As Colony gets into its second season, and the mysteries deepen, creator/producer Ryan Condal took a few minutes and answered some questions for us. I also spoke with Ryan after the first season ended, and you can find the link to that interview at the bottom of this one!
Who was the hardest character to write for? Why?
It’s all hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I think the kids were the most difficult, because we wanted them to feel like real people instead of ciphers. I think we have succeeded at that, particularly with Bram, who we did not want to fall into the “angsty teen” stereotype. Bram definitely has some anger and rebellion brewing in him, but the trick with the writing was to give him a story that was fresh, and organic, and fulfilling. Having a stellar young actor like Alex Neustader helps. He did great work this year.
Did you foresee Snyder becoming as popular a character as he is? Why do you think he appeals to so many viewers?
It helps to have a genius actor play the role. Peter Jacobson is just fantastic. The nuance that he has brought to the ‘heel’ of the Los Angeles Colony is remarkable. One of the hardest things to do in a story is to dimensionalize and humanize the villain. If the writing can accomplish that, the character turns into a real person who people understand. If the actor can bring the kind of likeability that Peter brings to the role, you have the makings of a truly memorable character.
Were there any particular sci fi shows or authors that inspired you, either in their look, or their storytelling?
In terms of television, I grew up on the Twilight Zone, The X-Files, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. But I loved everything in the sci-fi space. I would say that my biggest (genre) writing influences were John Milius, James Cameron, and George R. R. Martin.
The last time I talked with you, you hadn’t started writing S2. Did the season end up going where you thought it would go? Anything that surprised you about where the show is going, from your initial concept? Did you make any changes for Season 2 based on fan feedback?
We knew what the broad strokes of S2 were pretty early on and hewed pretty close to that throughout the year. We took some interesting scenic routes and detours on the road there, but this is what we always thought it was going to be. In terms of fan feedback, we always want to hear what people think, but I don’t think it affects the show in anyway. Many fans just want all the answers laid out for them, which doesn’t make for a very interesting story. But those who are patient, if they pay attention, will be rewarded regularly.
And 9 months ago, our real-life political climate was very different than it is today. Do you see any parallels between the show and where we are today?
Weird how that happened. The show feels much more relevant now than it was when I came up with the idea for the pilot. Good science fiction is evergreen in terms of its thematic relevance, and I think Colony has the potential to have that quality now and into the future.
If first contact was in 1969, there have been nearly 50 years to prepare. Why do you think this was the right time for this all to come out in the open? Is there anything you can tell me about why the aliens are here and what they want?
I could tell you. But then Broussard would have to kill you.
At least in the first 4 episodes, the only sign we’ve seen of the Resistance is when the Red Hat applicants were gunned down, and is it not beyond the realm of possibility that this is a misdirection by the TA to try to increase anger toward the Resistance by making it look like they committed this act. Is the TA possible of this kind of duplicity? It just doesn’t seem like a Resistance tactic, wholesale slaughter of citizens.
Interesting theory. One of the goals this season was to dimensionalize the ideas of resistance and insurgency and dramatize them with the same shades of gray that we have the rest of the show.
Did you always see Will and Kate’s roles this way? In most shows, the man is the risk-taker, and the woman is the go-along, primarily to keep the family together. But this season, they seem to switch places. Has Katie lost the fire she had? Do you see Will becoming more radicalized?
We only wanted the roles to be fresh, grounded, and compelling. Hopefully we’ve succeeded at that. I will say that Will and Katie end the season in a much different place than where they began, both as individuals and as a couple. Josh and Sarah have brought a tremendous amount of nuance to these roles and helped to realize both the characters of Will and Katie as real people who are flawed, emotional, and not always rational — but always human.
Past alien-invasion plots generally had the aliens were either taking over outright, looking to exterminate humans, or attempting to integrate. Colony does neither. Right now, we don’t necessarily know yet why they are here – I have a sense there is a greater lesson here- Is there a larger message beyond “aliens invading”? Long-term collusion of the few to rule the many? Looking at the lengths humans will go to either maintain their humanity, or merely retain their lives?
The challenge with Colony was to take the ‘alien invasion’ sub-genre and subvert it. What do we have to say that is different than the other alien invasion stories? For us, it was taking advantage of the (very) long-form storytelling that is possible on TV. The idea was to start the story in a place where Los Angeles had already been soundly beaten by the aliens and then tell the story of what happens next. ‘Next’ will evolve over the hopefully many seasons to come. But rest assured, we know *exactly* where this show ends.
What was the most challenging new area to learn when you added Writer AND Executive Producer to your list of credits? What was the most satisfying?
Producing is a much different animal than writing. You have to interact with people! It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to not only conceive the show in the writers’ room but then to go out and see it realized via the incredibly talented directors, DPs, production designers, VFX designers, consume designers, and actors who make it all possible. In TV, the writer gets to do what he does not often get to do in film: have a say!
Read my Season 1 Wrapup interview with Ryan Condal here
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