This Colony review contains spoilers.
Colony Season 2 Episode 8
After spending the past couple of weeks setting up and processing all of its major storylines, Colony strikes back with a return to form that’s stunning, chilling, and touching all in the same breath. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but like most other episodes of this series, “Good Intentions” is a breathtaking hour of television, one that raises the stakes and changes several of the games it’s been playing with us this season.
It reminds us that Colony gets bored easily. I dare anyone to sit through this and not be captivated by the world, the performances, the camerawork, the production, the atmosphere. I dare anyone to not see what these characters are go through and not be there with them and feel the immensity of what they feel each time. I dare anyone not to watch this episode and not have their soul blown apart into confetti like pieces and then put back together again in the span of forty-odd minutes.
I also dare anyone that’s here with us today to stand up and tell us why Colony doesn’t deserve an award for being as sharply written and as ballsy as it is.
There were so many twists and turns crammed into this episode that it disorients me, but it’s a beautiful disorientation to experience, one that is both bleak and soulful. You are practically beaten by each shocking development in rapid succession until you enter a transcendental state of “did that actually just happen.” Yes, those things did just happen. And they don’t always have to be big or earth-shattering to shake things up; they can be brief, tense moments in which characters are faced with the consequences of their lies and the weak spots in their cover stories – any inconsistency or vulnerability that can make them prime candidates for The Factory. (All the mystique around it kind of reminds me of The Attic from Dollhouse, by the way. And yes, I am making another Whedon-related allusion in a TV review. Deal with it.) What makes “Good Intentions” an admirable effort from an always ambitious show is that it keeps us distracted with biting our nails and waiting to see how our heroes deal with clean up the fine details on their machinations so it can pull out the rug from underneath us and shakeup Colony’s amorphous status quo yet again.
There’s a “case-of-the-week” that strings together the events this time, and it’s built around a cipher that was introduced last week when Will let one of the members of the Red Hand resistance cell escape during the horrific raid that Burke oversaw to find a member named Frankie. The cipher’s name is Emmett Holstead, and he embodies the old adage that this episode’s title alludes to: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Big hearted, compassionate, humanistic hero Will Bowman let Emmett go when he found him in the safe house because he didn’t want him to die like the rest of his friends. He wanted him to survive. But in the world of Colony – or, rather, the confines of the LA Bloc – there are no such things as loose ends. Being the good samaritan and helping out your fellow human beings might become your death sentence. Will certainly hasn’t forgotten this, but the more he keeps working for the “new and improved” Homeland, he is ill-equipped to deal with the consequences for his altruism – not to mention exasperated. Yet for all of the inner and outer conflict around him, Will Bowman’s got steadfast resolve, a trait that any fictional hero should possess. He sticks to his values and principles despite the oppression that surrounds him, even though he knows the stakes more than anyone now.
But in “Good Intentions,” we witness a moment that’s surreal for both us and Will himself. Will returns to the Red Hand safe house to look for any sign of Emmett. Instead, he runs into Frankie’s mom (played by ER’s Laura Innes) who is desperate, disheveled, and searching for any sign that her offspring is still alive. In other words, Will Bowman is faced with who he was at the beginning of this season and the end of last. How does he react? As empathetic as he can, but you can’t help but feel his awkwardness at being in such a situation. But it’s noticeable how Will is clean shaven and all dressed up now, and even if his family is still in constant peril, at least each member can be accounted for at the end of the day now. Will’s reaction to seeing his struggle mirrored in a fellow grieving parent is haunting, but you can tell he senses something is off.
Or maybe that’s Josh Holloway slightly telegraphing the truth behind the situation. As we find out from Emmett’s interrogation with Bennett later on, Frankie’s mom is actually (secretly) the leader of the Red Hand movement. Which means that Will made the same “mistake” twice in a row in the same exact place: he saved someone’s ass by keeping quiet but put his family’s on the line in the process. But The Occupation doesn’t know that… yet. Give it another episode or so and they probably will.
(Anytime a familiar face shows up on this series, I get a feeling something’s up as it is anyway.)
Meanwhile, Katie is back in full-fledged Resistance mode, helping Broussard and his few remaining cell members keep their shit together while assisting with the handling of the current macguffin (the gauntlet) and disseminating all of the exposition that surrounds it. But she’s also up to her tricks, bargaining with Hennessey to find out which safe house he hid Emmett at so her husband can keep his job and continue to be resourceful to the rebel alliance. Whoops, I mean Resistance. The sequence in which she hides out from the Red Hats in the back of a closet after trying to persuade Emmett to run away was nerve wracking, although it still required a healthy dose of that whole “suspension of disbelief” thing to go down smoothly. With the way this series pulls its punches, I’ve got to wonder how much longer she can get away with working with the Resistance now that everything around the Bloc is constantly surveilled. But I’ve brought this concern up in previous reviews, have I not? I totally have so let’s move on.
The biggest surprise from this hour might be how abruptly and tragically the ongoing subplot of Bram being stuck in the labor camp with Snyder resolved itself. Not only did we get a brutal, gut-wrenching execution of the Resistance members whom Bram ratted out, we watched the whole prison complex explode (implode?) because the Hosts were that upset by the terrorist bombing that Mya was responsible for in the previous episode. This is a highly convenient development, especially since it facilitates a much needed family reunion that needed to happen sooner or later, I suppose. But the whole arrangement makes me confused about Snyder’s character and how we’re meant to perceive him. He uses Bram for his own sake and puts him through psychological torture in the process. Heck, that dumpster execution sequence had me believe that Colony is clearly positioning him as a villain. But when Snyder drops Bram off with the Bowmans at the end of “Good Intentions,” he’s suddenly portrayed as a secret protective uncle – nay, a makeshift mentor for the young boy whose psyche he just scarred forever. Still, I’d take Snyder’s lesser brand of evil rather than the Burke’s or Nolan’s inhumane cruelty any day of the week.
Let’s have a big sigh of relief anyway. Bram has been brought back to the rest of his family now. Except they’re forced to live in a dingy apartment now. Did I mention the Red Hand attacked the Bowman house towards the end of the episode? No? Did I also fail mention that it lead to one of the best scenes in Colony, a downright impressive long take that sees Will and Katie dashing through their house with firearms to protect their home? I did? Hmm. Well then. You should probably know that Lindsey was shot and killed by Red Hat members in the process too. Now Charlie can throw around that tennis ball as loudly as he wants to without any threat of “focused restoration.” Or eternal damnation. Same thing, really.
If all of these developments haven’t enticed you yet, need I remind you “Good Intentions” also brought us a glorious double cross of a double crosser when Morgan (aka Not!Thora Birch) betrays Eckhart who wants to turn Broussard into The Occupation to get his poor mom back. Now that the main cell’s member count is seriously dwindling, does this mean Katie and Will will bring more unwanted attention to themselves as they get more involved?