Hello Defiance fans,
It gives me great pleasure to be a part of the WHR Defiance team, because I have a feeling that this series will be another notch in the belt that is the new wave of science fiction shows. I know that this series originally started off as a video game, so I was not familiar with the story.
I was however familiar with “Come As you Are” by Nirvana, the ending montage song featured with a nice cover version by Civil Twilight. However, no legal music video was available, so included below is the original 1991 version for your enjoyment.
My knowledge of video games extends to the original Nintendo and Super Mario Bros. I did have an Atari when I was growing up and my fair share of games, but nothing like the ones that are available now. So I was looking at Defiance as a newcomer, someone who had no knowledge of the back story or basis of the origin. So please be easy on me if you are a fan of the video game.
I will admit that when I first saw this show it reminded me of so many others (mainly movies) that came before it. There were elements of Star Wars and Blade Runner, two of the most influential science fiction movies ever. Their influences have been felt in almost every sci fi show (or movie) since and it is great to always have them present.
The one thing I loved right away was the cast that was assembled for this show. One of the actors that I loved seeing back on TV is Fionnula Flanagan, a great character actress who was in one of my favorite shows, Showtime’s Brotherhood. She has always played tough as nails characters and does it beautifully. Another great actor of stage and screen (both big and small) is Graham Greene!
I have ALWAYS been a great admirer of his from the time I saw him in Dances with Wolves, but it was his turn in Thunderheart that really made me a fan. Then there is one of my favorite actors, Tony Curran, who looks a bit like Benjamin Franklin in this series, is like a chameleon when it comes to characters. I often forget that you are watching him because he disappears within the make-up really well. So it is with great pleasure that I partake in this series with these favorite actors of mine…
Just like in the pilot episode which introduced the two different families and established the ties that bind them together, as reluctant as it may be, the two warring families remind me of the feud that the mob families often have with each other.
It is not far off from how society has always been, even though the world has changed it is nice to know that something remain the same. Plus with the romance between Alak Tarr (Jesse Rath) and Christie McCawley (Nicole Muñoz) a dash of Romeo and Juliet is present as well.
The preview for the next episode looks great, It looks like Irisa may be going rogue…joining a band of misfits, I guess we shall see what that decision renders.
Down in the Ground:
Now on with the review… When we last left them, they were in a huge fight with these creatures that were threatening to annihilate everything in their path. A fierce gun battle was waged and our fearless renegades come out triumphant. I love that they have a word shtako which means…well, I will leave it at that. It is cool and I have a feeling that it will become the new phrase just as frak did because of Battlestar Galactica.
I think that it is funny that Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) and Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) are trying to reach Antarctica as the promised land…or in this case their paradise. Considering what we know of Antarctica it just seems like the last place on earth you would want to be. With the world being as it is in that world, I am sure that it could possibly be the paradise that we equate with someplace like Hawaii.
It is of no surprise that the “law” would be taken into the hands of the hands of certain tribes of people and their ways be enforced within the group. No matter how much humans may evolve that remains the same. The right and wrong of what is just and right will always be a line that is toed time and time again. It is societal and you cannot have a society without one. Good does not exist without evil and society cannot exist without its rebels.
I like Grant Bowler, his character reminds me of Indiana Jones meets Rick Deckard (both played brilliantly by Harrison Ford). He has the element of being an outlaw, but know the price it can cost and so he walks that thin line.
The weird thing about my favorite shows and about eighty-five percent of my favorite actors is that they are non-American. Which does not surprise me in the least. Just look at the ones I have already named, they are of foreign extraction. Not to take anything away from the American actors that I do love, I just think that the foreign actors are better trained.
Joshua challenges Datak (Tony Curran) and his religion by proposing that the traitor be cut down and therefore is upsetting the ritual that is part of their liro as Datak reminds him. The traitor does not want to be cut down for he knows that his punishment will be far greater if he survives then if he dies.
Again, this is why I could not help but think of the mafia and the punishments they inflict on their underlings when an order is disobeyed. The shame that is brought to the family or tribe is far greater than the honor. It can never be lived down and will always be a blemish on the hearts of the tribe.
