Airtime: Thursdays at 10PM on USA
So I have to admit I was a huge Lost fan. To this day my home wifi password is the Lost numbers. And yes I enjoyed the ending. Since then I’ve followed the career of one half of the creative force behind that show–Damon Lindelof–enjoying his features Prometheus and Star Trek Into Darkness, as well as his HBO series The Leftovers. But I haven’t delved into all the work of post-Lost Carlton Cuse, the other half. I watched the first season of The Strain on FX and enjoyed it, but completely missed the much more critically acclaimed Bates Motel. So I was eagerly anticipating this show for that reason, in addition to the series having an intriguing premise set in the city I live in.
That premise being: aliens. Okay, yeah we’ve seen it before, we’ve even seen it in Los Angeles before. Many times. But this is less a story of the invasion than it is about the occupation. What happens after the invasion, or as the characters in this story call it, The Arrival. We don’t know any details, but we do know the city of Los Angeles has been blocked off from the rest of the world by thick steel walls that tower over the city. It is further separated into three blocks: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and The Valley. When the walls went up people and families were separated. Now its occupants must carry on with life under their oppressive extra terrestrial rulers, curfew and all.
And it is under these circumstances we meet the Sullivans (actually the Bowmans but we don’t find that out until later): Josh Holloway (Lost’s Sawyer) plays the father/husband Will, his wife Katie is Sarah Wayne Callies (aka Lori Grimes from The Walking Dead), and kids Bram and Gracie. Off the bat we know something is wrong when Will accidentally drops an egg while making breakfast for his kids and takes it a little too hard, scooping it up in his hands. You get the sense that eggs are a luxory. Maybe being rationed? We really know something is wrong when he goes into work at the mechanic shop and everyone’s talking about “when all this is over.”
Before you know it we see that Will is making deals to smuggle himself out of the LA block and into the Santa Monica block–he claims that during The Arrival he got separated from his 12 year old son, who remains there. We later learn that this son is not Katie’s but another woman’s–who, we do not know. With the aid of Breaking Bad’s Skinny Pete, he lay low in a truck’s cargo, and would have gotten away with it, too, if it was for that meddling Resistance!
You knew it was coming, right? Of course there is a Resistance to the alien oppressors! They detonate a bomb at the Los Angeles Bloc wall just as Will is going through. He’s captured by “the Red Hats,” or humans who have turned collaborators. While he’s out missing, his wife Katie is out looking to find insulin for her sister Maddie’s son, which has become a scarce commodity in the city. When she realizes she’s being swindled by a woman who claims to have produced her own insulin from a dogs pancreas, she pulls a gun on her and leaves.
Later Katie is obviously concerned about Will and goes looking for him. We learned that every night at a certain time sirens sound across the city as curfew is enforced. She scrambles to hide. We don’t know what happens if you’re caught out after curfew, but I’m sure it’s not good. In fact, in broad daylight we see the Red Hats randomly picking up people off the streets, probably hauled off somewhere to be questioned and killed. Though life around the city day to day seems by and large normal (the radio still gives the weather forecast, people sit outside restaurants, teenagers hang out on football field bleachers, men work on their homes) there are little glimpses of how everyone is still living in fear–and how these are things are just distracting them from the reality of their situation.
We see will is taken to the Green Zone, or the GZ–an area that just looks like a Beverly Hills party–people boozing and eating lobster to thumping bass music. Here we meet Proxy Governor Snyder, somebody who has completely taken the opportunities that have presented themselves to him, as he likes to put it. In other words, he’s a traitor to the human race and reaping the benefits from the alien overlords. He knows that Will is NOT Will Bowman, but actually Will Sullivan–some sort of specially trained soldier who has fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc, etc. He hid his identity because not long after The Arrival all military, government, and police officer personnel were killed.
But Snyder knows of his background and explains that they want to enlist him and use him and his skills to hunt down the leader of The Resistance and kill him. Bringing him back to his home safely, Snyder offers his family protection, education for his kids, and a possible reunion with his 12 year old son in Santa Monica. He even offers Katie her bar, The Yonk, back–he convinced the leaders they have skimped on recreational offerings for those under their occupation. Will and Katie decide they are in with collaborating on finding the Resistance.
And of course the final scenes ends with (SPOILER!) Katie revealing to her fellow Resistance members they now have an inside person with the enemy: her. And her husband was hired by the aliens to hunt her and her friends down and apprehend them, surely to be sentenced to death.
Overall the pilot didn’t blow me away in any aspect, but I was also entertained the entire time and I enjoyed the thoughts it provoked about how much people can distract themselves from tyrannical things happening right in front of their own eyes, and how far some people will go to protect their families. I also think that setting Will and Katie at odds with one another–it gives me that Walt/Hank feeling from Breaking Bad and is waaaay more interesting than if they were both Resistance fighters or if Will was and Katie was the wife who reluctantly allowed him to be one. The first season of COLONY on USA will be 10 episodes long and I am very excited for the next.
Paul co-created and writes for SHOWoff, a game that lets players predict what happens next on their favorite TV shows, earn points for what they get right, and see where they stack up against friends and the world (free in the iOS App store). Check out the SHOWoff app at playSHOWoff.com
Paul Gulyas | Contributor