Colony: “Bonzo” (S3, E12 review)

Alien speed dating was fraught with peril but Kynes looked to have met his perfect vomit-inducing match in Blurry Alien #1 (image via Colony Wikia (c) USA Network)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND THE BEGINNING OF THE END (FOR REAL AND NOT JUST NARRATIVELY) …

So Colony is dead … long live, well, nothing really since in marked contrast to shows like Lucifer and Brooklyn 99 which attracted spirited campaigns from fans and cast & crew, the #saveColony seems to have fallen on already-shut up deaf ears.

It’s uncertain if this means that the producers have lost the will to creatively push on further or they’ve already tried other avenues such as Netflix, which carries the show internationally and it’s come to nothing, but there is next to sense, beside rabid fans like myself, that anyone cares really if Colony breathes another day, in the form of a TV movie or very limited fourth series.

It’s a pity really because “Bonzo” once again confirms how powerful slow-and-steady measured storytelling can be.

It’s been a hallmark of the show since it started – a slow exposition of ideas and plot with rich characterisation, intelligently-articulated exploration of what happens to a society, in this case all of Earth, under totalitarian rule (spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty and we don’t edify ourselves one bit) and a step-by-engrossing-step build up of the inevitable march to do-or-die war.

For a sizable portion of modern viewers, this kind of slow-burn approach is anathema, accustomed as they have become to BIG, BOLD, EPIC PLOTS, DEATHS APLENTY, and TENSION, ALWAYS THE TENSION! (Capitalised lettering has also greatly benefited from the additional exposure.)

Exhibit A of their dislike for shows that take their own sweet time is Fear the Walking Dead which adopted a similar approach until season 4 when it succumbed, in part at least, to EPIC, BLOODY, TENSION FEVER!

Sure Colony could have benefited from throwing people a few more juicy reveals than they have – in “Bonzo” for instance, Everett Kynes (Watne Brady), the now-revealed surreptitious resistance leader who used his governorship of the Seattle Colony to plan humanity’s great fightback (now with added hidden Outliers!), meets with the RAPs aka Morks’ mortal enemy but all we see is a blurry head for a second or two; it’s all very Lost like and look how that went (one of Colony‘s creators, Carlton Cuse worked on Lost) – and perhaps it was a tad too sedate, stop-and-smell-the-narrative-roses-ish but by and large it’s careful exhumation of the plot paid considerable dividends.

 

Broussard loved his kitchen chats with Amy but he would’ve liked them more if she talked as much as she unnervingly stared (image via SpoilerTV (c) USA Network)

 

“Bonzo”, where Kynes’ summoned Outliers such as Will (Josh Holloway), who has a death wish about him still (witness the episode’s end where he’s wondering lost and bloody through the deserted streets of now IGA-controlled Seattle), Broussard (Tory Kittles) and Dave O’Neill (Will Brittain) to rescue him and right hand man Adam Ford (David Paetkau) from an interim hidey-hole, was an exemplary case in point.

Not much happened in one sense with the plot revolving almost entirely on Kynes escape from Snyder’s (Peter Jacobson) predatory gaze and his hoped-for rescue and relocation to his commander centre in Bellevue, right across the lake from Seattle, now in IGA lockdown.

But then a bare bones plot does not a poor episode make; in fact, from Will and Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies) having what amounted to one long painful goodbye as he went on the mission and she didn’t (not her choice) to Bram (Alex Neustaedter) taking Gracie (Isabella Crovetti-Cramp) to his girlfriend’s place for “safety” through to Bram’s girlfriend’s dad wasting no time in selling out people to the IGA (from benign peacemaker to self-preserving collaborationist on 10.5 seconds! WHOOSH!), there was a lot going on.

Sure there were guns, killing, yelling and lots of Snyderian posturing but it was all the smaller but no less meaningful sideshow elements that made “Bonzo” such a rich piece of storytelling.

The downside of course to taking a narrative stroll through the alien apocalypse, rewarding though it is, is that if you happen to get canceled, and alas Colony has been, never to see a fourth season, you can get truncated just when things are really getting interesting.

As it stands now, the IGA has thrown its lot in with the robotic RAPs, Kynes with their galactic enemy, leaving non-collaborationists and the undecided – the latter status is fine if you’re being sampled in a poll but when humanity’s fate hangs in the balance? Not so much – and there’s nowhere to go but lots of war and possible civilisation-ending argy-bargy.

It won’t be pretty and it will be deadly and I have no idea that Colony, master of the carefully-told story would have found depth and substance well beyond the violence, death and world-ending destruction.

 

Hmmm now where *did* I leave the children? (image via SpoilerTV (c) USA Network)

 

Of course, now we will never know – a boy can hope and dream can’t he but honestly there’s disappointingly not much groundswell for someone to pluck it from the ashes which baffles me when other shows with similar ratings figures have been thrown a lifeline – and it’s a real shame that such intelligent sci-fi, which avoided the pitfalls that befell the likes of Falling Skies, which ended on a farcically half-baked note, has been sent out to TV pasture just when it had reached its great crescendo.

It’s a salutary lesson that in today’s TV environment, rich though it is with more shows than anyone can watch in a lifetime, that being too clever, sci-fi wise at least gets you nowhere.

I can only guess that whatever Colony‘s revelatory failings may have been, and they were there, that its great sin was investing its fightback against tyranny with a thoughtful, in-depth critique of what happens to societies when previous norms of freedom, the primacy of human rights and controlling your own destiny are thrown under a passing alien spaceship.

It’s very cleverness and willingness to take its time appears to have been its undoing with many people unprepared to invest the time it takes to execute a story such as this with due diligence and narrative solidity.

Of course, we’ll never really know why most people stop watching one of the best-written show on TV at the moment but suffice to say that barring some sort of grand rescue, that this is one show that will fade into oblivion, leaving us all wondering what might have been.

You can only hope that people fight a lot harder when the real authoritarian takeover comes which, if current events are any guide, can’t be too far off.

Perhaps we need the other aliens after all …

  • Ahead on what is now, very sadly (for now at least, he says hopefully), the series finale after USA Network’s all-too-premature cancellation, “What Goes Around” … war, baby, war! Don’t say we’d didn’t warn you …

 

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