- SPOILERS AHEAD … AND GRIEF AND GRUBBY SELF-PRESERVATION (GUESS WHO … GO ON, YOU’LL NEVER GUESS … OK, YES YOU WILL …
Grief is a perniciously unpredictable thing.
Much as we might like to think we have a neatly-categorised, five stages delineated grip on it, the reality is that it constantly subverts our ability to comprehend it, deal with it and find a messy way through it (if that is even possible).
Its maze-like impenetrability and near-suffocating envelopment was felt in all its enervating monstrousness by the Bowmans this week in the wake of Charlie’s (Jacob Buster) single-bullet death at the hands of the Greyhats of the alien-collaborative Global Authority as they raided, once singled by the ruthlessly self-preservationist Alan Snyder (Peter Jacobson), the Resistance camp near Seattle.
Escaping with little more than their lives, the reduced Bowmans, both in size and spirit, are on the run; or more accurately, on the walk, putting one listless foot in front of the other, the perfunctory nature of their journey in stark contrast to the frenetic nature of their fight against Earth’s occupiers up until this point.
These are people mired in the ceaseless loss and pain of grief, and rather than melodramatically making much of it, the show’s writers chose instead to simply show us how great a toll the loss of a child and sibling is to family members.
There was no need for hype of any kind – every last vestige of their grief is wrapped tightly around them, their faces gaunt, emotions one-notes paeans to loss, their sense of forward momentum stole off them save for the urgent need to seek medical care for injured daughter Grace whose prognosis rapidly deteriorates during the Bowmans slow-motion flight to safety.
The million-dollar question here – that being the rough budget of one dinner party hosted by the Global Authority in the rarefied luxury of their Swiss idyll – is whether any such thing as safety exists anymore.
It’s a pertinent thing to ponder since it was once again confirmed, in a cosy (haha!) conversation between now Switzerland-resident Snyder and Governor Helena Goldwyn (Ally Walker), that the RAPs fleet-resident enemies are not years or a decade away but mere months or less from arriving on much-beleaguered plant earth to wage war with humanity the once-again unfortunate meat in the alien sandwich.
Not that this impending arrival was weighing on the Bowmans’ minds.
As they dragged themselves through beautiful countryside and scavenged for supplies once picture-perfect postcard towns, their only goal was to hideaway once more from a threat that there’s really no getting away from; if pressed, Will (Josh Holloway), the foremost proponent of the Log Cabin Gambit – yeah that didn’t work out so well last time but then you are now Snyder-deficient so it may yet work this time around – would have admitted you can’t hide from the end of the world but then grief does strange and awful things to the rational world, with usual logical imperatives no longer as starkly insistent as they once more.
Son Bram (Alex Neustaedter), as riven by the hollowing out effect of grief as anyone, nonetheless continued to dully insist on going to the model Colony of Seattle, the bright shining beacon of human civilisation, with extra-alien subservience, whose pamphlets lie everywhere and which appears, Emerald City-like (hence the Wizard of Oz-y title), on the horizon after the Bowmans steal another family’s car (they say “sorry” so it’s not all bad; OK it is but hey they said “sorry” so …) to get there, mainly to get help for Gracie but partly, you suspect, because he simply wants to feel normal again.
The great irony is that any semblance of normalcy is an illusion – not only are the aliens here and our galactic innocence gone with them, but life as we know it is gone with it and no manner of surrounding ourselves with its trappings is going to reverse that.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow and one that Bram, desperate, though this is never articulated (you can, however, see it all over his face) to feel anything other the dead hand of loss, seems unwilling to allow anywhere near his metaphorical mouth.
The thing is both he and his dad are on the exact same apocalyptic page, just grasping at different, equally futile solutions; by way of contrast, Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies) seem not to care either way, her only focus Grace and getting her the help she needs.
It’s awful to watch people so deeply overwhelmed by grief, so consumed by what’s been taken from them that the idea of acquiescing, even passively to a new world order they collectively loathe, doesn’t seem like it matters at all anymore; it does, of course, and no doubt will again, but right now, there’s nothing but the barely-dealt with mundanities of life and even that seems a bridge too far for the existentially-spent family who spend the entire episode in a haze of lostness.
(The Bowmans do make it to Seattle where everything seems too good to be true and they introduce themselves as the Daltons; that doesn’t last long though with a closing screenshot of a computer, which is crunching a profiling algorithm we see in an earlier flashback, revealing they know exactly who Will Bowman is, and he ain’t, you guessed it, a mechanic from Riverside).
One person who’s surprisingly not too troubled by life post-Resistance camp cleanout is Alan Snyder, now happily ensconced in a luxurious villa in Switzerland that comes complete with a zippy fast car, a butler named Julian and access, as the Global Authority’s golden boy who recovered the lost Host (again guys it’s our planet so you’re not hosting a damn thing thank you very much) to just about anything his heart desires.
Vowing to a mildly-exasperated Helena that he has no intention of diving back into the Machiavellian cesspool of the Global Authority, he nevertheless can’t resist invites to parties and languid nights at the local high-end bar – the stark contrast to the cattle-class conditions of the rest of humanity is scandalously horrific, another show-don’t-tell that speaks to the sophistication of Colony‘s writing – and finds himself slowly roped back into all kinds of duplicitous shenanigans (such as painting two Rendition-resistant Colony Proxies as Resistance sympathisers, a move so ballsy it even shocks hardened Helena.
The intriguing thing is that you’re never quite sure which side of the fence he’s really operating on.
In the midst of seeming to play his old game of world political chess, and playing it with his usual je ne sais quoi nonchalance, he asks for the file on the raid that saw Charlie die and the Bowmans spin into the swirling mist of grief, and clearly affected, he seems to make some sort of Road to Damascus decision.
It’s followed by self-preservationist business as usual, on the surface at least, but such is the layered complexity of Snyder’s character, all superficial indications to the contrary, and they are legion in “The Emerald City”, that you can’t help wondering if he’s finally decided it’s time to stop the rot from the inside.
Remember, he’s seen both sides of the alien-occupying coin and while it looks like it’s RAPs 154566 Humans 0, he knows how parlous things are for the Global Authority and their euphemistically-named masters, and is perhaps throwing his lot back in with humanity.
Still, if he is, it’s for his own ends as always, and in an episode which saw grief loom large for everyone, yes even Snyder though he hides it well, guessing the next moves for anyone is a fool’s errand since once the fog of mourning lifts, anything could happen, and most likely will.
- Next on Colony in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” … the lure of normalcy, a dream soon revealed to be sheltering a nightmare …