Revolution 2.19 “S#!& Happens” Review: And You Thought You Were Having a Bad Day
This week’s episode of Revolution, “S#!& Happens,” was written by Anne Cofell Saunders and directed by John Showalter. One site also lists David Reed as a co-writer on the episode. Reed is a writer’s assistant and was also script coordinator on Supernatural. As always, Showalter delivers a terrific episode with some notable performances, particularly from Tracy Spiridakos and Giancarlo Esposito. Billy Burke delivers in an episode in which Miles is tortured both inside and out. While the episode itself was solid, I can’t help but feel that the ridiculously long hiatus since the powerful “Austin City Limits” really lessened the impact this episode should have had.
The episode picks up pretty much where we left off with Charlie (Spirdakos) stumbling out of the building where she was forced to kill Jason (JD Pardo). We pick up with her shattered and near catatonic face in the back of the wagon as she, Miles (Burke), Monroe (David Lyons), and Conor (Milo Vairo) make their escape. I immediately assumed that they were going to have her react in the same way that Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) had after the Tower. And I groaned. But they didn’t go there, and I really like where they’ve gone with Charlie. She tells Miles that she doesn’t need a pep talk. He tries to tell her that bad things happen. That’s life. You just have to do whatever you have to to win. And of course, the episode goes on to heap the bad things on Miles – both physically and spiritually.
Monroe and Miles agree that they are going to have to kill Neville (Esposito), and Monroe is happy to see Miles back in the game. They split up when a group of Texas Rangers shows up on their tail, and Miles is able to convince Monroe that they need to try to avoid killing them if they have any hope in getting Texas as an ally. And that’s when things go horribly wrong for Miles. His wagon ironically hits a bumper sporting the bumper sticker S#!& Happens.
He manages to come out of the accident ok but is forced to kill 6 of the Rangers to avoid being killed himself. I was struck by the brutality of the fight scenes in the show. There is a distinct sound of the bullet impacting flesh and a substantial blood spray. For me, the way the violence is underscored helps to make it more realistic and gives it a much stronger impact than the bloodless corpses or the artfully posed ones we see so often on television. After a chase and a fight, Miles kills the final Ranger but not before he’s received a pretty substantial wound to his stomach. We later see him checking the wound which is oozing alarmingly – it’s clearly CGI, but very effective and a well done effect.
Miles then finds a ruined house, falls through the floor and is sealed in by part of the wall collapsing on top of the hole. Miles cauterizes his own wound by heating his sword over fire, which causes him to flashback to a scene which puzzled many at the beginning of the season when Miles apparently murdered someone in a shed and then set fire to the shed. This entire event now plays out for us and ties into the Priscilla (Maureen Sebastian) and Aaron (Zac Orth) storyline in the episode. We couldn’t have had it more thoroughly explained prior to this because we didn’t know about the nanotech, which was apparently behind this – it never really happened, it was simply an experiment they ran on Miles to learn more about humans.
After two days, Miles has failed to get out and has lost hope. We see him scratch “I’m sorry” on the wall as he contemplates suicide. We finally see him walking toward the shed with fireflies buzzing him. Once inside the shed, the man he’s following is Ben (Tim Guinee). When Miles immediately thinks he’s dreaming – because dead brother, d’uh – Ben accuses him of being drunk. Ben is angry about Miles and Rachel. He then heaps all of Miles’ own fears upon him – that Rachel and Charlie aren’t his family and that Miles can’t protect or keep them safe – that he’ll let them down in the end because everyone around him suffers. Ben asks Miles to abandon Rachel and Charlie the way Miles did Monroe. That these are Miles own fears surfacing is re-enforced by him punching his own image in the mirror. He effectively cauterizes the wounds of this encounter by burning the shed.
This memory helps to understand Miles decisions up until now in the season, but it’s his next memory that prevents him from going through with suicide. He thinks about having played the guitar for Rachel, of her coming to him, and that’s what gives him the strength to try one more time. He sets fire to the remaining floor supporting the collapsed wall. He almost suffocates and burns himself, but the wall collapses in and he is able to pull himself from the pit into which he’s descended both physically and symbolically. The only person who can really pull you from despair is yourself. This theme is also picked up by Charlie in this episode.
Once they determine that Miles is missing, Charlie, Rachel, and Monroe set out to find him because despite his own fears, they do consider him family. I quite liked the scene in which Monroe struggles with joining the search. Connor is clearly miffed and taunts him about going after his “boyfriend.” Connor doesn’t understand the bond between the two and is clearly a bit jealous.
