Colony: Review, Ep. 204 – Panopticon, or Always Watching

For an episode without bombs, or shooting, or even any Snyder, this was a packed one. There are more than one way to terrorize a population – and violence isn’t always the most frightening.

This episode was titled Panopticon – you may not know exactly what the word means, but this episode showed you what it was. From Wikipedia,

The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behavior constantly. The name is also a reference to Panoptes from Greek mythology; he was a giant with a hundred eyes and thus was known to be a very effective watchman.

Apt, isn’t it!

What could be scarier than having the whole world watching? Well, not the world exactly, but the new Global Authority. And Helena sure seems scared, or at least very nervous, as she speaks in front of this council as the new Governor General (and, of what? California? The US? or more?). Especially as one member recommends, and the council votes on, “making an example” of the LA Bloc? Good thing they voted against it, because, well, end of show. She drops her Transitional Authority pin before she leaves – how many of you conspiracy theorists wonder if there’s a bug in the pin so she can hear what happens after she leaves? Yeah, me too. But the search for the “artifact” is now kicked into even higher gear, if that were possible.

Charlie’s home, but it’s going to take him a while to readjust. He sees clearly, though, what’s going on. Bram “will have to change” in the labor camp, just like Charlie had to change. Lindsey is a threat. When Will says “we’re safe here,” he’s quick to respond, “No, we’re not.” He hides under the bed, with a big knife, because he has no basis now to trust anyone. And when Lindsey says “We were praying every day that our benevolent Hosts would bring you home.” He doesn’t put up with that. “My dad brought me home,” he replies. ‘With their help and guidance!” Lindsey tells him, and Charlie’s BS meter goes off the charts – one minute with Lindsey and he knows that whatever she’s putting forward has no basis in his reality. But he’s still a kid, and the little bit of a smile he had as Katie cut his hair – helping bring him back, at least a little bit, to who he was before – was so sweet!

I was really touched by Gracie’s reaction to Charlie’s homecoming, and particularly by the scene where she comes into his room, finds him sleeping on the floor – more familiar, I guess – and

His street kid protest against Lindsey, quietly putting her precious book onto the stove, was actually a good thing. The smoke alarm not going off led Will to discover, or at least make an educated guess, about cameras in the house. But he doesn’t know who’s watching, who was on the other end of the drone that didn’t blast him and Charlie into splats on the wall, or who really knows about what he and Katie have been involved in. Fortunately, or un, it’s Jennifer. His “friend,” sympathetic coworker, who is having her own crises of conscience and employment. And he tells Katie, not knowing Jennifer is listening, that this “friend” is weak and can be played. “It’s ok, I can deal with her,” he says. “I worked her before, I can work her again.”

So every move Katie and Will make, they have to assume, is being watched. They’re trying to find some way to exist, as a couple and a family, under assumed¬†constant surveillance. I think the love they had in the past is still there – they’re living in extraordinary circumstances, and trust has definitely been strained, but they have their kids to bring them together. And shower conversations – I’m not going any farther with speculation – doesn’t hurt. Even if you do have to do it so the noise of the water will mask the noise of the talking. Katie is horrified at Will’s confession that he killed Quayle – for her – but she knows that they’re both at fault for the rift between them. And while it makes him question their relationship, she’s solid in her feelings. “I did that for you,” he says. “Because I loved you.” Past tense. And she responds, “I LOVE you.” Present tense. He’ll find it again.

Will is an interesting character. His conflicts are a little less than others in this world – he hasn’t expressed (yet) any major concern for humanity in general. His sole motivation seems to be his family. If they’re ok, no matter what else is going on, he’s ok. His allegiances run no deeper than than Katie, even though that’s strained, and the kids. “We stay together. That’s how we survive,” he tells her. And he’s crushed when he finds out that he risked his life, left his family alone, to rescue one child, but unknowingly was responsible for putting another into major danger. Josh Holloway is doing a terrific job of walking that line – being the strong military type and the loving family man.

COLONY — “Panopticon” Episode 204 — Pictured: Josh Holloway as Will Bowman — (Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

And Jennifer’s in trouble, in more ways than one. Her crisis of conscience regarding Will and Katie goes deeper. How impossible it must be for her, caught in this situation. She wants to do a good job, she wants to keep her slightly privileged position, but she’s coming to realize that she can’t do that and mesh it with her fundamental sense of right – that what she’s doing isn’t right. What the TA is doing isn’t right. You can see the flip flop in her face – her coworker tells her she has to watch out for herself, but that just doesn’t sit well. Does she turn Katie in to save herself? Does she let her boss know that Will was probably involved with Bo’s defection? No, she can’t do either of those things. She knows finally what the right thing to do is, when she’s demoted to the monitoring center – she deletes all of the files she’s collected on Will and Katie’s family, the closest thing to normal she’s been near in a long time. But when did she come to the decision that she can’t give up Katie and Will, and can’t continue in this world? ¬†Everybody in this show is being squeezed in one way or another, and Jennifer isn’t strong enough to push back any farther.

Of course, it’s a complete irony that in that huge room, that panopticon of video screens and watchers, that whoever should have been watching Jennifer is away from their post as (we think) she says goodbye to her troubles, her conscience, and her life. Would they have done anything to try to rescue her, or would she have been considered just another casualty? I think it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in this world.

Check out my chat with creator/producer Ryan Condal about Season 2

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