Now we finally know why they called it Revolution. When NBC's rambunctious action-adventure series premiered to record ratings last fall, it was all about a dystopian future world without power or technology. But when the show returns March 25 after a four-month break, we'll suddenly find our ragtag heroes, led by crossbow-wielding Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) and her sword-swinging uncle, Miles (Billy Burke), under attack by a squadron of military choppers. Juice has been restored — and the villains have it!
"The goal of this series was always to put power into the hands of the bad guys and make the good guys overwhelmingly screwed," says creator-showrunner Eric Kripke. "This is a seismic shift for our show, almost like we've shot a new pilot that takes our characters in an entirely different direction. It's the true start of the revolution."
The return episode is so packed with intense events — including the death of a seminal character and a head-spinning cliffhanger — that it had the cast in shock. "It's completely crazy," says Spiridakos. "When we got the script, we were all like, 'Whaaat? My God! This is all happening in one hour?' It was so insane, all we could do was laugh."
And then get deadly serious. "We're coming back like we're a big-ass, big-screen, action-movie spectacular," Burke says. "As actors, we felt like we were in the middle of a war zone, what with the helicopters, bullet hits and explosions. And it was all really happening. We didn't need to fake it and make it work later with CGI."
Kripke says he had to go epic to make sure Revolution fans — who haven't had a fresh episode since November — continue to follow the series. "I'm grateful for the break because it gave us a chance to look at what was working and what wasn't, and now there's no doubt in my mind we're delivering a better show," the exec says
"But being off the air this long has been a little hard to swallow. We really hope the fans haven't moved on."
His decision to kill off a top character is a reminder that "the world of Revolution is a dangerous place where no one is truly safe," Kripke says. "This is not a show that pulls punches. Life for our people is hard and often tragic, and we will wrench a lot of drama out of this loss."
When Revolution left off, Miles and Charlie had traveled vast distances and succeeded in their original mission — to rescue Charlie's brother, Danny (Graham Rogers), who was being held captive by Miles' boyhood friend-turned-despot "Bass" Monroe (David Lyons). But now the Mathesons feel pressure to stick around because Monroe, who controls a huge swath of the northeastern U.S. — which he has renamed the Monroe Republic — is ferreting out the resistance fighters who pepper the countryside and decimating their camps with his newfound airpower.
"Despite all Charlie and Miles have been through on this journey, they can't turn their backs to the slaughter and just go home," Spiridakos says. "They must join the resistance because they're not the kind of people who walk away in a crisis. This family has too much heart and soul for that."
And, let's face it, they inadvertently caused all of this. It was Charlie's tech-whiz mom Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) who built the power amplifier that has enabled Monroe to recharge his dead weaponry. "We laugh a lot in the writers' room about the amount of blood on the hands of Rachel and her brother-in-law Miles — and these are the nice people!" says Kripke. "It was Rachel who caused the blackout, which was ultimately responsible for mass death. And then Miles started the tyrannical militia that went on to take God knows how many more lives. It must make for a very awkward Thanksgiving dinner. These Mathesons are dangerous!"
There are more dire revelations to come. It's been hinted that something horrible went down between Rachel and Miles — when Rachel learned he'd surfaced after years of estrangement from the family, she fearfully asked her daughter, "Did he hurt you?" — so viewers had best be prepared. "There may come a day," says Burke, "when you learn something about Miles that's going to make you throw up." Says Kripke: "Though Miles is seeking redemption, we don't let you forget that he committed terrible sins in the past — in fact, if we'd set Revolution four or five years earlier, he'd be our Big Bad."
But instead that role is owned — lock, stock and power pendant — by Monroe, who will "consolidate his forces now that he has weapons and transportation and move beyond the Monroe Republic to the Georgia Federation and the Plains Nation," Kripke says. "He'll make some really fun, Game of Thrones-type power plays that will greatly expand the scope of the show. We're going to see some exciting new worlds."
For more on Revolution, pick up this week's Spring Preview issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, March 7!