03 “Broken Bough” (Defiance season 3) [SPOILERS]


The third season started, without wanting to include any spoilers, with a bang.

It’s odd that a series which is so good has somehow managed to evade popular awareness so far. It’s perhaps a bit niche, but post-apocalypse has a fairly widespread appeal. And Defiance has (For this viewer at least -Ed) managed to hit the nail pretty precisely on the head.

Maybe the third season will be where it finally breaks into the mainstream?

With the Votanis Collective knocking at the door, Nolan and Irisa do some advance scouting to General Tak’s camp. Tak, meanwhile, learns of Nolan’s presence and hungers for revenge for his actions in the Pale Wars. Back in Defiance, Datak and Stahma get to work as unwilling spies and saboteurs.

So Datak and Stahma have made their return, in typical fashion doing so entirely unsubtly. They smash through the opened security net in a roller, and almost end up riddled with bullets, until Nolan recognises Stahma. Datak is injured, and while a very sulky Yewell treats him the pair spin a tale about escaping the VC, losing track of Alak in the process, and the entire McCawley clan being butchered.

They don’t take long getting back to old way. Yep, back to the bathtub. They argue over who they can trust — Datak trusts the servant girl, Stahma doesn’t — and the situation they’ve ended up in. They earn their keep, though, letting Tak know that Nolan is coming his way.

And getting back to his rusted criminal empire, Datak has brought a truckload of Votan weapons to sell. Berlin catches him, and even when he reminds her that he saved her life from execution by the E-Rep, she still hauls him to jail. There Amanda, still furious that he killed her sister, confronts him. She lets him free, with his promise to loyally serve Defiance. But she appropriates the weapons, which was the plan all along — they’re infested with parasites which destroy the entire armoury.

Stahma also gets to flirt with T’evgin, the Omec, who is apparently still knocking about Defiance. He spins her a story of the Omec arks being sabotaged by the Votans, and that he and his daughter are the last survivors of his race. It’s hard to say how much of it is true, given that we know his ship is stuffed to the brim with sleeping Omecs, but the idea that the Votans could blow the Omec ships up gels with the fear they reacted to T’evgin and Kindzi with.

When he hears from Datak and Stahma that the VC are on their doorstep, Nolan and Irisa head out to scout the enemy camp. Ambushed by the VC, they are saved by the timely intervention of Pilar McCawley, who readers will remember is as mad as a box of frogs. Nolan guesses who she is from the half-Casthi baby and Rafe McCawley’s boots, and after she pulls a gun on him leaves her tied up in her shack.

Reaching the camp, Nolan recognises amongst their arsenal a “net cutter”, which would make short work of the Defiance stasis net. So recon turns into sabotage of their own, as Irisa makes her way into the camp with explosives, whilst Nolan covers her from the high ground. Which is a nice plan, until Pilar turns up and attacks Nolan. His gun goes off, and Irisa is caught.

Apparently Rahm Tak knew Nolan back in the Pale Wars, and knows his reputation first hand. As well as being “No Man”, Nolan is also the Butcher of Yosemite. When Tak catches Irisa, he threatens to fillet her unless Nolan reveals himself. Which, actually, is a pretty poorly thought out plan, given that Nolan shoots his men and only Irisa’s PTSD keeps Tak alive.

The pair blow up the net cutter, and with Nolan having shot Pilar, return to Defiance with the baby. They give the baby to Datak and Stahma, because common sense is running a little short at the moment, and Nolan tells his daughter that he can’t count on her any more. Especially true as an angry and bitter Tak instructs his saboteurs to blow up the St Louis Arch.

This episode was, I felt, a bit slower than the previous two. Having set up the main arcs for this season, it was principally about fleshing them out and making them feel real. Which, in the case of the VC threat, they certainly do.

Tak’s army still feels a little on the rag-tag side, but with the addition of some hardware, and a few Volge, it feels more like a threat. Added to that that the General is not messing around with Datak and Stahma.

It occurs to me that he reason that this can work is down to the characterisation that the series has given the town as an entity, an idea worth saving. That’s some pretty good storytelling, which I do hope it doesn’t stomp all over.

Closing thoughts:

  • Poor Alak. Irisa runs right by him.
  • For a soldier nicknamed “The Beast”, Rahm Tak is overpowered pretty easily.
  • What would Datak have done if Berlin — or Amanda — had let him keep the guns?
  • Stahma isn’t afraid of the Omec, and seems quite well versed in their culture. Contrast that with the presumably lower caste Castithan whose son was killed last episode.
  • Tak says the Yosemite waterfall ran red with the blood of his comrades. But Casti blood is pink, not red.

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