This Colony review contains spoilers.
Colony Season 2 Episode 11
Colony spends the third to last episode of its near-perfect sophomore year playing with itself. Er, rather, experimenting with itself. This time, it tells us a non-linear story about a terrorist attack on the Green Zone by the Red Hand (lol) in a series of vignettes, each one showing what came before, after, and during the event from a major character’s perspective. This includes Will, Maddie, Snyder, Katie, a new face named Ambassador King, and the emo son turned antagonistic offspring himself – Bram Bowman.
Bram’s POV frames the episode’s narrative here, and for good reason: we find out by the time the credits roll that the Anakin Skywalker fumes we thought we smelled last week in “The Garden of Beasts” really were coming off of him. It wasn’t just our upper lips after all! Phew. Yep, Bram goes all Revenge of the Sith here, but instead of fawning over a very indifferent and tremendously bored Natalie Portman, he carries around the sketched self-portrait of Mya, a girlfriend he had for five minutes before she suicide bombed a UFO. Turns out both have the same screen presence, oddly enough.
I kid. If it sounds like I’m trivializing something tragic and dire here, well, I am. I usually try to be extra serious and reverential to this series in my reviews. And you know what? I bet this episode is amazing on paper. It’s meticulously designed, strenuously thought out, and delicately crafted. I can spot that from a mile away – and admire it, too. So before I go any further, I want to give a big fat bravo to episode scribes Thomas Brady and Lee Patterson for putting a great deal of effort into writing what might be the narrative lynchpin of the entire season. (Thanks, you two.)
With that said and out of the way, something just feels…off about “Lost Boy.” And, unfortunately, it’s because of the performances. Believe me, that is something I do not want to say! This cast is a talented bunch that’s carried Colony incredibly well scene to scene, moment to moment, giving it everything they’ve got and then some in what seems like each take. But this week, they appear to be acting in a completely different TV show. A show that’s more exaggerated, not nearly as subtle, and, dare I say, campy. A show that is not the Colony I fell in love with.
But I get it. It’s been a friggin long-ass 13-episode season for these folks. Faking emotional breakdowns all day, every day is not easy work. Also, neither is trying to sell Colony’s world to the audience through gestures, facial expressions, tones of voice, etc. (Mastering your glower is everything on this show, is it not?) There is such a thing as overselling things, though. And that’s what I feel is going on here. Big revelatory confrontations between Will, Katie, and Bram would usually feel larger than life, but here they’re played as two-dimensional, clunky, and soap operatic. Characters overreact as the actors who portray them search for where they left their motivation.
So the experience is not as intimate this time around as it usually it is. We feel everything these characters go through, big or small. Sometimes there’s a fumble or two but it’s only for a moment. Other than being immersed in the horror and suspense of the Green Zone attack in “Lost Boy,” I don’t feel much else. Instead of being present with the characters in the action here, we’re watching from afar. And that cheapens the whole experience somehow.
Perhaps this distance is created by this episode’s format. We’re told through intertitles when perspectives switch between characters instead of just flowing stream of consciousness like we usually do. That alone removes us from the events presented here by several degrees. Which makes me wonder: as the scope of Colony grows bigger and bigger, will it lose sight of what made the series so personal in the first place? Will it let the story start dictating the characters full-time now? (In other words, is it going to go the Lost route?) Or will we still feel like we’re living inside the skins of these characters?
Delivery aside, there is still a lot to admire about “Lost Boy.” It aims to be a dystopian art film and winds up being a pretentious TV movie-of-the-week instead. But regardless of how it played out on-screen, this a pivotal episode no matter how you slice it. It reveals that Bram Bowman is a master manipulator who’s been underestimated, misunderstood, disenfranchised, beaten, and ignored. Because of everything he’s gone through in the LA Bloc since last year, Bram has become a dangerous new instrument for The Red Hand. And seeing as the season finale is right around the corner, we’re about to see what he’s really capable of.