Colony: a 2-season review

I watched the first season of Colony on Netflix just before the second season began. I recorded the second on my DVR and recently finished watching all of the recorded episodes.

No surprises here. I’m an OG science-fiction nerd. I like this series.

It comes with a certain pedigree. Carlton Cuse is one of the creators of the show. You recognize his name. He was an executive producer and one of the showrunners on Lost. I loved that series from beginning to end, so I’d be willing to take a chance on just about anything he is involved with. The two leads on the show are Josh Holloway, also from Lost, and Sarah Wayne Callies, who was on The Walking Dead. On this series, they play spouses Will and Katie Bowman. Since both previously played the roles of characters struggling to survive in hostile environments, they seemed to be good choices for this show as well.

Many of the other actors on the show are also familiar. There’s the guy who used to be on the original CSI, and the guy who played the leader of the Niners on Sons of Anarchy. The casting, in general, is good.

The premise of the show is human life after an alien invasion. Well-trodden ground in a science-fiction show, I suppose, but the material is handled well. The other series this instantly brought to mind was Falling Skies, which kept my attention for a couple of seasons. Only, in Colony, we never see the aliens. Not in two seasons. There are plenty of special effects: the walls that encircle each ‘bloc’; the alien drones that help police each human colony; spaceships; lots of gunfire and explosions. But no aliens. Not really. There was one ‘Host’ that was captured by the Resistance that resembled one of the quarians from the Mass Effect series, but it seems that it was more robot than alien lifeform.

Each of walled-in blocs created by the aliens is under the control of the Colony Transitional Authority, or the Redhats. The drama inherent in the premise is modeled after Vichy France during WWII. It is human ‘collaborators’ who keep the rest of the populace under control. There is a definite caste system in place. In LA, the inhabitants of the Green Zone are just naturally better, and more privileged, than those living in the flats.

Will Bowman is a part of the Transitional Authority throughout most of the two seasons, while Katie—at first in secret—is a member of the Resistance. This effectively puts husband and wife on separate sides from the beginning. The first season is greatly occupied with Will trying to find his youngest son, who has been in another bloc since the Arrival. The second season involves the older son getting into shenanigans and sent to a labor camp. As it becomes apparent that Los Angeles may actually be the alien version of Auschwitz, the goal becomes escape.

After the initial premise draws me into a series, it’s always the characters and character-driven stories that keeps me engaged. Colony has many interesting characters. The Bowman children provide some grist for the story mill. Charlie, who was missing during season one, comes back a different child, obviously scarred by his experiences but also more street savvy. Bram, the oldest Bowman child, becomes involved in the alt-resistance movement, the Red Hand, with violent and bloody consequences. Gracie, the young daughter, is being brainwashed by her tutor into the alien-based Greatest Day religion.

In addition, we have Katie’s sister, Maddie, who does whatever she feels like she has to do to keep her son supplied with insulin. This includes getting into bed—literally, as well as figuratively—with a high-ranking member of the occupational government. Katie’s relationship with Maddie is complex and continually changing as the story progresses.

The one member of the occupational government who remains one of the viewer’s viewpoint characters is Alan Snyder, who is (with apologies to the actor) a rodent-like man just oily enough to survive the precarious political situations he gets caught up in. He has been an ally to all the Bowmans at times, but we can never really allow ourselves to trust the man.

Eric Broussard is the main member of the Resistance that we know. He was formerly an elite soldier both for the U.S. and in the private sector. He is Katie’s main contact in the Resistance.

I could continue to name other characters. This is truly an ensemble show. The second season saw the introduction of characters played by Christian Clemenson, of Boston Legal, and Toby Huss, of Halt and Catch Fire. They seem to be bad guys right now, but things could change.

I enjoyed both of these seasons. They prove what I’ve recently been saying a lot. Shorter seasons make for tighter scripts and better storytelling. I’m looking forward to season three.

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