Wednesday, May 25, 2016

TV Musings: Colony Season 1

Colony is a science fiction drama by USA network, featuring the aftermath of Earth’s occupation by an alien force.  I thought the idea sounded interesting, and the cast has a lot of familiar faces from other memorable shows. The early episodes were entertaining enough to prompt me to watch more, but I didn’t really get hooked on the show till near the end of the season.  Initially, I thought the story was moving too slowly, and I was frustrated by the complete absence of and lack of information about the occupying alien force.  It seemed too much of a small-town drama for my tastes, and I feared it was going to end up as an episodic story focusing on the conflict between the collaborators and the human resistance.  As I continued to watch the season, though, I enjoyed how the story exceeded and defied my expectations.  Be warned, there are some spoilers of the first season below (though I tried to avoid major plot points).

The basic setup, as introduced in the first episode, does not feel too out of the ordinary for this kind of drama.  The couple Will and Katie have been separated from a family member, their son, during the invasion.  A person in power, the human overseer Snyder, offers his help to locate the child in exchange for Will’s collaboration in fighting the human resistance. Katie, following her own conscience, joins the resistance and agrees to spy on her husband’s work.  This situation could easily have led to a static situation, with the resistance and the collaborators constantly failing to wipe each other out.  However, Colony is a serialized story, and I’m happy to say that the writers are not afraid to allow the story to change as needed over time.

From the very first episodes, I was very surprised by the character of Will--one of the main forces behind the escalation of the plot.  One might assume that Will would only reluctantly join the collaborators, and his loyalty to humanity would keep him from scoring any significant successes against the rebels.  One would be very wrong.  I had a lot of theories about why Will is so aggressively competent, some relating to how he was likely trained as an FBI agent in the past.  Regardless of the reasons why, his efficiency in crushing the human resistance far surpasses his wife Katie’s abilities as a fledgling resistance spy.

This difficult situation makes Katie one of the characters who changes the most throughout the season.  Her character has so many conflicting motivations, and she has no one she can truly turn to in order to help sort them out.  For instance, she agrees with her husband’s collaboration in order to locate their son, but she also wants to use his position to feed information to the resistance.  In the resistance, she wants her comrades to survive and succeed, but not at the expense of her husband’s life or her family’s safety.  On top of this confusion of priorities, she is also a civilian woman who is becoming progressively more involved in a paramilitary organization, a process that is not without psychological trauma.  It was interesting to see how she would try to reconcile her loyalties, and I don’t think her path is leading where she expected to go.   

Other notable characters in the first season include Eric Broussard and Alan Snyder.  Broussard is Katie’s contact in the resistance, a man who is both sincere and kind of terrifying. Snyder, the bloc’s overseer, initially seems to be a cardboard villain.  As you continue in the season, though, you begin to see that this perception is a result of viewing him from a limited perspective.  When more details of the state of the world begin to come to light, his decisions begin to seem understandable and even forgivable.  In fact, when the show finally began to reveal glimpses of the bigger picture, it changed the way I thought of many events that had happened earlier. At the end of the season, there are still no answers about what the aliens want from us, or about the purpose behind how they are organizing the occupied Earth.  However, I’m now pretty confident that the answers exist, and that it will be surprising when they are finally revealed!

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