Joshua Nolan - Grant Bowler
Amanda Rosewater - Julie Benz
Irisa Nyira - Stephanie Leonidas
Rafe McCawley - Graham Greene
Kenya Rosewater - Mia Kirshner
Datak Tarr - Tony Curran
Stahma Tarr - Jaime Murray
OTHER DEFIANCE SEASONS
OTHER ALIENS AMONGST US SHOWS
Years after alien arks landed on Earth and started the alien wars, Joshua Nolan and his alien 'daughter' Irisa scavenge in the wastelands. Their latest close escape brings them to the town of Defiance where Nolan gets the job of lawkeeper just in time to learn of a planned attack on the town.
DEFIANCE is a western with aliens. It makes absolutely no attempt to hide this fact and borrows from so many real westerns as to be shameless. The drifter who comes into town and finds himself in the job of sheriff, knocking off the town madame to boot - it's every cliché of the western genre in one feature length pilot.
And it's not just westerns that get pillaged either. The most obvious steal is the Romeo and Juliet subplot between the younger members of the rival families in town.
That said, it moves along at a fair clip, not allowing time for the clunky dialogue, obvious plotting and occasionally less than perfect acting to get in the way. Grant Bowler isn't the most convincing lead actor ever, but Stephanie Leonidas is great as the sidekick and there are the reliable presences of Julie Benz, Graham Greene, Jaime Murray (in full alien makeup) and Mia Kirshner to make sure that things never go completely off the rails.
The world of DEFIANCE has possibilities with the melting pot of aliens leading to all kinds of possibilities, but it remains to be seen whether this can be woven into a mythology as great as Rockne S O'Bannon's other project FARSCAPE.Top
Down In The Ground Where The Dead Men Go
Irisa can't deal with an alien torture ceremony and Nolan must find a resurrected saboteur who still wants to see Defiance destroyed.
Defiance is built atop a nuclear reactor that could destroy the whole place in minutes. That's just one of the ridiculous concepts that the show posits in this rather dull story that again mines the western genre for such old-fashioned moments as the jailhouse being beseiged by angry townsfolk wanting revenge on the criminal. If this is the best that the show is going to come up with then interest will wane rapidly.Top
The Devil In The Dark
Someone is using hellbugs to kill people. Nolan uses Irisa's latent telepathic abilities to track down the killer and finds a few more bugs than he bargained for.
Focusing in on Irisa and her alien nature makes this a much more interesting episode than what has gone before. Sure the flashbacks to settlers being killed by frontiersmen are borrowed from a million westerns, but the scenes in which Irisa struggles with her new gift and the importance that this gives her in her race is more interesting by far.
The hellbugs are less than impressive CGI creations (though their arrival in the brothel is certainly spectacular), but they are masterpieces compared to the truly terrible queen bug in the mines.Top
A Well-Respected Man
The Mayor's sister is taken prisoner to have her adrenal glands drained. Datak Tarr could help find her, but he refuses because of his pride.
It apparently takes ten hours to drain one adrenal gland of all its useful fluid for the drug that the Bio-men use as a natural alternative to their body-building steroids. That would suggest that the adrenal gland is a lot bigger than medical science suggests.
Actually, it's the flashback to Amanda and Kenya as children that makes this more watchable, despite the point being made having to be hammered home with all the subtlety of a supernova.
This is another very average episode. Watchable, but not much more.Top
The Serpent's Egg
Irisa discovers a man who tortured her when she was young. Nolan and Amanda find themselves in the middle of a hijack.
DEFIANCE continues to trot out recycled storylines in a manner that just manages to stay the right side of entertaining.
Of the two in play here, Irisa's tale is the more interesting, despite the fact that it couldn't be more predictable if it tried. The question of whether the man she takes prisoner is really her torturer is never in doubt and so each twist and turn of her 'interrogation' is deeply predictable. It is, however, sincerely played and both lit and directed in interesting fashion, breathing new life into an overdone story. Having the flashbacks reveal how Nolan and Irisa came together was also a nice touch.
Nolan and Amanda's story on the last stagecoach out of Dodge getting robbed is also a tired, tired trope in westerns and having an alien and a woman with two husbands in the middle of it doesn't make it feel any fresher.
Irisa is rapidly becoming the star character in the show, but one interesting backstory does not a TV series make.Top
Brothers In Arms
An old army pal of Nolan's comes to Defiance in search of a war criminal, but just how far would he be willing to go to get the bad guy?
