This Colony review contains spoilers.
Colony Season 2 Episode 5
After visiting Hitchcockian territory last week, Colony returns to its novel-esque storytelling scope in “Company Man,” a highly functional middle season episode that gives all the stray arcs running around the show’s landscape time to breathe or boil, depending on which one we’re speaking of. It also lets these loose ends congeal together to form new and improved story arcs that make the folks at home say “Aha, so that’s what they’re doing… maybe?” Colony is anything but predictable, even if it looks like innocuous sci-fi soap on the surface, but watching how, from week to week, the story keeps evolving past any expectations we’ve had of it – high or low – is never not going to give us an addictive sense of narrative whiplash.
If “Panopticon” was dedicated to Will and Katie catching up with one another and sharing the pieces of the puzzle they gleaned from their separate journeys while underneath the constant watch of (former) Homeland agent Jennifer McMahon, “Company Man” is Colony catching up with itself, processing the many plot threads it selectively dangles in our face while laying the groundwork for what’s to come in the latter half of the season. We touch base with all of this year’s key players here – Broussard, Snyder, Bram, Maddie – while refocusing on the some of the season’s major themes and ideas.
Take “The Greatest Day,” for example. This approach to translating the Hosts’ Occupation into something that humans are known to cling to (dogma) is becoming more and more of loaded gun as the series progresses. It’s not just a religion anymore, it’s two things: A) another wedge that threatens to separate and endanger the Bowmans, and B) a foreshadowing guarantee that another apocalyptic event can and probably will go down at some point. (i.e. The Mayor’s Ascension in Buffy’s third season.)
Even if I wind up being wrong about the latter, the former is excellent meat for Colony’s dramatic chops. We’ve seen Katie take steps to arm her daughter against the bondage of the fanatical religious programming that two-dimensional instructor Lindsey has been feeding her since the end of season one. We’ve seen her do so tactfully, discreetly, and within the rules of the Occupation’s game. But here in “Company Man,” we see Katie storm another castle without thinking twice when she is pushed to her limits by Lindsey’s interference. This causes a scene where Katie tosses here and her Greatest Day literature out on the doorstep, one that had me cheering at the screen.
But there’s no action that a character can take in the world of Colony that doesn’t have an adverse reaction of some sort, and both us and Mrs. Bowman realize that her display was a huge no-no, especially since she’s still living under constant surveillance. (Which she seems to be handling quite well, all thing considered.) So she spends the final moments of the episode travelling to the Green Zone to barter with Maddie once more and find out if she’ll be okay or not. She expects sympathy from her sister, and she gives it – to a point. But Maddie is ultimately turned off by Katie’s attitude towards the Greatest Day movement, and, once again, her selfishness, whether perceived or otherwise.
And here’s where our suspension of disbelief comes in. Maddie decides to show Katie a spreadsheet on Nolan’s desktop office that lists all of the prisoners that are being held at labor camps and the like just to prove that Bram is safe. When she’s called to make a toast, Maddie says “I’ll be right back” and leaves Katie there to rummage through the desk, find a flash drive, and steal the info. Was this what Maddie was signalling when she said “I’ll be right back”? Time will tell, I suppose, but in the wake of other overly convenient plot developments that I’ve noticed in the past couple of episodes, it’s not so bad.
It’s Will’s storyline that I’m having a little trouble with right now. What gives him all this immunity against Homeland’s red tape? There’s no way someone who worked closely with a suspected leak, who was mentioned by Jennifer in relation to a leak, who just got back from sneaking over the wall, would still have the privilege of working there without intensive interrogation first. It could be that Bennett and Berke are keeping him close under their watch. Yet since that drone didn’t shoot him down while he was scaling the wall back in “Sublimation,” perhaps Will is being kept alive because of orders from higher up? Is it because they know he killed Quayle? Or is it that the story just needed to keep moving along and this was the quickest route it could take? (Okay, fine. Disbelief, I suspend you!)
But Will is the “Company Man” here, is he not? He’s currently the only main character that has access to the inner workings of The Occupation, and now that Jennifer McMahon no longer serves that function, we need someone to help us explore how deep the conspiracy runs, Fox Mulder style. And that’s what Will does in this episode: He gets caught up with most of Jennifer’s recent discoveries about Homeland while (sort of) regaining their trust in no time. Heck, he even sees the literal panopticon that the last episode was named after! That’s what I like to call progress.
Can I just take a moment to mention how Bram’s adventures in this prison camp (so far) have largely consisted of recycled plot points from Orange is the New Black? Well, they have. There was that screwdriver incident in “Somewhere Out There,” and then we have the overly violent guard Jenkins who is very much a Piscatella clone. What gives? This has to be intentional, right?
And then we have Broussard and his Insurgency crew investigating what lurks inside of the walls by attaching a hidden camera to one of the Occupation’s drones. But we also focus on his personal state in general, because it’s been awhile since we’ve seen things from his perspective. What does it contribute to the larger scheme of things? Outside of the sneaky drone investigation and a witnessing a personal moment he has in bed with a special lady friend, not much. Nevertheless, it’s good to check in with our favorite Resistance member again.
So what lies ahead for the last half of this show’s spectacular second season? I’m not sure I want to know yet. But I do know one thing: I want there to be ten more episodes. At least.