Photo: Isabella Vosmikova/USA

Being a fugitive comes with some fundamental new assumptions about daily life. The main one, however, is that you can never again expect the same level of trust from the people you interact with, whether a close friend or a stranger. By definition, your presence puts them in jeopardy, or at the very least complicates their life in ways that aren’t easy to sweep aside. For the Bowmans, this means that the lives they knew before are over. Whether it’s Katie’s sister, the newly reinstated Snyder, or even a man whose only crime is being unlucky enough to work at a security checkpoint in the wall, everyone they’ve dealt with feels the weight of that new status pressing on any possible encounter. Will, Katie, and the rest of their family are no longer just people. They’re walking time bombs, and anybody who sees them doesn’t know when they’ll detonate and bring a world of pain with them.

Advertisement

Colony is shifting into a new arc of its story, and like “Tamam Shud” before it, “The Garden Of Beasts” makes strong work of laying out the new state of affairs. It transforms the covert ops and double lives of the past two seasons’ worth of story into a more streamlined us-vs.-them narrative, albeit sacrificing some of the dramatic tension in making the switch. Whereas before, much of the adrenaline would come from situations that played off both Will’s collaborationist efforts and Katie’s resistance plots, the excitement now comes not from seeing who knows what—at least, not in the Bowman family—but from the outbursts of violence sparked by the plans cooked up between Will, Katie, and Broussard as a unit. The attempt to steal a blackjacks vehicle was efficiently executed, wasting little time drawing out the unspoken conflict between Katie and Maddie, instead pivoting smoothly and with flair to the firefight and subsequent destruction of the truck by a drone weapon.

Nothing much actually happened to advance the main narrative, but when you’ve got Peter Jacobson reasserting the smirking arrogance of Snyder’s authority, there’s less need to push things forward. Snyder’s two main encounters this episode highlighted the two sides of his personality, and shows just how uncertainty of his new position. With Bennett, he’s a casual, confident voice of power—so much so, he bends Will’s former boss to his side with little more than a bemused smile and a patient pause. “I’ve returned from the dead,” he says by way of reestablishing his place in the pecking order, and Bennett falls in line. Conversely, the brief encounter with the intimidating new man running the Global Authority Intelligence unit shows just how uncertain Snyder is regarding the power struggle happening in the bloc. Not only does Alan get the brush-off at the Bowman house, the creepy investigator even questions Snyder’s decision in hiring Will in the first place, the unspoken threat behind that query lingering in the air.

But this is an oppressive and fascistic regime, and it was only a matter of time before they came calling for Maddie. Katie’s sister gets some good scenes in “The Garden Of Beasts,” as the strained emotional core of her relationship with her sibling is finally put to use by Nolan, who hatches the plan to try and trap Broussard and the Bowmans and thereby keep Maddie around. It’s more than a little unnerving when he orders her to follow whatever he says, not just in the moment but “every day” from now on, and yet the show also allows us to see that Nolan really does think he’s doing his part to keep her safe, and them together. That is, until the plan goes to hell and the blackjacks get annihilated in the ambush. Nolan isn’t exactly Captain Backbone, and now that his strategy for keeping Maddie with him backfired, it’s likely just a matter of time until he turns spineless again and gives up his new significant other to save his own skin. Proxy Alcala knows Helena is moving against him, and Nolan seems essential to his plans to shore up his own support.

Advertisement

But let’s talk about Bram, because he’s still the worst, and that’s on a show where you have a guy who takes pleasure in torturing people. The eldest Bowman child is doing a great job of being an absolutely excruciating and obnoxious presence, seemingly having learned no lessons from his time in the labor camp. At the very least, his cluelessness is useful to the resistance. When he pouts about how he’s been treated as the child he so clearly is (“They don’t know me anymore,” the refrain of basically every teenager ever, but made even more odious here), Colony makes it a little too on the nose. Bram’s naiveté and stupidity are clearly meant to make us feel a little sorry when the character is so easily recruited by ”the cardinal” (hello again, Laura Innes), but it’s more a case of hoping she convinces him to become yet another suicide bomber sooner rather than later. I’ll feel bad for Katie and Will, who will be devastated by the death, but if only they knew how irritating their son is, maybe it would help cushion the blow.

The long-term goal of escaping the block promises an even more ambitious story going forward, and would mean an even more radically altered series. That’s not a concern, it’s a hope. Colony has already proven it has the talent and ability to surprise its audience, and now that’s it’s gotten over the mid-season unevenness, the mission to recover the gauntlet and flee is showing ever more potential. With just a bit of luck, the Bowmans won’t be the only people excited for them to flee their current predicament.

Stray observations:

  • Another nice cold open, with the guy from the San Fernando bloc getting taken and placed in one of those creepy pods. Presumably, those are the people in the dossier Broussard saw in the blackjacks’ truck—meaning Will is a candidate for his own mini-fridge.
  • So that Global Authority Intelligence guy is just a straight-up Nazi reference, right? That German accent was maybe a bit much. Still, he had a good line for Maddie here: “You are a convincing liar.”
  • Katie actually got to be funny tonight! Her little aside, when they were waiting for Maddie to betray them, was enjoyable—that’s right Katie, no one will be bothered by you all the way over there.

Advertisement