returned from post-Olympic hiatus Wednesday, a break that began shortly after the return from winter hiatus. So really, the series is on hiatus from taking hiatuses. Whether you love it, or hate it, Miles, Rachel and Charlie Matheson (it's kind of strange they all have the same last name even though the two that are sleeping together aren't related) and the rest of the lovable scamps are back for more murder and mayhem.
"Fear and Loathing" picks up where our three concurrent storylines left off, with the Monroes captured in New Vegas, the Nevilles fooling Miles and Rachel into believing they want to help, and Aaron and Priscilla reunited with nanite co-dad Peter. But what does it all mean, and will we ever get clued in as to what the point of all this is?
The Family Battle for New Vegas
Gould is holding Sebastian and Connor Monroe in a fenced-in octagon, MMA-style, surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire for attempting to steal all his diamonds. However, the wool is off, and he knows his old fighting pal is actually General Monroe. He's organizing a father-son celebrity death match, with the victor winning freedom and the loser obviously not. If either tries to throw the match or pull punches, Gould will kill them both. Golly gee, what a predicament!
Charlie goes to Sebastian's former lover and Vegas bigwig Duncan Page, who turns her over to Gould to settle a debt and forge a truce. Gould creepily tells Charlie how much use they'll get out of her, then she overhears him tell his guard to kill Duncan at the fight before she is forced to change into lingerie and chained to a bed.
On a side note, I'm just not buying Jenny from The League in this type of role. She says things like "Oh, you're Monroe's bitch," and "You made a real big mess for me, little girl," like she's in some sort of bad futuristic gangster movie. Then again, maybe it's the script.
Repentance, Monroe Style
Monroe the Elder is determined to teach his reluctant son how to kill him, so he lets him know about his super secret hidden blind spot in his left eye. But Connor still isn't biting, so Sebastian motivates him by admitting that he dragged the boy's mother out into gunfire, and that she died in his arms. The change is instantaneous, and Monroe the Younger is now a prize fighter.
As they share food from a bowl of slop tossed onto the ground, Monroe the Elder opens up about the regret he feels over spending his life alone. He's done a lot of bad stuff and killed a lot of people, so he needs Connor to make it out alive and restore the Monroe Republic, so that it will all mean something. And he urges Monroe the Younger to find a girl not named Charlie and have kids, so that he'll never be alone.
Two Fights Are Better Than One
Revolution may be the only show on television that would pair a father-son sword fight to the death with a violent rape attempt, side-by-side, but that's what's going on in New Vegas. The Monroes go back and forth while Charlie fights off a man who paid top dollar to get first crack at the new meat.
She ends up snapping his neck with her bed chain, kicking through the wooden wall to free herself, and unlocking the chain with the nearby key. She has just enough time to put her regular clothes back on before stabbing Gould's henchman as he's about to kill Duncan.
Monroe the Younger makes use of dad's blind spot to pin his hand against a pole with one sword while pressing the other against his throat. Monroe the Elder is about to be slain when Duncan repays the favor by having her men kill Gould's guys before she herself shoots him point blank in the head. There's a small entry wound, but no exit wound, I'm assuming for network television purposes. Even Revolution has its limits.
As a reward for their troubles, Duncan gives them five men to take to battle against the Patriots. Only they answer to Charlie and not Monroe. After all, she says, he's not that good of a lay. Oh, Jenny...
The Mathesons and the Nevilles
Rachel and Miles are wondering if they can trust Tom and Jason, even though they've been burned before, when they spot wife Julia's new hubby Doyle in the old typhus camp working on renovations. Jason later confirms to his dad that they're turning it into a reeducation camp and that the empty barrels are for punishing cadets for up to 18 hours at a time. Unaware of this, Miles decides to pick up Doyle for a chat.
Miles, Tom and Jason stake out the mission, planning to ambush Doyle's lightly-guarded wagon as it rolls along a lonely path. But Miles notices that the transport appears weighed down with an added security detail of men expecting to be jumped, so he points his gun at Tom, lets the wagon pass, and asks what the deal is.