What does it take to make a good man go bad. Can a bad man be redeemed. Could anyone care when the storyline trotted out is as trite and hackneyed as this? Every twist could be seen coming a mile away, even the ones that cause characters to act like totally different people from one scene to the next.
Only the fate of the arms maker made any sense whatsoever and moved a character forward. Tedious, dull, uninteresting. When is DEFIANCE going to get as good as its setting?Top
Good Bye Blue Sky
When an ark crashes from orbit, it comes as razor rain, showers of deadly shrapnel. Irisa has a vision that her mentor is dead, and he is for a while, but is the resurrection a good or a bad thing?
At last, an original storyline. The idea of the razor rain is a good one and an episode that concentrated on that would have been fascinating, but instead we get some alien religion mumbo-jumbo that is as predictable as it is unconvincing. And the final explanation for the resurrection is even more silly.
The ongoing side stories of the ex-mayor and the artefact and the romeo and juliet story add nothing and the brothel keeper getting down with Datak Tarr's wife may reap benefits in later episodes but just seems gratuitous here.Top
I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
In the fallen ark that nearly wiped out Defiance, Nolan finds a cryogenically-preserved NASA hero who disappeared years earlier. The man suffers serious culture shock, but that's nothing to the shock the Mayor feels when he tries to strangle her.
The 'man out of time' storyline has been done and done and done some more and so there is nothing but a sad sense of familiarity about this episode. Or the first half, at least, because about halfway through the story changes course and turns into a completely different, but still horribly overused science fiction staple.
Jaime Murray's alien wife character continues to be impressive in the ongoing subplot with the brothel keeper, but none of the others is even remotely interesting.Top
If I Ever Leave This World Alive
A plague comes to Defiance and divisions arise as alien races prove to be immune, or carriers. As concentration camps are set up, human authorities and alien individuals use the crisis to their own advantage.
The rising tension of the situation being played out in this episode should have made for compelling viewing, but the visual flourishes of the direction continually overegged the pudding, hammering home the points it was trying to make about how intolerance can flourish in troubled times.
But so can individuals and Datak Tarr is revealed to be both fearful and ruthless. The Mayor falling prey to the illness is predictable, but Tarr's resolution of the situation is not, even though it brings about the death of one of the more interesting minor characters.
There's a bit more originality to the tropes being trotted out and the shifting alliances are starting to be interesting, but the show still has a long way to go before it starts to realise its potential.Top
The Bride Wore Black
An interspecies wedding is put at risk when a corpse shows up in the walls of the town brothel.
Who would have thought that a corpse in a wall could lead to a story as stormingly dull as the one played out in this episode. Who killed him? Well it might have been Miss Scarlet in the dining room with the rope, but eveyrone else seems to have had the motive and the opportunity. This is plotting by the numbers and is barely enough to stay awake for.
The politics and emotional wrangling around the wedding are even more tedious than the main storyline.Top
Past Is Prologue
With the mayoral election looming, Datak Tarr sets into motion a plan to destroy the mayor through her connection with Nolan and the killing of an innocent boy.
It has taken until the penultimate episode, but DEFIANCE finally comes alive in this episode where plotlines start to come together and characters start to take on a little depth. The main storyline is the plot against the mayor and Nolan by Datak Tarr and it will be interesting to see how that pans out.
Irisa's storyline also takes a turn for the very wierd as the shady doctor alien awakens a parasite within her and she starts to see things and wanders off into the woods with her back sliced open. This is the first alien plotline that has actually been intriguing.
Stahma's relationship with Datak is given some true alien depth in a telling scene that allows Jaime Murray to shine, but the plot all hangs on a thread that seems easy enough to pull, for either side.
Next week is the season finale and, probably for the first time since the pilot, this is something to really look forward to.Top
Everything Is Broken
It's Election Day and things are about to get ugly as the Earth Alliance go after Irisa and Nolan determines to do whatever it takes to get her back alive.
It's the season finale of DEFIANCE and there was never any chance that things were going to get wrapped up nicely, especially since the show had already been renewed for Season 2. The things in Irisa are finally explained - sort of, and there's some shooting going on, leading to a surprisingly ballsy move, but one that everyone wimps out on pretty quickly. It's a huge special effects mumbo jumbo 'we don't have to explain it because it's religious' ending that is certainly not satisfying.
Interestingly, the mayor is completely sidelined in this big finale. Stahma gets to be even more devious than ever, mainly through necessity, though the likely outcome of that storyline isn't so very hard to see.
Considering how great Past Is Prologue was, this is something of a disappointment, but it manages to just about stay on the rails long enough to make another season a not displeasing prospect.Top
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