As things get heated the current Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) shows up and assess the situation. Datak reminds her in a not-so-subtle way about the agreement that was struck with the previous Mayor (Fionnula Flanagan) and expects her to honor the same agreement.
Tony Curran is great in this scene, he threatens, but does it in a way that is stern but not menacing. He knows how to get what he wants from the Mayor and she obliges him, but with a warning of her own “keep it confined to the court yard”. She knows that she needs to keep the peace. All the citizens in Defiance have to live together and it would be so much easier and beneficial to everyone if they all just got along.
Amanda then proceeds to try and explain her actions to Jeb, who knows a thing or two about torture (I am assuming, but have a feeling I am right). Amanda has a hard job, especially in a town with a name like Defiance when the very definition means a daring or bold resistance to authority or to any opposing force.
Amanda and Joshua Nolan are both the authorities and it will be interesting to see how they work together as the series unfolds. Joshua has an advantage of course because of his past as a soldier and the horrors he has seen.
Amanda can only assume or at least make the right choices as best as she knows how. The story she tells Jed about what happened in the past to warrant the races to practice their rituals is scary, but necessary for a society to function, albeit a little dysfunctional, but better to have it that way then an all-out war. Societies will never change, there will always be those that are opposed to one thing a certain race/religion does, but we as a society have to either live with it, embrace it or fear it and destroy it. Only time will tell with Defiance, let’s see if it will live up to its name.
Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) is clearly upset by the fact that Jeb was not allowed to stop the torture. She is physically upset that it can be seen on her face. She almost wants to punch Jed for not helping, but she also doesn’t want to risk getting thrown in jail again or worse. Stephanie does a good job of manifesting that rage that people who have experienced that kind of torture in their lives inhibit. She has good body language and it shows.
The scene with Ben (Doulas Nyback) getting woken up rather harshly by a mystery man, gives us a little piece to the puzzle of why the stasis net was meant to be blown up. I am sure as the season progresses we will find out more about that and I am sure it has something to do with the death of McCawley’s son.
Graham Greene plays a great patriarch, he is one of those character actors that always has a very strong presence in everything he does. His resistance of the “olive branch” as his other son Quentin (Justin Rain) points out is justified, at least in his eyes. This is where to Romeo and Juliet aspect come into play here.
The opposition that he has to Christie (Nicole Muñoz) is the same as any father would when faced with the enemy becoming family, he plays it with greatness. His love for his daughter and his stubborn pride will be at odds with each other at times, no doubt, we will just have to see which one wins out.
Quentin’s character is the one that will be of interest I believe, he has that middle child syndrome that has been a part of families for decades. He will have to prove himself now more than ever since he is now the eldest, but still the middle.
His brother could do no wrong in his father’s eyes, when he was indeed the screw up who got himself killed. He also is not the one who held the family together after his mother died, that was his baby sister Christie. His inner conflict and the journey it takes him on will be interesting to watch.
When the mine explosion happens the mayor, Jeb and Irisa head there to see how bad the damage was. Rafe informs them that Ben is behind the explosion and that they need to get in there fast. Jeb is intrigued by the fact that part s of St. Louis still exist underground, which to me is a symbol of hope. That something still could be good in this chaotic world, even if it is underground. St. Louis is the city of the Gateway Arch and the symbolism it holds. Even though the arch itself is crumbling as we will see throughout the series, the strength it holds will never die.
I have a feeling that Jeb and Rafe are alike in more ways than they care to admit. It may be too early to tell, but the actors are doing a great job at conveying a simpatico or sorts, even if it is just a sliver right now.
Stahma Tarr played by Jaime Murray (H.G. Wells of Warehouse 13) is such a fascinating character. She is the wife of a powerful man, but she herself is just as powerful if not more so than her husband. The influence she holds over him will surely be the one thing that will either help or hinder him. I have a feeling that we will see great things from her character.
