A new show starring Josh Holloway is always something to look forward to, just because of his portrayal of Sawyer in LOST, the tough teddybear on that mysterious island in the South Pacific. One of the writers on that show, Carlton Cuse, has carved out a new hard-edged-but-actually-a-sweetheart role for him, that of Will Bowman. And this time, it’s not an ocean that keeps him prisoner, but a massive wall, in Colony.
We’ve talked about Colony before, after its first look special ‘Behind the Wall’, which, as it turned out, was basically the pilot episode with a few testimonials cut in between. Los Angeles has gotten a wall Donald Trump can only dream about, built by the ‘Others’. It’s a result of a war between men and… aliens? In any case, Will used to be a soldier in that war, but is laying low, trying to live an ordinary life, providing for his family. That’s his wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies, Prison Break, The Walking Dead) and their two children. There’s one child missing, though, their son. Taken beyond the wall, and without telling Katie anything, Will sets out on a dangerous quest to find him. During an attack at the wall/border by the resistance, Will’s discovered by the officials and taken into custody. Proxy Governor Alan Snyder (Peter Jacobson, House MD, Ray Donovan) makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Collect intel on the resistance and then, maybe, if Snyder feels like it, get his son back. All Will has been trying to do is keep his head down, so he’s not in contact with any resistance members, but he’s got no choice but to play ball. Katie, however, is part of a resistance cell. That last twist feels a bit too much. How and why would she keep such a secret from her veteran husband? It may have been better if they’d saved that surprise for later – like LOST used to do with practically everything, postponing revelations indefinitely – but I guess USA doesn’t have the luxury of gradually building an audience; they need viewers quick, and that means plot twists, please, as many as you can spare.
Brave New World
The second episode ‘Brave New World’ introduces, apart from a few continuity errors, a bunch of new characters. Snyder stays in the background – doesn’t even show up, in fact – and his replacement, story wise, as the one who gives Will his orders, is Phyllis (Kathy Baker, Medium, Boston Public). She pairs him up with Beau (Carl Weathers). Also walking around in the Colony universe: Jennifer, played by the extremely funny Kathleen Rose Perkins (Episodes, Trust Me) and George (Strike Team alumnus Brian White, The Shield, Men of a Certain Age, Chicago Fire). Will’s collaborating with the oppressive government at Homeland Security, tracking down the guy who played a vital role in the border bombing, Andrew (Craig Henningsen). When he brings him in, Will finds his friend Carlos (Jacob Vargas, Sons of Anarchy, Hand of God) in custody, too, ready to be shipped off to a place called ‘The Factory’.
Will tries to make Carlos his CI, but Homeland’s full of people who just try to survive. Phyllis gets her orders ‘from above’; her hands are tied. At least Will and Katie make sure Carlos’ wife and son are safe. Meanwhile, the so-called Red Hats who do the interrogations, break Andrew. He gives up the location where his people are hiding. Will’s called to come in, Katie overhears him on the phone and informs Quayle (Paul Guilfoyle), head of her cell. When Homeland arrives on the scene, Andrew’s people are bleeding out on the floor. Somebody knew they were coming. Will realizes there must be a mole. And I suspect, given the pace of the show, Katie will confess her role in all of this to him in episode 3. Together with a group of other prisoners, Carlos is sent to ‘The Factory’, which looks like a huge gas chamber, but it’s not quite clear what happens to them. There’re blue lights, then red lights, a lot of smoke, people in hazmat suits… The writers wouldn’t have shown all this if the prisoners were all just going to get killed. They haven’t made it spooky for nothing; there’s something going on, perhaps even something alien.
For now, the whole occupation thing feels a bit silly. What motivation could the aliens (if they are, indeed, aliens) have for dividing the United States into specific ‘zones’? Are they transforming Los Angeles into an amusement park? (That’s not such a stretch, actually, if you know what I mean.) But all silliness considered, the show’s fast, looks great, there’s enough mystery to be captivating, so I definitely give it the benefit of the doubt. Shallow entertainment, but shallow entertainment well done.