Revolution proves there are worse things than "monster of the week" episodes

People complain about "freak of the week" storytelling — the endless churn of stories where somebody eats bubble gum laced with Kryptonite or a tree puts up sexy personal ads on the internet so it can lure people to their deaths. (Note: Those are actual storylines from actual episodes of actual shows.)

Supernatural, Eric Kripke's previous TV show, had tons and tons of "monster of the week" episodes, especially in its first couple seasons — and season one was frequently kind of boring for that exact reason. But Kripke's new show, Revolution, is somewhat more serialized — and last night's episode made a powerful case as to why "monster of the week" episodes aren't the worst thing a TV show can do.

Basically "Kashmir" was a "treading water" episode, in which nothing much happens because the whiteboard in the writers' room says all the interesting stuff happens next week, in the midseason finale. So... nothing happened. But instead of killing a wendigo or something, we spent the whole episode watching the characters have wacky hallucinations, first due to oxygen starvation and then due to Charlie getting shot in the head by a tragically inept marksman.

To add insult to injury, Last Resort did a "wacky halucinations" episode just last week, and it was pretty okay. In Last Resort's version of this trope, we actually learned stuff, and things actually happened. What did we learn from Revolution's batch of hallucinations?

  • Nora doesn't like having her legs bitten off by alligators. I'll give them that one.
  • Google feels really bad about leaving his wife, especially now that he's proved he really did have courage all along.
  • Miles secretly wishes he could go back to being a General in the Militia, instead of tromping around dirty tunnels with his niece and his ex and Google.
  • Charlie feels really sad that her father is dead, and wishes he wasn't.

None of it really shook me by the metaphorical lapels. Of course, there was a villain of the week — that nameless guy who is a double agent, who leads a resistance troupe of cannon fodder kids on Miles' suicide mission, and then shoots them all so he can turn Miles in to Bass. There's also an example of the tried and true "standing on a landmine" thing, which to be fair never gets old.

Oh, and meanwhile Rachel agrees to build an amplifier so that the pendant's range can be half a mile instead of ten feet, and thus Bass can have planes and tanks as long as they all stay within half a mile of each other. Reeeeeally tight formation. But instead, she builds a bomb, as pointed out by her former colleague Dr. Jaffee and — in the episode's only memorable scene — she stabs her former friend, so Bass will still need her and Danny alive.

All in all, this was very much a skippable episode, in which one piece of information about the pendant was dispensed (the thing about being able to extend its range to half a mile) and our heroes advanced fractionally towards getting inside Bass' stronghold to rescue Danny. Just imagine if instead, there had been a ghost terrorizing virgins in a small town and our heroes had salted and burned the bones only to realize the ghost was actually in an old codpiece, just as the ghost is about to murder one last virgin. Wouldn't that have been better? You know it would.

Sigh. Here's hoping next week's episode — which is the last until March — will leave a better taste in everyone's mouth.