Why does Miles have so many torches lit in his room behind the bar?
20 torches for four people is the same as turning on every light in your house to watch TV alone in one room.
Forget the torches - why did he have so many candles lit in the bar when the characters first arrive? It was broad daylight when they got there and the place was full of literally hundreds of lit candles (apparently a resource of which they had a surplus), but almost all the candles were out for the climactic fight scene and the place looked just as brightly lit.
Candles are actually fairly easy to make, provided one has a source of beeswax or tallow. Why didn't someone in Chicago think of setting up a gasworks for heating and lighting, given that Chicago already has natural gas service lines in place? Granted, the initial chaos wouldn't have been the time to do it, but after 15 years some infrastructure should have come back, particularly since it appears Chicago is still a major trading hub.
it takes a certain population density to make gaslighting worthwhile, and possible reasons Chicago might not have gaslighting yet it because it was only recently resettled, and it is still fairly lawless (i.e., there are no cops to punish people who might steal the gas pipes and sell them for scrap.)
What is with the Muskets? I would've bought that Firearms aren't a big deal anymore because the ensuing chaos of the world would've spent the vast majority of the ammo, but i can't imagine a scenario where using Muskets would be viable. Here's the thing: they still have guns (We saw them a few times), they just don't have very much ammo. So, uh, make ammo. it isn't hard. All you need is a casing, a head, and gunpowder. Casings would be extraordinarily easy to find, heads are easy to make. Gunpowder would be difficult, but they obviously have it, because they use muskets. Instead of wasting your gunpowder using an unreliable, inaccurate archaic weapon, why not just make a few shells for a normal rifle? If one of those riflemen would've had a modern hunting rifle but only two or three shots, that would make sense. And this is ignoring where these muskets even came from in the first place. they looked like professionally made muskets, not some kind of hand-made firearm. Nobody makes those anymore! you can find modern black-powder rifles but they don't look anything like that! and they don't have the same reloading process as old muskets, either.
On top of the use of muskets, even if you accept that muskets are a necessary adaptation to the setting, why no bayonets? They're really handy for crowd control and for those situations where the enemy has closed in on you and you can't reload. And if you run out of shot and powder at least you're not completely unarmed.
There are quite a few modern gun designs that can be made in a basic metalwork shop. Basic breach-loading rifles should not be that hard to make and Sten submachine guns were designed to be made under these types of conditions. That of course ignores the fact that there should be plenty of regular guns lying around that can easily be converted to use gunpowder as propellant.
It's probably more a matter of rank and ability. You'd only want the high-capacity weapons in the hands of people you know you can trust and who can use them very well, as demonstrated by Capt. Neville. He's cool-headed, methodical, and loyal. So while someone in the lower ranks may want to mutiny, the loyal officer with the Desert Eagle is going to be able to keep them in line. Additionally, machine guns aren't as accurate and waste bullets, and modern rifles may be used by militia snipers or their equivalents. No idea why they're using flintlock muskets, though, except that maybe it's because you can load anything from rocks to glass to small bits of metal into them as projectiles. Very handy if you find yourself cut off, out of ammunition, and in need of shooting something.
Alternatively, this is 15 years after the end, and likely one or two wars to establish dominance, so perhaps the old ammo is used up except for the higher rank stuff.
Exactly, copper and zinc mines in Monroe's area were stripped out way before the Blackout and may not be in sufficient quantities to do more than low rate production of brass cartridges. Lacquered steel cartridges are not recommended as they tend to jam the barrel and require a knife to dislodge. Also lack of oil production means no gun oil in sufficient quantity to lubricate parts. Lack of suitable primary explosives for the rimfire and centerfire cartridges, etc. Then there is the question of how many ammo makers, gunsmiths, and other professionals were killed in the initial panic of the Blackout and what percent threw in with Monroe? Also cotton isn't exactly grown in the Midwest or Eastern States and I don't recommend playing with nitric acid unless you been trained on it.
In Monroe's camp the soldiers seem to be armed with with modern submachine guns or assault rifles so it seems the good guns are reserved for the regular army units. The militia group in Chicago seemed to be more a garrison/police force and would probably not be given good weapons on purpose. However, Nevilles's group should be better equipped given the importance of his mission.
DFM: Smokeless powder—the kind that won't foul up an automatic weapon after a few shots—is not that easy to make under the constraints the show has imposed. Likewise percussion caps, which require mercury fulminate. Most mercury used in the United States is imported from China and Kyrgyzstan (which presumably have their own blackout-related problems to deal with). The last commercial mercury mine in the United States closed nearly 40 years before the events of the series and in any case is nowhere near Monroe territory. Black powder, however, can be easily made without electricity (although the quality will be uneven—amazing how those muskets never have to deal with hang fire!). Flintlocks don't require imported materials and can be made or repaired much easier than modern firearms.
Blackpowder repeating rifles are not exactly unheard of. While they may not have been standard issue among the Union Army during the American Civil War, they certainly were widespread, and utterly dominated their muzzleloading rifled musket counterparts. It is completely unreasonable that such weapons are not standard issue among Monroe's troops, especially since he was living in a war camp and gearing up for, well, war. Those states which withhold advanced weapons from their troops because of trust issues are crushed and overrun by those states who do not.
That may be the next progression once the pre-blackout ammunition runs out; however, there are still manufacturing problems (the cartridges and primers are still beyond Monroe's manufacturing capability even for those early models. Even the Dreyse needle gun, an early bolt-action rifle that utilized paper cartridges, still needs the mercury fulminate primer.) And the series has confirmed that Monroe is living on borrowed time. In addition to the rebellion, two of the other republics have allied against him and are inflicting heavy losses, which is what's prompting Bass Monroe to get the lights back on. His reluctance to issue more advanced weapons to his front-line troops may have been what put him in this position. However, given that the Monroe Republic consists of the most heavily-industrialized part of the former United States (and all the talent that lies therein) it's an open question as to why they haven't figured out better manufacturing solutions.
It is not because they haven't figured it out, it is more because: 1. The trade is disrupted so nickel needed to make breech loaders gas tight, the biggest reason breach loaders languished in development hell from 1592 to 1836, is not being imported in sufficient quantities. Monroe may have seized underwires from bras at first to alleviate the nickel shortage, but it doesn't look like that was done as underwire bras are still being worn. 2. Gun oil is another bottleneck. Firearms need oil to lubricate parts and clean them. Monroe doesn't have major oil producing regions and coal gassification is likely a cottage industry. Also Monroe may be holding back kerosene to combat malaria. 3. Steel mills to roll steel would have to be completely retooled which would require arranging coking coal to be delivered to a steam engine powered blast furnace. There is a question as to whether Monroe sufficiently controls the navigability of many of the rivers needed to barge coal especially with active combat going on around major rivers. 4. We don't know how many professionals needed to maintain the canals, dams, and locks of those rivers are still alive and which of the dams, canals, and locks are still working.5. The initial chaos looked to have lasted for a few years and may have killed many of the professionals needed to reorganize the economy and Monroe hasn't had the time to properly set up the administrative controls to get his economy on track due to all the fighting going on. Which would explain the slapdash nature of Monroe's forces as whoever is organizing his war economy is basically playing fireman, robbing resources from one area to shore up another before pulling them back to fight another fire.
Confirmed. Episode 10 has a rather chaotic scene from "five years after the blackout", with dialog that indicates that Bass's forces have been wasting their ammo. Given that ammo rationing must have started not long after that it's a very reasonable assumption that the relative social order we see in the scenes of the "present day" of Revolution is very recently imposed.
Actually, The arming of the militia with muskets makes perfect sense, the ones we see with muskets we later learn to be conscripts. Most likely they are armed with the minimum level of weaponry required to do their jobs so if they do defect or rebel they can be put down rather easily. Also, in a real battle involving soldiers trained before the blackout they are most likely just bullet shields anyway.
The one question I think everyone who watched the pilot is asking: what is with all those nice looking clothes? Can an AC/DC t-shirt survive 15 years in that good a condition?
I thought the same thing, but i think that it may be somewhat feasible. Maybe they found it in a scavenge operation sealed up in a box a few years after the lights went out. if he kept good care of it, it doesn't seem too unlikely. i have shirts that are fifteen years old.
The more interesting question is how the owner of that AC/DC t-shirt can look so well-fed considering he's basically a subsistence farmer.
You know how some fat people use the "I can't help it, its genetic" excuse....yeah, turns out not all of them are useing excuses. This in turn raises the question of how someone with those conditions could last in those conditions
Not at all improbable, actually. It was a small village with a lot of farm land around it, and they also hunted. So long as the crops came in alright, they shouldn't have a problem getting the food they need and then some. His job is to teach, so it isn't physically taxing or anything that would slim him down.
Its also possible, given that his job previously was a rather sedentary one, that his current weight is his slimmed-downed weight. At the time of the blackout, a big percentage of the population was obese or grossly obese. He could have lost 100+ lbs in the ensuing 15 years and still looked somewhat pudgy, especially since his post-blackout job is not particularly physically taxing.
This could also help explain why the young men who've grown up in in the post-event world seem to be quite muscular. There's no electricity about, but there's obviously plenty of good food.
The whole 'manual labor their entire lives' thing probably contributed too. No more video games or television, so young kids when they aren't helping their parents in the fields have gone back to more physical activities for recreation. Even the bookworms probably have to walk for a while to get hold of books they haven't already read a dozen times or more.
On a different note, how did the Monroe republic acquire their uniforms? The gray Chinese collar shirt and then the green jacket for officers? Did they figure out how to make clothes or are the uniforms the way they are because they found a big warehouse with that kind of clothing in it? And if you look closely, they have little Monroe symbol pins on their collars. Where did those come from? And why would they waste resources making pins when they could be using the same materials and processes (or similar ones) to make tools or even bullets?
Textiles are among the easiest manufactured items to make, and traditionally were the first industry to mechanize. The New England states were at one point famous for textile mills powered by water wheels; the basic plan is still available and it wouldn't take much to set up such a facility (or even reactivate an old one). As for the pins, we mostly see them on the officers, implying they aren't common items (the mooks just get branded on the forearm). Having a jeweler make a few dozen (or even a few hundred) from pre-existing jewelry for the elites is not quite the same as making thousands or millions of bullets, or making precision tools (which require both materials and skills that may not exist post-blackout). Making modern bullets is considerably more complicated, as smokeless gunpowder requires both mercury fulminate and nitrocellulose, both of which are extremely dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Note also the drab colors most of the Monroe Republic troops are dressed in (as opposed to Georgia's brown uniforms and the Patriots' khakis). Fabric dyes probably aren't happening either, indicating a very primitive chemical engineering infrastructure in the Monroe Republic.
Why is not anyone seen using steam engines or diesel engines? Those kind of engines can run without electricity. Surely someone in that village (let alone Monroe's militia) would have experimented with steam power, at least.
All we've really seen of Monroe's operation is a patrol and a large cantonment. He may control a large city someplace we haven't seen yet that does have steam-powered factories, etc. Being able to use electricity would mean Monroe could expand his manufacturing capacity (and get that helicopter he was trying to salvage in the second episode flying, provided it hasn't deteriorated in other ways).
An episode preview shows that the Monroe Republic has at least one operational steam locomotive.
Related: no windmills? They're a lot easier to build than steam engines and can be used for lots of things, like milling grain or pumping water. They'd be really handy, along with a dike system, to pump out Chicago (malaria has probably made a huge comeback in the flooded downtown area). The Dutch managed an even larger project (namely, their entire country) with even less technology than the survivors have available.