When Rachel and Monroe are looking together, we also see that they are also jealous of the other’s relationship with Miles. I have to admit enjoying Monroe telling Rachel that she was the girlfriend from Hell and a screwdriver wielding psychopath. We also learn that they had at least a one night stand in Philadelphia. It seems likely that Miles doesn’t know about this and that this has got to be a significant revelation in the not too distant future. Rachel intimates that she only slept with Monroe because she was his prisoner. I had to wonder if this happened after Miles attempted to kill Monroe and left Philadelphia – essentially abandoning both of them. Or perhaps, this is what precipitated both actions?
Rachel tells Charlie she’s sorry about Jason and is there for her when she’s ready to talk. But that’s not really what Charlie needs. Naturally, when they have split up, Neville happens upon Charlie and takes her prisoner. Neville is also jealous of Charlie’s relationship with Jason and taunts her about her “candy ass,” demeaning their relationship and attributing it only to a sexual attraction. Given Neville’s own devotion to Julia (Kim Raver), it’s interesting that he gives so little credence to his son’s choices.
The scene in which Neville realizes that Jason is dead is simply magnificent acting by both Esposito – which we’ve simply come to expect – and Spirdakos. Neville once again proves that he can read people by intuiting that Jason is dead. Of course, Charlie’s feelings of guilt and grief have been overwhelming her and are pretty clear to see on her face. But the only answer Charlie makes to the question of whether Jason is dead is that her eyes fill with tears. There is a terrific cut away shot to an exterior of the house as Neville empties his gun, into what we think is Charlie only to discover it’s the wall.
It seems Charlie has dodged the proverbial bullet. But when asked, she tells Neville that she was the one to kill Jason. It’s her own suicidal moment in the episode. She tells Neville that she hates herself and that he should kill her. He puts the gun to her head and actually pulls the trigger! I doubt we can hope that that really was a watershed moment for him and that the symbolism of killing Charlie will be enough for him – but I’m hoping it will be enough to make him want revenge on the Patriots enough to join forces with Monroe and Miles. Charlie leaves Neville sobbing on the floor.
Like Miles this low point has Charlie emerging transformed. She tells Connor that she’s gotten a second chance. She tells him “Now I get to figure out what my tomorrow looks like and I want Miles to be there.” Connor is clearly also jealous of Miles relationship with Charlie. It should be interesting to see if this friction between Connor and Miles develops into anything.
Meanwhile, we get some interesting insights into what the nanotech have been up to. Sebastian is doing fantastic work as Priscilla-bot – she’s downright scary! We see her being waited on by Aaron who brings her the things she wishes to experience as a human. It’s clear, however, that she doesn’t really experience things in the same way. Her very mechanical way of assessing music – determining that “We Built This City” by Jefferson Starship is the best song ever written is a clear indication of this. Aaron tells her it is a terrible song, and even if you like Jefferson Starship, you have to admit that there are more accepted best works of music. There’s also a nice Supernatural connection here – see the episode “Mommy Dearest” in which Dean names the new monsters Jefferson Starhips…
We also see Priscilla reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Kripke has shown an affinity for Gaiman as an influence in the past and was even linked to a possible Sandman series at one point. However, American Gods is particularly apropos because it’s about Gods and mythological creature who exist simply because people believe in them.
Priscilla tells Aaron that she can find Miles, but she’s more interested in trying pizza. She also tells Aaron that Miles isn’t worth saving because he has dark thoughts. This is when we learn that the nanotech has run experiments on 3, 289 people because it was curious about people. Aaron looks a little crushed that he is, in fact, not all that special to the nanites. However, he does ask her repeatedly to find Miles, finally appealing to her on the basis that he did create her.
He also points out to her that she can’t really know what it’s like to be human through books, music, or food. Aaron tells her that being human is about loyalty, about being there for a friend who’s been there for you. Priscilla does acknowledge that Aaron made her and that she will always love him but she tells him that he doesn’t control her, it’s the other way around. She then chillingly tells him that if her brings it up again, she’ll kill him and his friends.
While some of the storytelling in this episode may have been a bit heavy-handed, the terrific performance more than made up for that. I love the way some of the questions from early in the season are having a payoff here so late in the season. Kripke does a great job with the long arc, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season plays out – though there is still no news on a renewal for the show. What did you think of the episode? Were you surprised that Charlie told Neville the truth about Jason? Do you think Aaron is going to find a way to deal with Pricilla-bot or at least tell someone about her?