I have so many thoughts and feelings about this episode that I fear this is going to be a really long post.
Warning: There will be SPOILERS.
I guess I might as well get the sad part out of the way first. I have a service that streams live TV and that’s what I was using to watch this episode, and about 1/4 of the way through, the episode stopped playing for at least a minute. When it started again, it appeared that I’d not missed anything. Instead of picking up where the live feed was, it was as if it paused and started later, so the rest of the show I was watching something that was a minute or two delayed from all of the people watching live and tweeting. All kinds of people were tweeting about Charlie before I saw him fall, but I wasn’t watching Twitter that closely so I didn’t see it till after.
When I saw him fall, it was like I was split into 2 people. The right-hand side of my brain was crying and also in denial that he could be dead. I remember thinking, Gracie got hurt — she may even have been shot. I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out for sure, but she was definitely injured. But still able to run. And I kept thinking that the same must be true of Charlie. He was going to get up and go the rest of the way up the hill. Or maybe he’d have to crawl. Or someone would go get him and carry him. But he couldn’t actually be dead.
The left-hand side of my brain was saying Will’s reaction was clear: he could see Charlie died instantly. And then when Katie started freaking out, Will and Bram both stopped her from going down to Charlie and maybe getting herself killed too. They both knew it was futile, she couldn’t save him. So I could tell it was clear he died, even before the scene where Snyder looks under the green tarp.
As a fan, besides missing Charlie and feeling really sad for the whole Bowman family, I think what I’ll miss most is the chance to get to know Charlie better and to see him mature and grow up. We hardly saw Charlie in the first season, and then he was under-utilized in the 2nd season. A lot of what we appreciated about him were the unspoken actions:
- Defiantly and loudly eating the stolen potato chips
- Burning Lindsey’s precious book
- Bouncing the ball to express his disapproval of Lindsey’s teachings
- Saving Gracie from the Red Hand
There are also a couple of “lost” lines that we’ve never seen. Lines that Jacob Buster uttered, that were written in the script for Charlie Bowman, but that were cut and never made it on the air. I found these out from listening to Colony: the Official Podcast.
- In one of the episodes where they’re in the underground bunker, Charlie was supposed to kill a rat in front of Gracie and say something about how “they come at night.”
- In the episode where Homeland officials have secured the Bowman children in their temporary housing, before Katie and Broussard bust in to get them free, Charlie looks out the window and sees Katie and Broussard outside and says, “Mom’s home.”
I feel like fans, as well as Katie, will treasure the last little interaction with his mom as he and Gracie went up the steps to the school, where he could tell there was more going on than the parents were letting on.
Why did he die?
I’ve never been a fan of people who analyze fiction and say a certain character “had” to die to serve the narrative. Gandalf and Dumbledore had to be out of the picture so Frodo and Harry could go on alone without the magical mentor to save them. In this case, I really can’t say that any character “had” to die, but I can see that the show creators are telling us something I didn’t think was true even earlier in this same episode: No one is safe in this world, in this alien-occupied Earth. All of the members of the resistance except for Broussard and Katie died before they got out of LA. Even Noa died, and the other person on the plane with her didn’t even make it all the way to the ground. Amy and Broussard have already, in just two episodes, experienced many losses of people they’ve encountered. The Bowmans got to the resistance camp, only to find that the man Noa mentioned, Broussard’s former associate, is also dead. And while we’re sad about all of these people, to varying degrees, we need to see that even the Bowmans, even the children, are not safe. The stakes are very high.
The show brings up lots of moral questions, and this whole experience with MacGregor’s twisted ideology has really brought this into focus. The question is, what is the right thing to do when your planet is invaded by aliens? Do you . . .
- Fight against them at all costs, even dying to prove the point that Freedom is paramount?
- Accept that innocents will be killed along with collaborators because you believe large destructive events such as bombings gain visibility for your cause and give your group the appearance of strength?
- Kill humans who collaborate because you believe collaboration is as bad as the oppressive and murderous regime of the aliens themselves?
- Keep surviving, and know that while murder is mostly wrong, it’s okay to kill someone who is threatening to do something that could cause you or your family to be arrested, even if your life isn’t threatened?
- Try to survive, but still hold to your moral code: Family is most important, but murder is wrong and I won’t do it unless someone’s pointing a gun at my head or those of my family members?
- Stick to a strong moral code: murder is wrong under any circumstances, turn the other cheek, if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
We’ve seen some deaths on Colony. Deaths at the hands of aliens and humans.
- Phyllis (along with her defenseless invalid husband) was killed by Broussard. He justified it by saying her skills in knowing how to mine the data in the Rolodex would eventually result in the exposure and presumably death of all of the members of the resistance cell.
- Quayle was killed by Will to keep him from spilling the beans and putting Katie in danger.
- The Red Hand members killed “collaborators” though they often did not know or care of the specific level of collaboration that each of their victims was “guilty” of. They also killed, or attempted to kill, family members of collaborators. They killed people lined up, applying for jobs as Red Hats. They tried to kill the entire Bowman family. They killed random people in the Green Zone, many of whom were probably family members of people involved in some level of leadership at Homeland or the Transitional Authority. There’s no evidence Bram knew who the Ambassador was — he just went to the house he was assigned to.
