Revolution, According to Braak

Posted: September 6, 2012 in Braak
Tags: , , ,

Holland is making me write about Revolution, because he felt that my many questions about it was worryjimmering, or something, I dunno.  The pilot is on Hulu now, and I have watched it, and I have assembled some thoughts on it.  I’ve placed them in a rough order as follows.

The Premise

You know what?  Fine.  Brian Dennehy is a wizard who made all the electricity stop working.  Why did batteries go off?  Why don’t turbines work?  Why don’t solar panels work?  Magic.  Fucking magic.  FINE.  Fine, I don’t care.

All the power is out, and during the subsequent fifteen years, millions of people have disappeared.  There’s like ten million people in Chicago, I don’t know where they all went.  You know what?  Fine.  They all went nuts and killed each other, and then everyone got fucking sepsis or something when the militia threw the millions of corpses into the water.  All that is left in New Old Chicago is a street that is covered in grass, some guys who are polishing a boat, and a woman selling tomatoes.

Billy Burke has a bar where he serves whiskey.  It is not made clear whether he makes the whiskey himself, or he is just guarding a hoard of whiskey that he looted from liquor stores in the ensuing fifteen years.  It is equally unclear if people are BUYING the whiskey, or just, like, trading sexual favors for it or something.

The Plot

I am kind of winging it here, because I had a hard time paying attention to the plot due to not being interested in it.

Actually, at first — and this is an actual note that I wrote down — I thought the show was about this:

“Holy shit you guys, this is a TV show about nice white farmers who want to be left alone, getting taxed and murdered by an evil black man from Chicago who won’t let them own guns.”

As it turns out, the militia is actually run by a white guy, and also there are white guys in the militia, so it’s not ONLY evil black men trying to destroy the middle class suburban/rural family.  It’s just that the militia happens to be the only place where black people hang out, I guess.  It’s the party of DIVERSITY that is trying to destroy the cherished way of life that those white guys have established.

Except for the one magical black woman who is willing to risk her life for a white protagonist and has the power to make the electricity come back on because she is part of a secret conspiracy toooooo Iiiiiiii don’t give a shiiiiiiiiiit….

Anyway, it turns out that the actual plot is, I THINK, that Ben Matheson knows why the power goes out, and this guy named Monroe wants to start the power back up again, and he thinks that Ben Matheson told his brother, Miles Matheson (Billy Burke) why the power went out, so his plan is to kidnap Ben Matheson in order to flush Miles Matheson out, but then they kill Ben Matheson by accident and kidnap his SON to flush Miles Matheson out, and Ben Matheson’s daughter goes to also find Miles Matheson, only it turns out Miles Matheson is a deadly killing machine and swordfights twenty guys and then he and the daughter and the daughter’s British stepmother and some guy who worked at Google all go off.

They find Miles Matheson right away, because the guy who worked at Google wandered into the one building in Chicago that he recognized, and that was where Miles Matheson was.  I guess they didn’t have enough money to shoot a different street, or something.

It is not clear to me why the plan wasn’t to ask BEN Matheson — who knew why the power went out and was, importantly, not an invincible killing machine — about why the power went out.

Anyway, the Matheson son escapes the militia leader (played by Giancarlo Esposito who has an automatic pistol that he uses to cap suckers) and finds the magic black woman who saves him and gives him medicine, but they get him back.  I suppose this is going to be important later in the series, but I kind of hope that kid gets killed, he is a punk.

Miles Matheson doesn’t want to help because he thinks that if Monroe (who runs the militia) gets the power back on, he will use tanks and factories to take over the continent.

All right, guys.  Look.  I’ve been okay with a lot of this stuff, up to now.  I didn’t ask where these guys all got their uniforms from, if no one was making fabric and all the sewing machines didn’t work.  I didn’t ask where all the waterfalls came from, or the ruins, or the smoked out log cabins in the middle of fields like if the power went out suddenly all the regular houses would revert to the 18the century.  I didn’t ask what they were using for currency, or why Chicago didn’t immediately re-establish itself as a thriving trade and fishing city which is the entire reason that THERE IS A CHICAGO IN THE FIRST PLACE, I didn’t ask why the planes in O’Hare airport hadn’t been looted in the last fifteen years, or who was making these clearly custom-job swords with built-in brass knuckles for the militia, I didn’t ask why the Matheson daughter keeps a Rubik’s Cube hidden behind a stone in a wall like it’s a one of Ariel’s fucking thingamabobs when seriously just because we can’t make NEW Rubik’s Cubes doesn’t mean the TEN MILLION EXTANT RUBIK’S CUBES will cease to exist you don’t need to treasure them!

I did ask where the whiskey came from, but that was motivated by genuine curiosity.

Here’s where I’m going to have to draw the fucking line.  If the premise of this show is, “We can’t let Monroe find the magic thingamagigsit because then he’ll have tanks,” that is something I’m not going to be able to cope with.  The thing is, I did a little research after watching this show, and I discovered something.  Do you know how many people were killed by murderous imperialist armies before the invention of electricity?  Estimates vary, but most historians agree it was somewhere around A GAJILLION.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Actually, you know, this is kind of a serious thing, it’s a serious thing that I wish more people sort of understood about the history of politics and military history and things of that nature.

You know the most significant thing that the Roman legions did?  They built roads.  Roads EVERYWHERE.  Motherfuckers just loved the SHIT out of roads.  They built roads and aqueducts and ships, they established farms, they secured trade routes; the legion scrip was the first currency the Roman Empire used.  Oh, sure, they killed a bunch of people, but actually you don’t make an empire by killing a lot of guys; you make an empire by building an empire.

