What’s most significant about “Ronin,” the title of the second-season finale of Colony, is that it’s a sobriquet that could arguably be applied to each of the characters for different reasons. It refers to a wandering samurai, one who has lost their master, either through the death or fall of their lord or by falling out of favor with them. And as the hijacked security car travels down the road into no man’s land, any of the people we’ve focused on is potentially ronin—or maybe everyone. Will, the former FBI agent, lost his real master long ago, but pretended to be serving the Global Authority for as long as he could. Katie, the former bar owner, is finally living outside the law that always held her back and kept her scared. Snyder has seemingly betrayed his employers for the sake of siding with the morally right—only, he’s triggered the homing beacon in his pocket, so perhaps he’s the ronin loaning out his services to whoever will pay the fee. Bram’s entire resistance group was executed, leaving him rudderless save for his family. And the kids…okay, it’s probably not the kids.

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Despite a climactic showdown that played as far too pat, and a first half that was little more than an excuse to kill off Morgan and send everyone rushing to the finish line, the conclusion of this dystopian near-future’s second year included some reminders of why most of the previous 12 episodes have made for such smart and consistently strong television. Chief among these is a brief flash of Toby Huss’ malevolent agent Burke, seen here recuperating from the stab wound given him by Will at the end of “Tamam Shud.” He’s singing a song with his daughter, sharing smiles with his family, and for a brief glimpse, we see the happy family man he told Will he always was, when not doing his job in the most evil way possible. Similarly, Helena, the frustrated and stymied Governor-General, invites Snyder to join her at the Global Authority in Europe—but not before personally making sure his daughter would be on the exemption list for rendition to the factory. It’s one of Colony’s smartest storytelling gambits: No one thinks they’re a bad person, especially not those convinced they’re simply playing the best cards possible with the difficult hand they were dealt. Collaborators see themselves as the ones keeping hope alive, not stifling it.

But with the encroaching total rendition of the Los Angeles bloc comes some hard and fast choices that get made, and some of them pose potentially unfortunate narrative closures. Broussard stays behind in order to continue making life difficult for the Occupation Authority, but it’s unclear if he’s just doing this because the loss of Morgan has finished off whatever survival instincts he may have possessed until now. (Either that, or not being vaporized by the drones last episode left him feeling a bit invulnerable.) It’s possible this is just a temporary goodbye, as the activation of Snyder’s homing device means Will and company could be back in the bloc and scheduled for the factory ASAP, but it’s equally likely Broussard won’t be back, at least for awhile. His increasing integration into the Bowman clan moved him from “intriguing” to “compelling” this season, and it would be a shame to see him disappear.

Similarly, I’m hoping Maddie’s foolish choice to head to a Greatest Day outpost, only to be bused off to a factory shipping site, doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of her. The solitary sibling of Katie has been a fascinating wild card of late, her attachment to her family making for rich conflict with Nolan and the rest of her Greatest Day elites. (Nolan, you deserved to go; sorry, Adrian Pasdar.) The moments with her in this installment were among the most potent, simply because it allowed Colony to become something different—a meditation on tragedy, and what it means to feel like you’re out of options. There have been plenty of times Will and Katie felt the same way, but it’s never been quite as true: They’ve always had each other to depend on, as well as the kids, and when you have family surrounding you like that, you’re never completely deprived of choices. (The closest anyone’s come to it is when Katie started to collapse during Will’s absence, another sharp narrative.) But Maddie is truly alone, and the haunted look in her eyes as she sees the ships descend on the bloc communicates as much as an entire season’s worth of her exasperated harangues of her sister and Nolan. It’s a beautiful moment on a show often better suited to tense ones.

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The L.A. bloc is screwed. The moment Blackjacks started executing the red hats in front of people at the arraignment center, all hopes for some sort of peaceful resolution ended. Honestly, for a brief moment there, I thought Snyder’s attempt to broker a deal with Will in exchange for the gauntlet would mean a stay of execution for the “total rendition” order. Unfortunately, Snyder’s affection for the Bowmans has waned, if he’s willing to sacrifice them in order to get some unknown reward in exchange for turning them and the gauntlet in to the Commander. (And if Snyder couldn’t tell how not reassuring that guy’s promise the former Proxy would “never have to work again” was, his own avarice is finally blinding him to common sense, as well.) Things seem bleak for our heroes.

But that opening scene—that was something viewers have waited a long time to see. And, like everything else involving these aliens, it both answered smaller questions while leaving bigger ones even more uncertain. It appears some strange metallic ball that emits orange light is the key to the hosts’ “bodies.” Without them, those suits might just be composed of metal and tech. But it doesn’t get us any closer to knowing if the aliens are some evil species, or if a cabal of people has co-opted these advanced sciences somehow. Obviously, some group far beyond normal human capacity is in charge—the scientist’s fear that, if they fail to get the host back online, “they’ll probably nuke us from space,” is evidence enough of that—but the season ends with as maddeningly few answers about the overlords as it began. Outside of the wrinkle that Will and Broussard are both on a list of people spared by the drones, nothing was advanced in the macro-story this year. Hopefully, season three will bring more answers—it’s time to start getting serious about just what is happening on Earth, by whom, and for what purposes. Like Will and Katie Bowman, we can’t make the right decisions until we’ve got enough information. For now, though, this second-season arc was ample reason to continue watching.

Stray observations:

  • Let’s all give thanks the show was just renewed for season three—this would’ve been an immensely frustrating end to the series.
  • Peter Jacobson Is Delightful, Example #94: That startled, “Jesus Christ!” when Snyder sees Broussard walking up behind him. Consistently being the most sardonic and low-key person in the room really makes that kind of outburst shine, in the best possible way.
  • Finding a place to hide out for a few hours brought one last glimpse of Old Religious Sage we never really knew, nor cared about, tonight. Won’t miss him.
  • That shot of Broussard, cradling Morgan’s body, was affecting. R.I.P. Morgan.
  • Honestly, the most irritating thing about Snyder’s selling out the Bowmans is that Bram will get to say, “See? I was right!” Ugh, Bram. Let’s hope that character undergoes a radical personality shift next time we see him—possibly of the sort teased by his lying and brutality exhibited during the Red Hand’s assault.
  • Thanks for reading, everyone. It’s been fun writing and thinking about this smart little show with all of you. Hopefully, more folks will discover it before next season, and this series won’t fly quite so far under the radar.

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