The show has featured a wood-burning train, so that's settled. The reason it took so long is that it takes a while to both restore previously scapped tech and to control enough area to make use of it. Trains are cool, but unless you can secure the entirety of the track, it's not worth the risk of sabotage.
"The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" shows that the Georgia Federation at least is taking advantage of steam power and has fleet of tall ships. Monroe is deliberately holding his people back in order to maintain control (and consequently hampering his own ability to maintain military superiority against the other republics—Georgia is able to equip its regular police with modern firearms, whereas the Monroe Republic can only manage black powder muskets for any but its most elite troops).
Monroe has focused only on domestic authoritarian power, leading to MR becoming a banana republic. Georgia has focused on economic power and internal development, leading to industrialization and a higher standard of living. So where MR is a third world dictatorship, GF is a capitalist democracy. It'll be interesting to see how the other governments are — my guess is California Commonwealth, from the location, name, and accusations of "heathens", is socialist (Also, comments by Texans indicate that they practice a diversity of religious faiths, derogatorily termed "yoga"). Not clear what Plains Nation is.
Plains Nation (what we've seen of it) looks like an attempt at anarcho-primitivism taken up when the Jeffersonian model of local democracy based upon yeoman farmers broke down amid the difficulties of farming on the Great Plains. Or, knowing the writers, a modern attempt at the Braids, Beads and Buckskins schtick only without the implicit racism.
Does anyone really believe Chicago would be overrun by vines after only 15 years without electricity? It's not like there are people regularly de-vining the skyscrapers before the blackout. Heck, I know of buildings in rural areas that have been abandoned for more than 15 years that don't have that much plant life growing on them. And what happened to the miles and miles of dense suburbs around Chicago? Even if there's no one in them, there should still be houses there.
People do regularly maintain the landscaping around buildings, and repair roads, and clean windows and paint buildings. If no one is doing these things, overgrowth can be expected...probably not the Life After People levels we see in Chicago (except around the Chicago River, which relies upon a complex pumping and canal system to keep it flowing out of Lake Michigan rather than the other way around) but certainly it would be noticeable. And the suburbs should be intact for at least 50 years or so (the weather in the Great Lakes region is very hard on buildings, and most modern residential construction is not that durable without constant maintenance). If nothing else, foundations and street layouts would still exist and be noticeable by anyone traveling through the area.
I'm not botanist, but I do live in Chicago. There's plenty of moisture for plants to drink in all year, for one thing. And recall that O'hare is one of the busiest airports in the world; it can handle hundreds of flights per hour, and that means at least dozens of flights crashing and starting fires in the city, on top of uncontrollable traffic accidents. Much of the city would burn down. Combine that with no maintenance and storms blowing out windows, yeah, plants would creep all over the city.
Ignoring "Take him alive"
Why are the soldiers so willing to disobey General Monroe's order to keep the Mathesons alive? Neville probably did not think that his soldier would fire with Ben in the way and is scared that Monroe will have him executed over the failure. However, later in the pilot Nate tells the militia group that Monroe wants Miles alive yet they rush him with their swords drawn and fire their guns at him. Were they simply too Dumb To Live?
A key thing to remember about soldiers is that they are humans, not robots. There have been cases where soldiers disobeyed orders. That, and since the blackout has kept a lot of places isolated, it can be very difficult for military superiors to even find out that the soldiers beneath them had disobeyed orders. If the superiors never find out, they can never punish soldiers and keep them in line!
On top of that, it looks like quite a few soldiers idolized Miles and have personal (they think) reasons to take him out. Likely only the fact that Bass sensed Rachel knew more than she was telling kept Neville alive instead of being executed for allowing Ben Matheson to be killed.
As of Episode 10, it's been suggested that some of Monroe's inner circle are deliberately aiming to kill Miles because they believe their leader will be unable to do so when the time comes. Turns out they were right. Until Miles delivers his "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Bass seemed heartrendingly earnest in his offer to accept Miles back into the Republic's fold.
Alec is a case of exactly this, and it's likely he's not the only one. Note that Alec suggests Charlie is the new *him* — that could be a pretty big telegraph.
U.S. government fallen
So the entire U.S. government has fallen? Didn't the U.S. exist for about a hundred years before there was electrical power?
Yes, but the U.S. government pre-electricity had all of the things that pre-electricity governments needed to function. Lots of horses and wagons on hand when the tanks and trucks stop running? Steam or sailing ships to replace the diesel- and nuclear-powered Navy? Coaling and watering stations for steam locomotives? Or for that matter carbon paper and manual typewriters, to ensure that the all-important paperwork gets filled out? More importantly, enough people who know how to build and use all of these things effectively?
Diesel would not have to be replaced; just modified with early 20th century fuel injection systems. One of the reasons the U.S. military relies on diesel-powered machines is that they could still work, after a few minor modifications, after an EMP from a nearby nuclear blast.
Which begs the question: why didn't the military do so in this scenario and restore order? Were they overrun too quickly? The effects of the blackout don't seem to be quite the same as an EMP—EMPs would not affect batteries, or non-integrated circuits, and stuff that's not actually powered up at the time has a decent chance of survival. A telegraph system or a tube-based shortwave radio would still work. So would pre-1970's vehicles. Even analog telephones would work provided you could find or build a switchboard. Something either blackout-based or conspiracy-based has kept the US military out of operation.
Some elements of the U.S. military decided to carve up their own warlorddoms; Bass Monroe led one such element.
It's like asking seeing an arch fall when you remove the keystone and asking how it ever worked. They had a scaffold. The USA grew over time and gradually incorporated a large infrastructure to govern the territory, including a postal service, mounted cavalry, railroads, and the telegraph. But all those things are (more or less) gone in the present, at least in forms that could be readily used. Planes would have dropped out of the sky in every major city and started massive fires. Without electricity, most people would simply starve to death. Faced with famine, how many soldiers are going to hang out waiting for orders from D.C. when their own families are dying? People just went to protect their own. It's most likely the case that military bases became the bastions of civilizations initially, but as food stores ran out and no one knew how to farm locally, they probably tore themselves apart.
Bass took advantage of post-electricity chaos and the first thing he did was take over his military base. From there he led his conscripts through the chaos (like Moses in the desert, hmm) and their structure gave them the upper hand on other installations.
Supplemental canon material suggests that as soon as Bass got his hands on some weapons at his military base, he and Miles took off. Presumably other soldiers did the same, and when Bass and Miles got their idea to become warlords, anyone who remembered the two men from their military days naturally fell in with them.
Not all of it. There is still a functioning US Government-in-Exile operating out of Guantanamo. They've been biding their time for years to get electrical power restored, and when that happens, they intend to forcibly seize control of at least the eastern half of North America. Probably it was initiated under the Continuity of Government directives.
So what is the current extent of the United States Colony in Cuba? Is it still confined to Guantanamo, or does it control more of Cuba? Could it have displaced the Castro government after the blackout? It is noteworthy that Cuba has historically suffered power shortages across significant portions of the island at intermittent intervals (at least partly due to mismanagement and partly due to aging infrastructure) and is not as 'connected' as a typical developed country. Consequently, Cubans are used to functioning without electricity, sometimes for days at a time. The Cuban government, or at least some provincial and local governments, could have survived intact (although the extent of their control is debatable).
That gives rise to Fridge Brilliance - a fair number of the returning "Patriots" in the higher echelons appear to be people of color, which suggests that the "US Colony" has indeed been co-opting Cubans into its hierarchy, perhaps promising them governorships in the reconstituted subnational governments as rewards for loyalty.
Anti-Anti-Tech and Infrastructure
So the nice lady flips on her anti-anti-tech dingus and her electricity turns on... powered how? After 15 years of no infrastructure there's no power plants running and no fuel to run generators. Solar panels would be conspicuous. Batteries would have run down long ago and would still have to be recharged. Also, her computer syncs up with another using what sounds like an analog modem. Connected how? A secret array of still-working telephone lines all equipped with shielded tech? A radio transmitter with a nice big obvious antenna?
A windmill wouldn't be unexpected on her farm; this could be used to run a generator to charge batteries (or even power her computer directly). And an antenna could be installed in her attic and still work.
Yeah I did wonder this too, however (if I am remembering this correctly as the series ended a little while back now) the pendant does not just inhibit the anti technological (I wanna say nano tech) it is actually a power supply in its own right. Capable of powering all low voltage electrical devices in a radius of a few metres.
Which makes no sense at all. Does it just make current flow through any bits of metal nearby? How does it know which things are machines? Which direction the current ought to be flowing? How would a computer, which depends on current flowing through some bits and not others, hope to work?
And just what is the upper limit on the pendant? It can power a cell phone (around 6 volts DC), a desktop computer (120 volts AC), the battery on a Humvee (around 12-18 volts DC), the power supply aboard a helicopter (anywhere from 28-400 volts DC), and the lighthouse (God only knows). Does it depend entirely upon what the plot needs at the time?
If I remember the episode with the lighthouse properly, I think when when pendant powered up, the first things powered were a few lights down in the basement where the protagonists were, and then what appears to be a diesel generator BEFORE the lighthouse's main lamp powered up from the generator. I'm going to believe the generator had an automatic start and the pendant just powered the battery to start it and allowed it to produce electricity for the main lamp. Why it stopped running and just produced no electricity when the pendant powered down is still a headscratcher.
The pendant seems to act as a power source and a power enabler. It seems like it can allow a generator to start and produce electricity, but the electricity will only flow and work within the range of the pendant. In effect, the generator acts like an amplifier for the pendant's power potential, but not its range as the actual in-universe amplifier does.
I thought it was batteries. And I believe I saw some reason to believe the modem was attached to packet radio. Is radio affected by the nanites? I'm guessing not, since radio waves are ultimately just light emissions and not electrical impulses.
Radio waves are electrical impulses, which are in turn part of the same electromagnetic spectrum that includes visible light (this was James Clerk Maxwell's great discovery, which made radio possible in the first place).
How quickly humanity stops following roads. While the bad guys are stuck on a road with their cart, the protagonists seem to know their way to wherever they are going without signs or roadmaps.
They could just be sticking close to the roads. Enough to be out of sight from the road, but not enough that they couldn't see the road itself. Remember, there's soldiers out HUNTING for them on the roads, and they may not be too willing to go into the woods unless they have to.
Why would the members of an underground resistance group be so stupid as to tattoo themselves with an such a blatant identifier of their membership in that resistance group? Flag pins would work just as easily (plus you can drop them if you need to, or plant them on an enemy if you want them dead, etc.)
It's easier to make ink and rudimentary tattoo needles (even using scavenged sewing needles) than it is to manufacture flag pins.
Flag pins are everywhere. And if not those, than any number of small bauble (it doesn't even need to be metal) that serves as an identifying token that you can still hide if you need to.
Some people are just that fanatic/dedicated to the cause. Nora was willing to be enslaved in order to get access to the overseer's sniper rifle, with no guarantee that she would succeed in getting it (or for that matter that she'd be assigned to that particular labor party rather than interrogated and/or just shot out of hand). And the flag tattoo we saw on her didn't appear to be an exact copy of the pre-blackout US flag (fewer stars, for one thing) so that specific pattern may separate resistance members from people who got regular US flag tattoos pre-blackout. Come to think of it, Monroe loyalists with US flag tattoos would make good moles to plant in resistance cells, so having something more distinctive (like an altered flag) makes more sense.
By the way, during World War II the Dutch used safety pins as an identifying badge. Small, lightweight, easy to conceal, and best of all very easy to pull off and discard if you might get caught. The point of these badges isn't to keep out enemy moles, since you have internal security for that.
