This show has been uneven from the start, with a shaky premise about how the government unleashed nanotechnology that shut down the world's electrical systems. The idea of a post-electric world is fascinating, but unfortunately the causes of the blackout have succumbed to Lost-like mystical mystery.
Aaron, whose main personality trait is that he was a geek who worked at Google, has now become the nanotechnological equivalent of the protagonist in Carrie – he's in some kind of psychic relationship with the machines, and now he can kill people with his mind. One night, he dreamed he lit some bad guys on fire when he thought Miles was in danger. When he woke up – dum dum dum! – some sparkly lights actually had saved Miles by lighting some guys on fire. I'm pretty sure this is the worst subplot ever.
But let's not get bogged down in hate. What's promising this season is that we're finally getting treated to a rich, political landscape that informs the characters relationships with each other. The US government has returned from exile in Cuba, after tricking Rachel into turning the lights back on just long enough to nuke a couple of cities.
Revolution's dark, satirical portrait of this government, which is brainwashing young soldiers using LSD, is really the best thing this show has going for it. Earlier this season, there was a terrifically tense scene when Miles and Rachel watched the American flag being raised over their town after the US troops occupied it. Normally a symbol of freedom, this flag was unequivocally a sign of corruption and terror.
Because the action this season takes place in a Texas town there's a strong civil war components to the struggles we see unfolding. The local Texas government views the US as an invading force – at least, until this week, when the two got together to execute Monroe. Again, this is a fascinating subplot. We get to see what happens when a shattered US government tries to pull itself together again, using exactly the same kinds of violence it did the first time around. Plus, there are hints that this government is playing with Illuminati-esque cultism, which is icing on the conspiracy cake.
There is more than a touch of fascism in the US government too. Not only are they rampantly nuking people so that they can appear to come in and save the day, but they are also planting informants everywhere. Even Rachel's father turns out to be one of their moles. He's been passing on Rachel and Miles' plans to the local US government honchos, in a twist revealed this week.
Unfortunately, the show is sucked into a mire of awfulness whenever we touch upon Rachel, her daughter Charlie, and pretty much anyone connected to them. Despite the fact that they act like all of the men around them – scheming, single-minded, violent and petty – Rachel and Charlie are singled out as insane and useless. We have to endure them delivering long, tearful monologues. Or worse, we have to listen to them venomously snark at the bad guys (most likely, with tears in their eyes).
Given that showrunner Eric Kripke is best known for creating the very best seasons on bromance show Supernatural, it's probably no surprise that this series only pops when male characters are in the spotlight. The relationship between Miles and Monroe, and the one developing between Neville and his son, are emotionally rich and deeply connected to the political fate of our wrecked country.
I'm not sure if this show will survive to see another season, but I think it's best hope as a narrative lies in its political drama. The more we learn about what's at stake for each of the warring governments , the better the show gets. We don't need to know more about Rachel's daddy issues, Charlie's mommy issues, and Google's masculinity crisis. Yeah, the nanotechnology is kind of cool, but it feels like a distraction from the gritty, mesmerizing idea that America has turned evil and we must destroy it to build a better world.