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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The noose tightens as Colony places everyone in jeopardy

Illustration for article titled The noose tightens as Colony places everyone in jeopardy

R.I.P. Lindsay, you beautiful wackadoo. You were too delightfully crazy for this earth, it seems—and given how insane life in the colony has gotten, that’s really saying something. The Red Hand assault that forms the climax of ”Good Intentions” makes for a tense and thrilling sequence, even if there was no real danger of Will being offed. (If a drone isn’t going to get the job done, there’s no way a few guys with automatic weapons can take him down.) We’ve seen enough surprise deaths this season to know that unexpected endings can happen, but not, it seems, to the Bowmans. Admittedly, it might be hard for the narrative to shake off the death of a member of this family without descending into everyone wallowing in grief, but it’s starting to get awfully convenient that no one ever seems to get more than a sprained arm (Will’s beating in the Santa Monica bloc notwithstanding). Racing toward season’s end, it’s unclear what this is leading up to, but the death of any member of the immediate family doesn’t seem likely.

Especially not after the acrobatics required to return Bram to his family. This was both the strongest and the most frustrating arc of the episode, because while it best showcased the theme of the title at work, it also returned Stupid Bram to the forefront. Every move he made this installment felt like a failure of growth. Admittedly, he doesn’t seem to understand most of what’s happening at any given moment, or be capable of thinking through consequences to actions outside of the next five minutes, but still, his choices smacked of the sullen and inexplicable judgment that continually bogs down the character. There’s nothing wrong with depicting someone on the cusp of adulthood, struggling between their old childish behavior and newfound maturity, but with Bram, it’s more like a one step forward, three steps towards a five-year-old’s reaction. First he gives up his conspirators, then takes it back, thereby rendering himself utterly untrustworthy. Thank God Snyder feels a responsibility to Will Bowman, because by all rights, Bram should be vaporized along with the rest of the labor camp.

The hunt for solitary Red Hand member Emmett allowed Will to finally break free of Burke’s odious presence, but it didn’t turn out very well for him. I had wrongly assumed that Will would use the opportunity to be free of Burke to show his value to his boss, but instead, Will lets the head of the cell—Frankie’s mother—get away, by completely buying her sob story. Not only that, but Burke captures Emmett himself, and while the scared young man didn’t give Will up yet, it’s likely just a matter of time before it comes out during torture. Not that the authority is Will’s biggest problem, given the need to relocate his family to protect them from another deadly attack by the terrorist group. Both sides of this fight are out for blood, and Will and his family are now potentially in the crosshairs of the resistance and his coworkers.

The commitment to showing the Red Hand’s propensity for violence is one of the stronger elements of the show. There’s now a group that even worries the resistance. “Shades of ISIS, man,” Broussard’s compatriot Hennessey says of the Red Hand, and Emmett’s fear of being found by his former organization testifies to the moral absolutism of the guerrillas. It’s ironic: Broussard spent last season slowly shifting from looking like a hero to a potential villain, and now he’s facing another group that makes his own assistance of Katie resemble softness. The “good intentions” of the title apply to all sides of this conflagration, which is still Colony’s best quality. It refuses to provide easy antagonists or noble martyrs, with everyone falling somewhere in between—and all of them genuinely believing they’re doing the best possible thing. As Snyder tells Bram, all these people working for the hated alien invaders—including Bram’s father—are “holding out hope that someday things are different.” Of course, learning about an extinction timetable might light a little fire under their collective ass.

Even the Governor-General is just trying her best in trying times. Her last-minute rescue of Snyder (thereby allowing him to save Bram in turn) is a clever move on the show’s part, showing how even those seemingly at the apex of collaboration and ethical failure still want to do the right thing in whatever ways they can. When she learns the labor camp is to be blown up, the look on Helena’s face captures the conflicted emotional pull at the heart of the series. It’s a story of the ultimately unjustifiable choices people make to do one thing rather than another. Why do some collaborate while others resist? The truth is, that struggle is playing out inside every person we see, and whether it’s saving an old colleague from a doomed labor camp or killing someone in cold blood to protect your family, the pendulum swings for everyone, one day to the next.

But everyone had a moment of peril this week. Whether it was Morgan betraying Simon in order to save Broussard and keep her own choices defensible, or Katie mere moments from discovery thanks to her effort to save Emmett from being caught, no one is far from a moment of peril. As Lindsay (again, R.I.P., it can’t really be overstated how much I’ll miss her presence) tells Charlie, all it takes is a whisper from someone to the self-appointed moral authorities, and your life will be over. That’s the horrifying beauty of authoritarian regimes, and the seductive power of an all-or-nothing resistance. (Literally seductive, in the case of Emmett and Frankie.) These ideologies are viewed as more important than life. Some things may indeed be worth dying for, but it’s a lot harder to make the case that some causes are worth sacrificing someone else; that reveals how high-minded—sorry, “good”—intentions are more muddied than clear.


Stray observations:

  • Will and Katie’s brief intimacy at the start of the episode, one so comforting they could actually laugh at the interruption of a phone call, was surprising, but a nice reminder that people take whatever fleeting moments of normalcy they can.
  • Good to see ER’s Laura Innes as Frankie’s mom Karen—guessing we haven’t seen the last of her, now that we know she’s the cell leader.
  • The devastation of the labor camp was a pretty great moment. Never let it be said that Colony doesn’t blow things up real good.