And speaking of the old American flag being the "rebel flag", why is it? Why hasn't Monroe co-opted it, like many other totalitarian regimes have done, as a symbol of better, past days and a claim to the legitimacy of the United States government? "No, no, you've got it wrong! We're the vestiges of the old government, risen again to lead the republic into greatness! Don't pay attention to those rebels!"
There appear to be multiple factions at work, with the Monroe Republic sharing a common border with at least two of them. If those factions adopt the same strategy, chaos results (two 19th century-style armies, both carrying the same flag, marching into battle against each other?) Also, both the Monroe Republic and the other factions appear to incorporate parts of Canada and/or Mexico into their nations, where the U.S. flag doesn't have as much resonance (is there a Canadian rebel faction in the Monroe Republic? How well do they work with the U.S. rebels—or do they?) In any case the Monroe Republic at least seems to bear little resemblance to even the 19th century United States, much less the nation everyone lived in just 15 years earlier. The rejection of the U.S. flag was deliberate, confirmed in "The Children's Crusade" when Lt. Slotnick tells the new recruits (read: conscripts) that Bass Monroe saved society from the "filth and corruption" of the old United States
Episode five shows us that some rebels carry the flag in other ways - presumably Nora is just that dedicated.
If banditry is as much of a problem as dialog in the pilot suggests, and the majority of people have no firearms, why do we see no body armor beyond repurposed plastic shinpads and some rather soft tanned leather on a few of Monroe's Militia? Swords and bows appear to be the weapon of choice, and carried (or at least owned) by pretty much everyone, and yet no-one seems to have started churning out mail links, or selling old kevlar, or even boiling/hardening the few leather breastplates we do see. Hell, even if only Monroe's men are armored, it'd still give them a significant close-quarters advantage, and some anti-ballistic protection (both against archery and gunfire).
On a similar note- if combat is brought back to primarily hand-to-hand with blades, you'd think someone would have started making shields. Plywood and thin sheet metal are hardly in short supply, after all. Then again, everyone knowsShields Are Useless.
If i remember correctly, one of the men sent to get Miles had a buckler shield. Beyond that, i have no idea why shields aren't a thing. It'd be pretty cool to see someone get into a fight with a riot shield and a sword, or something that looks like it used to be a car door.
If manfucturing is basically defunct, then what is with all the techy-ish crossbows? Compound bow and crossbow take a fair amount of upkeep and possess various small and, in this universe, inrreplaceable parts such as wires and springs. After 15 years of continuous, necessary-for-survival use, these things would likely break down and/or become unreliable. Why have we only seen one guy, Nate, using a bow with any regularity? By comparsion, bows and arrows are relatively easy to manufacturer in a pre-indurstrial society, i.e. by hand. The show has been compared to the Emberverse on many an occasion and the move to bows in that series, and they value and production, is a major plot point.
A theory on both why crossbows are more common and things like longbows and shields and armor, stuff that would make sense in this society is not, is a Real Life Writes the Plot issue of it'd be more difficult to train all the actors to use these things, where as pointing a crossbow and swinging a sword are, by comparison, much easier to learn.
Truth in Television: longbows are notoriously hard to learn how to make and use properly and require constant practice and a great deal of upper-body strength. While modern longbows made from composite materials certainly exist, they too are subject to wear over time. If the blackout conditions persist for more than a generation, the traditional English longbow may make a comeback—but that's how long it will take to train a deep enough pool of people to make them effective in a massed fight and to ensure the skill sets for making and using longbows are preserved. Emberverse benefitted from having a master longbow craftsman present among the main group of survivors the initial series focused on, who in turn was able to train a cadre, which trained everyone else. Even at that, it took most of a decade for this group to field a sizeable longbow-equipped army. If such a person existed in the Monroe Republic, Monroe probably either recruited or assassinated him to preserve the balance of power. Crossbows by comparison are easier to make and use, at the cost of range and rate of fire, which is why everyone else outside of England adopted them during the medieval period. Also, for a population that's used to the concept of aiming and firing a gun, the crossbow is a more natural progression than any other kind of bow.
But why would you even think "English longbow" when Apache-style bows would be far easier to make and use. Those factors would more than make up for the reduced range.
Even a self bow such as those used by Native Americans takes some effort to make and use properly, effort that most people would rather expend in getting crops in if there's no one actively trying to kill them (even the militia isn't just killing people at random and they are keeping the more ruthless sorts down—if only by recruiting them). Most of the survivors are going to be learning this by trial and error (mostly error) so the learning curve still exists no matter what kind of traditional bow is used. The learning curve behind using a crossbow is much shorter (one of the reasons they were so widely adopted in the first place). Eventually as the pre-blackout weaponry wears out/runs out of ammo the traditional bowyer's arts will make a comeback but more than likely they'll have to be learned from the ground up again.
Why is everyone packing swords? Not only is bladesmithing something of a lost art in North America, but learning to fight decently with a sword involves a major time commitment. By contrast, spears are much easier and cheaper to (mass) produce, and training to fight with one is simpler as well. There's a reason why spear-carriers formed the bulk of infantrymen in pre-modern armies.
There is plenty of high quality steel just lying around so you just find a way to put an edge on it and attach a pommel. Since noone seems to be using any serious armor, they do not have to be particularly good swords. The real question is why the militia do not have bayonets for their muskets.
The lack of machetes is also curious. Seems to me those would be far more plentiful than swords, from both a scavenging standpoint and from an "ease of manufacture" standpoint. Ditto hunting knives or military K-Bars. True, a machete fight is far less visually cool than a sword fight. But still...
Restaurant Fight Tactics
One thing that bugs me is why didn't that one man shoot the officer (I can't remember his name), instead of the rank-and-file soldier. From what I can see of Monroes military, they seem to follow the British model per-Nepoleonic days. IE, the officers are 100% in charge, and no one under them is trained to know how to do their job. Ergo, if you take out the officer, those under him will disintegrate into an unorganized rabble. On top of that, the Rank and File soldiers lack automatic/semi-automatic fire arms, meaning that they only one ONE shot before they have to reload... yet this guy had a revolver which meant that he had at least 5 shots at his disposal
That was only one of the many things wrong that entire scenario. I understand that the rebels may not exactly be well trained (they are, after all, led by a priest) but some common sense would've been great. Aside from assassinating the officer, the rebels had a serious advantage. The Militia only entered through one point, so a group of bowmen should've been able to keep them at bay, as they would've been bottle-necked into a great firing zone. adding to this is the fact that when it comes to Muskets Vs Bows in close quarters, bows are going to win every time due to their firing rate being about way faster and easier. If they had acted with any degree of competency, that battle should have been a clear victory for the Rebels.
Maggie's i Phone
Are we really supposed to believe that Maggie's I-Phone would just spring back to life like it did in episode 3? Ask anyone who owns one. You can't leave the thing off the charger for more than a few hours without it going dead, and hers just functions perfectly after 15 years?
Not to mention the chemistry involved... the batteries in iphones crap out after a year and a half or so, they just stop being capable of holding a charge. So a 15 year old iphone battery would be doubly-dead. So yeah, product placement.
And even if a new battery capable of holding a charge could be found, flash memory bleeds out over time without a current, so Maggie's pictures would be gone no matter what she did after all this time. This is why it's still a good idea to have actual photographs of your loved ones—they can last for decades and you don't need power to look at them!
The nanites floating around the air may have provided the power for the iPhone, and perhaps one of the side effects of its electricity draining is that flash memory lasts longer.
Miles hiding from the militia
Miles is an X-General of the Milita? Bullshit much? How on earth could he have possibly stayed hidden from Monroe's men? he tended bar! in a city! did no soldiers ever come in for a drink?
It's possible that since...you know...the electricity's been out that barely anyone has seen his face from 10+ Years ago. The only reason Mark Pelligrano's character recognized him was because the personally met.
Chicago does not seem to be a major city in the Monroe Republic. None of the troops that Nathan brought recognized him so they were probably recruited locally and never met any of the higher ups.
They said he was the number two man in the Republic. They said he trained the militia. Now i understand that only maybe 10% of the militia actually met him, but that is waaayyy more than enough. Maybe if in another episode Monroe says that he knew where he was and didn't care, i'll buy that, but there's no way one of the most recognizable faces in Monroe's republic tended bar and didn't get noticed.
Anyone who joined up/was conscripted after Miles left wouldn't know who he was, or have had any contact with him. And Chicago looks to have reverted to a frontier-town 'ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies' mentality (think of Mos Eisley in Star Wars). In any case it doesn't appear that Bass has really been looking for him all that hard (a few 'Wanted' posters could have set things up a little better).
Some times this troper wonders if it's all a very involved plot. In one flashback, Rachel is seen meeting Miles after leaving her family, suggesting either an affair or some kind of long-term plan Miles set up with Ben and/or Rachel, so there's hidden depths to one Miles Matheson. Another possibility is that he purposely grew a beard when he was the feared General of the Monroe Republic, then shaved it off when he deserted to become a bartender in a frontier town. Even such superficial appearance changes can make it hard to identify someone, especially a guy whose clientele has the express purpose of getting drunk.
The "Enemies of the State" webisodes flesh out the chronology a little more. Approximately four years before the series pilot, Miles broke with Bass. They never show Miles's face, so it could be that Miles did use the old beard-on or beard-off trick. In addition it's hinted that Bass got a little unhinged after Miles decided to turn traitor, so it may be that Bass's own idiosyncrasies has inadvertently helped Miles's escape plans.
Then again, maybe Bass knew exactly where Miles was, and was just waiting for Ben to tip his hand about how to turn the power back on, deducing that Ben would send his family to Miles, or go to Miles himself. Result: Kill two birds with one stone, as it were.
Trade and Currency
Does the Monroe Republic seriously have no official currency? Because the number of historical societies which solely utilized barter economics is precisely... zero.
Barter is typically the rule among lower classes in impoverished countries, particularly those still dependent upon subsistence farming. It was the major form of commerce amongst common people in the Middle Ages (taxes were often collected in kind as well). All we've seen so far are the lower classes; the elites may in fact have some form of currency or credit they can call upon. So far the story hasn't called upon Neville or Bass to break out his wallet so until then we really don't know.
While rents may have been collected from peasants in crops, those crops were then promptly converted into cash money. Barter is also completely useless for large civilizations, transregional trade, trade in cities or large towns larger than "farming village", and for paying one's troops. Three hots and a cot can go a long way, but troops also like to get paid, if only so it is easier to pay for prostitutes. Hell, you'd think that alcohol and barter wouldn't mix particularly well, but Miles ran a bar up until the beginning of the series.
Again, the large-scale trading would be handled by the upper classes, not the people we've seen for the most part here, so there may be currency or credit in use we haven't seen yet. The series is still very young; the details will be fleshed out as it goes along most likely.
There have been scattered references to gold, and Drexel even hands Miles a bag of something in the "we're square" speech. Also, some supplemental-to-canon material on NBC's website indicates that gold is *very* valuable, and coexists with a paper currency; a rough exchange rate is 1250 Militia Trade Dollars per ounce (avdp).
Also, diamonds have been used as currency a few times.
It makes no sense that there are no oceangoing ships available. Without mechanized agriculture, deep-sea fishing should be extremely valuable as a source of food. Certainly far more valuable than scrap lumber, and there's plenty of scrap lumber from houses and other pre-blackout items on land. In medieval times, European fishing crews went as far as Iceland for a good catch. That was even before the compass and astrolabe for navigation. Handwaving the oft-mentioned diesel issue, there are plenty of sailing vessels around today, and more can be made just using hand tools. Many hobbyists build their own sailboats today. There's also no reason the militia should be interested in many sailing vessels given that there is no danger of invasion from overseas, and they certainly would want another source of food as well.
