'Revolution's' Giancarlo Esposito: ' We are forgetting what we know'

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On "Revolution," producer J.J. Abrams' epic drama coming to NBC Monday, Sept. 17, there's a worldwide blackout.

Unlike most, the lights don't go back on. Ever.

However, there are deeply hidden and coveted vestiges of electricity. The series questions what happens when not just the lights but anything that turns on switches off permanently, and we don't know why or how.

"I feel like people need this show now," Giancarlo Esposito ( "Breaking Bad"), who stars as the show's villainous Capt. Tom Neville, tells Zap2it. "People feel like we are in danger of the end of the world, and doom and gloom. And the show is about the end of an old way of thinking and a new dawn blooming. We are on the precipice of realizing that humanity is all we have. I see it in my children. I see it in our spiritual essence. We are forgetting what we know.

"We losing our connection to electricity is just an analogy of us losing our connection to each other as well," Esposito continues. "The deeper reconnection is to have to rely on each other."

Expect to hear people talk about "Revolution" in terms of a post-apocalyptic or a dystopian society, but no one knows if this blackout was the result of an apocalypse. Life as everyone knows it has changed so dramatically that cities no longer exist.

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A few people such as Ben, a mild-mannered guy with a wife and two kids, expected the cataclysmic event that launched the series. He quickly downloads valuable information onto a flash drive camouflaged as a pendant.

Captain Neville and his henchmen come to seize Ben 15 years after the power ceased. The arrest goes wrong, Ben dies, and Neville winds up nabbing Ben's son, Danny ( Graham Rogers). This all happens very early on, so it is not a spoiler.

revolution-gallery-2-abc-325.jpgCharlie ( Tracy Spiridakos, "Being Human") is determined to rescue her brother, Danny. She seeks their long-lost uncle Miles ( Billy Burke, "Twilight"), who is tending bar in Chicago. Incidentally, there isn't wheeled transportation or toilet paper in this world, but there is booze.

Ultimately, the world is divided into two generations: those who knew what it was like to click on a device and be entertained and in touch with the world, and those to whom Wrigley Field was always an overgrown ruin.

"So while people are struggling to hold onto shreds of the old society and struggling to get the lights back on and figure out the solutions to the mystery, there's Charlie's generation, who see this almost as a pastoral, simple place that they grew up (in)," co-executive producer Jon Favreau ( "Iron Man"), who directed the pilot, says in a press conference.

The pilot has a sweeping, cinematic feel to it: planes crashing, hideous accidents, and then in the new world -- really a hearkening to an old world -- fights are waged with bows and arrows and swords.

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Miles is a swashbuckling and reluctant freedom fighter. In one scene he slays so many men with his sword, one expects him to hoist the Jolly Roger.

"His mission right now is only to help Charlie get her brother back," Burke says.

"This thing is as close as you will get to a modern-day cowboy (story)," Burke says of the series, which also stars Zak Orth ( "Romeo & Juliet"), Elizabeth Mitchell ( "Lost") and Anna Lise Phillips ( "Animal Kingdom").

"It's a grand action-adventure series with a scientific secret that is character-based at its essence but an epic drama at its core," Esposito says.

Using the international icon for power for its logo, "Revolution" is intriguing in its premise because this could happen tomorrow.

The show's creators wanted a seismic shift that was plausible, so they asked a physicist if the premise of the show could happen, says creator Eric Kripke ( "Supernatural").

"It's about electricity, so it's about anything that throws a spark," Kripke says at a press conference. "Any circuit that carries an electrical charge. It's that alone, and that is the simple, clean rule, and everything expands from that. So that means batteries and spark plugs, which means engines and everything that comes from electricity."

"And then in terms of the guns, I mean there's that line that Giancarlo so brilliantly delivers in the pilot where he says, 'You know, firearms are a hanging offense.' Guns are possible in the world. They're confiscated because we're living in the Monroe Republic, which is a dictatorship, and they've taken away people's rights to bear arms."

Neville is well-armed, considering no munitions factories churn out weapons.

"He is protecting people from themselves," Esposito says. "He is protecting them from anarchy and protecting something they do have -- a home base, stockpiles of ammunition."

Since it is the Monroe Republic, Neville is working for Monroe, and at the end of the pilot, Monroe and another shocker are revealed.

"He is trying to find the power," Esposito says of his character's quest. "The secret to power is there. He doesn't know who has it. The pendant exists."
Photo/Video credit: NBC