This Colony review contains spoilers.
Colony Season 3 Episode 1
If you feel like you’re tuning into a completely different TV show while watching Colony’s long overdue season premiere “Maquis”, you’re not alone. I, too, felt as though I was sitting through the pilot of a whole new series altogether.
Well, folks. That’s the point.
Switching up filming locations will often change the tone of a series. This happened when The X-Files moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles twenty years ago. Now, we’re seeing the effects of a reverse move for a different sci-fi series that’s rooted in the horrors of mundane reality – and it’s a bit jarring.
After being stuck inside the pressure cooker that was the Los Angeles Bloc since the show began, running around the forest wielding assault rifles doesn’t seem quite as thrilling. But trust me: this is not indicative of the rest of Season 3, so if this episode isn’t your cup of tea, hold your reservations until after you watch the next two installments. Please.
That being said, am I dissatisfied with “Maquis” as an episode of Colony? No. I wouldn’t say that. Obviously I’m reverential to this television series and have mad respect for the scope of its artistic vision, more so than I do for other shows that are more critically acclaimed in popular culture. I’ve said this show has some of the best thought-provoking drama I’ve witnessed anywhere, and I’ll say it again. Technically speaking, I just did.
But I’ll be honest: “Maquis” is not the best episode of Colony I’ve ever seen. True, I may warm up to it when nostalgia sets in one day – and it eventually will. Right now, though, it feels like Colony is working overtime to prove that it’s still the Colony we know and love, albeit a more, shall we say, “stripped down” version. To make up for the lack of inexplicable oppressiveness that a clear blue California sky (somehow) provided, there’s a noticeable influx of everything that the casual viewer felt was strangely absent up until now. Mixed with this is a burning desire to remake all the most intense action sequences from the show’s past, because a.) they were awesome and b.) critics and audiences both responded well to them.
So “Maquis” plays out like an expanded greatest hits package for Colony, and while it is exciting and sheds a light into the dark recesses of the show’s clandestine mythology, it doesn’t feel like the show is exploring new ground. However, it does remind us that the more things change, the more they stay the same – and that, my friends, should be this season’s tagline…because it’s pretty darn fitting.
“Maquis” is an appropriate title for this premiere, as it nods to the historical references this show draws inspiration from. The Maquis were groups of men and women who had banded together and ran off into the mountains to avoid conscription into forced labor camps in the Occupation of France in WWII. They were French Resistance fighters who lived in the sticks. That’s what the Bowmans are now, essentially. But they aren’t actively fighting anything anymore, and that bothers them.
Or does it? That’s what this season premiere is primarily concerned with figuring out. Since we’re being honest, “Ronin” served as a series finale more than a season-ending cliffhanger. The Bowman family had successfully escaped their oppressors. Snyder had some twisted form of backward redemption (if that’s even a real thing). Los Angeles underwent a “total rendition”. Major plot threads were tied up efficiently and expediently. At the tail end of a season which had burned through storylines faster than a flamethrower in heat, this wasn’t much of a surprise.
Now, after witnessing the constant turmoil that comes along with the twists and turns, “Maquis” slows things down by focusing on the Bowman family and the Bowman family alone, examining their quiet new lives in the forest. That’s not to say there isn’t any action to be had, because there certainly is. There’s also killer robots and an exploding spaceship. That’s more than we used to get in your average episode of Colony. You can’t deny that.
But again – it’s easy to notice that there was a trade-off for all these effects. Setting an entire episode in a nature park isn’t the most spectacular way to introduce us back into the world of Colony. However, it is the most appropriate for the series at this point, and a way to give our characters the family life they have been fighting for the whole time we’ve known them.
Are they happy living a life that’s so rest-filled and secluded, though? For the most part, yes, it seems like the Bowmans are indeed fairly content for once in their post-Occupation lives. All they have is each other – and Snyder, whom they trust about as far as they can throw. It’s hard to imagine what the six months holed up with Snyder the snake must have been like. Was he always being treated as the wacky neighbor that everyone was suspicious of? How could Will tolerate that for long, especially after everything he’s been through?
Anyway, here’s the moral of the story: Bowmans going fishing in the Northwest doesn’t make for compelling television. Bowmans shooting people in the head in the Northwest does. And so it goes.
I’ve seen the next three episodes. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I will say this: Colony does return to its original storytelling format and it’s not just Lost in Space in the Woods. In my opinion, the show gets back to its old intense self by episode three. Episode two (“Puzzle Man”) is also good…but we’ll talk about that next week.