Remember that potential I’ve been talking about in the past few reviews? Well, I think ‘Defiance’ is finally starting to cash in on it.
Gone is the sort of random Human-and-Irathians-now-get-along plot, and here are the plots that the first three episodes were attempting to start but seem to be taking their sweet time getting to, such as “what is that thing that Luke was hiding in his room?” and “who will replace the dead member of the council?”, and none to soon, I might add!
But that’s the frustration of reviewing one episode a week with a new series. It’s hard to see how each episode will play out in the grand scheme of things or if it will at all.
As always, and I think it’s fairly clear when you go around Tumblr and Reddit, the jewels of the show are the Tarr family, and we get bit more of that fascinating dynamic that lays between Datak and his wife Stahma. We also get a lot more of Stahma plotting. Despite the fact that you know she is machinating to get her slumlord husband more power, it’s hard to feel like she’s a bad character, and that’s why she remains to be one of the best parts of the show and will probably continue to do so. Having characters outside good and evil, like the Tarr family, make for a more enjoyable viewing, and I wish there would be a bit more of that for the other characters as well.
Unfortunately in this episode, as much as I love the Tarr family, there is very little of my other favorite character dynamic, Nolan and Irisa, and a lot more of my least favorite character dynamic, the sisters Amanda and Kenya. That being said, though the story about milking people for adrenaline to sell as drugs being somewhat forgettable (Kenya being trapped for that purpose), the way the episode revealed how Kenya and Amanda grew up and how that effected their relationship is gold.
Still, with the adrenaline drug plot in mind, ‘Defiance’ is definitely starting to feel like it doesn’t know what sort of show it wants to be. Does it want to be like the classic sci-fi shows with plots that only exist in one episode, like it sort of has been doing? Or does it want to have an overarching and intricate plot line that ends in easy resolutions? It should surprise you that it seems to be trying to fulfill both requirements, and I wonder if this isn’t related to it also being a video game as well, where you often have missions that are easily resolved that move you along within a greater story arc.
I’m not sure if love that way of story telling yet (though, since I love ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’, it would seem that I should), but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Four episodes is still too soon to judge anything properly.
Even if I wasn’t overly fond of the bottled drug deal plot, I do like a lot of other aspects of this show. The first being how this new world of Earth plays out. This is best evidenced by the baddie driving his ice cream truck, which chimes a merry tune, as he hauls in more people he kidnapped from the town of Defiance in order to scare and then kill so that they can have an adrenaline drug supply. The reality of this was surreal, haunting, and even a little it funny. I like it when a television show confuses me about how I should feel about something. The second is that more intricate plots are starting to emerge, and having Datak Tarr join the town council while Nolan is lawkeeper looks like some very strange bedfellows (or maybe in this case, bath fellows) are going to start popping up. I look forward to that.
Finally, I would like to end this review by commenting on the song used at the end, which is a little known Bob Dylan song, “Scarlet Town”. I’m starting to think if ‘Defiance’ releases a soundtrack, I may be the first in line to buy it. I’ve long thought that Bob Dylan songs are fantastic as long as they aren’t sung by Bob Dylan, and this song is not an exception to that rule (the the original is fairly decent too).
So, all in all, I think ‘Defiance’ is starting to hit it’s stride, and it may not be that foolhardy to think it may be getting better. I’ll be there with the next episode, “The Serpent’s Egg” to see if it does.