Habitual baddie Sebastian Monroe was supposed to die on last night’s Revolution. But he probably didn’t. And that’s a kind of a shame.
You see, the previews for the episode seemed to hint at former militia leader Monroe’s demise at the hands of those mean Rangers. For someone who is a casual viewer like me, this tease upgraded the episode to Must Watch Live status. I had major doubts that they’d actually carry out the deed — it’s largely agreed upon that Monroe is one of the best parts of this rodeo — but I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t miss a really big moment.
I didn’t; I simply watched a well-executed-but-sorta-disappointing fake-out.
I don’t mean to sound like I wanted the character gone. Like I said, if there’s any doubt that David Lyons is awesome, check out any five-minute block from this episode for proof. But I also think that this character’s unexpected, non-season-finale death would have been the bold punch that this show needs. Honestly, it’s something Game of Thrones would have done. [Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen the first season of that show…]
The problem with Revolution — and, I would argue, many broadcast shows — is that they’re stuck in the bad habit of not wanting to throw the creative middle finger at people who watch the show. Fearlessness is fun, though! Take, for example, my Game of Thones reference. Sean Bean is a great actor. People liked him. But you know what? That didn’t really matter. They chopped off Eddard Stark’s head! Anyone who hadn’t read the books before watching the show was floored. Shocked. And immediately hit the Internet to express their overwhelming feeling of WTFery. It was unforgettable, and it set sky-high stakes for the show. (And we’ve been reminded many times since of said stakes.)
Would Monroe fans have been angry that he was killed? You bet! However, would the show have earned a little cred? In my book, yes. I know that’s probably not worth much to them, but as a casual viewer who wants to be a loyal viewer, they would have had my undivided attention for quite a while after that. (Note: Arrow killed off a much-loved main character in its first season finale, and that was a moment that was talked about all summer.)
To its credit, Revolution has attempted to carry out the shocking death a few times, but those efforts fell flat in my book. Danny, Charlie’s brother, died in the first season, but let’s be honest: No one liked him. Nora died in the finale, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that there were signs her time was winding down. And the rest of the deaths we’ve seen have gone something like this: Introduce character. Try too hard to make audience care about character in one or two episodes. Shoot character with arrow/gun.
I say all this assuming we’ll see Monroe again, but that’s a safe bet considering Rachel was seen digging up his grave at the end. And I’m guessing she wasn’t doing so because she wanted to burn his bones. (That’s that OTHER Eric Kripke-created show.)
But, look, the main character death fake-out is nothing new, and I should say that Revolution is actually having a solid second season. The bigger question here is: Was I alone in hoping for a little unapologetic boldness? I am a TV viewer who still watches a LOT of broadcast TV, but I fear my expectations for cable-level deaths are getting too unrealistic. (My colleague Samantha Highfill had some thoughts on a somewhat related problem on supernatural-themed shows.) Thoughts?