This show continues with more of the excellent background foundation of this show – the constant reminder of privation without going all out to make people starving. It underpins the general belief of many of the characters – they can exist like this. Really that strengthens the whole storyline of the collaborators – not just the idea that they’re evil or have sold out or are greedy (which seems to be something Snyder was presented as), but because they CAN exist like this.
Will has his new job hunting down the Resistance for the Authority – and though he has a great deal of power in this new role, he’s not the boss. That belongs to Phylis, a lady he suspects is ex-CIA or something similar. So, head enforcer, she’s got to be an evil collaborator? Nope, again with praise from me for not going down that simplistic route, Phylis makes it clear she doesn’t expect Will to like what he’s doing. I don’t even think she does. But a) she’s sensible enough to point Will at objectively objectionable targets (not a rebel, but a man who was paid by the rebels to plant a bomb) b) she’s not a fan of terrorism with collateral damage and, ultimately, c) she doesn’t think they can win
She tells us that in The Arrival the mysterious forces that invaded (we still only see their drones) took out all their defences in 8 hours. Part of the reason the authority is struggling is because they purged all police and military – which is why Will was in such demand. If they can do that against Earth at its peak then she doesn’t have much faith in the rebels. She has a point and a legitimate fear of them making it worse.
Will’s own motivation is less widespread. The authority have promised him help to find his lost son if he co-operates. He doesn’t really intend to change the system or freeing anyone or anything else – he wants his son. This means he actually pursues his job with drive, unlike his new sidekick Beau (ok, look, I can see why any cop here wouldn’t want to assiduously pursuing his job since it is literally selling out humanity, but there’s still a stark contract between the Black sidekick’s slacker ways and Will, the white protagonist’s skill and drive).
Kate, Will’s wife, may also be driven to find her son but she’s also part of the resistance. In her words, she can’t imagine telling her children she did nothing against the occupation. Being married to Will who is now in the loop means she can feed some useful information to the Resistance, both following Will’s investigation which may expose them and letting them know when places are going to be raided - though the response to that is to murder the resistance fighters…
Which is where we get to the Resistance and another position. If Will is all “I’m going this for my son,” and Kate stands on “we need to build a better future for my kids and all people”, the Resistance is “whatever it takes, whatever the losses!” Again, not beyond understanding given how against the wall they are – but this ruthlessness also makes for uncomfortable choices
Which brings the conflict. Carlos, who helped Will try to sneak out last episode, has been captured by the Authority. He has Views about Will helping them – basically that for the sake of Will’s family he’s selling out everyone else’s. He’s not wrong, really – and it skewers the selfishness of Will’s choice (even if it’s a choice that no-one else would make). Carlo’s wife and son were not captured – and they need hiding. Kate steps up – but the Resistance doesn’t. Being very much bigger picture, saving a woman or a child is not on their agenda. Again (and I’m, going to say this a lot because it’s kind of the whole motto of this – every faction here kind of has a point) it’s understandable. But it’s also kind of brutal that a movement trying to save humanity from the oppression of the occupation can’t spare resources to save two people from the occupation.
Eventually this leaves Kate and Will to make their own arrangement to try and save Teresa and her son themselves. But even their united front is somewhat shaky because she is using him for information to help the Resistance while he is trying to help the Authority take down the Resistance – and both of them are doing this for their son.
With all this complexity it seems almost out of place with the Authority seeming to have outright concentration camps for the Resistance. I can’t help but think an ill-defined unknown fate of the “Factory” would be more in keeping – but I think it’s there to establish the STAKES of this show. This is why the collaborators collaborate. This is why the Resistance resists.
We have a separate little storyline which feels a little orphaned at the moment – Kate’s sister Maddy. She and her son are staying with Kate and Will since they were separated from her husband during the Occupation. She meets George, an Occupation semi-big-wig at a party (she’s a waitress) and they rekindle and old friendship (and have sex). But she’s not building a relationship with him, no matter how many shiny luxuries he tries to bribe her with, because she refuses to be hidden away as a shameful secret (since she’s not a Posh Collaborator Authority Person). I think this is setting up future conflict
I think if the first episode introduced the characters and world, this episode introduced the theme of the series. Several factions which are generally not evil and not perfect. All of them have a point. All of them are doing their best with, pretty much, terrible situations. You can’t really point to any of them and say “you’re utterly wrong, how dare you!” but nor can you really point to any of them and say “these are the ones I’m routing for!” It’s complex and nuanced which I kind of appreciate.