Colony Is A Compelling Sci-Fi Mystery In Its Second Season

 

colony-poster

Out of the many sci-fi TV shows currently airing, the most surprising one happens to be Colony, now in its second season. The reason is that it continues to be intriguing and compelling to watch.

For anyone unfamiliar with Colony, the show is about life in Los Angeles about one year after mysterious aliens have taken over the world. Or that’s what we think. It isn’t flat out stated that aliens are our conquerors, but that is the general assumption. So little has been revealed about the conquerors and they’ve only been shown two times so far, and all we’ve been shown is something that is heavily armored and probably unable to breathe our air. This may be frustrating to some but anyone enjoying slow burns and reveals will be thrilled. For instance, we, and even Colony’s characters are unsure about the aliens and their objective. Why have they come? They’ve shown that they outclass humanity very easily and could have just exterminated the entire species. Instead, they were content to just take out our power grid and separate our cities with these giant walls. More importantly, they remain unseen and let human proxies run things for them with their ultimate goal unclear. The only clue we have been shown is that human prisoners on Earth and its moon are put to hard labor.

alien-from-colony

While viewers have the overall mystery of the aliens, the show concentrates on the cost of alien occupation to humanity, in particular, the Bowman family. Led by Will (Josh Holloway) and his wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Calles), the family lives a desperate and paranoid life in a cut-off L.A. that is boiling with tension. The end of the last season had the human authorities, which Bowman is a part of, hunting down human rebels that managed to capture one of the aliens. What the rebels, (oh, by the way, Katie worked with them) didn’t realize is that acts of rebellion lead to cities being wiped out. So, L.A.’s existence is a precarious thing as shown in one cold opener this season where the human ruling council in Europe were trying to decide if the city should have been punished for the acts of a few rebels. Adding to this mess, is that the aliens and human authorities have increased their surveillance capabilities a thousandfold. Now as shown in the second season, every citizen in Los Angeles is actively and discreetly monitored. This has driven the human resistance deep underground and made the stakes much more dire. Frankly, we’re asking how can you fight back with the constant surveillance?

santa-monica-colonyMaking things difficult for the Bowmans are the issues with their three children. A driving force last season was the family’s search for their missing son Charlie (Jacob Buster), who was trapped in Santa Monica when the walls came down during the aliens’ arrival. Will managed to make his way into the city in between seasons and found him, but Charlie’s more of a feral child because Santa Monica is a literal hell hole where gangs and warlords rule. So, now this preteen is emotionally damaged and obviously has issues. Then their young daughter Gracie (Isabella Crovetti) is being re-educated by a creepy tutor (Erin Way) to worship the aliens. Finally, their oldest son Bram (Alex Neustaedter) was caught trying to cross the wall and is now sentenced to hard labor. Now we’re seeing the occupation from his point of view at a brutal prison camp.

colony-season-2

As all this is going on, we’re wondering how can humanity fight back and what will be the cost? It’s riveting watching the Bowmans trying not to attract attention and just survive. Is this even possible in the long run? Colony isn’t like V or other humans vs. aliens TV shows were it seemed that humanity had some kind of fighting chance. This show can seem bleak and will and katie bowmanhas shown that people are ready to give up. A case in point was shown in one episode that showcased Will’s co-worker, Jennifer (Kathleen Rose Perkins), who struggled internally with the idea of turning in Will and Katie for their activities. Unable to betray the family, and wracked with loneliness since her family is now gone, it was implied that she committed suicide. Other episodes show how the rebels are near the breaking point. As for the Bowmans, they just want to be left alone, but more and more they are realizing that is impossible and recent episodes have shown their coming to this conclusion.

Colony succeeds because it is able to deftly juggle being a spy drama, a sci-fi mystery and an entertaining look at family dynamics during a war and under occupation. A big hurdle was the sophomore curse and Colony has dealt with it nicely and in its own way has become must-see viewing in its second season.

