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These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
A subtle nod to the global warming thing might be the North America satellite map in the Tower: the snow cover is extremely advanced over large parts of Canada and the US in something like either March or October (especially October). (See here and here for some still shots.)
Complete Monster: Will Strausser from season 1 is an utter sociopath who the Militia recruited from a room with padded cells. Strausser loves to talk about hurting others, particularly with knives. Strausser also absolutely adores torture: when Rachel falls into his hands, he spends a nice time participating in Cold-Blooded Torture while sarcastically informing his victims "I apologize in advance." He later attempts to rape Rachel and it is insinuated he may have done so previously. When one of his soldiers fails a task, Strausser simply stabs him to death. Strausser freely admits the only reason he's even in the Militia is to kill with impunity and does so whenever he can.
Charlie. What were the creators thinking making her the main protagonist? Taken Up to Eleven in "Soul Train." There is something seriously wrong if Danny has to save your ass from getting choked to death. Then again, she hasn't received proper combat training, and she was taking on The Dragon and Scary Black Man Captain Tom Neville, so she needed help!
They've started redeeming her; Spiridakos seems to be a little less wooden now, and the character is really becoming effective with her weapons. Besides, the target demographic of the show is at least 20 years old, so Charlie is the protagonist in order to draw in viewers of that age.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The problem with making your core protagonists into anti-heroes is that you have to be damn sure that there is enough of the hero part to balance out the anti- part of that equation. Rachel and Miles are guilty of so many crimes against humanity that certain viewers just couldn't care less if they lived or died. Charlie spending season one as The Scrappy didn't help either.
Lets face it, Miles is the real protagonist. As of the second season, he's actually receiving top billing.
Neville is quite popular as well.
Nora is probably one of the most likeable characters on the show before her death.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The original trailer showed Wrigley Field with 2012 World Champion Chicago Cubs on it. The Cubs had one of their worst seasons ever in 2012 losing over 100 games. This was changed by the time the pilot aired.
Growing the Beard: Some reviewers believed that the new status quo established in the second season along with a far more ruthless organization the patriots marked a MAJOR upswing in quality.
Idiot Ball: When the amplifier is first finished and activated, Miles is right there for a moment with all the badguys in the room dead. And neither he nor Rachel thinks to grab the pendant? The whole unpleasantness with the helecopters in episode 11 could have been completely avoided!
Idiot Plot: "Love Story" where Miles makes the brilliant strategical move of kidnapping Titus Andovers wife.
It Gets Better: Many viewers stopped watching during the first ten episodes of season 1, as it was seeming like the overall plot was being lost in "the adventure of the week". People deciding to get caught up on the second half of season one saw the quality improve and the final few episodes did answer some questions and got to the scifi element that had been lacking.
Miles and "Bass" Monroe. Even before the Blackout, they had a Heterosexual Life-Partners vibe. And then it turns out that prior to the events of the series, they founded the Monroe Militia together. One of the militia even remarks that Monroe was never the same since Miles left. And in "Home", the flashback reveals Bass, by himself, watching Miles and Emma snuggling before they ship out. One gets the definite vibe Bass wishes he was the one being kissed.
Miles and Tom Neville seem to have something like this going on. Miles tried getting information out of Neville, and Neville responded that he's not just going to spread his legs for him and tell him everything. Perhaps Miles inspires a Even the Guys Want Him reaction.
Just try reading this exchange without context! Several weeks after the Blackout, Miles decided to go looking for his family and Monroe decided to go with him.
Miles: I'm not dragging you into this. It's my family, my problem.
Monroe: And you're my family. That makes it my problem.
Eventually Neville tells Bass right to his face that he has "a borderline erotic fixation" on Miles. Plus, their separation has some serious bad break-up undertones, one which neither of them really got over.
And then there's this line from Neville later in Season 2:
Neville (to Miles, about Bass): Are you that blinded by your man-love for that son of a bitch?
"Dreamcatcher" has Miles and Bass living together in a cheap hotel room. Apparently Aaron's been shipping them as well, as the Nanites are pulling from his subconscious to manufacture the dreams.
