So I’m liking this season of Defiance.
It’s very different in tone to the previous offerings, lacking the impenetrable mystery of the whole Irzu saga, but having a very clear trajectory. It’s a refreshing change, showing a capacity for risk, and a bit more faith in the basic premise of its storyline, now established after two seasons.
As ever, it’s not perfect, but it’s making a real effort to plough more than just the “same old” storyline. It’s also showing a confidence in its cast and the characters they have developed which goes beyond most examples with its still inexplicably understated profile can pull off.
It is on a knife-edge, though. Brave is good, but brave can also go wrong. And we still have half a season for it to all go tits up.
After being tried by his fellow townsfolk, Datak Tarr awaits his fate. Amanda and Nolan put together and arm a militia to defend Defiance against the impending Votanis Collective attack. And Rahm Tak puts his plan of attack into action.
Am I the only one a little surprised that Defiance didn’t already have a militia? I mean, they’re out on the frontier, exposed to attack by whoever, and have been on their own since the E-Rep pulled out. A militia seems to be exactly what Defiance needs.
Weapons, though, are their first requirement, else any militia will just be chucking rocks at Rahm Tak. In the last episode, Amanda and Berlin decided to lure weapons dealer Konrad Von Bach — the same mystery bloke who sold weapons to the VC — to the town under pretence of having money. He’s Berlin’s old boyfriend, and they hope they can negotiate him down to something they can afford.
But he offers them the weapons as a gift. In exchange for Berlin. Sort of. The two chat it out, and apparently each thinks the other one left them, orchestrated by Konrad’s mother. Berlin is carrying a lot of damage over Tommy, but when Konrad asks her to come west with him, she accepts willingly. Amanda feels betrayed, but Nolan doesn’t have time to worry.
Because Nolan has to train a rag-tag bunch of Defiance citizens in to an army able to actually use Von Back’s weapons. A few come forward, include a crackshot Irathient, but questions are quickly asked about why Irisa isn’t training alongside them.
And she tries. She really does, picking up her gun and firing at the target range. But she’s really not okay, hallucinating Tommy in the path of her bullets, and craddling a body which isn’t there in full view of the militia. Nolan recovers it well, considering, as Amanda leads her away, rallying Defiance to defend the town.
Datak, meanwhile, opens the episode on trial for treason. Of which, naturally, he is convicted. Can we talk about crime and justice in Defiance, for a moment? So, the punishment for treason is hanging. I’m deeply uncomfortable that a town built on the idea of laying down weapons has the death penalty for…well, for anything.
But there we go. Datak gets to die. And it’s a strange thing to see, Datak without (Apparent -Ed) hope of escape He begs his son to persuade Amanda, not to let him live, but to let him die the Castithan way. Which means on a shaming rack, being pulled apart by weights. Amanda allows it, and as Datak is tied up, Alak shows Luc to his grandfather, and tells him that Datak is not without honour, even with his flaws.
In the VC camp, Rahm Tak’s plan has begun. In a nutshell, it involves drilling under the town to attack from below. With Indogene Lieutenant Bebe regrowing his human exo-skin, presumably for some manner of infiltration mission. The VC break through, behind the stasis, and a poor Liberata finds themself on the receiving end of Bebe’s bullet.
And finally, we have poor Stahma. T’evgin binds up her wounds, but Kandzi is none too pleased. She taunts the injured Castithan, and tries to kill her, only to be thwarted and humiliated by her father. Of course that doesn’t stop her from trying again, this time force-feeding her something which suddenly takes her onto some sort of spaceship, in orbit of earth.
We’re getting there. Bit by bit, piece by piece. I quite liked the preparations for the militia, and the dynamics of the town preparing for war. And I liked Datak’s scenes. The VC bits and Stahma’s scenes slowed it down though. The latter might be going somewhere, but the former really could have done with limiting to the VC’s arrival.
So it was a little unbalanced, but the heavy weight of stakes are already dangling over the series, and it seems easier to invest in the storyline emotionally. Which is no bad thing.
- We don’t see Datak die. And Defiance isn’t shy about showing us characters die. I’m just saying.
- Is Stahma hallucinating? Has she actually been transported somewhere? Is it the Omec ship? Frankly, with this show, who the hell knows.
- I don’t trust Konrad Von Bach.
- Of the Irathient father and son, one will not survive the battle. My money is on the son.