I figured it was probably along the lines that nobody really knows how, and worse, nobody really cares. While possible, crossing the pond isn't going to be easy, and no crew is going to risk their lives, or God forbid, being stranded across the Atlantic just so one woman can see her kids again. As for the militia confiscating some of the bigger, better ships, I guess it could be just so they have them when/if they need them, and to make sure the rebels and/or Pirates don't get a hold of them. In the end, this is just one of the many cases of Fridge Logic this show has to offer.
Would being stuck across the Atlantic really be that bad? The mention of trade with England strongly suggests that Britain still exists, possibly with the same government as before (Britain's current regime existed before the crossbow was invented and survived Cromwell and more revolts than I can count, and they're loyal to the government in a way we aren't, so it's actually likely). In fact, this is an excellent explanation for the seizure of ships: things are better in parts of Europe than MR, so there's a Berlin Wall situation, where Monroe wanted to prevent all his competent people from leaving.
The militia doesn't need a navy but it does need to feed people if it expects to retain control. The larger vessels may have been impressed into a fishing fleet and can't be spared to go any farther than the Grand Banks (weather forecasting is now very hit-and-miss, so long-range voyages are much riskier). The fate of ships coming from Europe or elsewhere to the United States remains unexplored. Are the other republics opening up overseas trade?
Why would anyone want to cross the Atlantic? For Aztec gold? Everyone in North America (and presumable other continents) is busy fighting civil wars and putting down roaming bandits. Why in the world would someone in Seattle (who somehow has an operational sailing ship) want to sale to England? Not only is there certainly no profit in it, but the Panama Canal is almost certain ruined, so captains would have to take the Drake Passage.
For trade and information purposes, and some bands of expatriates may try to make the crossing between Europe and North America to get home (just as Maggie attempted unsuccessfully). We don't know how the rest of the world outside the Monroe Republic is situated—Monroe may just be a People's Republic of Tyranny while the other American nations are behaving more rationally. Likewise, the situation in Europe may have stabilized enough to permit trade. Nobody's going to take the Drake Passage anytime soon, but the north Atlantic run could be viable again (and possibly the Middle Passage between Brazil and west Africa as well).
It seems that part of the reason for lack of ship usage is purposeful technological stasis in the Monroe Republic. The militia has commandeered larger vessels as escape-proof training facilities for unwilling teenage conscripts. This is confirmed by "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" when the president of the Georgia Federation mentions to Miles that Georgia has a fleet of tall ships and is regularly trading with Europe, and regards the Monroe Republic as backward. If only Maggie had gone south instead of north, she might have made it home after all...
Side note: Maggie could have got home without a ship, theoretically. It would have been very dangerous, but she could have gone north into Newfoundland, waited for winter, crossed the Davis Strait to Greenland on the ice, and from there got a ship to Iceland or Britain (they would probably have started whaling up there again). Another plan not dependent on a ship: go west not east, up into Alaska from Seattle, cross the Bering Strait on the ice, and just start walking west. Either of these plans would probably have left her dead from starvation, cold, accident, or homicide before she got halfway, but she could have tried.
So they have a locomotive they've gotten up and running. Where has it been for 15 years? How did they get it onto the track? Who cleared and inspected the over 500 miles of tracks through and around several major cities between Indiana and Philadelphia?
They found the train in a museum or somewhere like that—the foreman says quite clearly "this should be in a museum." Presumably, it took those fifteen years to find it, move it, and repair it. He also mentions that they're scrapping cars, though it's unclear whether that's to repair the train or the tracks. Either way, he does mention the tracks too, so presumably yes, they did send the militia to make sure it was serviceable.
You answered your own questions. It's not a quick thing to clear hundreds of miles of track when you're waging a multi-front civil war and fighting bands after the Apocalypse.
On a similar point, why did the rebellion even allow the Monroe republic to build the railroad? The project shouldn't be an easy thing to hide and all someone needs to do is pry up some track to make it useless.
The resistance cell in Noblesville has been almost completely destroyed (perhaps because they had been sabotaging the railroad project). And without the ability to communicate over long distances it's not going to be easy to coordinate activities between cells. Also, some areas may be more loyal than others, and part of the problem in getting the train operating was finding a path of least resistance (in more ways than one). From what we've seen so far, the resistance isn't particularly strong or competent relative to the Monroe Republic (which is saying something).
It seems that the strength and competence of the Monroe Republic and the threat the resistance poses to it are both Informed Ability. The Republic can't get a train running reliably and the resistance has been reduced to a bunch of desperate idealists without much training.
The premise is that something happened and caused a worldwide blackout. Were thunderstorms with lightning affected by this? Maybe characters can't run anything electrical, but they could set up lightning rods and store the electricity from the lightning somehow. Then they would have electrical sources.
The division is between electricity conducted through metal and electricity conducted through saline solution. So unless you can build a circuit entirely from pipes full of saltwater, and have it do something useful, you're out of luck. One of the few things that meets this criterion is electrolysis, which brings this troper to an idea: if you could electrolyze enough hydrogen, you could fill a balloon with it, float up above the limit of the nanites, and have electricity work (you'd have to make compressed air tanks first, but conveniently, the electrolysis also gives you a bunch of oxygen). You could do a few things with this: make printouts of digital data, or get information (such as running simulations) from computers.
Batteries do not work either so there really is no way to store electricity even if you could generate/harness it somehow.
For what it's worth, there was a storm with lightning in "The Plague Dogs".
What is the upper limit on how much electricity a nanomachine can absorb? Is it possible to overload one? If so, a lightning bolt would be just the thing—meaning that unlike our current experience electricity might be locally restored after a lightning strike when the nanomachines in the vicinity are overloaded.
It seems that actually the nanites can partially suppress lightning. When the power comes back on, Bass is standing in the middle of a field and a whole shitton of lightning bolts begin to form.
This troper thinks that was just them sending out a signal to all the others by discharging (hence the concern about destroying the world if they ALL discharged at once).
The Map of the Divided United States
The United States is divided into four nations and an area called Wasteland. Those areas must be hell to control properly. I would expect there to be much more small states spread around but the new republics seem to have consolidated a lot of territory in those 15 years.
In a severely depopulated world, why do they even have to worry about conquering anyone after just 15 years?
The map seems to ignore a large chunk of Canada. Monroe controls parts of Atlantic Canada and the California Commonwealth has British Columbia but the rest is just a blank space. I would think that the map would include whatever political entities were his northern neighbors. Controlling Southwestern Ontario would give him control of major agricultural areas and give him almost full control over the Great Lakes. The St Lawrence River would be a major waterway and would dominate the trade in that part of the continent.
You can't get large ships up the St Lawrence because of Niagara Falls, among other obstacles. With no power to the locks in the Welland Canal, it would be impossible to move significant amounts of freight through that river.
Without food imports and energy infrastructure, Canada is too cold to support high population densities. Even in the southern parts, it takes a lot of land to support one person. My guess is that most of the surviving population moved south or became nomadic, or at the very least that there's no central government up there. The St. Lawrence was a convenient natural boundary for Monroe, so he used it. It's also possible that the Francophone and Anglophone Canadians basically wiped each other out (people who survive in a world like this, let alone become powerful, would tend to be violent, paranoid, and cunning).
Indeed. Why hasn't Canada Balkanized the same way the United States did? We should be seeing major factions in at least Ontario and Quebec who could press Monroe from the north. Certain elements in Quebec would absolutely jump at the opportunity to set up their own republic (and given that Quebec is home to the bulk of the Canadian military's hardware, they could easily have swamped the Monroe Republic, at least in the Northeast—the bulk of U.S. military hardware and personnel is located mainly in the Midwest and South, which may be why the surrounding republics are taking a toll on Monroe)
Quebec and Ontario have large cities such as Toronto and Montreal, and the starving hordes would have laid waste to much of the countryside. Quebec and Ontario would be in a similar condition as Illinois and Indiana.
I could buy that, except that the Monroe Republic was established in the most densely-populated part of the United States and includes the corridor running from Philadelphia to New York to Boston (as well as several other very large cities). If anything, this area should be worse off than Canada, and yet Bass Monroe has managed to set up and run a somewhat functional nation in this area for the better part of 15 years.
The lowlands between Philadelphia and Boston would have been in very bad shape, but some areas, like the Appalachian Valley and Ridge system, could be defended from starving hordes with strategic firebases, so I would not be surprised if Monroe kept a splinter of American civilization alive there, and then went on to claim the lowlands and kill the remnants of the cannibal bands and other savages.
Yes, there are mountainous areas in Quebec and Ontario, but even if they were used as redoubts by some Canadians to keep some semblance of organized life alive, they would not have the numbers to swamp the Monroe Republic.
The question is not really about how organized or powerful the Canadian areas are. The problem is that Monroe really could not afford to ignore them. If those areas were too devastated by the Blackout to pose a military or political threat than there would still be a serious risk of raiding parties crossing the lakes and rivers to attack farms and towns in the Monroe Republic. The most probable reason why the Canadian areas are blank on the map is because the person making the prop got lazy.
Why is the wasteland even a wasteland? The area around Salt Lake City should be very well-organized, given the Mormon emphasis upon disaster preparedness and family ties (this area figures prominently in Emberverse for exactly those reasons, and this setting isn't nearly as restricted). I would expect an LDS-controlled enclave somewhere around Salt Lake (and probably extending farther than that). Much of Arizona is hell on earth without climate control but it's not completely uninhabitable or unorganizeable or else it would never have been settled in the first place. If nothing else, California probably would have conquered Phoenix and Tucson out of spite (or, more likely, set up puppet buffer states). Likewise, Texas should extend at least as far west as Albuquerque and Santa Fe (this was an historical goal of Texas at least through the Civil War—control of trade routes almost the entire length of the Rio Grande. The blackout conditions would make this a priority again). If this hasn't happened it's because someone has set up a New Mexico-based enclave powerful enough to hold Texas to within its very arbitrarily-drawn state line to the west. Additionally, there are well-organized Native American communities including the Navajo Nation, the nation's largest Indian reservation (in the Four Corners region where Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona meet) and home to the second-largest tribe in the nation. The Apache are similarly situated in southern Arizona extending into Mexico. And Denver is almost a secondary capitol of the United States—some sort of faction should have grown up in Colorado as a result. Did the producers just get lazy, figuring nobody would notice, or does the Monroe Republic simply not have intelligence about this region?
If i had to guess, i doubt they have any real info on it. They don't share a border with the area, so sending scouts to it would be difficult and not worth the trouble.
They don't have borders with Texas or California either, but they do have at least a rough idea of the territory those two states occupy. Of course, that could be because they've managed to exchange diplomats, or have learned things via spies they've planted in the republics they do border. Still, it's not really in anyone's interest to withhold information about the area which Monroe would be unlikely able to act upon in any case.
The map indicates that Salt Lake City is part of the Plains Nation. Perhaps Utah was one of the founding states of that republic, the others including Iowa and Nebraska.
Why are some of the towns labelled in red and others in black? (See the second map here)
As a guess, perhaps Randall is keeping track of those communities that have other Patriot agents in place (in case he needs to recruit extra help, or avoid running afoul of a concurrent operation).
There's a really strange area of southern Canada tacked onto Minnesota and Montana etc. at the northern edge of the Plains Nation. The border of this area has no apparent resemblance to any political, geographic, hydrographic, or other existing boundary — in fact, in some cases it seems to defy them. What the hell was that? Also, if we could "keep" that area, why did Minnesota lose the Northwest Angle? And to who?
