Updated: 22nd November 2017

Colony: sci-fi show realistically depicts America under occupation by aliens

USAs new show from one of the Lost showrunners is a clever nightmare vision of what its like to live under invading authority could it be the next Leftovers?

Whats the show called? Colony

When does it premiere? The first episode is streaming now for free; the 10-episode series premieres Thursday, 14 January at 10pm EST on USA.

Whats it about? In the near future Los Angeles is taken over by something (we assume aliens) and everyone is forced to live under martial law and serve their new masters.

Who created it? Ryan Condal, who wrote the script for The Rocks Hercules movie, and Carlton Cuse, one of the showrunners on Lost.

Does that mean in the finale were going to find out that all of these people are just living in heaven? Yeah, Im still pissed about the Lost finale too, but probably not.

What happens in the premiere? Will Bowman (Losts Josh Holloway) is a family man trying to sneak from Los Angeles through a giant wall into Santa Monica to find his son. On his way across his truck is blown up by an improvised explosive device planted by the insurgency and he is taken into custody by the evil Red Hats, the military human collaborators with the hosts who are sometimes called Homeland Security. They find out that Will used to be an FBI agent who tracked escaped criminals. He is recruited to track down the members of the insurgency or else his family will be sent to a forced labour camp.

Back at home his wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Lori on The Walking Dead and will give sci-fi fans another chance to virulently hate her for absolutely no reason) is trying to keep down the fort and negotiate in a world with forced curfews, transportation restrictions, and a black market that can sometimes turn dangerous very quickly.

With all this talk of IEDs, insurgencies, collaborators, black markets, and occupying forces Im reminded of something else. Yes, the show is very obviously a parable about the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and what that military force does to the people who have to live under an authority that is not their own. I always thought that Americans wouldnt be so keen on invading places if they could understand what it would feel like to have an outside force come in and tell them how to live their lives. That is exactly what this show imagines. Being Americans we cant conceive of another nation being able to do this, so it has to be aliens that are responsible. But the aliens also love building huge walls to keep people in and out, so maybe its just Donald Trump with a bunch of spaceships.

What do the aliens look like? Actually we never see them; we just see their ships launching in the distance. The people are controlled by a shadow government put in place by the hosts, who control the military and police forces as well.

Again, that sounds very familiar. Is the show successful? Its a bit heavy-handed but the way it takes the mundane and twists it into something strange is very clever. LA is devoid of cars and everyone travels on bicycles. Kids go to school, but instead of learning theyre swapping food. Walking around on a sunny day seems wonderful until someone is dragged off the sidewalk and into an armoured vehicle for no reason. Oh, and lets not forget the drones. It really does drive home the subtle terror of what it must be like to live under occupation.

But is the show any good? Its not bad, honestly. For a sci-fi show, however, it is keeping things a little bit close to the vest. For my money, I want to see more of the extraterrestrial elements or the technology that made the hosts take control of the country so easily.

There is also something a little bit lacking in an overall thrust of the story. There are some really tense moments (like when Katie sneaks out after curfew and barely escapes the drones) but there doesnt seem to be a sense of purpose or an obvious endgame. Is Will really working to inform on the insurgency or is he secretly working against the hosts? If the latter, how does he hope to overpower them? It doesnt seem likely and without that real sense of a finite mission the show seems to lack a little bit of spark.

Should you watch this show? Colony has the potential to be great and USAs slate as of late has been ambitious, so I give it the benefit of the doubt. Like The Leftovers, another ambitious show by a Lost showrunner, I think its really going to find its voice in season two when it gets away from this Iraq stuff and finds a way to tell an occupation story in its own vernacular.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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