Miles, Charlie, Nora and Aaron all deal with difficult choices when faced with a man from Miles' past

By Emily Rome
October 30, 2012 at 02:02 PM EDT
Brownie Harris/NBC
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This week Revolution delivered viewers what very well may be the best episode of the series yet. It was an episode that revealed how our characters act under the pressure of impossible choices and featured a series of flashbacks that may be the show’s most heartbreaking and relatable thus far.

The episode, titled “Sex and Drugs,” starts with Nora unconscious – the knife cut from her tussle with Hutch in Noblesville has turned life-threatening as it’s become infected. Miles steals a horse carriage and, with Charlie and Aaron also aboard, takes Nora to the nearest place he knows he can find help. It’s a white mansion, lined with poppies beyond its fence. There we meet the man in power in the house, Drexel, whose idea of “fun and games” is to force Miles to his knees at gunpoint, count to three, and declare it all a joke just when you thought he was going to pull the trigger.

Miles’ one-time acquaintance is played by Todd Stashwick, whom you may recognize from Supernatural’s “Monster Movie” episode or from Maxwell House Coffee commercials. But know that his character in Revolution is in a whole other league of villain from his Supernatural Dracula and his advertising enemy of the French press.

Drexel does welcome Miles, Charlie, Aaron and a still unconscious Nora into his home, and the in-house doctor does save Nora, with the help of a blood transfusion from Miles, who grips the hand of his ex-lover tightly as his O negative blood transfers over to her. But as soon as the gang is about to head out (Nora still unconscious but taken care of), things take a turn. Drexel reveals that he knew Miles when he was a general in Monroe’s militia.

“He would order men in front of a firing squad the way you and I would order a beer,” Drexel says, all the while recounting brief memories of Miles with an off-putting casualness and levity – again, like this is all just “fun and games.”

Turns out Drex isn’t too pleased with the former militia general – Drex once had quite the good thing going with Miles. Miles would eliminate Drex’s competition in exchange for gold. But when Miles went rogue, Drex’s position of power went with him.

In a flashback to the night of the blackout, we see Aaron with his wife, Priscilla (Maureen Sebastian), in a limo. It’s their anniversary. They’re just beginning a romantic getaway, but the blackout hits before they can get out of town. Later, we see Aaron helpless to save his wife from an illness in a land with no medicine. She’s picked up a disease by drinking unsanitary lake water. It’s a stranger they meet on the road, not her husband, who knows how to help her. Then later again, we see Aaron, struggling to light a fire. He’s frustrated and ashamed – as an uber-wealthy Google exec, he once was able to give his wife everything. Now he can’t do anything for her. But Priscilla stays by his side, telling him that he is the only thing that matters to her.

Back in the present, Drexel is about to declare the cruel way he wants to get even with Miles. There’s an Irish family up the road, who burned most of his poppies (yes, he uses them to make heroin) on what Drexel claims was a drunken rampage through his fields. Where the getting even part comes in is Drexel orders Charlie – no, Miles it can’t be you, it has to be Charlie – to go kill the patriarch of that Irish family, Bill O’Halleran. And if she doesn’t do the murderous deed, Drex will kill the whole gang, starting by “smothering Latina Barbie.”

NEXT PAGE: Decisions, decisions

Night falls, and Charlie prepares to infiltrate the O’Hallerans’ home disguised as one of Drex’s prostitutes, wearing clothes surely unlike anything she’s worn before: black high heels and a one-shoulder lace black dress. Miles and Aaron try to convince her not to go. Aaron’s horrified that she agreed to do this at all. “Who the hell are you?” he says. Charlie’s just trying to be like her uncle through all of this: “You told me to toughen up,” she barks at Miles. “The world is not a bunch of pretty postcards.” Just hours before, she tore up her beloved postcards in a flurry of memories of all the family she’d lost.

“I don’t have a choice,” she contends about the deed Drex is forcing her to do.

But after Charlie has left, Miles realizes he has an impossibly difficult choice to make. Drex now tells Miles that there’s no way Charlie can get out of the O’Hallerans’ place alive – she’ll be killed as soon as one of the many men there realizes she’s killed Bill. So Miles has to choose between Charlie and Nora – run after Charlie and leave Aaron and Nora to be surely killed by Drex’s men, or stay with Nora and let Charlie walk to her death. He chooses Charlie, his family, but with the small, small hope that useless Aaron will get himself and Nora to safety. “I will do the best I can here, which I know isn’t much,” Aaron tells Miles.

Miles manages to escape the house in another blaze of slashing swords (and with the help of Aaron’s knowledge of dumbwaiters).