It's stated in season 2 that 70% of the Texan military is on its southern border. This implies that one or more successor Mexican states, or even a rump Mexico, is still in the game in a big way.
Mexico is, in fact, apparently fairly stable and wealthy by post-Blackout standards: from what we can see they have reverted to large hacienda-based agricultural estates, which provides plenty of food and so poor Texans who want to make some money now stream into Mexico and try to illegally enter the country to the point where the immigration wall built on the new border keeps Texans out. Given that Texas has become quite enlarged compared to pre-Blackout conditions it stands to reason that a newly resurgent Mexico wants its land back and that's why 70% of Texas troops line the border.
The Blackout and Biology
If The Blackout killed and suppressed all electrical power - from radio towers to iPhones - shouldn't it have pretty much killed all non-plant or bacterial life on Earth?
Lightning still happens, so clearly electricity didn't just stop. Besides, it's becoming increasing clear the effect is manmade, so that gives a lot of leeway.
Electricity couldn't just stop completely, or else chemistry in general—which is ultimately an exchange of electrons—would completely cease. All molecules would completely fall apart. All life, period, would end—as well as every other chemistry-based reaction in nature (leaving only heat exchange, fission, and fusion). The effect is not only manmade, but very precisely targeted.
And on top of that, with regard to biology - the nanites seem to have an interesting side effect of stopping the progression of disease. Was this the original intention of the nanites when Ben and Rachel started their project, or was this programmed in as some kind of sop to humanity? "We'll cut off your electricity, but hey, you'll live longer and healthier!"? Somehow I'm not sold on the pros and cons.
At least two characters are known to have nanite devices implanted in them to keep them healthy or alive. Turning on the power, then, would be Very Bad for them. But wouldn't activating the pendants near them have the same effect?
Not necessarily. Danny had nanites implanted in him while the power was still running and managed to live until the blackout. And if that were the case, Rachel shouldn't be trying to keep Aaron from explanting the nanite capsule before going to the Tower—she should be encouraging him.
If the nanites can effectively halt the progress of disease, why is Dr. Horn's cancer getting worse over time? The blackout has been reinstated, and Aaron is coming back to life and stuff.
In Season 2 the Nanites (via Priscilla) state that they've been 'testing' humans for suitability in their plans, and in fact Miles was so tested and rejected because of the darkness in his mind. If Miles could be rejected on that basis, Dr. Horn certainly would be as well.
You would think bicycles, blimps and hot air balloons would be in widespread use. Especially bikes, since they're not that hard to maintain. One could make the argument that the militias have them all, but we haven't seen the militias use them, either.
In the 5th episode you can see used bikes sold at the market, so they must be in use, there just aren't that many around. They're easy to maintain only so long as the pieces are still manufactured...
They were using bikes at the Matheson ranch, weren't they?
Blimps might be harder to do, since you need to have a working engine in order to make a blimp feasible. Refining enough useable fuel, as well as hydrogen to fill the envelope, requires a large chemical engineering infrastructure that may no longer exist post-blackout. Helium could (and should) be used for an airship, but not by the Monroe Republic—the National Helium Reserve is in Texas, and 78% of the world's helium production takes place within the context of natural gas extraction in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
A steam-powered riverboat, on the other hand, should be at least as feasible for the Monroe Republic as the locomotive was, with fewer security concerns (easier to secure discrete docking facilities than hundreds of miles of railroad tracks). Given where their primary enemies are located, a riverboat is more practical for military and logistical purposes as well.
The Monroe Republic does indeed use steam-powered boats, but has purposely devoted these only to the military in contrast to the Georgia Federation, which allows civilians to run fishing vessels; the MR seems to mostly let such vessels alone (albeit with some bribery during "inspections").
The Georgia Federation has been shown to put steam to work in a big way, retrofitting vehicles and boats to use steam power as in the days of old. Given that steam drove the Industrial Revolution to begin with, it's no wonder Georgia is wealthier when you can move things around in the space of a few days instead of in weeks or months with horses and human slave labor.
Where is his HQ? The ending of Episode 8 implies that there is a way of tracking each of the pendants. As a result, Randall has a huge advantage over almost anyone else in the post-Revolution world.
What is "The Tower"? Where is it? How does it suppress electricity? Did it work as intended, or did Ben and Rachel subvert it, deciding that the least bad option was to kill all the world's electricity instead of letting Randall control a superweapon?
We have since learned it was a secret supercollider; it seems that the Mathesons and Grace Beaumont were in fact creating the pendants as a last-ditch alternative to restore electricity in limited areas while preventing the nanites from accidentally wrecking the entire planet.
Randall's choice of transportation is curious. He is announced by one of Bass's guards as having driven into Philadelphia in an Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. Even assuming he has access to everything he'd need to keep an automobile running (unleaded gasoline, motor oil, decent tires, etc.) this vehicle went out of production in 1996 (the Oldsmobile division itself was shut down by GM in 2004, so it's not like product placement was involved). Any still on the road as of the time of the blackout would most likely be clunkers...by 2028, such a vehicle would be even more of a fossil than most of the derelict cars shown! Other than sentimental value (assuming this was Randall's personal car in 2013) why would an assistant DoD secretary drive a 17-year-old car anyway? This leaves aside the notion that a mid-sized sedan with automatic 4-speed transmission would be able to navigate highways that haven't been maintained for 15 years. In the very next episode Randall leads an attack force using Humvees. One of those not only would have been better suited for his needs (in terms of road handling, fuel source, and maintainability in rough conditions) but also made more of an initial impression on Bass—a former Marine who knows exactly what a Humvee is and what it's capable of. It's not as though Randall's not going to draw attention just by driving a car 15 years after the blackout after all.
It may be that once Randall grasped the implications of the Blackout, he marshalled people to mothball working vehicles in such a way that once he gained control over a pendant, he could instantly put a fleet of vehicles back into service as needed. Presumably the pendant alone can allow a car to operate, but an amplifier is needed for larger vehicles and/or groups of such.
And now we know where he got all that stuff: the still-functioning US Government had humvees and cars stashed away somewhere, and Randall just needed a pendant and an amplifier to make them useful. He's probably been secretly using that car (a nondescript, easily concealable vehicle, not flashy like a 1950s American classic) as a way to quickly get around the North American continent.
Still, there's no compelling reason to be driving a car of this age when he has thousands of newer and more suitable vehicles at his disposal. Or, for that matter, older vehicles with fewer electronics and therefore fewer things to go wrong over time—a 1956 Oldsmobile would make more sense, since there's no critical electrical components involved beyond the very basics in a car engine (battery, alternator, distributor cap, spark plugs, and starter) so presumably the pendant has less it needs to do. And given its standing as a classic auto, a 1956 Olds is likely to be in better shape initially as well.
If Randall invented the power-killing technology in order to end the Afghanistan War, why is he now choosing to undo that same technology to help win the Monroe Glorification War?
It may be that he's tired of living without electricity and having destroyed the world in order to save it, now intends to reconstruct it along his chosen lines. Ironically, Monroe is the correct person to offer electrical power to. The Georgia Federation's technological base is starting to become path-dependent on steam and wind, and as such there might even be social resistance to the reintroduction of electricity. But Bass Monroe has purposely redirected his nation's resources into the military, recreating an essentially neo-feudal empire, so reintroducing electricity for the Monroe Republic means giving it a huge military force multiplier. Look at how effective they were at wiping out rebel bases once they got a couple of helicopters working!
Wow, talk about hella Jossed. Randall has, all these years, been working secretly on behalf of a US Government-in-Exile situated in a "US Colony" in Guantanamo, Cuba; he even went to the extent of killing himself after completing his "patriotic mission" of destroying the capitals of the two successor states with the highest military potential.
And with that development, why in the hell does he decide to work with Monroe? It was established that the rebels wanted to bring back the US, wouldn't it have been in his better interests to aid the rebellion? Especially since it would have been easier to get Rachel and Aaron to further his plans and giving the acting president a willing army upon his return?
It may be that the rump governent in Cuba has no use for the rebels; they probably see the rebels as starry-eyed idealists who would be a liability rather than an asset in reasserting control over the US. Unfortunately, the in-verse Truth in Television is that the rebels aren't really all that effective militarily. They tend to do better in covert asymmetrical warfare, such as bombings or sniper attacks. History also shows that it is not always possible for external powers to successfully back partisan groups, Tito's success in Yugoslavia (or Washington's success in the War of Independence) notwithstanding.
The original plan may have been something like this: the government-in-exile wants back in, but Georgia has gotten to be too powerful. The Georgia Federation has managed to build up a steam-driven industrial base and has overseas ties. The Monroe Republic is universally despised but has a strong field army. Back Monroe against Georgia and defeat Georgia, but using the Monroe Militia as cannon fodder so that Monroe can't take advantage of Georgia's infrastructure. Once Bass Monroe has exerted his batshit insanity over the occupied Georgia Federation (and overextended the militia in the process) the government-in-exile returns, plants the fondly-remembered US flag, and wins the hearts and minds of the population who will then turn on Monroe en masse. From there, the reestablished US government can rebuild the East Coast and prepare to expand (peacefully or otherwise) to the remaining republics. How this affects the annexed Canadian and Mexican territory is another question—perhaps the new US incorporates it, or has a deal with the rump governments of Canada and Mexico to return the territory in exchange for noninterference or support (Canada has technology and Mexico has manpower so both bring something to the table). Randall may have screwed the pooch by firing the missiles, although the government-in-exile could blame this on a deliberate or accidental strike by surviving missiles from Russia, China, or both (they're the only countries with missiles guaranteed to reach the United States who'd be likely to target US cities). However, one of the launches took place from territory controlled by Texas, which may prove significant in the next season.
Speaking of which, why did he kill himself??? Was he just that dedicated to the cause that he was willing to sacrifice himself once his mission was done? Or was he just tired and sick of living in a world he was, in large part, responsible for because he was so focussed on getting revenge for his son's death?
Randall knew he was dead as soon as someone found a way to get into the control room. He may have simply been denying our heroes—or for that matter any surviving MR people who've learned their capitol was just nuked—the satisfaction of doing the job.
Exactly when did Randall find out about the pendants? For "The Patriots" to be able to dispense high-quality drugs to people like Gene Porter, they need climate-controlled storage, which spells "pendant for localized electrical generation". Considering it seems to have taken him fifteen years to get to the point where he could locate Grace Beaumont, how on Earth did the Patriots not end up being faced with heavily degraded pharmaceuticals that were useless to their plan of winning hearts and minds?
Randall had at least one pendant with him, as he's using an electric cattle prod (and later, an automobile). The Patriots were probably trying to locate those pendants which had slipped beyond their control. They could have had one or more pendants at Guantanamo and used them to power up facilities in Cuba or Puerto Rico (both of which have significant drug manufacturing capacity) to make both the drugs and the diseases they're using to weaken/kill undesirable populations.
The question still remains, though, when? From the way Ben and Rachel behaved as the Blackout hit, coupled with the scene involving Grace Beaumont (and later scenes involving Sanborn) it's clear that the pendant-team were trying in some small way to keep Randall and Davis from getting what they wanted. So it doesn't seem likely to me that the Patriots had pendants right off, but then again it's impossible to explain the drug manufacturing thing without pendants. That being said if they didn't need to do gel electrophoresis, almost all the mechanical methods of actually preparing drugs can be done with steam-driven methods, even pulling a vacuum to hermetically seal a cap over a freshly prepared vial.
Also, I'm a dunce. I forgot about mechanical refrigerators. So at least the 'fridging is taken care of, and as for the production techniques if no electricity is required, then they've got all of Cuba to work with.
