Colony Recap: The Beat Goes On


Blind Spot
Season 1 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating *****
Colony - Season 1
Carl Weathers as Beau, Felix Solis as Luis, Josh Holloway as Will. Photo: Danny Feld/USA Network

The occupation’s leadership has assumed an unmistakably theologian order: Proxy Snyder sees the city’s new “hosts” as no less than gods, and fancies himself a prophet of sorts, happy to command the rank-and-file Red Hats and instill fear on his lordships’ behalf.

He even assures Phyllis that he communicates directly with the Raps — or, at least, he receives their instructions second-hand from Helena. (Per Hollywood Reporter, we should become acquainted with this mysterious authoritarian soon enough.) Ugh, how emasculating. No wonder he enjoys needling hunky FBI vet Will. Phyllis, for her part, is of moderate faith. You might even say she’s a mainstream occupier. She gravitates toward strong leadership and clear objectives, so she’s managed to find her place amid this dubious reich. She also seems to accept bureaucratic service as atonement for being unfaithful, pre-Arrival, to her kindly husband Ed.

Will, as we know, signed on with the occupation as a means to find his son, Charlie. As the days go by, though, he’s increasingly lulled by the familiarity of police work. And as he witnesses the Resistance’s violent tactics firsthand — e.g. Justin’s execution — he struggles to discern which side of the wall (literal and otherwise) he really belongs to.

And as Katie quickly discovers, the Resistance’s Achilles heel is its own sectarianism. Geronimo’s philosophy, while rooted in the ideals of activists like Frederick Douglass, is still nascent and emotional. It’s forming in real-time, as fast and loose and reactionary as the nimble pirate DJ’s edicts of rebellion. (Not to mention those encoded details of upcoming broadcasts on the backs of anarchist posters.) Varying pockets of peons living outside the Green Zone endorse their own interpretations of these orations, stoking urgent outrage that Broussard and Quayle — let alone the occupation — simply can’t contain to one central movement.

For all intents and purposes, Colony is imagining what it might look like if a new society were painfully parceled out from the still-smoldering ashes of our established, civilized surroundings. It’s a fantasy that begs reflection on our nation’s volatile history of settlement and sacrifice, but it also mimics latter-day efforts to remake overseas territories in America’s image — complete with shadowy authoritarian omniscience, youthful militias, and no shortage of menacing drones. The fragmented Los Angeles envisioned by creators Carlton Cuse and Ryan Condal is less a sci-fi foretelling of karmic comeuppance than a mirror held up to the world we’re in. (Okay, except for Katie’s Jedi-esque dress during the house-fire scene. That was pretty sci-fi.)

Nonetheless, let’s take comfort in the fact that — for now — Red Hats aren’t barging into actual U.S. classrooms, smashing young female teachers’ heads into desks. That’s the shocking brutality leveled against Marla Nelson for clandestinely featuring Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in her curriculum. And that’s saying nothing of an outspoken student who took the butt end of a rifle to his temple. At first blush, your eyes roll at Nelson’s on-the-nose selection for anti-authority literature, but the ensuing violence stuns, leaving you breathless and enraged.

Ditto for Phyllis’s fate in the closing moments of “Blind Spot.” The second Katie unmasked her to Broussard as Will’s boss, her assassination was fait accompli — nevermind when Phyllis outed Katie and recruited her as a triple agent, which would have ventured into absurdity. Even so, it was hard to swallow when Broussard executed her with prejudice in her Green Zone home. At least he had the decency to heed her request and kill long-suffering Ed in the other room, giving her a measure of cold comfort before she collapsed in a heap. Hopefully for Will’s sake, she was equally conscientious about destroying Bram’s confiscated radio tapes.

Bram is sufficiently bummed that his recordings have been snatched by the Red Hats. Soon, resistance sympathizers citywide are in disbelief that their voice of reason has finally been cuffed by Will and interrogated — read: tortured — by other members of the force.

They shouldn’t fret, though. As Will immediately intuits, this mobile DJ is no Geronimo. And it’s more than likely that another righteous reformer will take his place. The beat will go on. They might even be thrilled to know that their fallen speechifier gave apparently solid intel about how he receives his scripts. As it happens, they’re sent through a reservoir, one whose entry point lies squarely in the Green Zone. If Geronimo is flesh and blood, followers and foils alike may be one step closer to finding him.

What’s unclear just yet is how Maddy (may we call her Maddy?) will get entangled in all this. And oh, will she. From the outset, she’s had the most frequent access to the Green Zone, thanks to the myriad day labor she gets assigned by the occupation. And she’s desperate to insinuate herself further, if for no other reason than scoring insulin for her son, Hudson. But she misses the cultured world, one where her eye for art as a former gallery employer is valued. It’s almost conspicuously convenient, then, that she gets tasked with helping curator Charlotte (Kathryn Morris) plunder vacated homes for valuable art. The gig’s a bit unsavory, but that’s all relative post-Arrival. When Charlotte buddies up to Maddy over a glass of white, offers her a full-time assistant job, and guarantees unlimited meds for Hudson, who’s she to beg off? She’s no different than Phyllis, or Will, or anyone else searching for something beyond answers to the unanswerable.

For Katie, however, her obsession with the truth — the truth of what happened to Charlie, who or what it is holding humanity under its sway, and which version of virtuousness will get her family closer to freedom — has led her into an underworld that demands transparency but pursues it with unsettling vigilance. Following Resistance directives, she sets her living room on fire under the auspices of an insurgent bomb threat, which gets her a meet-and-greet with Phyllis. But it carries heavy costs: Her hands are now stained with Phyllis’s blood, and her tactical indelicacy finally rouses Will’s suspicions. Though his wife is faithful, she’s not necessarily honest.

This is where Colony presents its humane side, articulating the matters of trust that ground other dramas — The Americans and Homeland, in particular — and make this dystopian nightmare intimately relatable, if a bit contrived. Neither Will nor Katie has even fathomed that Broussard pulls day duty as a Red Hat. Broussard and Quayle’s assurances of safety for the Bowmans feel as ephemeral as the authorities’. We’re left to anxiously wonder what evil-babysitter Lindsey has up her sleeve, and if Will’s instincts about Jennifer are legit. The Arrival was an unwelcome and abrupt disturbance, but it may have only hastened the inevitable rupture of societal discord.

Apart From All That:

  • Was I the only one who thought of The State’s “kill the president” bit during that classroom scene?
  • I don’t know how much I buy Katie’s Southern-ness.
  • Does it really matter where else this is happening? They all migrated to L.A. from somewhere, and now they’re here.
  • I like address numbers. The Bowmans’ is 4531.
  • It will always be Yonk (as opposed to Yokn) to me.
  • Kathy Baker was great. She’ll be missed, but her absence makes room for Helena’s introduction. No doubt about it.

Colony Recap: The Beat Goes On