Well, that was a case of one step forward, two steps back underground. Sure, Will, Katie, Broussard, and Morgan got the gauntlet, but at the cost of the pilot’s life. Which is a bit of a problem, considering she was the only one who knew how to make contact with the resistance group outside the wall. Honestly, during the assault on the Red Hand, there’s no reason she should’ve taken the lead. Or, if she’s going to burst into rooms first and potentially be murdered—i.e. exactly what happened—maybe sharing some communication details with our group might’ve been a good idea. That was some poor planning.
But when an action sequence is that thrilling, it goes a long way toward helping the audience overlook a few stupid narrative choices. Even on a show that has historically excelled at firefights, holy hell, that was one impressive tracking shot. Okay, so there’s almost no way it was one unbroken shot (I counted at least two places where subtle cuts were likely inserted: Once on the door to the storage room, right before Karen and the pilot are gunned down, and again in the stairwell following Katie’s acquiring the gauntlet.) Even Hitchcock hid cuts in his tracking-shot masterpiece, Rope. The results are what matter, not the techniques used to get them, and by that standard, this was a bravura sequence, exhilarating and nail-biting in equal measure, especially once it looked as though we might lose Broussard. If you’re going to spare a guy in a no-win scenario, another round of “drones vaporize everyone in sight, save one guy” is a smart tactic.
But while our resistance crew held center position of action, poor Maddie Bowman held the emotional core of “Seppuku,” right in her broken and betrayed heart. This was a great example of how Colony smartly depicts the shifting loyalties and deceptive tactics of the people jockeying for security and power among the authority. Nolan’s sacrifice of his wife was nasty, but also expected. More fun was watching Snyder work his Machiavellian manipulations, going the extra mile to insure that, no matter what Nolan did. he would remain one step behind. As Helena’s assistant admits to Nolan—one of the few honest things he tells the wannabe-Proxy—he doesn’t like being the guy in charge, but the person standing behind the throne? That’s where Snyder excels.
Maddie, following her capture, confession, and redone confession subsequent to Snyder’s visit, gets one last look at her too-brief home, and is then marched out of the Green zone. Despite her occasional foolish behavior, it’s easy to feel sympathy for her in this moment. She had a cause in the Greatest Day, a comfortable life, and a place for her son to feel safe. But after last episode’s brutal massacre of women and children, her son has been sent away, with no clue of what has happened to his Mom. (Hopefully, Hudson is just playing Xbox somewhere, blissfully ignorant of all this.) And through everything, Maddie remained loyal to her family, or at least as loyal as she could be, under the circumstances. She’s lost her family and lot in life; there’s nothing to return to. Her disillusionment is complete once Snyder tells her the promises the aliens made about the Greatest Day are lies. That doesn’t just shatter her belief system—it leaves her faced with the awful reality of her behavior with Nolan. Her duplicitous boyfriend said it best: When it comes to belief in the Greatest Day, “You have to; otherwise, how could we live with ourselves?” How, indeed, Nolan.
Perhaps the most unusual element of the episode was the opening segment with Broussard, working as a private security force soldier in Iraq back in 2014. We learn that the ex-soldier left the army because he couldn’t justify his participation. But the private forces are arguably worse. They don’t even want to hear the truth, they just want to make a buck, and get in and out quietly. While this gives us a bit more background on the mysterious resistance fighter, it didn’t play into many of his choices in “Seppuku,” at least not in any obvious way. It felt more like the show wanted to continue dribbling out details of his life, and decided randomly they could fit it in here.
But if that was a bit haphazard, everything else came together nicely. The parlay with Karen in the open field was a great way to confirm they needed to take the fight to the Red Hand, as was Broussard’s characterization of Karen as a lunatic who is going to get everyone killed. (No, just herself, it turns out.) Watching Will transform into someone comfortable storming a resistance stronghold and kill all the people within is a sharp progression of the character, and I can’t imagine he’ll sleep easy following this attack. The Bowmans need to get out of the L.A. bloc—and thanks to an unfortunate phone call to Helena, we now know that needs to happen even sooner than they think.
- The machinations with Proxy Alkala were great fun tonight, as the dealing and double-dealing eventually ended with the sleazy pol remaining as a figurehead. Too bad none of that will matter soon, now that the entire bloc is scheduled for rendition. Poor Snyder—after all that work, too.
- Will flat-out telling Bram “I don’t believe you” was a great moment. Wonder what their dumb kid will do once he realizes his parents took out the leaders of his fanatical faction.
- If the pilot (R.I.P.) is to be believed, they have a rap on the side of the resistance! That’s a big development if true, albeit one reminiscent of a similar humans-vs.-occupying-aliens story that happened on Falling Skies.
- So both Broussard and Will are on a special list that keeps them from being vaporized by drones. I hope we don’t end this season next week with no advancement of that story. There’s a lot of potential places this could go, but the deepening mystery of what the aliens want with Will and the other selected people is arguably the most compelling.