Colony: Pilot

Colony has real potential. I hope it fulfills that potential.

In the near future world of Colony, the earth has been invaded and is now occupied and controlled by "hosts" that no one appears to have seen. Human police called "Red Hats" enforce martial law. People are trapped in "blocs" behind barbed wire and very high silvery science-fictiony fences, dealing with shortages and hardships, as well as the possibility that any of them could be imprisoned or killed at any time for any reason. This is not new material; it is, in fact, a popular theme in science fiction.

The story centers on Will and Katie Sullivan (Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies), a married couple who are living in the Los Angeles "bloc" with their two kids and a dog named Minnie. They appear to be an average couple dealing the best they can with the difficulties of the occupation. Will works in a garage, son Bram trades the oranges that grow in their back yard for other types of food at a homegrown black market at his high school, and Katie spends her days out on her bicycle trying to find insulin for her sister Maddie's son Hudson.

And now I'm going to talk about the pilot in depth under the adorable spoiler kitten. Bail out now if you plan to watch this pilot and don't want to be spoiled.

The story got heavier almost immediately when Will smuggled himself out of the bloc in order to search for their third child, twelve-year-old Charlie, from whom they were separated during the invasion. When Will was captured and taken to Los Angeles's "proxy governor" Snyder, we learned that Will's real surname is Bowman, not Sullivan, and he was once a special agent and fugitive hunter for the FBI. Snyder wants Will to become a collaborator and hunt down the head of the Resistance. If Will agrees to do this, his family will have security, enough food, and even tutors for his kids. If he doesn't, his family will go to "the Factory", which sounds like a bad place to be. Honestly, what choice would any husband and father have under these circumstances?

The reveal at the end that Katie is an active member of the Resistance, something Will clearly doesn't know, sets up the possibility of an enormous amount of interesting conflict. Essentially, Will has just been tasked with finding and turning in his own wife. If this is handled well in the upcoming episodes, it could be pretty darned cool.

I'm really happy with the casting. Lost made me a fan of Josh Holloway's because he did such a terrific job as the emotionally traumatized con man Sawyer, arguably the show's most popular character. Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break, The Walking Dead) is also very good, and the two of them have acting chemistry. The hot scene that took place after Will came home from his misadventure suggested that they love each other deeply. Considering his pre-invasion job, why doesn't he know his wife is in the Resistance? You'd think he'd be the first person she would recruit.

The mystery behind the invasion and occupation is intriguing, too. Who are these "hosts" and what do they want? It's easy to surmise that they're aliens, but no one actually said so. Why are they keeping people confined and separated? The black market insulin suggests that they are culling the sick from the human herd. I'm also wondering about the title of the series. Are the "hosts" planning to colonize the earth? Is this maybe a situation like Robert A. Heinlein's Puppet Masters or Stephenie Meyer's The Host?

Their recruitment of Will also suggested that the Resistance is an actual problem for them, so how advanced can they be?


-- The episode opened with Will making breakfast, and showed how upset he was when he accidentally dropped one of their only two eggs on the floor. There was also barbed wire around their yard to protect their all important orange trees from theft.

-- Colony reminded me of V and Falling Skies, of course, but the circumstances of the occupation also made me think of The Man in the High Castle and Fear the Walking Dead. And the famous paintings in Snyder's house in the Green Zone reminded me of The 100.

-- The faces of the Red Hats are partially covered. Probably so that they won't be recognized and targeted by the Resistance. Was that a petite homage to Revolutionary War "redcoats"?

-- The "hosts" were called "reps" or "rabs" at different points in this episode. I think.

-- Katie's sister Maddie was played by Amanda Righetti, a cast member of The Mentalist. I didn't recognize her at first because her hair wasn't red.

-- The Resistance character played by Tory Kittles was intriguing (the guy who was fixing up his mother's house). His name was never given. Is he "Geronimo", the leader of the Resistance?

-- IDs are kept in a transparent pocket on the shoulder, an obvious reference to the stars of David in World War II.

-- Snyder told Will that the most important day in human history was coming, and that once their "hosts" had satisfied their needs, they would leave.

-- The creators and executive producers of Colony are Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Ryan Condal. I did get something of a Lost vibe from this pilot, mostly in the "we're introducing a high concept story and not telling you what's really going on" kind of way.

This pilot episode was so complex that I watched it twice, and interesting enough that watching it twice was fun. That's a good sign. Plus I want Josh Holloway back in my life again. So I'll be watching next week,

Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction. She also loves cats. Okay, and chocolate.


Josie Kafka said...

Cute cat, Billie, and excellent review.

I liked this but didn't love it. The premise and the actors were great, but I think this is one of those shows that I'm going to wait on to see how it seems to be faring before I commit.

I'm also curious to see what the focus is. Domestic drama? Subterfuge? Actual aliens?

I did love all the recognizable LA places, though.

Billie Doux said...

Yes, that's one fun thing about being a former Angelino, Josie. I love recognizing locations so much of the time.

Onanymous said...

I definitely liked this one.

Will and Katie are obviously in love (and the actors are definitely working well together) and they really made a point of showing it. It does feel like setup for lots of relationship drama to come.

Ugh, the "satisfying their needs" gave me a really bad Children of Earth vibe. But you're right, they're going out of their way to imply, but not mention aliens, so I'm sure there are some kind of twist coming.

I also liked the world building. Will's reaction to the egg, the schoolyard black market and all the bicycles were a nice touch - showing, not just telling.

Let's hope they can deliver on the promise of this first ep.

(Stupid phone posted my comment halfway through writing)

TJ said...

Hmm, my impression of this was

- Josh Holloway, yay!
- Sarah Wayne Callies, nay!
- Is this season 2 of Wayward Pines?

WP teached me that giving a show a whole season to prove its potential was flawed. I will give this 3 maybe 4 eps?

Katherine said...

For the first time I regret having my DH cut off our cable access. This looks like something I'd want to watch.

mazephoenix said...

I need this to be good. Better than it is I mean. It's above average though and better than the last show Holloway was on. Great review.
Getting a V meets Lost vibe from this, yes.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice Kim Rhodes aka jody mills as Rachel.

First time commenting but love your site Billie! Always my first stop after watching new eps of supernatural and the walking dead.