*SPOILERS AHEAD … AND POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM, RELIGIOUS DISILLUSIONMENT … AND ONE REALL MESSY ROOF*
It will surprise no one that humanity is a self-destructively contrary creature, just as apt to heroically sacrifice itself in the pursuit of a pure ideal, as it is to self-sabotage if it thinks that way lies salvation.
Each of these possible responses are on display in Colony which to date has done an impressively nuanced, and deeply-unsettling, job of illustrating in ways that shine a light on our capacity for survival and destruction in equal measure, how we keep making the same debasing and noble choices both over and over, despite the obvious lessons of history.
In “Lost Boy” and “Seppuku”, those choices are on stark display with neither wing of humanity, resistance or collaborators, exactly distinguishing themselves in what is not exactly our finest hour.
The trouble this time around, unlike any other period in history, is that the entire planet, simultaneously and equally, has its head on the chopping block, with some easily-deluded power hungry members of the Homo Sapiens flock having let the enemy in voluntarily while others are fighting to kick them right back out again to whichever hellhole part of the galaxy they climbed out of.
Well aware of what’s at stake, people like Katie (Sarah Wayne-Callies) and Broussard (Tory Kittles), who a flashback shows is an honourable man despite the compromises life has foisted on him, have been trying to save us from ourselves; not perfectly no, but with one eye on the bigger picture, a sense of the long game that is now in play.
It’s a necessary strategy since the collaborators such as Governor-General Helena Goodwin (Ally Walker) and the canny political cockroach that is Snyder (Peter Jacobson) are most certainly thinking in the extreme longterm, despite not being above some petty politics, which surely given the Rapps plans for earth’s population, is akin to rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.
In the middle of these two groups however, each with their own immutable, hardwired agenda, lie extremists like Red Hand, led by the vengeful Karen Brun (Laura Innes), representative of splinter groups that have littered every struggle, who see themselves as the pure fighters against a grave injustice but who, through the seeds of their own destructive ideology, are actually the architects of their own, and the greater population’s demise.
The way this messy politics of survival has been deftly represented is one reason why Colony is such a clever, innately watchable show.
Not for it the simple good vs. bad, a delineation that only ever occurs in fairytales and the polemic ranting of dictators and cult leaders; no, its writers have observed well, knowing that there is no such thing as a clean-cut division of humanity, that people will always scuttle into shadowy corners, and places of grey, divorced from the black and white, as unable to settle on a unified course of action as they are unconsciously committed to their own demise.
Take Bram (Alex Neustaedter) for example. He’s seen firsthand what comes of the various political machinations at play, having flirted with the resistance, been locked up in a labour camp where he has a part in blowing up an alien ship, been reunited back with his parents Kate and Will (Josh Holloway), who now simply want to leave the doomed L.A. colony, and joined and then ben frightened by Red Hand’s bloodily blitzkrieg approach to fighting earth’s occupiers, which includes a Manson-like door-to-door murdering of collaborators in the Green Zone.
He’s seen it all, and finally, despite his lies and prevarications throughout these two episodes, you begin to get the idea that he’s realising how utterly complex it all is.
You suspect that despite his attack of nerves and his palpable regret, which by the way didn’t stop him killing an IGA Ambassador (Andrew Divoff), that he’d join Red Hand again just so he could do something, anything – too late on that front since they’re wiped out by Broussard, Will, Kate, Morgan (Bethany Joy Lenz) and a now very dead Noa (Meta Golding) – but it’s also clear he knows deep down that he is in the midst, along with all of humanity, in a fight that no one will really win, or at least, win easily.
And as the final scene in “Seppuku” underscores when Goldwin finds out the colony is slated for rendition, read wiped off the freaking map, news she eerily calmly takes in her stride, there is no real happy ever after; we might win our freedom sure, and it should most assuredly be fought for, but who will really emerge victorious?
It will simply be a matter of degrees of bloody dismemberment, and this is where Colony is utterly brilliant, giving us a struggle that is broadly an us and them exercise but with a thousand shades of whatever the hell colour in-between and a million compromised positions that no one, regardless of their outlook, will come out looking good from.
“Lost Boy” delineates this expertly, slicing and dicing its narrative into a number of strands, presenting the raid on the Green Zone from the perspectives of Bram, Will, Maddie (Amanda Rightetti), Katie, Snyder and Ambassador King, all of whom are compromised in one way or another in a critically-important development that seals the fate of the entire L.A. Bloc.
What erases any real wiggle room for the nominal goodies of the piece, Will, Katie, their kids, Morgan and Broussard is the death of Noa, who shuffles off this mortal coil without revealing where her rebel group is out in the desert, a group that she reveals has a Rapp on their side – yes they have dissidents too, showing that political fracturing is an intergalactic phenomenon – who can use the gauntlet in the hands of Red Hand if they can just retrieve it (which they do but at great bloody cost, that stains their souls as much as their, ahem, hands).
Their cornering takes place against a backdrop of increasing internecine infighting within the collaborating hierarchy, like petty dogs spoiling over the crumbs falling from the Rapps’ table, an arena of ever-diminishing returns in which Snyder is having a ball, fiddling much like Nero as the earth burns, his hands on scraps of power even as it becomes obvious humanity, no matter which side they have chosen, has next to none (the absurdity is that Snyder, an insider, knows that things like The Greatest Day, are one big lie, in keeping with pretty much everything the aliens have told us).
The grim reality is, one that Colony has once again excelled depicting, is that there are no winners and losers in these sorts of conflicts, and that while freedom is most definitely worth fighting for, that the outcome of the struggle and the rewards are not clearly laid out, not is there any guarantee, despite our fervent wishes, that anyone will emerge with any other other than a slightly-delayed stay of execution.
Is humanity damned? Maybe, maybe not. But it sure as hell is going to settle the debate without great losses, and no real promise of victory, along the way.
Colony knows that, we know that, every character in this damn fine politically nuanced show knows that, and it will be fascinating indeed to see where it all lands come the upcoming final episode.
- And so to the great season finale, “Ronin”, where we will see what resistance and compliance bring and whether there is really any benefit to either when a powerful force is throwing its considerable weight around …