Lewis T. Grove

 

Advertisements

Colony Is A Surprisingly Captivating Look At Life After Alien Conquest

colony banner

The latest sci-fi TV show Colony, which airs on the USA Network, is a familiar yet interesting take on the alien conquest trope. Created by Carlton Cuse and Ryan J. Condal (both are also the executive producers along Juan Campanella and series star Josh Holloway), it takes place in Los Angeles less than a year after the world presumably was invaded and conquered by an unknown force. Colony doesn’t come out and say Earth is under control by aliens since we never see the invaders but it’s implied. The skies are patrolled by these alien-looking drones that shoot energy weapons and Los Angeles and other cities are cut off from each other with giant walls that would make Donald Trump salivate.

redhats invadeThe villains in Colony are the human collaborators led by Alan Snyder (Peter Jacobson), the proxy governor of the L.A. Bloc and he comes off as a spineless weasel. These collaborators argue that humanity has little choice but to cooperate with their “Hosts” or the repercussions will be dire for the world. Working through the Colony Transitional Authority, a warped version of the Department of Homeland Security holds L.A. under military rule with human shock troops called Redhats (for their bright red helmets) that keep order through strong-arm tactics and brute force. Violations of nighttime curfews incur death, speaking out against authority and the “Hosts” lands you in jail or worse: a sentence to The Factory, though so far, it’s not shown what happens if you’re sent to The Factory.

As these sci-fi stories go, there is a human resistance against the authoritarian rule. Made up of ordinary L.A. residents, they do what they can against hopeless odds as the collaborators hunt them down to keep the “Hosts” from retaliating against bowman and wifehumanity. One family is caught up in this struggle. The family head is Will Bowman (Josh Holloway), a former Ranger and FBI agent and at the start of the show, he lives under another name to avoid attention from authorities. In the pilot episode, Will is captured trying to sneak out of Los Angeles to go to Santa Monica because one of his sons is stranded there. Will is offered a position by Snyder to work for the Redhats and help hunt down the resistance leaders or have his family sent to The Factory. He reluctantly agrees, but Will doesn’t know that his wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies) is actually working with the rebels. So, Colony has at its center that Will is forced to work against humanity in order to find his son and keep his family safe, while he unknowingly provides intel to his wife, who has to deal with unsympathetic rebel leaders who only see her and her husband as assets to be used.

bowman captured

We’ve seen this kind of situation before, such as with the terrible V remake a few years ago, but here it works. That is because Colony focuses on the characters and the hardships they face living under military occupation. It’s a dilemma that can easily be transplanted into another time and era. This could’ve been occupied France during World War II and the showrunners wisely chose to concentrate on this angle. It surprisingly has many gray areas, dronefor instance, it’s shown that the collaborators aren’t one-dimensional villains cackling over L.A. residents. They genuinely fear the “Hosts” and want to get the best deal for humans while they enjoy living privileged lives in the Green Zone. A well-done example of this was with Will’s supervisor Phyllis (Kathy Baker), who at first came off as a mean, cold dragon lady type. But over the course of a couple of episodes we learned that she wasn’t thrilled with humanity’s lot but felt that getting along with the conquerors was the only option. However she wasn’t inhuman, she protected Will when some incriminating evidence was found about one of his sons, then when we think she may be OK she tries blackmailing Katie. That’s not all, when Phyllis goes home after work, we find out she’s caring for an invalid husband, which explained why she’s so cooperative with the “Hosts”. Meanwhile many of the people running the resistance aren’t very likeable because they’re so cold and only see people as tools to be used and easily discarded. Will Bowman and his wife are in losing situations and forced to do things they don’t want to do, but try to make the most of it. The question is how long can they last let alone succeed in their roles? Colony is full of nuanced characters and situations that rises above its standard formula.

the wall

What also keeps things intriguing is that we don’t know the entire situation with the invaders. Are they aliens? Or extradimensional beings? What is their agenda? By not showing the “Hosts” at all (even the villainous characters like Snyder haven’t ever seen them), viewers are automatically intrigued. Then there bowmanare the casual visual cues that the city is different like the lack of American flags, off-the-cuff comments about the “Arrival” and how L.A.’s defenses were destroyed within hours during the “Arrival”, and the oppressive looking walls that tower over skyscrapers. Honestly, it would be best for Colony if they keep the background murky and give viewers tidbits as the struggles of the Bowman family and other L.A. residents are unfolded. Plus, aside from the CG shots of the drones, the show must be relatively inexpensive to produce, which should keep it around for awhile and hopefully the answers will be provided in a natural fashion.

Waldermann Rivera