Revolution: Pilot Recap

A new show called Revolution, produced by J.J. Abrams, is making its television debut on September 17, but NBC has already put the pilot online so you can watch for yourself if you like.

I did watch, and I’ll tell you about it but I warn you, there are spoilers aplenty ahead. So watch the pilot, then come back and chat with me!

While Revolution is not specifically billed as a crime show, it is about a sudden blackout that turns off all the power—all the machines, electricity—everything. This was clearly a crime, and like most crime shows, the episodes themselves take us on a quest to find out who did it and why.

The episode starts with a flashback where Ben Matheson comes home and tells his wife to fill the bathtubs and sinks with water. She says, “It’s happening, isn’t it?” We only know the “it” she is referring to is the blackout because we saw the promo beforehand.

Then we see two men in a car talking, the driver (Billy Burke, most recently Philip Stroh in The Closer finale) gets a call from his brother—the same Ben trying to warn him.  It’s too late. The blackout occurs.

Then we move 15 years into the future where we learn that nothing has worked since the blackout—no cars, no electricity, no batteries. There is no medicine. Governments have fallen. Militias have formed. As one character tells us, ‘The world went insane and nobody knows why.”

Ben’s children—Charlie (a girl) and Danny (a boy) are now teenagers and able to hunt, fish, and help their family live off the land. Their mother is now dead.  Ben has a girlfriend and his kids don’t like her very much.

The militia shows up looking for Ben and his brother Miles. Ben gives a little metal thing to his friend Aaron before he talks to the milita. We don’t know where Miles is. A fight ensues and Ben is killed. The militia team takes Ben’s son, Danny instead. The man behind this militia is named General Sebastian Monroe, but his lackey responsible for kidnapping Danny is called Neville.

Ben’s last words before he dies are to tell his daughter, Charlie, to find Miles at a bar in Chicago. Miles will help her rescue Danny. 

Charlie sets off with her dad’s girlfriend, and her dad’s friend Aaron who still has the little metal thingy.

Unbeknownst to Charlie, Danny tries to escape. A woman hides him for a few hours in her house. As soon as the militia shows up she caves pretty quickly and lets them in. Danny is recaptured.

After some mishaps, including a rescue by a dashing gentleman about Charlie’s age, Charlie and friends find Uncle Miles. Alas, the dashing gentleman has double-crossed them all and brings the militia to the bar. Miles is able to fight the men off with some help from Charlie and friends. The fight is a little unrealistic.

Miles decides he will join Charlie in her search for Danny and then flashes back to where he was when the blackout occurred. After the car stopped, he and his buddy walk back to a Marine base. Miles is a sergeant and his friend who was in the car with him and heard the phone call from Ben, is Sergeant Sebastian Monroe—the militia leader who wants Ben and Miles captured.

Miles, Charlie, Ben’s girlfriend, and Aaron go off in search of Danny.

We see General Monroe reading a message saying Ben is dead and Danny is captured. It’s hard to tell how Monroe feels about this.

At the end of the pilot we see the woman who helped Danny in her attic. She pulls out a device exactly like the one Ben gave Aaron. She turns it on, and it starts a generator with a light and a computer. This gives her basic text access to the Internet. She tells her contact at the other end of the computer that the militia came to her house.

Her contact asks, “Did they find it?”

She responds, “No.”

And the episode ends.

So what do we know by the end of the pilot?

General Monroe wants Miles and Ben because he thinks they know something about the blackout. They probably do know something about the blackout. Monroe is clearly bad. His henchman, Neville, seems pretty bad as well.

At least three people have devices like the one Ben handed Aaron before he died:
1) Aaron;
2) The woman who tried to help Danny;
3) The person she tried to contact at the end.

The devices are mini-generators—Ben and/or a team knew the blackout would happen and planned ahead.

Aaron tells Charlie that he used to work at Google before the blackout. This means he is our tech wiz who probably can help explain what we need to know in future episodes about the tech aspects.

Ben’s girlfriend is not in the bio section on the website, so I’m guessing maybe she is eliminated in the next episode. Either that or the NBC webmaster made a mistake.

Based on this I will probably watch at least one more episode. What do you think? What else do we know? Will you watch an episode or two of Revolution? Or is there simply too much competition out there this fall?

Deborah Lacy likes speakeasies, yellow heirloom tomatoes, and crime fiction. She blogs over at Mystery Playground and Criminal Element. You can meet her on Twitter @quippy.

Read all posts by Deborah Lacy for Criminal Element.


  1. Terrie Farley Moran

    I had no intention of watching this show at all. Not my kind of show–until you put it in the context of a crime show. I’ll DVR and watch at some point. Thanks for this.

  2. Betty Breier

    I watched the pilot online and I will give the show a shot. Yeah, the fight was unrealistic but Billy Burke looked real good throughout.

    If you like the premise, read SM Stirling’s Dies The Fire and One Second After by William Forstchen. They both deal with similar events.

  3. Deborah Lacy

    @Terrie – Come back and let us know what you think.

    @BLB – Billy Burke did look good. Thanks for the book reco!

  4. Jennifer M.

    I’m a big fan of Burke so I gave the show a try. I also like (some) of Abrams work, hoping this isn’t going to be in the old LOST-style where questions are never answered.

    I found some elements of Revolution to be cliche (hot teen girl crushes on hot teen guy who’s not what he seems, but then is redeemed at the end by his love for her). Gag me. I’m also wondering where the daughter is getting her lip injections done? Surely they’ve run out of collagen…

    But I digress.

    I think too much happened in the first episode, as what happens in many pilots. But I don’t fault Abrams for that–nowadays you have about two episodes to catch the ratings or you’re cancelled.

    I will give it one more try, as well. (which is why networks cancel after two episodes)..

  5. Deborah Lacy

    @JenniferM. – good point about the lip injections and cliches. The lack of answers in previous Abrams series gave me pause as well. I really wanted to know what happened in Alcatraz as well and the Rambaldi story line in Alias didn’t make a whole lot of sense a good bit of the time.

  6. Mary Saputo

    Since I have a friend whose brother is one of the producers (I think that’s what he is – director?? – whatever – he’s up there) I chose to watch. I will say Deb that you should probably keep your descriptions the same because at one point you say – “little metal thingy,” and then you call the same lmt a “device.” But I, too, digress. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Giancarlo Esposito looking so good. He’s put on a little weight which looks a lot better on him than the cadaver look. He also has a new haircut which is much better. Now, as for Billy Burke looking good, David Lyons is no slouch either. All in all, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to next week.

  7. Deborah Lacy

    @bitsy08 – Thanks for the tip. I’ll try to catch that in the future. What do you think the little metal thingy/device is? A pocket generator of some kind? Why isn’t it impacted by the blackout? Maybe your friend’s brother could enlighten us just a bit (but most likely he probably can’t, but I couldn’t help asking).

  8. Mary Saputo

    I kinda think it’s one of those plug-in thingies; you know, when you get too much on your computer and want to download it all to this thing to free up space on your computer but you make a mistake and delete everything instead? You know what I mean?

  9. Deborah Lacy

    @Bitsy08 – I think you mean a thumb drive maybe. I think this Revolution metal device has got to have some kind of power generator in it that protects it from whatever caused the blackout. It is fun to speculate about it though.

  10. Mary Saputo

    Spoke with my friends about the program. Their comment, and rightly so, was isn’t it funny that everyone is dressed in the latest fashions and look so good? You would think that after 15 years they’d be wearing clothes with holes, at the least.

  11. Deborah Lacy

    @bitsy08 – That is so true!

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