In Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, Brave New World, the world of 2540 A.D. is not unlike the post-arrival depiction of Los Angeles in Colony‘s similarly titled second episode, “A Brave New World.” The planet is ruled by an unseen central authority that encourages the population to conform with its ideals. However, instead of distributing vast amounts of soma (a hallucinogenic drug) to accomplish this, Colony‘s unseen “hosts” enforce their control via a caste system and, whenever necessary, brute force.
This is the world that the family of Will (Josh Holloway) and Katie Bowman (Sarah Wayne Callies) have already known for 11 months. Now that Will has a new job with the occupational authority, both he and the viewers are about to witness a much more detailed view of this brave new world. One in which Earth’s new nameless overseers exert an unfathomable amount of control without ever revealing themselves, ever.
That the aliens-who-are-never-called-aliens of Colony were never seen in the pilot was one of the best things about the premiere. Like The Walking Dead‘s refusal to use the word “zombie” or reference its cultural import when discussing or showing the “walkers,” such an otherwise minor linguistic absence helped to elevate Colony‘s story beyond the alien invasion scenario typified by Hollywood blockbusters and hardcore science fiction shows like Falling Skies. Now that the first of Colony‘s nine remaining episodes has arrived, will this still be the case?
“A Brave New World” toys with this conceit in three ways. The first two were first seen in the pilot, but the third presents the audience with a minor, but significant revelation regarding what happens to prisoners who aren’t as lucky as Will. Those poor souls who, after being interrogated and tortured by the authorities, are sent off to a place commonly referred to as “the factory.”
While working his first case, Will tracks down and arrests a wanted fugitive with connections to an IED attack. One of the automated police drones shows up midway trough the arrest, and when Will asks his partner if he’d called it, the latter says no. “They just show up,” he explains. Along with a subsequent shot of the massive metallic wall that surrounds the block, from which the drones disperse at night during curfew, “A Brave New World” emphasizes the hosts’ presence without showing them to the audience directly.
The most suggestive scene, however, comes in the final minutes of the episode when Carlos (Jacob Vargas) and a group of prisoners are en route to the factory. A former colleague of Will’s at the gas station he used to work at, Carlos was arrested by the authorities for his connections to the IED (he was one of the people who helped smuggle Will into the truck). They’re led into a greenish metal room and told to strip naked, then put into a smaller room equipped with air vents and various lights. After enduring what looks like some sort of decontamination process, Carlos and the others don clean room gear (surgical masks, caps, scrubs, coats and gloves) and are last seen walking into a blindingly white light.
Will Colony ever delve any deeper into the nature of its so-called “hosts”? As a point of clarification, we were given the first six episodes for our initial review, and since four of these haven’t aired yet, we don’t want to spoil anything for the viewers at home. That being said, the manner in which Colony handles its extraterrestrial invaders probably isn’t going to change all that much. Or at least we hope it doesn’t change.
The next episode of Colony, “98 Seconds” airs Thursday, Jan. 28 at 10 p.m. ET on the USA Network.