Revolution is a lot more interesting now that it's a show about an arms raceRevolution started out as a show about America becoming a third-world country. And last night's episode showed what happens when someone gets first-world weapons. The result is sort of like the Star Trek episode where Kirk and the Klingons start giving people flintlocks. Spoilers ahead...

From here on out, at least for the foreseeable future, Revolution is going to be a show about an arms race. Thanks to Rachel the scientist mom, the evil General Monroe has an "Accelerator" which lets him have a couple of helicopters and rocket launchers and things. So Miles and Rachel go to get the Rebels their own hardware, including surface-to-air missiles and stuff. At the end, a despondent Monroe gets a visit from Randall, the guy who turned off the power in the first place, offering him more and better hardware.

So now there's going to be an escalation in cool killing machines on both sides, which is actually a pretty interesting twist on the "world without electricity" premise. Most people still don't have technology, but the two opposing sides in this civil war (the logo side and the flag side) could wind up having an ever-increasing spiral of slaughter.

The best scene in last night's episode is probably where Miles and the gang are surveying the aftermath of a helicopter massacre. Danny is revolted and astonished, and Miles says that this is what war used to look like, before the blackout. It's interesting to see the different reactions to the carnage among people who grew up in a world of helicopters and tanks, versus the younger people who've never seen them in action.

Revolution is a lot more interesting now that it's a show about an arms race

So let's get this out of the way — last night's episode was definitely a step up from most of the fall's episodes. The performances were almost universally strong, except perhaps for poor Elizabeth Mitchell, who's stuck being weepy and penitent. Tracy Spiridakos is sticking entirely to being stoic and tough, which she's quite good at. The show seems to be moving forward, both thematically and in terms of character development, in a way that seems organic rather than random.

So Miles and Rachel get the Rebels their own technological weapons, and a pendant to make them work, just as Monroe's helicopters descend on the Rebel base in a strip mall. Miles is all set to take on the helicopters with a shoulder-mounted mortar thing, but he's knocked out and it's left up to Danny to do it — dying in the process, which is amply telegraphed earlier in the episode but still pretty moving. (And thank goodness the show only has one pouty blond kid now.)

It's hard not to notice the irony — Rachel agreed to go along with the "turning off the world's electricity" project in exchange for getting Danny an experimental surgery when he was a kid. And more recently, she built Monroe an Accelerator so he would spare Danny — and her decisions wind up getting Danny killed, as a direct result. Rachel is pretty broken up about it, but Charlie (Spiridakos) displays the aforementioned stoicism.

Revolution is a lot more interesting now that it's a show about an arms race

The most touching scene between Charlie and Danny actually happens as a flashback, when Danny is a little kid suffering from an asthma attack, and Charlie talks him through breathing normally. Remember Danny's asthma? It's hardly been mentioned since the pilot, but it's used touchingly here.

Miles, meanwhile, feels guilty both because he forged Monroe's militia into a super war machine (albeit a non-electronic one) and because he forced Rachel to leave her family and go be a prisoner of Monroe. He tells Rachel that he wouldn't have left if he'd known she was still alive, but she just gives him the silent treatment.

The other big character arc last night involves Tom Neville and his son Jason — and it's also pretty interesting stuff. Like Danny, Jason is revolted at seeing the carnage and devastation wrought by high-tech killing machines. Tom insists that this is just efficient, and that it's the enemy's fault if they get their women and children in the way of the guns. But Jason winds up rebelling and having a knock-down drag-out fight with his dad, who disowns him. Jason warns the Rebels about the aforementioned helicopter strike on the strip mall, while Tom tells Monroe his son is dead.

So it seems highly likely that the "world without electricity" portion of this show is over. And we're moving on to the "weapons escalation" portion of the show instead. The electricity genie probably won't get put back in the bottle, now that the Rebels have at least one pendant (and possibly two, if they salvaged one from the crashed helicopter) and Monroe has Randall helping him. It could be quite interesting to see most people caught in the crossfire, still without any power, while the two opposing sides build up their 21st-century arsenals.

Given all the stuff dropped into this episode about the "Tower" that Randall is trying to get into, and the stuff Rachel says in the clips from upcoming episodes, though, it seems likely that the actual power will be switched on by the end of the season. And then we'll get a story about what happens when people have to rebuild after a collapse. Which could be interesting as well. In any case, it's good news that this show isn't standing still or running out of juice.