Colony recap: 'Panopticon'
Jennifer decides whether to turn the Bowmans in
If Colony isn’t the most timely show of the season, I don’t know what is. Because just as last week’s “scaling the wall” episode was a full-on metaphor for what was happening in real American politics, this week’s attention to Jennifer’s subterfuge and career sacrifice kind of mirrors what just happened with Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General who was fired for refusing to comply with what she believed was an unlawful administrative order.
The parallels are accidental, of course, but I’d be completely remiss not to point them out when they’re so consistent and clear, right? Moving on …
While the first few episodes of this new season have been dizzyingly action-packed and full of new developments, this week’s installment takes a refreshing step back into conversation mode to allow the Bowman/Sullivan family to get their much-needed bearings. They’ve got a lot to unpack when it comes to their current situation, what with everything Charlie’s been through thanks to a year in the wrecked Santa Monica Bloc, Katie’s undercover allegiance to the Resistance, Bram’s incarceration, and Gracie’s growing indoctrination to The Greatest Day.
After all they went through to rescue Charlie from the other side, Will obviously came home thinking his family was finally gonna be together again at long last. His dismay at finding out that not only was Bram arrested and sent to a labor camp while he was gone but that it was Will’s own tactical leadership which got him caught is palpable.
Meanwhile, the trauma that Charlie endured under Solomon’s warlordship is damaging on every level of his psyche — he’s withdrawn, defensive, and even dangerous, as he sets fire to the kitchen as a means of frightening Gracie’s tutor Lindsay, whom he obviously does not trust or even like. He sleeps on the floor in his room — sometimes even hiding out under his bed with a butcher knife — and doesn’t like to be touched by his own mother. More disturbing for Katie is the fact that while Gracie’s off in fairy-tale land with her tutor, Charlie’s understanding of the wretched world in which they now live is disturbingly astute. Under normal circumstances, a boy his age shouldn’t have to intuit such grave realities, but he’s had no choice but to acclimate for survival’s sake.
Neither Will nor Katie are classically trained in crisis recovery methods, so they approach Charlie the only way they know how: with caution, affection, and open ears. Whether it’s the clinical recommendation or not, Charlie seems to be somewhat responsive to the effort, even asking his mother to cut his hair so he can look (and feel?) more like the boy he used to be before all of this mess. It’s a start.
NEXT: Jennifer makes a tough call …
At the same time, Katie has some ‘splaining to do to Will. In his mind, Katie’s secret activities with and on behalf of Broussard and the Resistance were unnecessarily risky, deceitful to him, and put their whole family in jeopardy just as he was sacrificing his own sense of integrity and innocence to protect them. She tells him that she felt compelled to “do something — something bigger than [herself],” but he informs her that the Resistance was not what she thought it was. Quayle was willing to hand over her, Broussard, and the whole shebang just to save his own skin, so Will put him down like a rabid dog. “He was unarmed, and I executed him for you,” he snaps. It’s not like Will hasn’t gotten blood on his hands before (or even after) that, but the fact that the man was defenseless when this happened clearly makes Will feel like a coward somehow.
It’s not Katie who’s aghast at his revelation, though. Jennifer McMahon has been watching and listening the whole time, and she gasps at Will’s admission to murder in this moment. Not that her bosses would mind so much that he killed the de facto Resistance leader, but the reasons for his act would be quite damning to him and everyone else by extension.
Jennifer’s still dealing with some major pressure on her end here — her boss basically repeats his same spiel from last week about how he’s running low on patience and embarrassed by the escalating Resistance in this bloc and how he doesn’t approve of her former job title. She’s on notice that if she can’t deliver something material to him immediately, she’s going to be demoted; not only that, but he’s brought in a smarmy-mouthed agent named Burke to oversee her work, and he’s even more direct with his accusations.
Burke sifts through Jennifer’s network activities and discovers all the special attention she’s been paying to Will’s family lately. She tries to explain it away as though it’s just protocol due to Beau’s disappearance, but he doesn’t buy it. He tells her that he’s going to be big brother-ing the you-know-what out of her, and it’s not just her job that’s at stake if — no, when — he figures out what she’s up to. She’s got a future at the Factory, he warns.
Jennifer struggles to decide whether she should sell Will and his family out or not; she even consults with a colleague (heyyy Lane — I mean, Keiko Agena from Gilmore Girls) who says she should put herself first. Jennifer decides to continue monitoring Will and Katie’s day-long powwow session some more before making her choice and is touched by Gracie’s efforts to assuage Charlie’s discomfort. However, the problem with listening in on people’s conversations is that sometimes you might hear something you weren’t supposed to and probably wouldn’t want to, so when her name comes up, she’s especially peeved to hear Will denigrate her intellect and say that he can “handle” her because “she thinks we’re friends.” With that insult in mind, Jennifer marches right to her boss’s office, finally ready to hand over the information that will save her job, but she trips over her own words halfway through and merely says that Will is back and will make an excellent addition to his team. She’s a big enough person not to let her hurt feelings turn her into a monster, brava.
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Unfortunately, her boss recognizes that her admission was incomplete and decides that it’s finally time to cut her from the officer squad once and for all. Knowing that Burke is going to use her absence to sort through everything she’s collected in her surveillance of the Bowman family — including his recent admission to killing Quayle — she uses her last few minutes in the office to delete all of her files on Will, knowing good and well that she’s condemning herself in the process.
Instead of taking up that empty chair in the surveillance deck to waste away the rest of her life in front of computer until she’s implicated and imprisoned, she soaks in a few old videos of herself with her late fiancé and dog and starts chasing some pills with a glass of wine. Let’s pour one out for brave, selfless Jen tonight.
Meanwhile, just in time for the Bowman family surveillance watch to come into new management, Will discovers that the fire alarm in his house is bugged and that his family is being watched. No more of those conversations about Katie’s days as a Resistance plant for these two. Whether they’ll ever overcome the wall that’s been so suddenly planted between them — which even has him doubting whether he still loves her — remains to be seen. But the fact that they’ll remain a team for the sake of protecting each other and their children, with no more lies as a baseline condition for that unity, means that they’ll at least try.
Oh, and one more thing: Thanks to Helena Goldwin, we now know — not that there was ever any doubt — just how far this colony thing extends. She meets with the Vorlaufige Globale Autoritat (VGA), which is German for Preliminary Global Authority, and makes a plea for this international organization to allow her to use “Total Rendition” on the Los Angeles Bloc. This is apparently some kind of surveillance program implemented in Seattle to deal with that city’s rebellion, but the VGA votes against using this program on the Los Angeles Bloc for now. Instead, they expect she’ll step aside and let their intelligence agents do their jobs and see how it goes from there … dun dun dunnnn.