For such a smart guy, Aaron is amazingly stupid. Big subterranean tunnel networks will have plenty of oxygen for everyone, and 15 years of lack of maintenance would ensure that the walls be as porous as all get out. They couldn't have posited a gas leak or something?
Or even poisoned food, considering that The Mole was leading them into a trap and didn't seem affected at all by the supposed lack of oxygen. At least Aaron is shown to avert the Omnidisciplinary Scientist trope, albeit not in-universe.
Given that carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen (meaning that air from the surface will have a hard time circulating in the stations and tunnels), and that the Philadelphia subway system presumably has thousands of people in it at any given time (all taking in oxygen and putting out carbon dioxide), and the pressure differentials created by moving trains (not to mention their emissions), under the laws of physics obeyed by this episode people should be hallucinating and passing out in the Philadelphia subway system on a regular basis!
But isn't there a working ventilation system circulating the air in the present day? Also, many of the entrances were apparently blocked off when Bass Monroe consolidated power in Philadelphia as the Monroe Republic capital. Both of these would likely slow the exchange of air, although it is a bit farfetched to assume that a large tunnel network could have all the oxygen used up so quickly.
The ventiliation system is there to accomodate the volume of people moving through the system. A small party in a basically-abandonned system wouldn't place as high a demand on the air supply. Egyptian tombs can be safely entered once they're unsealed after being aired out for a period of time, and they don't have artificial ventiliation systems. And the subway system was never sealed that well or for that long (there are other openings besides the entrances to consider that wouldn't necessarily be practical for human access but would allow air into the system—street-level gratings, for example). Bass's main objective is to keep people from getting in, not suffocating them in the tunnels, so he's going to focus his limited resources on closing off the most obvious entrances and exits. And since our heroes were able to find a very obvious entrance, it doesn't appear as though Bass has been all that thorough about it.
Since long term suppression of electrical power would cause a
loss of cooling type failure at every single nuclear reactor and spent fuel
cooling pool in the world, how is *anyone* alive?
The meltdown of those reactors wouldn't kill everybody, but would leave some large hotspot No Man's Lands all over the world. (Thank you Life After People!)
The loss of control mechanisms in not only nuclear power plants but lots of other industrial processes means death and destruction on a wide scale. Consider what happened with the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India in 1984...and that was with the electricity still working. An oil refinery has the potential to be much worse...
Also it must be noted that nuclear plants are usually built to contain the results of any accident as much as possible. Unless something goes really, really wrong, it would take a very long time before even the results of a full on meltdown to get out of the reactor shell.
Fear of radiation leaks, meltdowns, and so on, has helped push most high-power nuclear plants away from dense human settlement. So those hot zones would not tend to be near big cities.
Bass and/or Randall had a team constructing a nuclear weapon in an abandoned concrete factory. Other than some coveralls (which are basically canvas and/or plastic) they appeared to have no protective equipment whatsoever for handling fissionable materials (and the coveralls mainly protect against radioactive particulate matter being picked up by the skin; they do nothing to stop radiation itself). Why aren't there several members of the team dead or dying from radiation sickness in that factory? How did Miles remove the fissionable core from the bomb in Atlanta without being contaminated himself—and what exactly did he do with it? There's no way to find it without a Geiger counter or a scintillation counter (either of which require an electrical current, and Georgia doesn't have any of the pendants as far as we know). Anywhere from 7-40 kilograms (depending upon the isotope used) of fissionable material is somewhere in the Atlanta metro area and the only way for the Georgia authorities to find it is to look for clusters of unexplained radiation deaths! (To be fair, Miles may have found a way to shield it, but once that shielding is compromised people will start dying.)
Danny's Asthma, Rachel's Falsified Disappearance
It seems to have been regulated electrically by a device implanted into him. Since the Blackout, it must have gotten worse and since he was so young when it happened, he must have never realized that he would have been able to breathe more easily. Also, why was it so important for Rachel to get it???
It may be based on the same technology that controls the pendants, and Rachel doesn't want Randall to get his hands on it (particularly if it means Randall defiling Danny's grave, which he'd most certainly do if it came to that).
Even weirder is that the little capsules also turn the power back on! What more is Rachel hiding??
Speaking of which, Rachel has been hugely sliding by on what seems to have been a series of morally questionable decisions and actions. There has to be an accounting for it some day, and I'm only surprised Charlie hasn't whipped out a What the Hell, Hero? speech yet.
Well, she did, sort of. Only for the ground to kind of get cut from underneath her when Charlie apologized to Rachel. But at least Rachel seems to have realized her Long Game has failed, and now will let the entire truth be known.
Aaron did call her out on it at the end of Episode 12, when she promised to explain everything. Given that Aaron is both smart enough and skilled enough to know whether or not Rachel is bullshitting him, she's really got no choice but to tell the whole truth now.
She didn't really end up saying that much on screen. Why did she turn herself in to Miles after founding that agricultural settlement with Ben and Aaron? How is it she and Ben knew that Randall was going to do something incredibly stupid and come up with a flash-drive counteragent to the Blackout that works over a limited radius? There's still a lot of telling left to do and it sounds like the "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" episode may clarify a lot of this.
She turned herself into Miles because he (presumably) sent a runner ordering her to come to the capital and help turn the lights back on. They knew Randall was planning on using the weapon; we saw them warn him that it was too risky, and they took precautions. We still don't know how they came up with countermeasure, but presumably that was part of the development.
Episode 17 has shed quite a bit of light on Rachel's motivations. She reveals to Aaron that she doesn't care at all about the greater good, that she wants to get the power back purely out of revenge against Monroe for Danny's death, and that she'll thrown anyone under the bus to get her revenge. Furthermore, a flashback reveals that Miles actually wanted Ben to turn himself in, but Rachel went in his place. She tricked Miles into thinking that she could get the power back on, but it turned out that she was just buying her family the time they needed to pack up and escape somewhere where they wouldn't be found by Miles. She also claims afterward that she doesn't know how to get the power back on. That flashback took place 7 years after the blackout, so a number of things have obviously changed 8 years to the present time. Rachel is clearly a Villain Protagonist by this point in time.
As of Season 2, it seems to have finally sunk in for Rachel that she needs to stop doing her Determinator thing; her father bluntly states that she gets fixated on one way of doing things and just "charges ahead" to do it. That said there are things she's said and done that still need explaining, such as just what her pendant-group was up to in the years after the Blackout and how much they knew about Randall's plans.
Danny: Blond or brunette?
Danny is blond in every modern scene...however, in the flashbacks (for example in episode 4: Plague Dogs) He's clearly got brown hair. Did he get his hands on some peroxide?
Let us remember, the world has been without power for 15 years. Even an ace pilot would go rusty after 15 years of no flying. So, how is it guys who may have never flown a chopper, or have been out of practice for 15 years, fly like experts?
Bass may have arranged for a flight simulator to be powered up so his pilots could get at least that much practice without being noticed. Still, simulator time is no substitute for actual flight time, and these helicopters have sat idle without proper storage conditions or meaningful maintenance this whole time. Even given that they were able to refine enough fuel to run them (since aviation fuel doesn't last forever) there's probably a whole host of problems. Parting out a whole fleet of derelict helicopters to get one or two running would be plausible (and skilled mechanics are likely to be just as scarce as pilots); an entire squadron seems unlikely.
This may have been lampshaded with Miles and Rachel's last-minute arrival in the wagon. Target fixation is a common problem among inexperienced combat pilots: the pilots and gunners may have been so focused on the rebels that they failed to notice the anomaly of a horse-drawn wagon running at full speed into the kill zone; otherwise Miles, Rachel, and the wagon team would have been bloody chunks on the pavement as well.
Also: how many of those pilots were actually military pilots? The UH-1 Huey helicopters used in the series had many civilian variants—Bass could have easily dragooned a former news helicopter pilot or tour operator into service, and they'd have even less of a clue as to how to use a chopper in combat (assuming they didn't first start out as combat pilots).
Robots instead of EMP
Why did they go with tinny Robots instead of something like a daily EMP?
Wouldn't that that be more grounded in real science?
Older electronics (spark-gap and tube-based radio transmitters, old-style rotary telephones, pre-1970's automobiles, etc.) aren't affected by EMP. Instead of the 1700's (or early 1900's in the case of Georgia) you'd just knock the United States back to the early 1970's (most importantly, most of the US government and military would still be able to function on mothballed gear). After a couple of years, society would restabilize around slightly older technology.
EMP is momentary and only affects things that were on at the time of the EMP (which admittedly in the current day and age is damned near everything), so it's an ill fit.
EMP also only affects electrical circuits, not electrical sources. A simple flashlight would still be able to function (unlike what we saw in the first episode).
Aaron and Rachel encounter wandering nomads in Kansas, near Kansas City. Kansas is known for having lots of fertile farmland. What happened that would cause most of the people there to revert to a nomadic lifestyle? Did the Dust Bowl make a comeback or something?
Could be. Without mechanized agriculture or the ability to pump water out of the deep Ogallala aquifer, all the fertilizer that's been going into the soil plus the lack of irrigation could indeed dry up the land. The rain does not follow the plow.
Farming in the Great Plains is very land-intensive and mostly devoted to cereal grains or cattle herding. The small family farms have mostly been taken over by large agricultural corporations. Also, the population density outside the major cities is extremely low. There just aren't enough people to farm the land without mechanized agriculture the way things are currently set up (assuming one could irrigate the land and grow the right mix of crops to make a self-contained farming community viable). The larger cities could have survived as medieval-style city-states, given that most of them are centered on rivers. This depends upon how well-organized the local government (or dictator who took over for the local government) is after the blackout. The 'Plains Nation' might consist of city-states centered on Kansas City, Omaha, Fargo, and a few other places with vast tracts of empty land west to the Rockies.
Also their "Legal System" is really poorly thought out. Shooting everyone who breaks a rule is stupid, because well as the episode shows it doesn't end well. The punishment should be proportionate to the crime, and if it's not it fails at deterrence. Also If you shoot everyone you would run out of people, and get a bad reputation.
Indeed, to enforce the equivalent of the rack and thumbscrew in a society like that really needs a semi-agricultural society with stable populations - i.e. it's almost ideal for the Monroe Republic, which is exactly this. On the other hand the Plains Nation would probably rely heavily on expulsion from the nomadic group as a punishment, reserving execution for strangers only. (Also: HOW did that guy find Aaron and Rachel in the dead of night? Human walking speed is ~4 MPH. At a steady speed, Aaron and Rachel could easily have gone ten miles.)
They told the man that they had to go west so he followed the road that went west. He could have had other members of his group following other routes.
In a nomad society like that they probably do not have a long criminal code and most of the crimes relate to theft or murder. Property crimes tend to be taken very seriously in poor societies. Aaron and Rachel stole food which would be a capital crime for a group on the verge of starvation. If the man just took back the food, they might have tried again and anything he did to deter them would probably be a death sentence anyway in their current state.
Rachel and Aaron are outsiders—in nomadic and other primitive societies, the lives of outsiders tend to be worth less than those of the clan. Thus, Rachel and Aaron get shot while someone part of the group is only subjected to social ostracization (effectively the same thing unless that individual is resourceful enough to survive alone, manages to rejoin the clan somehow, or joins another group).
Rachel and Aaron really need to get out of the Plains Nation ASAP—if the Thompson Tribe was willing to administer the death penalty for stealing food, our heroes have seriously upped the ante with three dead bodies and two stolen horses! And don't those horses carry brands or other markings, which would allow them to be quickly identified?
