Colony – A Review

No spoilers.

Colony debuted in 2016 and had three of today’s typically short seasons. I just finished watching it through and I thought I’d write up a review.

First off, it’s always fun for me to see a show set in Los Angeles since that’s where I live.

Sadly this kind of “SF” show is mostly just “pretend something really SF has happened off-screen.” Meanwhile what the viewer sees is basically just a standard contemporary set. It may be a budget-saver, but it’s not very satisfying to an SF fan.

There’s an interesting dynamic between husband and wife, and their respective POVs:

Husband: He’s the devil we know. He’s our only chance to get our son Charlie back.

Wife: We have to fight them.

Husband, looking at photo of Charlie: Look at him. He’s growing up alone!

If it sounds like they’re talking past each other, they are. They aren’t open with each other, and so are often at odds with each other. Meanwhile both of them engage in shenanigans that could get them and their family killed. The question is, are the shenanigans really worth it?

On the other hand if humanity is merely being raised for the slaughter, how long do you cooperate? I’d suggest that if you learn that’s your fate, you might as well just fight to the death. Why let the aliens eat you?

The biggest issue I have is how the writers set husband and wife against each other. They should always be working together, but the writers have them continuously splitting their confidences and loyalties. It’s a death-sentence for a relationship, let alone a marriage. If this is how they behave then why were they even together for this long?

Even their sixteen year old son Bram is casually risking the lives of the family with stupid minor offenses. Of course, as he becomes more competent he is rightfully frustrated that his parents insist on treating him like a child. They ought to be able to see how he’s growing into someone frighteningly adapted to this dystopia. But then the writers have him do something really stupid, as if he wouldn’t learn from his mistakes. <sigh> Suspension of disbelief, interfered with.

The ultimate question of the series being: do you collaborate or do you fight to the death? When faced with unbeatable odds.

As they tell us in the show, the aliens overcame everything humanity had in just a few hours. They’re unbeatable with handguns, kids. So what good does it do you to kill one overseer when he’ll just be replaced with another collaborator?

I suppose it’s natural to compare this with Nazi collaborators during WW2 (a comparison made in “V” as well as other series), but it’s not a fair comparison. Nazi occupation was about man’s inhumanity to man. It’s a glimpse into the blackness to be found in human hearts. But if super-advanced aliens have enslaved us, collaborating with them isn’t the same at all. In fact it belittles what the Nazis did.

And just to make it interesting, Snyder is the only straw leader who’s trying to give the people of his bloc a decent life. He thinks that by doing so, people will be grateful and maintain order, granting them all extra time and perhaps some sort of opportunity down the line. So, you really want to trade him for a ruthless and merciless overlord?

Another interesting facet. The Red Hand is a group of nineteen year old types who are all managed by an adult. They’re mindless enthusiastic kids who can be used up by their leader. It’s interesting to see this “post-millennial” force of kids who wreak havoc without a plan. Remind you of anything?

Late in the series we hear the line “The real war isn’t against the Raps… It’s against ourselves.” Well now. I’m not too sure I see that by the time we finally hear it. Sure, some folks are being inhumane to others. But at this point it seems the folks at the top of the pyramid have some info that sheds a different light on things. So what the hell is the message really supposed to be?

The thing is, I like Alan Snyder. As he says numerous times, “I saved lives.” He knows the big picture, more than just about any other character on the show, and he’s playing the long game on humanity’s behalf. This isn’t the Nazis, sorry. While on the other hand, Will, Katie and Bram Bowman keep betraying each other over and over again. It makes them very much less sympathetic.

Overall it’s a good watch, and I recommend the series. Even though the final season ends leaving you wanting more – and you won’t be getting it.

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