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Revolution Recap: Dazed and Confused

REVOLUTION -- "Kashmir" Episode 109 -- Pictured: (l-r) Daniella Alonso as Nora Clayton, Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson

The worst thing about “Kashmir” is that it puts Charlie in two near-death situations and has her survive both. The second worst thing is that it’s a commercial for the new Led Zeppelin live concert film and album. And yet, the episode is basically fine, in that it’s neither mind-numbingly boring nor pointless. Such is the standard we must now hold Revolution to: “Kashmir” is nonsense, but it’s mildly entertaining nonsense. Talk about stepping up the mediocrity game!

The episode begins with Miles getting the crap beaten out of him by rebels. He decides to make a deal: If they stop punching him, he’ll lead them to Monroe. I’m a little confused as to why the rebels never got the memo that Miles wasn’t in charge anymore — can’t Nora vouch for him? But logic is not Revolution’s strong suit. The less this show explains, the better. Exposition is how we get magical pendants.

Miles leads his group and a couple rebels through the subway in order to attack Monroe from below. The benefit to this confined space is that it forces some new character pairings, and there’s no room for flashbacks. Charlie and Nora get to shoot the breeze, which in this case means asking why Miles went from being a bloodthirsty Militia leader to a relatively decent guy. Turns out he jumped ship after he made a failed assassination attempt on Monroe: It’s not easy shooting your bestie.

And here we reach the low point of “Kashmir,” as Charlie steps on a mine and somehow manages to stay intact. With Maggie’s death, Revolution raised its stakes, reminding us that in the harsh postapocalyptic wasteland, everyone is expendable. Maybe it’s too much to hope for, but I had every finger crossed for Charlie’s big finish. Week after week, she drags the show down, and there are no signs of improvement. If a character just isn’t working, you blow her up. It’s the only sensible way forward.

But alas, Nora is able to temporarily disable the mine, which gives Charlie enough time to escape just before the mine goes off, causing a cave-in. Now the gang is trapped underground, and they’re quickly running out of oxygen. (Thanks a lot for wasting precious air, Charlie.) Incidentally, the way they figure out that they’re slowly suffocating is a hilarious example of Revolution “logic”: They all start hallucinating.

Not just minor hallucinations either — Nora full-on imagines herself getting attacked by an alligator. My research (Wikipedia) indicates that while oxygen deprivation can cause hallucinations, that’s far from the primary symptom. None of the characters feels out of breath or experiences any other side effects, which makes it extra-ridiculous when Aaron immediately jumps to the conclusion that Nora’s phantom alligator means she’s not getting enough air. Hold your breath for a while, and I bet you pass out before you hear a Led Zeppelin song. (Don’t actually do that.)

I think part of what I liked about this episode is its absurdity — Revolution isn’t even trying to make sense. At least that’s how I justify such a silly conceit. The show wanted to give us hallucinations because they provide insight into the characters, not to mention the fact that everyone loves a well-scored dream sequence. But rather than get us there in any sort of legitimate way, they half-ass the “We’re running out of air!” explanation. It’s so lazy that it’s actually admirable. Embrace your awfulness, Revolution. It will make this experience less painful for all of us.

So Miles imagines a confrontation with Monroe, Aaron gets a visit from the wife he abandoned, and Charlie sees her dead dad. The writers aren’t exactly plumbing the depths of their creativity here, but there’s more Led Zeppelin if you’re into that sort of thing. Back in the real world, one of the rebels reveals himself to be an undercover Militia member: He grabs Miles so he can hand-deliver him to Monroe, only to be thwarted by the rest of the group. Charlie ends up offing the double agent, but not before he fires one last shot at her. And damn it, she pulls through again.

While all this is happening, Rachel is busy at work for Monroe. (She’s also listening to Led Zeppelin. Buy the iconic group’s live concert film Celebration Day, now available on Amazon.com!) Elizabeth Mitchell bias aside, Rachel remains the most interesting character Revolution has to offer. She tells Monroe that she’s building an amplification device, which he’ll be able to use to spread the magical pendant’s electrical power. (Uh, won’t this give everyone else power, too? Stop thinking so much, self!) What Rachel is actually doing is building a time bomb, which is a surprisingly good plan for someone whose genetic material helped produce Charlie.

Seriously, Rachel is kind of a badass, and it’s not her fault Dr. Jaffe ruins her bomb plot by being all, “Hey, that amplification device is totally a bomb.” The episode’s best moment comes after Monroe tells Rachel that, with Dr. Jaffe’s help, he no longer needs her, and Rachel stabs Dr. Jaffe. “Now you need me,” she snaps, because Revolution likes to spell things out for us. Whatever, it made me smile, and I was pretty sure I’d lost the ability to feel joy after Charlie’s obnoxious not-getting-blown-up thing.

As many missteps as “Kashmir” takes, it’s just no longer worth getting worked up over Revolution’s flaws. Besides, what’s important is that the show is taking steps at all: After last week’s time-suck, it’s a relief to see the characters push on to Philadelphia. Next week’s fall finale promises some sort of conclusion — keep hope alive for major-character death! — and perhaps the hiatus will give Revolution the chance to regroup. Either revamp the series completely and shoot for quality, or embrace the stupidity of suffocation-induced alligator hallucinations and heavy-handed Led Zeppelin promotional tie-ins. There’s nothing duller than the in-between, except maybe “Stairway to Heaven.”

Photo: Brownie Harris/NBC