Ever since J.J. Abrams’ brainchild LOST came to its epic conclusion over three years ago, networks have been scrambling to find the next big thing in science fiction/existentialism television. We’ve seen a run of shows like FlashForward get canceled prematurely, while disasters like The Event and Terra Nova just crashed and burned from the word go. Well, Abrams is back as an executive producer for a new television show, Revolution, which will premiere on Monday, September 17th at 10 pm EST on NBC. Having seen an early look at the pilot, which was directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), I’m definitely left feeling cautiously optimistic about this new series.
Revolution starts off in the near future, where some unknown cataclysmic phenomenon shuts down power across the entire world. Electricity, batteries, generators, everything that creates power is mysteriously disabled, and the world as we know it spirals into total and utter chaos. The story centers on the Matheson family, who we first meet seconds before the blackout. We quickly learn the patriarch of the Mathesons, Ben (Tim Guinee), knew this moment was coming as he desperately tries to download some sort of program from his computer before the event occurs, while his wife, Rachel (LOST’s Elizabeth Mitchell), and children watch frantically. He then stores this program – which we can assume will be necessary to restore electricity to the world – in a necklace. After a pretty intense and exciting opening scene depicts the blackout, the series then picks up 15 years later, and we witness a world that has fallen to militias and warlords.
Captain Tom Neville (played by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito) is one of the leaders of The Monroe Republic, a militia that has taken over the area the Mathesons reside in. Having worked as an insurance adjuster prior to the blackout aids in Neville’s ability to know when people are lying to him. So when he has your cornered, you know you’re pretty much out of luck. After Neville strolls into the village the Mathesons call home, Ben sends his daughter Charlotte “Charlie” Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) on a secret mission to reach her Uncle Miles (Billy Burke) – a former Marine turned tavern owner living in Chicago. Joining Charlie on her journey are Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips), a medical doctor who is dating Ben now that Rachel is dead (I wouldn’t bet on that being the case, however), and Aaron (Zak Orth), a former millionaire who Ben entrusts with the necklace in a scene reminiscent of Leia giving R2-D2 the stolen plans to the Death Star. Meanwhile, Captain Neville has taken Charlotte’s brother, Danny (Graham Rogers), as a prisoner. And while Danny is more than capable of holding his own, he suffers from asthma, something that is sure to play into later episodes.
The Mathesons hold the key to finding out what caused the blackout, and carry the hopes of restoring power to the world. Separated by long distances, they must find a way to reunite while keeping the necklace out of enemy hands that would use that power for themselves.
The pilot was paced exceptionally well, balancing a surplus of action while building suspense and developing key plot points. The episode leaves us with a pretty solid cliff hanger, knowing just when to cut us off so that we must return next week. Revolution definitely has my interest. And while I’m not sure we will ever see anything on the same level as LOST again, it certainly has the opportunity to be the next best thing in its genre.