- Devon was killed by the Drone, so we can consider that killing by alien, not a human.
- The drones even kill Grey Hats — we see that outside the Bowman cabin in the first episode of this season. If a drone can know not to kill Will Bowman or Eric Broussard, why would it still kill the Grey Hats? We may never get an answer for that one.
- We’ve seen mercy killings: Broussard killed the boy who was shot in the raid on the food truck in season 1, and Will killed B.B. to save him a painful death from radiation poisoning.
- Broussard killed Eckhard. I guess that can be considered self-defense, because if the gun had been loaded, Eckhard would have killed or attempted to kill Broussard, and he was putting Morgan at risk also, but does that justify murder?
More than just the choices of individuals, we’re faced with evaluating the different methods of resistance:
- Broussard “moonlighted as a Red Hat” to gain inside information, but it doesn’t appear he was able to save anyone while he was undercover. Will tried to look the other way and work against the oppressors from inside Homeland, but he didn’t manage to save Frankie and he almost got found out when he let one of the Red Hand members leave instead of taking him into custody, so it was clear that wouldn’t have lasted too long.
- Quayle’s methods were to kill other resistance cells if they endangered his cell, and to kill people like Phyllis. He promised Katie that Will was off-limits, but I’m not sure he would have kept his word if the choice was Will’s life or Quayle’s.
- The Red Hand killed everyone they thought were collaborators and also their families.
- MacGregor is the worst, though, because he kills people who are firmly on the resistance side but don’t agree with MacGregor’s methods.
I think a big point of this show is to examine where we think the line is. Generally, it seems people are okay with killing bad people, especially when the bad people are not close associates. But Katie was shocked when she realized her intelligence gathering directly resulted in Phyllis being killed, Eckhard’s death was another shocking one, but the most shocking so far was what MacGregor did and planned to do to the Bowmans. His game of Russian roulette could easily have resulted in Bram’s death, and if timing had gone differently, all the of the adult Bowmans would be dead.
Trust and Truth
Really, what it comes down to is who you can trust and how much of the truth you share with someone:
- The Bowmans trusted that this resistance group would be on their side and not betray them. This trust came from what they knew of the group from Noa and the fact that Broussard’s former associate was part of the group. As we can see, that didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped.
- But the Bowmans didn’t tell the whole truth when they met this new group. We see they had good reason to omit some details, but they expected complete transparency on MacGregor’s part, and instead they got the same treatment: information withheld in some cases and outright lies in other cases.
- Broussard is in a similar situation, though he’s hopefully got an advantage because he’s not out-numbered. I believe Amy is withholding something from him, and I’m not sure he’s telling her everything, either, though I am hopeful that the secrets each are keeping are not ones that will have the kind of consequences the Bowmans ran into.
- Snyder is another one who tells tales and steers the truth for his own ends.
What it boils down to is this: you can’t really trust someone who isn’t fully truthful with you, but are you worthy of trust if you aren’t fully truthful with others? We have a lot of liars and partial-truth-tellers on this show. And we also want to know if we can trust the RAPs to tell us the full truth about this war and their purpose on Earth.
So we’re left to wonder what’s the best way to deal with the aliens and their occupation, but in order to make the best choice, we need to know if we can trust what they tell us.
Alien questions and details
I have the following questions about the aliens based on what happened in this episode:
- I’m still wondering if what we’ve been told is correct. We’ve been told a number of times that the RAPs are working to build a defensive grid around Earth, without which the entire planet is supposedly at risk. Snyder is kind of an unreliable narrator and we didn’t get much chance to really question the RAP.
- Let’s assume what we’ve been told is true — why did the humans agree? did those who agreed know what the full consequences would be? did they agree for personal gain or did they really think they were acting in the only way to save Earth and the human race?
- Is there a possibility that we can negotiate a new deal? a deal where Earthlings are not randomly killed and separated from their families and oppressed like they’ve been treated so far?
- Any chance we could make an alliance with the other aliens? we know nothing about them except they seem to be made of flesh instead of machine parts, and they have a fondness for hexagons.
- In this battle between the RAPS and the other aliens, are we bystanders (meaning, they want to defeat the RAPs and we’re just collateral damage) or are they actually fighting for who gets control of Earth?
I have some thoughts about the RAPs:
- I’m thinking if you’re going to travel light years through space, being some kind of machine or consciousness-uploaded-into-a-glowing-sphere would have its advantages over flesh and blood beings.
- I’m wondering why one RAP is so important. Is it just because there aren’t that many of them, or do they each perform a specific function that would be lost if they were destroyed?
I’ve concluded one thing: We spent 2 seasons wanting to know more about the RAPs and why they came here and what they want with us. Now we know more and yet there are more questions. The story is really about how the humans react to the aliens, not a story about the aliens.
What’s next for Snyder?
I can’t believe we’ve seen the last of Snyder, if only because of the excellent portrayal by the actor Peter Jacobson. I think he’s going to be reunited with Helena Goldwyn. I think he realized he wants to be part of the action. He thought he just wanted a comfortable home with every creature comfort, but I bet 6 months spent in the woods, isolated from everything, made him realize he misses the politics involved in leadership. I’m hoping that seeing Charlie’s dead body will help him remember what’s truly important when he’s rubbing shoulders with all the leaders in Switzerland.