05 “History Rhymes” (Defiance season 3) [SPOILERS]


One of the hardest things for a new show to do is to define itself within itself, rather than purely in reference to other properties. With Defiance, that tends to beFallout meets Farscape, when I’m explaining it to other people.

Which is a long way from a bad analogy, but we’ve reached the point where Defiance really needs to be coming into its own if it’s to get a few more seasons out of the concept.

I mean, I think that it certainly has the legs for it, but it needs to move beyond its initial hook. Given the brutal approach that the third season has taken, I wonder if that isn’t what the writers are doing, preparing for a new stage in the storytelling and the series itself.

Time will tell.

Nolan and Irisa explore uncomfortable aspects of their past, through their link from the stasis pod, whilst Amanda and Yewell try to save them from the arktech in their brains. Meanwhile, Datak and Stahma explore different solutions for their Omec problem. And Alak seizes his chance to escape.

So those oddly persistent cuts on Nolan and Irisa’s heads were important after all. Who knew?

When Amanda and Samir drag the unconscious Nolan back into Defiance, Yewll quickly deduces that there’s a bit of something in his brain that shouldn’t be there. And it’s communicating with something in Irisa’s head. Given that Berlin left her in the snow to die at the end of the last episode, this means a scrabble around for where she’s got to. Luckily there’s a helpful trail of blood, but Berlin sweats for a bit when she hears that Nolan may die if they don’t find her.

When they do, it turns out that the arktech that the stasis pod put in their heads is growing out of control. Yewll needs to cut it out of their heads simultaneously in order to save them, and to do that she has to make a deal with the Omec, with Kindzi, to use one of their drones.

Whilst all of this is going on, Nolan and Irisa get a guided tour of each other’s memories. From Nolan’s childhood, with his sister dying in the Pale Wars, to Nolan teaching Irisa to kill. Coupled with Irisa’s regret over the actions of Arkrise, this has driven a wedge between them. Irisa blames him for making her into a killer.

They decide to separate until Defiance is safe from the VC, as Nolan can’t protect her at the same time as being what he needs to be to save the town. Unfortunately, Yewll held off mentioning that she hadn’t actually removed the arktech, but repaired it. They’ll be fine, but they need to stay within a mile of each other…

Meanwhile, T’evgin is still alive, something which Datak blames alternately on weakness and incompetence from his wife. Stahma is developing a plan of her own, to recruit T’evgin to their side in order to get Alak back from Rahm Tak. Datak just wants to kill him. The marital strife between the pair of them has been a mainstay of the show since the start, and we’re rather used to it now.

T’evgin doesn’t go for Stahma’s suggestion, citing the danger to himself and his daughter as the ‘last’ of their kind. But she doesn’t seem deterred, even going so far as to block an assassination attempt by Datak by standing in the way. In her defence, it was a horribly inept attempt.

It does seem that Rahm Tak’s overtures are starting to reach some of the Votans in Defiance. One of the Tarr’s servant girls seems to find him attractive, and agrees that the humans brought the VC’s wrath on them, by not sharing the planet in the first place. Stahma rightly says that it’s more complicated than that, but the complexity is likely to be lost on most.

Fortunately (Or unfortunately -Ed) the conversation is interrupted by the unlooked for return of Alak. Having seized his opportunity when an arms dealer visited the VC camp, he killed his guard and made an escape in a roller. Except, he’s not there for a happy family reunion — unbeknownst to his parents he watched as his mother was forced to kill Christie, and is out for revenge for his murdered wife.

It feels like we’re back on top of things this episode, then, with a character and emotion heavy episode largely focused on Nolan and Irisa’s relationship. I’ve always liked those two, their odd father-daughter thing a primary element, but often unspoken in the background. I’m less convinced about tearing pieces out of it, but you can’t deny it hasn’t raised the stakes.

The thing is that this series is clearly all about the impending VC attack, and all of the characters manoeuvring around that. With Nolan and Irisa compromised, it manages to make the whole thing even more difficult for the townsfolk.

The idea of a Votan fifth column with Defiance adds another element. It seems unlikely that the town could stand up to attack from without and within, so someone (Amanda? -Ed) will have to rally the people to the cause sooner or later. The outing of Datak and Stahma as having attacked the arch, which will surely be Alak’s next step, offers such an opportunity.

Closing thoughts:

  • It feels fairly deliberate that we only see the back of the arm trader’s head when he arrives at the VC camp. Someone important? Someone familiar?
  • Samir is a vet. A potential successor to Yewll, as town doctor, perhaps?
  • I’m with Irisa; using an Irathient as a dartboard in front of her as a kid was horribly insensitive.
  • That said, the fact that there are two sides to every conflict has become very clear.
  • Kanzi pretty much confirms that the Omec are intending to go back to their old ways, talking of a “dread harvest” to come.
  • Rahm Tak was watching The Little Shop of Horrors!

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