During the opening scene of “98 Seconds,” the third episode of Colony, Katie Bowman (Sarah Wayne Callies) tries proving her physical worth as a member of a rebellious cell. Along with Broussard (Tory Kittles) and a handful of other resistance members, she raids a food truck making its way through one of the more dangerous parts of the block. Katie performs her duties without too much difficulty, but the operation results in a skirmish with occupational forces, the local community and the autonomous drones that police the colony. The resulting encounter leaves dozens dead — including an injured member of the cell Broussard executes so that the authorities cannot torture and question him. It also proves just how good Callies is at playing a character forced into an intensely conflicted position.
This sequence tries to accomplish a lot in just a few minutes. It wants to remind viewers that the hardships faced by everyone in the colony are very real — limited food and supplies, oppressive “red hats” who ensure everyone’s safety via martial law, and the colonists themselves. Not to mention the fact that, since the ominous “arrival” all the characters keep referencing, the planet has been taken over by alien “hosts.” Yet the scene’s most significant moments fall to Katie, a mother of two present children and a missing one, and wife to a husband, Will Bowman (Josh Holloway), who works for the occupational government. Torn between resistance and collaboration, her position in this scenario has become quite precarious — especially after almost being caught without her disguise during the raid’s most violent moments.
Aside from the one dead rebel, everyone in Broussard’s group escapes the situation without issue. The cell has achieved its primary mission by determining how long it took for the alien drones to arrive on the scene, followed by additional troops and governmental personnel — 98 seconds. Throughout the ordeal, Katie kept several stopwatches going per occasional commands from Broussard. With data presumably gathered from previous incidents, the resistance settles on an average response time of 98 seconds. Why? As best as Katie and the audience can gather, the knowledge is needed for another operation. Though none of that really matters now.
What matters is, despite assurances given by Quayle (Paul Guilfoyle), Katie has become increasingly worried for Will’s position in this mess. After all, he only joined the task force assigned with discovering and dismantling their rebellion because he had to. Will was caught trying to sneak out of the colony in the first episode, and instead of being sent to “the factory” with his family, he took the authorities’ offer to work for them. Besides, the conniving government official Alan Snyder (Peter Jacobson) promised he could return their missing son to them.
Unfortunately, Will is so good at his job that Quayle and Broussard are getting nervous. They need Katie to give them more pertinent information about what Will knows, what cases he’s working on and who he’s working with. Such information is vital to protecting the group from exposure and arrest, but only when they receive it with enough lead time. Katie successfully snitched on Will’s maneuverings in the pilot and “A Brave New World,” but after he and his partner raid the resistance’s armory and confiscate most of their weapons, her position as a double agent of sorts becomes less clear. Is the possibility of finding her son worth collaborating with the enemy? Or are the horrors enacted by the alien-supported government too much to let be?
Katie’s vocal and silent struggles are the loudest, most attention-grabbing parts of “98 Seconds,” and Callies excels throughout. Whether her character is trying to help a fallen rebel, or struggling to clean his blood off her hands, the actress somehow takes material depicting impossibly terrible situations and manages to bring it to life. Carlton Cuse and Ryan Condal’s script still suffers at times from stilted dialogue and an overabundance of plot, but the third episode suffers less from these maladies than its predecessors. All the setup a show like Colony thinks necessary is nearly complete, and cast members like Callies are finally being given opportunities to excel beyond line after line of exposition.
The next episode of Colony, “Blind Spot” airs Thursday, Feb. 4 at 10 p.m. ET on the USA Network.