OP here, I get why they were going to shoot Aaron and Rachel. My point was in nomadic cultures preserving your numbers is important, so they punish lesser crimes with things other than death. It just that comment that bugged me. He could have just referring to food theft though.
The only overweight man in America
Why has Pittman not lost any weight over the past 15 years or so since the blackout? Food is even a scarcity in this world. It would be fine if it was due to preservatives and unhealthy food all over the country, but Pittman is THE only fat man in America after the blackout.
Actually no, there are other somewhat overweight people who have popped up here and there. And Zak seems to be slimming down some, too.
See above under Clothing. He may have been a good deal heavier pre-blackout. Also, prior to the events of the series he wasn't terribly physically active, and lived in a farming community where he always had access to food. Aaron's probably lost more weight in the past six months or so than in the years before that because of his increased physical activity.
Miles drops everything and runs to the rescue when Emma is being held by Bass. His response to the situation is understandable, but inconsistent. Charlie had to beg Miles to help after his brother was killed and his nephew taken hostage by the militia. But for his high school girlfriend (whom he hasn't seen in years, and who has moved on) Miles drops everything and rushes to her? Granted, the town was being held hostage, but where was Miles' sense of urgency for his own family?
To be fair, that Miles Matheson is not the same Miles Matheson we now see - he's a little less cynical and a little more willing to help other people. So maybe Charlie's rubbing off on him.
Miles tends to alternate between being an action hero and being extremely apathetic. When Charlie came to him he felt that his involvement would only make things worse. Before Monroe takes the town hostage, the rebels have just won multiple victories and Miles is hopeful that things are finally improving. After the Emma incident, Miles goes back into a funk and his apathy gets so bad that Nora threatens to leave.
Keep 'Em Flying!
Okay, so both the Monroe Republic and the Georgia Federation now have access to working helicopters. Let's leave aside the issue of restoring derelict helicopters that are at minimum 40 years old (and have been exposed to the elements without meaningful maintenance for the past 15 of those years) by the time the series starts. Let's look instead at logistics. The Bell UH-1 Huey has a maximum range of 315 statute miles and a cruising speed of 125 mph given no headwind for about two hours in the air on one tank (allowing a safety margin). Monroe is moving a large body of troops to a destination somewhere in Colorado. The Great Circle route from Philadelphia to Denver is 1578 miles. Even under perfect conditions (no weather issues; all of the helicopters stay in the air; and the fuel sources lie close to the optimal route) the following questions arise:
The fleet (and it is going to be a fleet—probably about 10-15 given the troops and equipment Monroe brings with him) of helicopters is going to require seven refueling stops. Monroe has enough troops with him to secure any airfield he comes across, so that shouldn't be an issue. What is an issue is locating enough useable fuel in enough places to pull it off. Each helicopter requires 1400 lbs of fuel for maximum range. Aviation fuel has a shelf life of about one year before it starts to gum up (regular gasoline will gum up after about six months); lubricants are good for 10 years, max. Source So how is the Monroe Republic locating 98,000 pounds minimum of aviation fuel spread over seven locations in hostile territory? Keep in mind that's just the one-way trip; Monroe no doubt is relying upon the resources of the Tower to get him home and doesn't care about whether his troops make it back or not. The problem is even worse for Miles' team: while the distance is only 1212 miles, and they only have the one helicopter, they have to compete with Monroe for fuel and don't have the numbers to ensure security.
Monroe is shifting a significant number of resources away from the front for what may be as far as he knows a wild goose chase. This is not the wisest move he could make. How many helicopters does Monroe have to work with, anyway? The expedition to the Tower may cost him air superiority against Georgia (the drones are only so effective; they can't drop troops on the ground and now that Georgia knows about them you can be damned sure they've sent wet teams in to deal with the ground crews...and the drones are subject to the same fuel constraints as the helicopters). Further, the Georgia Federation includes in its territory Fort Rucker, Alabama (home to the U.S. Army's helicopter training school) and NAS Whiting Field in Florida (where all Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard helicopter pilots are trained) meaning that Georga has many, many more combat-ready helicopters and trained pilots/aircrew in its potential inventory than Monroe does even allowing for losses over the past 15 years. Foster could easily adminsiter a Curb-Stomp Battle of her own while Monroe's chasing after The Tower. Unfortunately, actual events did not play out that way.
Ironically, given that Randall just nuked Philadelphia, whoever's got the helis near the Tower could use them to form a strike team in the ensuing chaos and possibly take out the usurper US President.
So, if Aaron can ever get the power back on, then what happens to them? Do they just die? Or just become inactive? What happens next? Do they still play a role in any way?
There has to be a way to let them continue to beneficially work on human health without the attendant side effect of stopping electricity.
Absolutely true, or there would have been no point in implanting the nanite capsule into Danny in the first place.
Also, how exactly did the pendants work? This is still not totally clear. That said, it is likely that the instructions within the pendant directed nanites within a certain radius to "go dormant" only as long as the pendant itself was powered up. Once the pendant was turned back off, the nanites would no longer be under the influence of the temporary directive.
The pendants appear to invoke the Nanites' original purpose which, as we found out in an early episode, was to act as a cheap plentiful power source. The nanites go from absorbing electricity to supplying it, so long as the amulet is overriding their Absorption command. In other words, they go from suck to blow.
And just how did Aaron's code manage to work so well for the Tower that it was essentially ripped off wholesale? Talk about your Deus Ex Programma, as it were. Without Aaron, Rachel would have been stymied, possibly permanently, unless, like Randall, she resorted to forcing Grace to work on the project.
My God, Aaron, what have you done? "Geek" types are stereotyped in TV as being insatiably curious about the way the world works, and are gratified to find reasons for things the way they work. So why did Aaron respond practically like a Luddite ("go away") when realizing the nanites could communicate with him, which would have let him figure out a way to permanently turn the power back on?
That's easy: he's scared out of his mind, both at what he's capable of doing and what he may have potentially created. As a geek Aaron's going to know every A.I. Is a Crapshoot scenario out there and he's responsbile for bringing it into being!
This troper just realized something. It is possible to build an entirely mechanical trigger for a nuclear bomb. Take your average wind-up clock. Attach it to a match that lights a fuse. The fuse is connected to conventional explosives that either fire the "gun" (in the design that doesn't suffer from pre-ignition due to spontaneous fission) or implode the "soccer ball" (these are both 1940s-era designs and the basic theory is out there in print literature, so I am not revealing classified info here, by the way). None of the above is electrical in nature. Radioactivity isn't an electrical phenomenon, and neither are nuclear explosions.
The "gun-type" uranium design from Little Boy can indeed be done with a solely mechanical trigger/detonator. The implosion design relies on very high synchronization of the detonation, and absolutely requires electrical triggers (and detonators). Given that the entire US nuclear arsenal has used the implosion design since about 1950, and that thermonuclear weapons require a fission implosion to start the fusion explosion, there's absolutely no possible way that a former US military nuclear weapon could possibly work until the electricity was restored.
So why did Bass Monroe think he needed to wait until the power was back on? And why did Randall go to all the trouble of waiting until it went back on for him to blast Philly and Atlanta off the map? He could've done it any time and then in his own good time, gone to the Tower and boom, instant re-emergence of the USA years before the show.
Conventional explosives do not pack the power needed to trigger the chain reaction. Plastic explosives, which require an electrical detonator, are at minimum what's needed. Not to mention that for a warhead of sufficient size to destroy a city, there are triggering protocols (which are classified) in place precisely to keep someone from manually triggering the warhead. Building a nuclear weapon itself requires lots of electricity (commercial nuclear reactor development was an important spinoff of the Manhattan Project) and salvaging fissionable material from pre-existing bombs is a dodgy and unsafe proposition at best.
There's also the small matter of a delivery system. Unless you've got someone with a deathwish like Alec to carry a backpack nuke and flip the switch himself (assuming you've dealt with the trigger mechanism) you need to have some way to put the nuke where the enemy is and where you aren't. Other than a large sailing vessel, there's nothing post-Blackout capable of carrying a sizeable nuclear warhead without electricity in some form or another (limiting the target selection to cities with major harbors—Philadelphia would qualify but Atlanta would not). The typical nuclear warhead would exceed the load limit of a diesel truck. As "Soul Train" demonstrated getting a train from point A to point B is fairly difficult, and if these successor states are functioning as true nations cargo will be inspected upon crossing the border (if only to assess customs duties) whereupon the warhead will be discovered. A heavy bomber, missile, or large vessel is needed; and of the three only the missile doesn't need additional crew (aside from the silo crew, but this was apparently handwaved by the creator), can't be intercepted, and already has sufficient fuel on board.
Assuming Randall didn't care about the actual explosive yield, he could have (a la Jericho) built a horse-drawn truck to (albeit really slowly) wheel a bomb near the Atlanta and Philadelphia city limits. While this would limit the effective yield to ~10-20 kilotons, the "shock and awe" factor of a nuclear explosion, coupled with the distraction of dealing with the fallout, would possibly destabilize the Monroe Republic and Georgia Federation just enough to let the "President" return and muster some kind of auxiliary force. That said, a plan like that is even more improbable than the in-canon idea of turning the power back on first, but if Randall had been stymied another decade or so he might have resorted to this expedient of equipping a crew to retrieve the fissionable isotopes out of a bomb. He did, after all, do this for Monroe once already, as soon as pendants were available.
An actual hellfire-and-destruction nuke wouldn't be possible under blackout conditions due to the problems with the triggering device (and the magnetic separation techniques needed to harvest fissionable material in the first place). A dirty bomb, using leftover medical isotopes or even the americium-241 found in household smoke detectors, would be doable and could still do considerable damage—but wouldn't have the psychological impact. A bio-weapon would make even more sense and be a lot more feasible under these conditions (apparently Monroe has attempted to use them given that the Republic has previously kidnapped a biowarfare scientist to weaponize anthrax. Also, Bass referred to giving 'smallpox blankets' to the Plains Nation tribes near the Tower; whether he was making a Braids, Beads and Buckskins slur or referring to a previous strategy is another question, but I wouldn't put it past him).
It is still possible to make purely mechanical computing devices, albeit they will not be anywhere near as versatile as their electric counterparts. Nonetheless, why don't we see anyone trying to develop this in the show?
To be fair, most of the action is happening away from the places where people would likely need this capability. And Monroe probably just hasn't thought of it, given the priority he devotes to military hardware. Georgia would be more likely to develop mechanical computing given that they also have steam power to drive something like a Babbage engine, but it's probably easier just to dig up a slide rule and a book of log tables for most heavy calculations.
Manually-driven mechanical adding machines were commonplace as late as the 1960's and there are probably a few still stashed away in storage areas of large business or government entities. Dust a few of those off and you've got a very capable, very reliable machine that isn't as fast as a computer but is still easy to use and replicate.
Why is the power still out?
Okay, so at the beginning of season 2, the gang is trying to turn the power back off in order to stop the nukes from hitting Philadelphia and Atlanta. They succeed in turning off the power, but the nukes still hit. After the bombs dropped, why did they not turn the power back on? I mean, that was Aaron's ENTIRE motivation for all of season 1. Why would he abandon his only goal in life all of a sudden?
It is likely that the reason for this has to do with Aaron's reference to "crazy shit happening" (paraphrased). As such, Aaron, Rachel, Charlie and Miles may have decided it would be better to leave the power off than risk what might happen. For all we know the nukes themselves did things that triggered the nanites to go into some kind of overdrive-repair mode, and it may be that Aaron decided the better course would be to reinstate the "eat electricity" directive rather than allow other unknown directives to take priority.