And then, in "Why We Fight":
Gene: I cannot listen to another second of these two bickering like sorority girls!
In "$#!& Happens":
Connor: (to Bass) Go find your boyfriend.
In "Tomorrowland" Rachel actually breaks up with Miles temporarily over his devotion to Bass. Although it was a fake-out, the fact that even Rachel addresses it shows how aware the writers are of one interpretation of the dynamic between Bass and Miles.
In "Memorial Day" the characters don't even try to hide the fact that they think Miles and Bass are practically life partners, and openly discuss the two of them with distinct undertones of "you guys should just go somewhere and kiss".
Charlie. Whenever she's acting like a brat, being a hypocrite (e.g. leaving Maggie and Aaron alone to fend for themselves, yet wanting to save a group of slaves later on in the same episode) or selfishly puts others' lives in danger with little to no sense of remorse, no one usually doesn't call her out on her crap. However, once in a blue moon if someone does, as one of the below entries mentioned, it's usually Miles, but he's not allowed to because 1) he's told how hard her life is, 2) that she's doing really great job or, 3) is made to look more of a Jerkass than he already is, even when what he's saying makes complete sense.
Rachel. She actually slapped Charlie for calling her out for abandoning her, and yet she was still portrayed as the sympathetic one.
Did you really think Aaron would get killed off that early? Even with what happened to Maggie.
Since the show had no problem killing off Danny, it's safe to say that they could and would do it.
It's notable that by the time Season 2 rolls around, after the death of Nora in the Season 1 finale, the audience is accustomed enough to the show's Anyone Can Die attitude that it manages to subvert this trope by killing off Aaron and then having the nanites immediately resurrect him. (Or it's just Contractual Immortality played straight. Hard to say.)
Memetic Loser: Many persons say that Charlie Matheson is the biggest loser in the entire show. This is in spite of the facts that she helped get Miles Matheson back into the game, put a sniper rifle in the hands of a rebel group, and took down a number of Monroe militia members like Lieutenant Slotnick and Sergeant Joseph Wheatley.
Whatever Monroe did that turned Miles against him must have been really bad.
Major Tom Neville crosses this in episode 11, because he showed no qualms about systematically killing off all the rebels. Then when his son Jason raised reasonable human objections over this and refused to call in the air strike, Neville tried to bully him, then he beat the stuffing out of him, and disowned him.
In episode 17, Rachel reveals that she has no qualms about letting a boy die just so she can get her revenge against Monroe. She would even abandon Aaron to do that.
The season finale reveals that, in-universe, Miles viewed Monroe killing a rebel's entire family to send a message as this for Monroe.
Despite being one of the scrappiest of scrappy characters on television, Danny manages to pull this off in one of the most spectacular ways possible. Miles is knocked out by a chopper missile during an attack on a rebel HQ while attempting to take it out. Danny makes a run for the rocket launcher, and successfully destroys the chopper carrying the amplifier, resulting in the other chopper losing power and dropping as well. Unfortunately for Danny, he is torn to shreds by stray machine gun bullets not ten seconds after. To reiterate, Danny not only saved everyone at the rebel HQ, but destroyed Monroe's only power amplifier, so possibly thousands of other lives as well.
According to Jason, the story of Danny's last stand has spread and inspired many other people—possibly other defectors from the militia—to join the rebels, reinvigorating their cause after it was nearly destroyed.
Charlie is (albeit slowly) starting to get rescued too. She's not whining nearly as much as she used to, and she's finally starting to live up to her title of being the Action Girl for the series, alongside Nora.
Charlie is shaping up to be this. She's rude, combative, ungrateful, incompetent, and whiny.
Danny is a scrappy of scrappies. He started the altercation that got his father killed, even though the people in his village recognized the Monroe Republic as the legitimate sovereign authority, and that there was nothing to indicate that Monroe wanted Ben Matheson dead. Most likely Ben would have been released after being questioned and found to know nothing, and returned to the village (with Neville or another Monroe agent monitoring him). But then again without his death there wouldn't be a series. The Matheson family, sans Miles, appears to be an Idiot Ball team.
