With the power off once again on “Revolution,” and little hope for turning it back on, the survivors of the missile attacks are trying to reestablish some normalcy in their lives when, once again, their lives are put in jeopardy by outside forces.
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“The season will be organized around a villain who is scary, and the drive of trying to defeat somebody and understand who they are, what they want, and ultimately how to stop them,” says executive producer/showrunner Eric Kripke.
On Wednesday night’s episode (airing at 8/7c on NBC), Miles (Billy Burke) has been kidnapped and imprisoned by Titus Andover (Matt Ross), who believes that, in true “Lord of the Flies” fashion, he can do anything to anyone. Just as Miles learns the secret of what is behind the red door — from which no one ever returns — Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) attempts to rescue him, and to escape with him and Titus’ wife.
In another part of the country, Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) and Jason (JD Pardo) take on pseudonyms as Neville becomes highly suspicious of the acts of kindness on the part of the Patriots, and decides that he can discover what they are really up to if only he can get inside their ranks. But before that happens, the two men are caught off-guard and assaulted by violent refugees.
Meanwhile, Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and bounty hunter Adam (Patrick Heusinger) are at odds over what to do with Monroe (David Lyons), with Charlie giving Adam sage advice that he obstinately refuses to take — to his regret.
Following a screening of the third episode of the second season of NBC’s “Revolution,” Kripke sat down and chatted to a handpicked list of reporters — XfinityTV included — for a forthright chat about what we can look forward to for the rest of the season.
Q: Aaron came back from the dead, so there is certainly something strange going on with the nanotechnology. What can you reveal?
Kripke: It is certainly an ongoing mystery of the show. I think the nanotech this year is what I like to call our Bad Robot glaze. The majority of our show is family and struggling to survive in this world and fighting the Patriots, and Titus’ guys. Then there is this level of mystery that adds another layer to this world, and for us, that mystery is the nanotech. It really came out of what we established last season. You have this infinite power everywhere that last season was just used to keep the power off.
As we started talking in the writers room, we saw what limitless possibilities [there would be] if you could take the leash off of it and it could do more than just keep the power off. It is positioned to do anything, which adds a really interesting level of unpredictability. The nano research that we have done this season and last season, of what [the experts] already say theoretically it is possible it can do, is astounding. Truly, you wouldn’t believe it if MIT scientists weren’t saying it was plausible. We are taking that and then we are adding our writers’ license. So, I think it will be a real exciting through-line of this year. This has always been my kind of American “Lord of the Rings,” and now because of the nanotech, we have our magic.
If we play it right and [use it in] its proper percentages — it will never be a show about that — but if there is, again, this thin glaze of mystery on top, then, I think, it only adds to the whole picture.
Last season, the American flag was a symbol for the rebels. This season it seems to mean something different. Were you hesitant to take the U.S. down this more villainous path?
There’s been a lot of hard swallows in the writers room because we’re Americans … I’m a proud American … and we’re taking a lot of the patriotic iconography of the United States and we are twisting it into something ominous and malevolent. You have to stop and take a gut check and think seriously about the moves we are making and what we want to do. I think the important point to make, and what we really discussed at length, was this idea that [the Patriots] are all the more hateful for draping themselves in something pure. They take these symbols that have such honorable origins and they use them for their own selfish impulses.
It buys us a couple of things, too, because you have bad guys who don’t look like bad guys to the rest of the world. There’s elements of body snatchers; there’s elements of invasion stories; there’s elements of the public relation face — God bless America — but the things that are happening behind closed doors are truly awful, so it let us have a certain element of mystery since our bad guys aren’t wearing their evil on their sleeves.
Once we got deeper into the thematic of it, if you position it as a battle for the soul of America and who will ultimately take control of it, and will it be a country that is about freedom, democracy, equality, and opportunity, or will it be a country that will be about consumerism, fear and oppression, once we started phrasing it that way, it became clear. The Patriots represent all of our negative impulses and selfishness. Our heroes are our better angels, and it really lets us tell a story about the soul of America.
How long will it be until we find out why the government waited until the missiles were launched to return from Cuba?
Neville is already sniffing out their trail and saying that the timing of their arrival … they are creating a problem so they can be the solution. Randall [Colm Feore], who was their vanguard, launched the missiles. Then they come in to clean up the mess. Then they go to Willoughby and what do they do in Willoughby but make a mess and arrive to clean it up? They have an M.O. Why they waited 15 years, we will reveal more of what is happening in that twisted black box that is Cuba as the season progresses. The idea is they have been waiting, planning and plotting this invasion for a long time. Maybe it started as the remnants of our government, but it quickly became something else. There were other influences, powers, and energies down there that muddled it and curdled it into something else. That is who comes out of Cuba and, insidiously, tries to take over the nation.
Now that we have a new villain — the Patriots as opposed to Monroe — it seems as if Monroe could be on the road to redemption. Is that a possibility for this season?
I think Monroe is going to twist and turn. I think it is a mistake to defang him. He should never be entirely trustworthy. I think right now, he finds himself with a shared enemy with Miles and the gang — and he’s got this very deep, sibling bond with Miles. I think all of that is a part of who he is genuinely. I think genuinely he wants to stop the Patriots. I think he genuinely feels stronger when Miles is fighting beside him. That being said, he is who he is.
It is a minor spoiler for Episode 4, but in Episode 3, he gives this reason why he wants to fight the Patriots. Then in Episode 4, also to Charlie, he gives an entirely different reason. If anyone is paying attention — and they all seem very sincere — but they are by design. Who knows where his head is at? We are laying in these very small breadcrumbs. There is more to what he wants than meets the eye.
We learned last season that Monroe has a son. Will the search for him continue?
Yes. The son will be in this season. It’s happening. We don’t have him cast yet. But he will be a character and a recurring one.
The characters are spread out now across the country. Is the idea, eventually, that you will be bringing them back together?
For the short term, yes, with the exception of Jason and Neville — although, ultimately, they will be folded back in but not for a long time — because they are digging deeper into these Patriots in a way that our heroes in Willoughby can’t. Because Willoughby is an outpost, they can scratch at the surface and learn part of the puzzle from their end, but Neville being Neville, he can plunge headlong into that conspiracy and get really deep inside it. It has been a useful storyline for us and fun to tell.
But for the Mathesons, if we had a thematic this season, it is the events of the finale shattered everyone literally and proverbially, so now we have these shards of people who are all smashed and strewn across the continent, and yet, slowly but surely, they have to find each other again. If this shattered family can reunite, overcome their issues and become whole again, then they have a chance at winning.
How will the season play out?
I grew up and I got trained through “Supernatural,” but I am a fan of the Joss Whedon school of showrunning. That is how I learned. You organize a season around a big bad. Then you reveal more and more about the big bad as the season goes on. You live in the first half of the season: Who are these people and what do they want. Then you live in the second half of the season: OK, we’ve got to stop these [SOBs].
We are doing nine in a row and we built to that, so we built nine with a storyline that culminates with a mid-season finale that takes you into the hiatus. Then we look at [episodes] 10-22 as the next chapter of the story.
I am not somebody who is a fan of the endless mystery, so before the first nine are out, we know a lot more about what the nanotech are doing, we know what the Patriots are doing in Willoughby, and we learn what they want with Rachel.
“Revolution” airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on NBC.