Jason points HIS gun at Miles, and then Rachel emerges from the woods with HER gun pointed at Jason. Miles quips that in Mexico, they call this a standoff. Tom comes clean about his real motivations, and says that if they give him Monroe, he'll come back and paint Willoughby red with Patriot blood once his wife is safe. But Miles and Rachel are sticking with their team, even though Monroe killed their son/nephew. After all, as Tom points out, there's some real man love going on here. To be continued.
The Nanites are Coming
As was the case last time, the most interesting storyline is the one I like the least. It's also the only one in which I really understand what the point is. Sort of. Aaron and ex-wife Priscilla are in a locked room when Cynthia appears (Priscilla sees her dad) and tells them that the nanites are dying and need to be saved.
The three co-parents surmise that there's something wrong in the nano code that will replicate and eventually corrupt and kill the nanotech, and it's up to them to fix the problem. Priscilla refuses to help and wants to let the nanites die, but Peter takes a different approach. He believes the nanites are the new god, better than God, because they actually answer and heal. Everything that has happened has led them to this point, so they have no choice but to have faith. Fate is fate.
Cynthia still says no, and the nanites get all pissy and start a lightning storm. Aaron convinces her to change her mind, saying he doesn't want to lose anyone else by crossing his children, and the nanites fire up a computer so they can get to work on the code.
Aaron locates the problem (apparently dry-erase markers maintain their moisture in the post-apocalyptic future), but instead of fixing it, he tries to upload a virus. Peter flips his lid, so Aaron knocks him out, and Cynthia appears to ask why he's trying to kill his offspring.
He's just about finished when the computer monitor explode and Aaron wakes up to "Mr. Roboto" blaring from an alarm clock. He gets up, kisses sleeping wife Priscilla, makes breakfast, watches some MSNBC and stares out the windows of his high-rise building on March 5, 2014 (Yes, that's next Wednesday).
Yep, it looks like we're going existential next week, with an Inception-like world that requires Aaron to kill himself to escape. I expect it will end with Aaron successfully navigating the mystery realm where he knows everyone, but no one knows him, emerging back into the real world with a clear idea of what his mission will be.
That remains one of the problems with the unfocused second season of the series. It seems like the characters keep getting into standalone little pickles that self-sustain for a few episodes but ultimately end up in the same place they started. The two-episode arc that took us to New Vegas had some entertainment moments for sure. But at the end of the day, we've got five mercenaries added to the resistance group, and that's it.
Yeah, Charlie got it on with Connor, and Sebastian had an emotional father-son moment, but it's not like there's a real love connection there. And can we really take Monroe's impassioned speech on the level? The guy is a sociopath and will say anything to accomplish the end result, and can he really be remorseful when his goal is to recapture the murderous do-whatever-it-takes regime so the family name can be restored? Is that really a sympathetic figure? Also, the characters are generally so shallow and unfeeling that it just doesn't sit right when someone, especially Monroe, goes all soft and mushy.
The last point I'm going to make involves the few pop culture jokes littered into the scripts. They just feel unnatural at this point. I know they're trying to sprinkle in a little humor, but most instances just feel stale. I rolled my eyes when the New Vegas announcer talked about the previous death matches, which included Timberlake vs. Fatone and the Baldwin Family Battle Royal. It's cute, but at some point you have to decide if you're a comedy or a drama, and it's strange to almost poke fun at yourself this way.
Where it does work, however, is the dialogue between Miles and Tom. When they go back and forth about how they don't like each other, and Miles calls Jason "Nipples" before Tom asks if banging his sister-in-law will make Thanksgiving awkward, that's just funny stuff. But you have to keep it natural. Throwing in references to The Village People don't achieve the same result.
Overall, "Fear and Loathing" wasn't a bad episode. In fact, it was probably better and more action packed and enjoyable than most others we've seen. But I just can't get over the lack of purpose or direction, and it feels like everyone is running aimlessly in circles. So let's try things in the Matrix and see how they go.
You can watch Revolution
every Wednesday at 8pm on NBC.