Man, I am not trying to say that there’s anything good about imperial armies.  What I’m trying to say is that there is a reason that people join them.  There’s a reason that people join them, and it’s not “they got conscripted and then re-educated.”  (“Re-education” is, in fact, something that apparently the militia in Revolution does.)

We are not doing anybody any favors by pretending that Romans got brainwashed into joining the legions, that Germans got tricked into joining the Nazis, that anybody, anywhere, is fucking mind-controlled into being part of a bloodthirsty army.  It is absolutely because those armies DO THINGS THAT PEOPLE LIKE, whether it’s building roads or satisfying murderous xenophobia and rampant nationalism.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that this whole “getting the power back on” is just a completely bullshit thing to hang a TV show on, because knocking the power OUT doesn’t mean anything.  People’s lives aren’t good because they’re staring mindlessly at cartoons while they don’t listen to each other on the phone, and they aren’t bad because people aren’t doing that.  Militias aren’t dangerous because they have tanks, any more than they’re not dangerous because they don’t have tanks.

All of which is to say: 1) I am just probably never going to by the existence of a sustainable militia like the Senatus Populusque Monrovus, and 2) the Monroe Militia isn’t dangerous because they might get the tanks working, they’re dangerous because they are an oppressive imperialist militia with guns and swords who are killing everyone.

The Characters

Oh, right.  Uh, shit, who even cares?  There’s a scrappy teenage girl with a boy’s name who hates her stepmother, but will eventually come to love her.  There’s a stepmother who’s going to look out for the teenage girl because of her lingering affection for the girl’s father, and who is eventually going to fall for Miles Matheson (you can tell because of the sniping) but maybe she’ll feel weird about it.  Miles Matheson is a deadly murder machine who likes to drink, probably because of some inner damage; I was going to guess at first that he would become the new King of the Militia, but then I realized he was a SERGEANT in the army, which means that he’ll sacrifice himself heroically so that the girl can probably be the Queen of the Militia, or something.

There’s a fat nerd who’s afraid of bees and is supposed to be the comic relief, probably.  It will either be sad when he finally dies, or empowering when he finally shoots a guy.  You’d think he’d be useful in the post-electricity wasteland of Chicago, but no, he’s a software engineer.


I am kind of curious about where the premise of the show is going, but I hate all the people in this show, and I am also about ninety-percent confident that whatever the answer turns out to be, it’s going to be fucking stupid.

  1. Jeff Holland says:

    “There’s a fat nerd who’s afraid of bees and is supposed to be the comic relief, probably. ”

    This…this rankled me. Because the first thing he says is, “I’m not AFRAID of bees, I’m ALLERGIC to them, there’s a difference!”

    YES. The difference is, if you have a deadly BEE ALLERGY in a time where getting an epi pen might be problematic, DON’T GO ON LONG HIKES THROUGH WOODED AREAS.

    See, he’s Google-smart, so when there’s no internet he just doesn’t know what the hell to do.

    Also, I assume all the whiskey is from all the corn that suburban cul de sac was growing.

    And I assume that Wyoming is just a mass grave where they dump all the bodies that died of not being able to farm or avoid people with guns.

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    Sorry! Muskets. Because when the revolution started everyone I guess just sacked their local museums and state parks for weapons.

  3. Moff says:

    It’s just — I know at this point it’s kind of pathetic to even bother mentioning it — but it’s just: “What if all the electricity suddenly went out?” is actually a phenomenally interesting question for a science-fiction story to consider. I find it impossible to believe that you couldn’t say something trenchant and profound just by following the idea to even some of its more obvious but still realistic conclusions. Because we use a lot of electricity, like, all the time now, so of course its abrupt absence would effect some serious social change.

    So it’s pretty fucking stupid that it’s just a device to make sword fights happen between people in newish clothes. Man, even Deathstalker tried harder than this.

  4. Jeff Holland says:

    “…of course its abrupt absence would effect some serious social change”

    Which I’m sure will be covered in the PREQUEL series that will surely be made after this show has concluded its long, critically-acclaimed run.

    Boy, that show’s gonna be pretty great.

  5. braak says:

    I think I am going to do Dramaturgery on this show, because Moff is right (kind of) in that there is a huge, huge opportunity to make a show that is about something interesting, but instead this show is about these jerks that I don’t care about.

    Also, how are you going to make fun of someone for being afraid of bees when they have a bee allergy? That’s like laughing at someone for being afraid of bullets that are being shot at him.

  6. braak says:

    I have to admit, though, I do like the idea of Billy Burke standing guard over a whiskey shipment for fifteen years, until society gets its shit back together enough for him to open a bar.

  7. Jeff Holland says:

    I, like many other Americans, have a bullet allergy, but I am going to be brave and stand up to OH GOD BULLETS EVERYONE DUCK

  8. Moff says:

    Yeah, the problem is, that would have made a better show ALL BY ITSELF.

  9. Jeff Holland says:

    Now I’m just jamming Billy Burke into Dr. Who in my imagination. “Miles Matheson: The Boy Who Waited For Whiskey.”

    By Neil Gaiman.

  10. Moff says:


  11. braak says:

    “Come on, Miles! Civilization is collapsing, we should join this militia!”

    “There’s eighteen gallons of Crown Royal here, kid. You go ahead. I’ll catch up.”

  12. John Jackson says:

    “That’s like laughing at someone for being afraid of bullets that are being shot at him.”

    TV shows do that all the time! Haven’t you seen Common Law? Also, Vexed did it as well, but it was intending to be hilarious.

  13. John Jackson says:

    braak: That’s the only reason that makes sense for him not being in the militia.

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