I see this character toeing the line between right and wrong many, many times. I also have the feeling that she has her own agenda, that she maybe just as capable of brutality as her husband. Powerful woman can be deadlier than men, it is always a treat to see it as well, especially if they are played very well.
The scenes of her in the baths with her husband is incredibly shot. The stark white background along with the half naked body of Jaime was a bit startling, but worked incredibly well. It was a bold move to show that much skin and I have a feeling it will definitely not be the only time we will see her scantily clad. Kudos to Jaime for being brave enough to do it with grace!
I like the scene with the past and present mayors talking about the way things used to be. Fionnula Flanagan always does such a great job at planting seeds into the minds of the younger, less experienced generation. She has the ability to educate but still be mysterious at the same time, she doesn’t want to give away all her trade secrets, if you catch my meaning.
Once we see her with the mystery man that woke Ben up and find out why he is there and what the plan is, I smiled. I knew she was crafty one, again, something that Fionnula plays with greatness. ”I Take no pleasure in this Birch, you know that”…I highly doubt that, Madame, I have a sneaking suspicion you revel in this kind of deception.
We find out that Nolan is a native of St. Louis and Rafe tells him the name of the restaurant that Nolan and his parents used to frequent. It’s a nice scene with two good actors, scenes like this are some of my favorite.
Scenes like that may be small but a lot of times they pack a punch or a reveal that propels the rest of the story or season. It is also nice to see two strong men sit and have a peaceful moment in the midst of the chaos and devastation of what used to be a thriving city.
When Irisa frees the prisoner from the confines of that medieval torture device, she incurs the wrath of not only the spectators, but the elders of the race. She has her own demons she is battling and will soon be battling the ones in her town for now. It’s a bold move to do what she did, but she could not stand by and watch that happen. I am sure that it Tommy (Dewshane Williams) defusing the situation is a relief in some way to Irisa, she would have been killed for sure. I have a feeling that Tommy will be doing his fair share of rescuing Irisa in the episodes to come.
The scene in the café with Christie and Stahma again shows that she has her own agenda, but also that she is a very strong woman as well. She defied he parents and married a man she loved, not one she was promised to.
She tells Christie that she can fight her father if she wants, giving her a chance to be the independent woman she longs for. In most all societies strong woman are few and far between, but when you encounter one, it will be a fight you won’t soon forget.
I like that the creators of the series are giving us strong women who are part of the story and will be able to contribute in ways that will make the journey better. I am looking forward to seeing where Stahma will go and what other strong women will become part of the series.
Nolan defuses the bomb and reminds Rafe that Ben is to be taken alive in order to find out who is behind the attack. Again, I have the feeling that Nolan and Rafe will be having these conversations many times in the episodes to come. I am looking forward to the journey these two characters will be taking together as well as separately.
When Irisa is in the Law keeper’s station her fury has not been quelled, if anything it has become almost doubled. She is angry at Tommy for intervening with her and almost resents the fact that he helped. Datak, of course, wants to take matters into his own hands and get back the criminal and wield his own kind of justice, no matter the consequences.
The standoff in the Law keeper’s office reminded me of the old Westerns from a bygone era where the good guys and bad guys showed each other who were the bigger men. I like that this show has some of those elements in it. I also like how it does harken back to the older sci fi and Westerns that made moral tales for everyone to follow.
The scene of the town coming together as a whole is nice, but I have a feeling that those types of gatherings will be rare. The song “Come as You Are” by Nirvana is fitting and telltale about the citizens that are gathered to pay their respects to the lives lost. The diversity is apparent as well as the blaring differences that are part of that community.
When Rafe finds the map and money hidden in Luke’s drawer, what Ben said just before he died rang true. You can see the stunned look on Rafe’s face as the realization solidified in his hands. Graham has such a wonderfully expressive face.
In the end, the bad prevailed, if at least for the moment. I will be curious to see how justice will be served in the next episode and throughout the remaining ones. It will be a constant fight no doubt between good and evil, but then again isn’t it always?
Well, my defiant friends, thus ended my review. I would love to hear your comments and thoughts about the episode. Looks like this series will be a good one!
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Until next time,