Revolution was cancelled after two seasons of dystopian floundering. Still, we were tantalized by its moments of brilliant weirdness, promising a better show that never materialized. The season finale — filmed before cast and crew knew it was their final episode — made us glad the show is gone forever.
There were so many great ideas packed into this show that I was constantly astonished at how badly they were executed. The premise was bold and intriguing. Fifteen years after out-of-control nanotechnology has robbed the world of all forms of electrical power, our characters are struggling to rebuild the United States. Using knives and flintlocks, several factions have emerged: the fascist Monroe Republic, freewheeling Texas, distant California, and the mysteriously creepy "U.S. government" led by a group of mega-authoritarians called the Patriots.
There was ample opportunity to deliver dark commentary about the contemporary U.S., and sometimes the show took them. Those were the good episodes. Our best times were when the writers remembered that we were in a swashbuckling world of crazy adventures, tinged with mad science and snarky political commentary.
But mostly we got mired in internecine conspiracies that led nowhere, and featured lots of pointless torture. Instead of adventures, we got long-winded speeches and portentous moments. Plus, the whole rehabilitation of evil dictator Monroe was too absurd for words. Let's be friends now that you've raped and imprisoned one of our heroes, then killed her son! Because ... you used to be friends with her barely reformed militia boyfriend? Don't get me started.
And the nano! This show could not figure out what to do with its mega-mcguffin, other than to blame it for all the plot holes that nobody wanted to resolve. First it was just nano, then it was looking for its mommy and daddy, and then (in a very interesting move) it became a kind of messiah-like force, granting the power of healing to certain characters. I would have loved to see that thread developed, where charlatan "healers" use advanced technology to create creepy religious cults.
Another nano idea that was brilliant and disturbing came toward the end of this season, when it was possessing Google's girlfriend and created a "rat room" in their house of horrors. The nano had figured out how to make the rats behave in a perfectly harmonious fashion, running in beautiful, spiraling shapes, like some kind of hive mind art project. Apparently that was also its plan for humanity.
That would have been a fascinating idea to explore. Was the nano trying to make humans peaceful at last, by converting them into a perfectly harmonious crowd like the rats? What would that have said about the nano's consciousness? It would have even opened up a traditional but still compelling science fictional question, which is whether humans might be better off if they were mindlessly peaceful rather than intelligent and violently hierarchical.
But no. If you watch the clip, above, of the last moments of the season finale, you'll see that we were diving into a nano cliffhanger that represented the absolutely most boring and nonsensical possibility ever. Instead of exploring the nano's consciousness, we're going to see a future where the nano teams up with the Patriots. And they're all going to creepy clown town for a meeting.
Really? The big bad of next season was just going to be a combination of big bads from the previous two seasons? I quit. Oh no wait — you're fired, show. You are totally fired.