As of Season 2 Episode 2 it is clear that what happened was some kind of electrical overload after the power was turned back on. The nanites must have accidentally fed power back into the Tower's computers at exactly the worst moment. The resulting cascade failure reinstated the Blackout.
Why did anyone notice the surge?
That guy in the bar said the jukebox came back on and played for a few minutes. Where was the electricity coming from if no one is running the power stations or maintaining the grid? Why would he have left it plugged in and taking up space in the bar for all this time? Those two questions can pretty much go for any electrical appliance except for the fact most stuff is probably far less durable than a 60 year old jukebox and thus probably would have just broken down after 16 years of neglect anyway. Basically there would be no power, no reason to leave stuff plugged in even if there was, and even if there was & you did it would probably be broken anyway. Seriously Why did anyone notice the surge?
Why not leave stuff plugged in? It's not like the electricity's going anywhere. It's the analog of why people might leave the light switch in the "on" position. Humans have a tendency to hope things will work as they used to even after a drastic change, so leaving a switch on might be the way some people cope with the Blackout: hoping that one day the power will come back on and things will work as they used to.
Theoretically could you make a gas powered car that could work post blackout?
Basically can you make a 100% mechanical internal combustion engine?
Before the invention of the spark plug, there were plenty of gasoline powered engines (and some non-gasoline-powered ones that used some other means of ignition. The term "hot Rod" came from one such system where a rod was heated at one end, with the other end extending into the cylinder to ignite the fuel, though that definition has long since gone extinct, like the proper use of the word "Decimate." So yes, it could be done. But good luck keeping a steady supply of gasoline once you have drained all the gas stations in your area.
Diesel engines use compression to ignite the fuel, so in principle you could keep one running after the Blackout. The problem is that there are other components in a vehicle that do need electrical components to operate properly (most notably, your headlights and interior dashboard which has your speedo, tach, fuel gauge and so on). Probably the best candidate for a viable diesel vehicle post-Blackout would be an ex-Soviet 1950s-era big rig (not joking, the Soviets used to heavily overengineer their equipment because you need to be able to drive the shit out of them in some pretty inhospitable environments) or a similar-era North American make of vehicle. Such would probably be mechanically timed, not electronically timed.
Why did that Texan guy have a wife instead of child sex slaves?
it's implied that the blackout saved him from getting arrested for having child pornography on his computer. Now that he effectively has the power to do whatever he wants why doesn't he have some real kids around?
In-verse, it could be he got enamored of the teenage boys he was already in charge of and then whatever already made him a little unhinged went full flower when his wife was about to die so he stopped being interested in anyone sexually. Out-of-verse, there's the squick factor to deal with. Better to leave it hinted at.
Exactly. Aside from what the network or the FCC will allow on the air, he's a minor character to begin with; there's too much going on overall to develop a guy who's going to be dead in three episodes anyway. Besides, he may very well be molesting the children in his war band (or raiding other communities for their kids). As for why he has a wife, his tastes may be toward Anything That Moves (or in her case, doesn't move much). As they say in Texas, "he needed killin'", even at the hands of the Big Bad Patriots.
Does Charlie really believe Monroe is a sociopath or is she just trying to annoy him?
You don't need to be totally without empathy to be able to kill people (if only), and like Monroe himself said she doesn't really know him as a person at all.
I doubt Charlie even knows what sociopath even means, but Monroe is certainly not one anymore then Miles is. The genuine sociopath of the show is Rachael.
Is it possible to brainwash someone that thoroughly so fast?
In just a few months they got Jason to a point where he'd kill his father rather than escape with him.
It is mentioned they've been perfecting the process for years.
What year did the blackout take place?
Are they going to keep it in 2012 and turn the show into an alternate history, or keep retconing it forward to whatever the present day is?
It seems like it'd be more reasonable to keep it as AH than keep trying to roll the blackout forward.
How did they get those guys to stab Aaron's girl friend?
Do they just not know what he can do, or are they just insanely loyal?
Its entirely possible there more afraid of Horn. Alternatively, I wouldn't put it past Horn to leave out the crucial detail that making him angry is what triggers the Kill It with Fire.
How old is Aaron suppose to be?
That hallucination of his childhood friend said they played the legend of zelda together. even if they were like 7 at the the time that would still make him almost 50 in 2028.
The very first version of Zelda released in North America came out in December 1988, so that would make Aaron in his late 40's at most. Zak Orth himself is 43 as of late 2013, so the character's age isn't far off from the actor's. Aaron is revealed to have been a Child Prodigy and very young millionaires (or billionaires) are actually pretty common in the tech world. He would have been in his late teens/early 20's during the dotcom boom, so he could have accumulated his former wealth very early in his career.
why did the nano bots only kill the Patriots in that one town instead of all Patriots everywhere, it's not like Aaron was specific?
I assume they didn't kill them all everywhere anyway, ......I mean I hope they did'nt have several main characters die off screen.
The nanites appear to be developing some form of conscience, demonstrated when they called out Aaron for asking them to kill Horn before saving Cynthia. They appear to be protecting him (and those closest to him) specifically.
Age of Monroe's son
So Monroe's son Connor is around 25. That means that before the Blackout he was ten. Does that mean that Monroe never went back to his hometown between his fling with Emma and the Blackout? And why wouldn't either of them tell him, as he seemed reasonably stable before the Blackout? And Miles was still best buds with him until around eight years ago. Surely he would've mentioned it?
Monroe started losing it when he lost his entire family in a car accident prior to the blackout. It seems from that point on his grip on sanity was debateable. As for returning to his hometown, we really don't know what happened between Emma and Monroe; the rest of Monroe's family is dead; and his best friend joined the Marines with him. There's really nothing for him to return to. There's also Monroe's military commitments: if he had been posted overseas, or if he had to serve one or (very likely) more tours of duty in Iraq and/or Afghanistan the opportunity for Monroe to return wouldn't have been there anyway. For that matter, we don't know when Emma married her eventual husband (who may not have appreciated Monroe showing up out of the blue to claim fatherhood of his illegitimate son).
It's not obvious to anyone who hasn't been to Washington DC, but that place is humid at the height of summer. Now, there's still no electricity, so no air conditioning. Why on Earth are the "Patriots" making people dress up in heavy suits and uniforms while they get liquored up and do their social-climbing at the White House? People should be sweating profusely!
On the opposite extreme, the last firm date we had in the series was late October. It doesn't seem like six months have passed during Season 2; at most a few weeks. It should be snowing in Washington DC by now, and every fireplace in the White House should be working overtime to keep the place heated. The overgrown trees and shrubbery seen in the foreground would have rapidly disappeared as they were converted to firewood.
It also brings up the issue of why humans still reside in such areas, considering that some insects are disease vectors and with the Blackout, it is all but certain that such species would proliferate and transmit diseases that are coming back because of inadequate sanitation and the like. Colder climates have the advantage of killing them off in winters, or said winters forcing insects to go dormant or migrate, which cuts down on disease transmission.
Washington DC was established as the nation's capital well before electricity was in use (until central air conditioning was developed in the 1930's it was considered a hardship posting for foreign diplomats, mainly because of the climate). Under blackout conditions the location still makes sense: it's centrally located to the bulk of the nation's population. The Patriots setting up shop in the White House makes sense as a symbolic move, although one would expect it to be in a greater state of disrepair than has been shown thus far (the furniture, walls, and paintings would likely be infested with mold, for example).
Aside: You can see in recent scenes streaks of green on the exterior of the WH where the ivy and vines once grew before the Patriots came and presumably did some slash-and-burning. Purposeful neglect of the old national capital makes sense as Fridge Brilliance, since neither the Monroe Republic nor the Georgia Federation were run by leaders who had any legitimate connection to the pre-Blackout government.
Fridge Logic: With 15 years of rapid forced de-industrialization and concomitant population loss, the global warming trend in the world rapidly reversed itself and the fabled brutal winters of the 1970s have returned in force within the Monroe Republic and the Georgia Federation, while summers have begun cooling down and making those areas relatively more hospitable for humanity.
The Texas-Mexico Border
How far apart are Willoughby, Texas; Spring City, Oklahoma; and Puesta del Sol, Mexico (none of which are real communities) supposed to be? Miles, Rachel, and Bass can reach the Mexican border by horseback in roughly a week from Willoughby. Aaron can walk from Willoughby to Spring City in about the same amount of time, implying that Willoughby and Spring City are both relatively close to the Texas-Oklahoma line, placing Willoughby in north Texas (possibly the panhandle given how the terrain and vegetation look). Keep in mind the southern border of Texas extends well beyond the Rio Grande post-blackout, and is fortified or at least patrolled on both sides, meaning any attempt to evade border guards will add time to the journey. Miles, Rachel, Bass, and Connor make the return trip from Puesta del Sol in about a week as well, apparently on foot. Do the Nanites give favored characters the Speed Force along with rapid healing and pyrokinesis?
Note: It's ~500 miles from Texarkana to Laredo, so for realism the show's writers should have extended the to and from journeys to about two weeks each way. (Avg human walking speed 4 MPH, 12 hours a day of walking)
It's decidedly not clear where the border is. The show's writers seem to have not really taken their mapping into account when writing out place names for the post-Blackout world - for example, referring to "Oklahoma" repeatedly when Texas now occupies that former state. And the mono-color for Texas south of the Rio Grande would seem to imply that Mexico not only lost land to "Wasteland", but also to Texas. Yet, the opening shot over "the border" to Mexico would seem to imply that actually the border still falls along the Rio Grande - and regardless, where are the "70% of Texas's troops"?
Given the rivalry between the two states and force of habit on the part of the main characters (none of whom are Texans or are particularly loyal to Texas) referring to the region north of the Red River as 'Oklahoma' is reasonable. Administratively it may even still be called 'Oklahoma' by the Texas government just for expediency's sake (why reprint the maps and road signs if you don't have to?) As for Mexico, we've only seen one border crossing in detail but it is curious that it was only staffed on the Mexican side. Either Texas doesn't have a whole lot of troops or they all seem to be somewhere else whenever the main characters are passing through.
Fridge Brilliance: The map of Texas is not the real one. It represents Texas's Mexican claim south of the Rio Grande, while in actual fact the true border still lies along the Rio Grande. Thus, 70% of Texas's troops are actually sneaking around the border wall in the "Wasteland" to the west to slice across Northern Mexico and enforce their claim.
And it looks like the Fridge Brilliance is confirmed, by looking at this map◊ that has both pre-Blackout borders and post-Blackout borders: note the different shading of the Mexican part of the expanded-Texas.
The one dot of light on Earth
Take a look at the picture on the "Main" page for this series. What could that light represent? The Tower? Was Kripke foreshadowing the Season 1 finale even before the show started?
Apparently, according to the series finale, it's Bradbury, Idaho, where the Nanites are setting up their move to liberate humanity from The Evils of Free Will.
If some random guy who did two tours in the Middle East can read Arabic, why can't Miles or Bass?
Maybe they didn't for some reason, or can't read it as well.
Aside: It looks like The Patriots teach their conscripts how to read Arabic, which makes sense as an easy way to transmit orders in an effectively unbreakable code, due to the difficulty of accessing post-Blackout learning materials about the language.
Which will work until the Patriots reach areas with large pre-blackout Arab populations (Los Angeles, Detroit, New York) and presumably enough surviving native speakers to blow the game.
There could still be a few hundred thousand left. But that's assuming the population loss didn't disproportionately hit Arab-speakers due to, taking the most optimistic option, demographic shifts as people moved southward into a relatively more stable Mexico with a warmer climate. It would be interesting to see if the show's writers account for the possibility, however, of an Arabic-literate Muslim realizing what the Patriots are doing because he or she has seen those confidential orders.