Rachel. Her daughter rightfully chews her out for abandoning her, and she slaps her. And that's just the start of it. Throughout the show, Rachel becomes obsessed with turning the power back on and is willing to kill/abandon/harm anyone that gets in her way, even if they don't pose much of a threat. Whenever someone calls her out on it, she just whines about how the militia killed Danny as a means to justify her actions. If that's not bad enough, in the Season 1 finale, she lets Nora diebecause she was more concerned with getting the power on. It should be noted that Charlie begged her mom to save her, and that they had the chance to save Nora and get the power on so that everyone would be happy. Instead, she leaves her daughter and Nora behind (which nearly gets Charlie killed). And fans thought Danny was an annoying character...
The overarching story is very similar to the Emberverse series. Except while S.M. Stirling wrote in lots of Lord of the Rings references, this show is more tailor-made for Hunger Games fans. That said, the Big Bad has sent his chief minion to hunt down members of a family who possess a trinket MacGuffin, prompting a cross-country trek. Also, unlike Emberverse, guns are used in this show. So far, only the Big Bad and his minions seem to have them, but that's because civilians aren't supposed to have guns.
And (at least so far) magic, psychic powers, and divine intervention have not played a major role in events.
The Monroe Republic might be a violent group of thugs, but they are also the closest thing to law and government in this part of the wasteland. The writers are clearly well aware of this; all of the villains have sympathetic motivations, and their families are frequently mentioned.
Miles might be a JerkassAnti-Hero, but he not only survived the last 15 years in good shape, but he went from being the leader of the Monroe Militia to becoming completely anonymous, despite living (undisguised) in the middle of a city with a whole army hunting him. The characters don't take his advice as much as they probably should.
The Texas government has been portrayed as an antagonist throughout Season 2, but their actions are completely justified in every case: the Monroe Republic has been hostile toward them in the past, so Miles and Bass are high priority targets (and very unlikely to be believed). The Patriots until the mustard gas deployment in "Tomorrowland" have given Texas no firm reason to distrust them, and via the False Flag Operation have even cleared out some troublesome groups of raiders. And Miles, Bass, and Charlie were all present at the attempted assassination so the best thing they could have done was hand themselves over to the Rangers and tell them everything they know about the Patriots' reprogrammed agents and their plans to start a California-Texas war.
In "Kashmir" they introduce a new minor character called Ashley, an (admittedly rather cute) girl fighting on the side of the rebels. Her very first scene depicts her sniping two militia soldiers in quick succession using a longbow, and later on we even learn a bit about her background. Sounds like she could even shape up to be a better version of Charlie. Unfortunately, she gets unceremoniously killed off toward the end of the very same episode.
Nora, who also had a sudden and random death despite being liked.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Many were disappointed that the show completely skips over how people first reacted to living in a world with no electricity, and how they adjusted. We do get flashbacks, but imagine how great a whole show about it could have been.
Values Dissonance: Doesn't come up nearly as often as it should, but seen briefly in "Sex and Drugs" when Aaron confronts Charlie about helping Drexler, who's growing opium poppies, kill the neighbor who's been burning his fields. Although opium would be useful in this setting as a source for morphine, Drexler is behaving like a stereotypical drug lord—ruling with violence, exploiting young women, and living in as much opulence and decadence as the setting can afford. That his neighbor—described by Drexler as a no-good drunkard Irishman—was a police officer pre-blackout only highlights the situation.
Aaron: If the only thing they are doing is torching Drexler's heroin we shouldn't be trying to kill them, we should be sending them a fruit basket!
The Woobie: As of episode 11, Jason Neville. As a result of refusing to call in an air strike, his father beats him up and disowns him. He confesses everything to Charlie and warns her about the air strike occurring in 12 hours, but she does not take him in. It's not easy being him.
Jason appears to have joined another rebel outfit that didn't know him, and has since hooked up with the main party for good—even helping to interrogate his own father and killing several militia soldiers on the raid resulting from that intelligence. The Heel-Face Turn appears to be for good.