The first inkling we get that this is not time travel is when Aaron sees Chris Hayes on MSNBC on the morning of March 5, 2014. In fact, not only was Hayes not on this very morning - today, in our reality, a nice touch - but he's not on any weekday morning. He used to be on weekend mornings, but Steve Kornacki took over that spot when Hayes was promoted to weekday evenings on MSNBC.
So rather than our reality, Aaron is a victim of a nanite induced dream, for the purpose of getting him to fix their defective code. It was fun seeing our characters in this nanite induced vision - also reminiscent of Star Trek's famous "Menagerie" episode - even if Charlie in the dream did get shot in the head. But the various inducements that Aaron's own legitimate mind used to get him to snap out of it - like jumping off a roof to induce fear - we're a little obvious.
Good twist, though, in the way the nanites ultimately succeeded, first in getting Aaron to believe their induced dream that he escaped them, his then realizing that this was a dream, too, but ultimately fixing the defective code because he saw that the death of the nanites could result in the real death of his friends and loved ones.
So we're left with a pretty good standalone episode - which also has echoes of some of Fringe - and a world without electrical power (except in lightning) in which the nanites, at least for now, continue to hold sway.
At very least, this paves the way for some good subsequent episodes.
See also Revolution 2.1: "The Last Surviving Friend" ... Revolution 2.2: Reanimation ... Revolution 2.4: Nanites and ... Maybe Aliens? ... Revolution 2.7: Firestarter Aaron vs. the Creepster ... Revolution 2.9: The Boy and the Attitude ... Revolution 2.10: Mexico and More ... Revolution 2.11: Captives and Nanites ... Revolution 2.12: Eugenics and Lubbock ... Revolution 2.13: Steve Tyler, Mummy ... Revolution 2.14: Time Travel!
And see also Revolution: Preview Review ... Revolution 1.2: Fast Changes ... Revolution 1.14: Nanites and Jack Bauer ... Revolution 1.15: Major Tom and More 24 ... Revolution 1.16: Feeling a Little Like the Hatch in Lost ... Revolution 1.17: Even Better Nanites ... Revolution 1.18: Whodunnit? ... Revolution 1.19: Cheney's Bunker ... Revolution Season 1 Finale: Good Pivot
Like real time travel in fiction? Try The Plot to Save Socrates ...