“Colony” is a drama that takes place in a near future where a mysterious alien invasion has divided the country into walled zones. While the focus is on survival, season three continues to explore the complicated dynamic of the Bowmans, as they decide how much they are willing to sacrifice in their fight against the alien Hosts. With strong performances, an energetic pace and high personal stakes, “Colony” takes the sci-fi thrills to a satisfying level.


The action picks up six months after the Bowmans flee the Los Angeles Bloc with the help of former Proxy Alan Snyder (Peter Jacobson). Still in possession of the gauntlet, an alien communication technology that the resistance thinks could hack the Hosts’ network, Will (Josh Holloway), Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies), their three children and Snyder are living in a remote mountain cabin. It’s peaceful domesticity with an underlying current of restlessness. Katie and son Bram (Alex Neustaedter) feel responsible for those who died for the gauntlet and want to search for a resistance camp. Will wants to remain hidden and safe.


When an alien ship crashes nearby that doesn’t belong to the Hosts, the potential “enemy of my enemy is my friend” twist sets-up a new plot in addition to last season’s cliffhanger when Snyder revealed himself to be secretly working against the Bowmans. Jacobson continues his excellent work as the self-serving and unpredictable Snyder whose hidden signal to those hunting the Bowmans forces them to flee the cabin and go on the run.


Staying true to the series’ pace, the episode one introduction of a spaceship that doesn’t belong to the invading Hosts, along with Snyder as a double agent, is a fast way to propel the action forward. Also effective is quickly establishing Will and Katie’s different points of view. They are more in agreement about their role in the Resistance than they have been in past seasons, but her willingness to fight and his desire to keep a low profile to protect the family remains.


The risk versus safety dynamic is a running theme that the series uses to raise the stakes and one that is helped by Callies and Holloway’s solid depiction of how people fighting for the same goal can take different but equally compelling paths to it. The show makes sure that choices are complicated and actions have consequences. The Bowman’s struggle feels grounded in the real world.


And that’s no small feat in a show about aliens, spaceships and drones that can disintegrate a person. This season promises to reveal more about the world beyond the L.A. Bloc and answer lingering questions about the Hosts. While both should be satisfying after two seasons of slow teases and little explanation, the puzzle of the Hosts’ motivations, even the secret of what they look like, is a central part of the show’s charm. Exploring the human characters’ reactions to an alien takeover rather than the invasion itself gives “Colony” its strongest appeal.


“Colony” is on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT on USA.


— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.