Over at the O’Hallerans’ home of Ohio State University buildings, Bill isn’t making it any easier for Charlie to kill him. She sees how tenderly he plays with his young grandson. She learns that burning the poppies wasn’t a drunken night out – it was revenge for Drex taking his daughter into the fold of his lifestyle of heroin and plenty of ladies, until the drugs became the death of her.

Charlie does nearly stab Bill with a letter opener, but Miles arrives just in time to grasp her arms just before they swing down on the man’s chest.

Back at the Drexel estate, Aaron and Nora, awakened by a shot of pure adrenaline, have been surrounded outside by Drex and his torch-bearing men. Here comes the next sadistic choice: Drex gives both hostages a handgun. Whoever shoots the other first gets to live. If both refuse, Drex will shoot them both. Oh, and they better not think about shooting him – Drex is hiding behind the door of an armored car, watching with eager anticipation the next round of “fun and games.”

Aaron doesn’t have any higher an opinion of himself than he did eight months after the blackout when he was with his wife. “I want you to shoot me,” he begs Nora. “Miles and Charlie need you. No one needs me.”

But Nora won’t do it. So Aaron lifts up his gun, takes it off safety, and shoots himself through the heart.

NEXT PAGE: A Clint Eastwood moment

We return from the commercial break to find that Kripke has not killed off another supposed regular of the show. In a Fistful of Dollars moment, Drex steps out of the protection of the armored car and looms over Aaron’s body on the ground. That’s the last thing Drexel ever does. Because Aaron lifts up his gun and shoots him. In Aaron’s breast pocket is his flask that kept the bullet from piercing even a millimeter of skin, though the impact probably broke a rib.

Drexel’s men let Aaron and Nora go. They meet up with Charlie and Miles not far down the road. Some tough “who do you want to live” choices were laid out before all of them, but in the end everyone survived – well, everyone except Drexel. And when Nora tells Miles that Aaron shot Drexel, the former militia general is impressed with his bearded companion, probably for the first time.

One final flashback for Aaron: It’s morning in the woods where Aaron and Priscilla had made camp with fellow travelers. But Priscilla wakes up with her husband nowhere to be seen. She sees his wedding ring, sitting on a rock next to her, and beneath the rock is a note: “I can’t protect you. You’re better off with them. I’m sorry. Love, A.” She shouts his name, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Finally, she gives up and leaves camp with the others but without him. And from between tree branches, Aaron watches his wife walk away.

This episode also featured a few scenes in Philadelphia: Monroe promotes Neville to Major. The young stud formerly known as Nate is on good terms with Monroe after delivering his report of the past several weeks, but shatters that a bit when Monroe hands Jason Rachel’s drawing of the Locket of Power and asks if the Matheson girl has it. “Not the girl,” he responds with no hesitation. “The fat guy has it.” Oh, Aaron, why oh why did you let Jason see it? It seems for a moment that Jason’s fuzzy allegiances are becoming clearer until he attempts, and fails, to protest Monroe’s orders that Strauser – a militiaman who’s known to leave no survivors on his missions – go after Charlie, Miles, Aaron and Nora. Then there’s a mother and child reunion: Danny, shocked to see his mom alive, is swept up in an embrace from a relieved Rachel.

As fascinating an antagonist as Neville is for the odd humanity he has, Revolution really benefited from bringing a true, unredeemable villain into the mix for one episode. It made for a gripping hour of television to watch Drexel tear down our protagonists and see how they finally defeat him.

Aaron’s flashbacks also were, to me, the most compelling thus far. True, they didn’t reveal the change from an insurance adjuster to a formidable militiaman we were waiting to see. And they didn’t reveal anything about how the blackout happened. But I think for most viewers in a technology-dependent, largely sedentary, removed from nature society, it was the most relatable. It’s hard to know just how we would respond to a world-altering event like Revolution’s blackout, but I think it’s fair to say most of us wouldn’t have the skills and the know-how – even if we had the courage – to survive.

One moment in this episode I want to return to before I wrap things up: the forced face-off between Aaron and Nora. Even though everyone turns out all right, Aaron at one point does ask Nora to kill him. Maybe he doesn’t believe she’ll do it. Maybe he was thinking ahead far enough to put on a little show for Drex before appearing to kill himself. But it seems like in that moment, he really wanted death, he really believed that Charlie and Miles were better off without him, just like he believed his wife was better off without him.

OK, over to you Revolutionaries. What did you think of this episode? Is Aaron’s back story what you expected? Does Drexel get what he deserves, or did you have a different punishment in mind for him? What will happen next with Rachel and Danny? And how do you think the gang will defeat that creepy Strauser?

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome

Read more:

‘Revolution’: Check out a map of North America 15 years after the blackout — EXCLUSIVE

Elizabeth Mitchell talks about her ‘strong, resourceful’ character on ‘Revolution’

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