“It’s all going to turn off, and it will never, ever turn back on,” Ben tells him. And before he can answer Miles’ question about what’s going to turn off ... everything does.
Lights go out; computers shut down; automobiles stall in their tracks; airplanes fall from the sky. The entire planet is plunged into complete power-blackout darkness. Cue the opening credits. When the première resumes, it’s 15 years into the future, and the current-free world has evolved (devolved?) into a primitive but functional society whose focus seems to be on agrarian concerns and sort-of-tribal living.
Ben and his now-teenage children, Charlie (Spiridakos) and Danny (Graham Rogers), are part of a small community living in what appears to have once been a suburb of Chicago. Charlie is headstrong and rebellious, while Danny is more of a follower who allows his sister to get him into trouble.
One afternoon, while Charlie is out exploring a portion of the surrounding countryside deemed off-limits by her father, a militia troop arrives in the village. Its commander, Capt. Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) announces that he’s searching for Ben Matheson and his brother, Miles, because his superiors believe the siblings know something about why the power went out and, perhaps, how it might be restored. When the other villagers rise up to try to stop the troopers from taking Ben away, shots are fired and blood is spilled.
Hearing the gunshots, Charlie races home, only to find her father mortally wounded and her brother missing, having been taken prisoner by the militiamen. With his dying breath, Ben implores his daughter to go to old Chicago to seek out her Uncle Miles, who will know what to do to rescue Danny from his captors.
And so begins Charlie’s quest/adventure in earnest; with former computer geek Aaron (Zak Orth) in tow, she heads for Chicago in search of her uncle — “All my dad ever said about him is he’s good at killing,” she tells Aaron.
When she finds him, he wants no part of her quest. But when it becomes clear that Charlie’s journey has led militia forces right to his doorstep, Miles is forced to reconsider, and the reunited family unit fights its way out of a rather tight spot.
Monday’s Revolution première is by no means a perfect pilot — there are some gaps in its narrative logic that require a generous suspension of disbelief — but if you’re willing to buy into the appealing mythology of a world without cellphones, e-mail, texting, Twitter or photo-radar cameras, you’ll find the action-filled story compelling and the diverse collection of characters worthy of emotional investment.
Spiridakos is very appealing in what should become her breakout role, and Burke ( The Twilight Saga) is every bit the action star as her equal-billing co-star. Esposito ( Breaking Bad), for his part, is perfectly cast as the militia-boss villain who will make their rescue mission difficult.
There’s potential here for huge prime-time fun. Out there in the darkness, Revolution’s future actually looks pretty bright.