this whole “no power” thing. Yet Revolution’s off to a pretty good start while Terra Nova never seemed to get going. Add a time portal and a few Triceratops to Revolution and I think you’d have the perfect show.
Got answers to some of these questions? Have questions of your own? Add to the discussion using our comments section below.