Colony: Yoknapatawpha Review

Colony's cloak and dagger act takes a dangerous turn in another spectacular episode.

This Colony review contains spoilers.

Colony Season 1, Episode 6

One day, Colony will be regarded as a landmark in genre television. This statement isn’t hyperbole, simple flattery, or gushing fanboy praise – it’s just the truth.  Colony is a terrific show. It’s a political drama, a film noir, an alien invasion, a police procedural, a conspiracy thriller, and a Bergman-esque deconstruction of man and wife. Above all else, Colony is thought food, the rich Italian kind, and better TV than anyone deserves right now. Just like the episode before it, “Yoknapatawpha” gives us more than enough to digest for another week, so we’ll get over this intense thought food coma.

A huge element to its narrative success is that it’s a show without a hero. How can you be a hero in a world built on such destructive compromise? Will, Katie, their son Bram are the protagonists of the story, and we trust them because we’re omnisciently spectating. But if we were stuck in the LA bloc with them, we probably wouldn’t be too trustworthy of the dysfunctional family that has a privilege of being intimately involved with both sides of a war no one asked for.

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Each episode that passes, I ask myself who I’m rooting for. Lately, I root for Katie. She’s the one who’s at the brunt of the show’s drama right now. Her story arc propels the story the most out of any character besides those in positions of power. Our relationship with Katie is deeper than any other because we’re on the same page. We know everything she hides from everyone, we know who she is and why she behaves the way she does. Since Will – the Homeland Security agent with an extensive background in profiling –  is just now becoming suspicious of his own wife, Katie comes across as more adept. I have fondness for Will mostly based on loyalty to Josh Holloway, and that’s never going to go away. But being two steps ahead of a main character distances my relationship with them, especially when they also have tendency to overlook the obvious. Whether or not this is because Will is in an underplayed state of denial is up for debate, but his lack of observance is concerning.

Or maybe it’s just that Katie is so superb at manipulation.  Quayle said it best in the final moment of the episode: “She’s a double agent.” Right before the curfew alarms sounded, a powerfully haunting emphasis to his statement. Katie is a double agent, but in a broader sense of the term: she pretends to be a player in the game, but she controls it. She’s practically the chessmaster of the show now, and in the midst of such a large social struggle, that’s impressive.

The events of this episode mark a turning point for both Katie and the series. Shooting and killing a Resistance member, even mistakenly and out of her love for Will, is a gust of wind that threatens to blow over the house of cards she spent all season building. She demanded mercy from the Insurgency but didn’t give it back. And who can blame her? Who can blame anyone for double-crossing someone else in this world? Everything is polarized. The lines are drawn and the dichotomy they create is suffocating. Of course that will breed duplicitous behavior. 

What really made the episode fantastic was the time we got to spend with Snyder. Will ordering Snyder around to save his life from Resistance assassins was as entertaining as a classic ‘80s direct-to-video action flick. I wouldn’t have minded if the whole episode devoted itself to their adventures on the lam – in fact, it might have been a refreshing breather, if perhaps tonally disruptive. But I like that they got to The Yonk so quickly, which tested Katie’s mettle immediately.

This storyline convergence meant we got to do something unexpected: spend idle time with the season’s overarching villain, the current face of the evil for the Occupation. But just like the man who executed for being Geronimo, he’s just a figurehead himself. He’s just an ambitious, opportunistic, privileged human being who was looking for advancement. He’s just another player on the board, cherry picked by the Hosts. We see him put in a vulnerable position here, and the question really does come down to should they kill him or not?

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Will describes Snyder as the devil they know, as does the man himself in more words than less. He insists that there are worse officials out there who wouldn’t be as accommodating as he, who wouldn’t be working on returning Charlie to them. He uses their son as leverage here, in a sanitized way, which disgusts Katie enough to lash out at him. It’s wrong for him to bait Will along like this, and it feels even worse to have Will tolerate it. But he’s taking his approach as a once special agent – he has an innate respect for bureaucracy embedded within him. He honors the chain of command, and he knows how to work the system to get what you want.

But even if he’s a double agent, Will is still transparent. He’s a very what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy. Katie’s the opposite, shadowy and mysterious, but out of a deeper necessity. I love them both for embodying these defining traits so well. The schism growing between this husband and wife touches base with the conventional Adam and Eve narrative. Katie eats the fruit of the knowledge of occupancy and resistance while Will tries to appease an uncaring god. One of them may be responsible for their exile from the garden. I wonder who it’s going to be?

Since we’re on that topic, Snyder gave us some much-needed insight into how the post-invasion world outside of Los Angeles works. Apparently there are seven colonies along the Pacific Northwest, but outside that, he doesn’t even know. He does mention the places between colonies are areas that no one wants to be. I’m sure we’ll be visiting these in-between places soon enough, whether it be in this season or next, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that would shake up an already amorphous status quo.

Because of its significant developments and the rich density of its emotional layers, “Yoknapatawpha” is another strong episode of a show you will be glad you got around to watching someday, which is hopefully soon. (Or now. Now works too.)


5 out of 5