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TV Review: Colony (Series 2, Episode 3)


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‘Sublimation' is likely Colony’s best episode since its inception. And in the show’s true fashion, it’s achieved this in the most underrated way.

While Will, Davon and Charlie work their way out of the Santa Monica bloc and over the wall, Katie is sought out by Jennifer, who demands she reveal Broussard’s whereabouts in exchange for keeping her involvement with the Resistance a secret from the authorities.

This episode is all about challenging the viewer’s allegiances, by showing us that neither the Resistance, nor the Occupation can claim to be the good guys.

By keeping the Hosts more or less invisible, most of the harm done since the Arrival has been between humans, people turning on each other to pursue their own self-interests, and hence exposing some of humanity’s darkest traits.

The very opening of the episode demonstrates it perfectly. Ordinary men and women are queued up, all of them applicants to become Redhats.

As one man turns to another, who distinctly looks out of place in a brightly coloured shirt and rounded figure, it’s revealed that these people’s motivations are not because they support the Occupation, but because they’re looking out for the wellbeing of those they love.

With food resources growing scarcer in the bloc, they’re here for the extra rations that the job would grant. After this short, but powerful display of kindness between two strangers, they are then all slaughtered like cattle, rounded up and shot down.

A man in a mask approaches the stranger, gasping for his last breath, and raises his gun saying, “You collaborate, you die”.  

We begin to realise that Jennifer, Snyder, Bram, even Katie have the same goal, no matter what side of the fight they choose to identify with: to preserve whatever semblance of normalcy they may have in their lives.

As Katie explains to Jennifer, while she had judged people for their quick willingness to give up their freedom in exchange for retaining some kind of normal life after the Arrival, she's now found herself relating to them.

In the same exchange, the two accuse one another’s camp of causing more deaths, which further highlights this episode’s theme. Jennifer, through her work, has been complicit to many deaths and arrests of people in the LA bloc, just as Katie’s actions in the Resistance resulted in far increased security and harsher treatment of people by the authorities, which in turn has also caused deaths.

It’s significant that the showrunners decided to use this episode to demonstrate that there is no more moral compass in this dystopian society.

Morality is neither black nor white, everything exists within a murky grey area. The Resistance is clearly getting more powerful and reckless, and though this may at one time have been cause for celebration, now viewers are just dreading the moment when the rising tensions climax and the true bloodshed begins.

The most profound scene in 'Sublimation' however, is when Katie explains to Gracie the concept of comparative religion. From as early as last season, Katie has had to witness her daughter be indoctrinated into The Greatest Day by her Transitional Authority-approved tutor, without the ability to act against it and not looking like she's questioning the Hosts’ authority.

Yet, in this beautifully written scene, she lays out before her daughter four books, the works of Confucius, a volume of the Buddhist Tipitaka, the Bible and the Quran. She speaks to Gracie as she would to an equal, and gently tells her that there’s nothing wrong about thinking for oneself, despite her tutor teaching her that what others believed was not just wrong, but bad.

She shows her how in every religious text, just as in the religion of the Greatest Day, the same core beliefs and ideals recur. What’s fantastic about this sequence is that within the comfort of her own home, without violence, harm or big explosions, Katie commits the greatest act of rebellion there is.

Meanwhile, Will is burning though plot lines at speed. Two things I’d believed would take the better half of the season to unfold, developed in only two episodes, namely Will finding Charlie, and bringing him back to their home in the LA bloc.

With Solomon dead, Davon knows it’s her time to leave Santa Monica, and buys hers and the Bowmans’ way over the wall. As they, along with three others, are scaling the wall to escape the warzone, a drone locks onto their signatures and kills everyone save for Will and Charlie. Why? There’s no way of knowing, but it’ll undoubtedly become clearer as the season develops.

It was surreal to see such a complex and promising character as Devon be blasted into oblivion so suddenly and unexpectedly. Perhaps her death was intended to give Will stronger incentive to work against the Occupation and avenge her, since her death was in a significant way his fault. Nonetheless, it’s difficult not to notice that this is Will Bowman’s second African-American partner to have been written off or written out of the show.

However, following this saddening turn of events we are rewarded with the reunion of the Bowmans. I’m looking forward to Will returning to Homeland, and hopefully partnering up with Jennifer, who’s shown thus far to be much more engaging than previously thought. She’s shown that when backed into a corner, she’s willing to do pretty much anything to save her own skin.

Meanwhile, this season has seen Katie slowly but surely losing her spirit, as she was willing to hand herself over to the authorities for lack of being able to turn over Broussard. This is why the family reunion feels like such a victory; it gives us hope that Charlie’s return, and a reconciliation with her husband, will aid Katie to regain her fight for what’s to come.

Colony airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on Sky One.

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