10 “When Twilight Dims the Sky Above” (Defiance season 3) [SPOILERS]


defiance

Good science fiction should be aware of the world it inhabits.

I mean that both in terms of the fictional world which the story weaves around itself, and the real world in which the story inhabits. There is always analogy wrapped in meaning, with at the very centre a kernel of truth. Otherwise what’s the point?

Defiance does itself a great service by trying to tackle a number of important themes, and despite still being a relative unknown, is earning its place in SF history.

Yes, I’m going to keep going on about the fact nobody but me seems to be watching this show until that fact changes, Goddamnit!

With Rahm Tak and his death squad vanquished, the Votanis Collective extend the hand of friendship towards Defiance, with an unexpected emissary. But Nolan is still suffering from the after-effects of the battle, with his grasp on reality fraying. Meanwhile, even with Kindzi returned to the ship in orbit, T’evgin finds his plans are not straightforward.

So, I predicted that the Votanis Collective would not be eager to ride to Defiance, and I was wrong. It’s not to finish what Rahm Tak started, though. Vice-Chancellor Vosk — one of the senior political leaders of the VC (And those paying attention may remember she was the one who ordered Rahm back to Brasilia -Ed)┬áis rather grateful for their having rid her of Tak, especially after what he did to his wife, who was the Vizier’s niece. She wants to offer Amanda a protection pact, in exchange for helping her negotiate some sort of peace with the Omec.

Now, on paper this is win-win. After what seems like the near withdrawal of the Earth Republic from the region, Defiance could use a friend. And with the VC being the only real enemy they have, it would mean safety. From Vosk’s perspective, she’s somewhat isolated in the VC in terms of wanting peaceful co-existence with humanity; a trade deal for gulanite would be a big win for her.

And as far as T’evgin is concerned, he wants peace. He moots a plan, with Stahma, to settle his people in Australia, where they will be isolated from both humanity and the VC. So convincing him not to basically eat everyone, as Vosk hopes to, should be easy enough. He wants Stahma to go with him, too, though she is reluctant.

When a familiar face walks into to Defiance, alongside the VC delegation, she of course decides to stay. Yep, Datak Tarr is back from the not-quite-dead. And the VC have given him a shiny new bionic arm. Of course, he told them that he’d be received as a hero, which was a bit of an exaggeration, but we wouldn’t expect anything less from Datak.

So T’evgin is persuaded to come to a reception for Vosk, with Stahma as his date. All should be easy? But for Kindzi and Nolan.

Kindzi, of course, we left in stasis back on the Omec. Given that she had “main character” status, she was hardly going to stay there for too long. And with Doc Yewll basically her slave, nobody should have been surprised to see her walking into Vosk’s party. Except her father, apparently. There are some subtle threats traded, before Kindzi goes back to whatever nefarious plan she’s hatched.

T’evgin warns Datak and Stahma that they are not safe, imploring Datak to protect his wife. Then he goes to confront his daughter. Now, T’evgin is meant to be this genius, formidable warrior, which is not something I’ve seen from him. Here, for example, he walks straight into a trap whereby Kindzi overcomes him using the same drone thingy he used on her previously.

But the real problem, this episode, is Nolan. Simply put, he’s gone off the deep-end. It could be the PTSD, it could be the arktech in his brain (Or it could just be that Defiance likes its characters to hallucinate -Ed). But he’s seeing snakes under every rock, and is convinced that the visitation is a cover for an assassination attempt on Amanda, and a prelude for another invasion.

Now, a nutty Nolan is a bit of a danger. He launches a one man counter-operation, guided by some shadowy off-camera figure that nobody else can see. He finds what he thinks is bomb-making materials — actually just the Vice-Chancellor’s make-up — and bursts into the ball shouting about bombs. He hallucinates a gun in her hand, and plugs in in what looks for all the world like the shoulder. But presumably the shoulder is vital part of Castithan physiology, because she’s dead.

Somehow Irisa stops the VC from killing Nolan straight off, but they’re going to take him back to Brasilia to stand trial. It’s sure to be a showtrial, but refusing risks war, so Amanda has little choice. She does, though, conduct a whip round and gives Irisa — whose tether to Nolan means she has to go too — money to bribe the officials once they get to Brazil, to spring Nolan and disappear.

So there we go. What an utter mess. I still believe that the lack of a single, cohesive narrative through the third season is hurting it, but there is no denying that the character development has been excellent. Nolan has never felt this fleshed out or human. The fact that he is broken from head to toe completes him as a character.

There’s also the growing geopolitics aspect. Even more than when the town was under occupation by the E-Rep, it now feels like Defiance exists as part of a functioning — if turbulent — world. The gusto with which Amanda grabbed for the offered alliance with both hands demonstrates, I think, what it would mean to the small town’s survival, and the peril which Nolan has placed it in. But more than that, the fact that the VC would make such an offer in the first places shows precisely how scared they are — and presumably Defiance should be — of the Omec.

Closing thoughts:

  • Though, given how easily tricked T’evgin is, maybe not.
  • “What’s up with him?” “Oh, he just has some alien tech in his brain, and led an entire militia to their deaths at Rahm Tak’s hands.” “Ah, fine then.”
  • Even if you don’t know him, why on earth would you take Datak Tarr’s word at face value?
  • I’m really not sure about Amanda’s plan. The impression was given that Vosk was isolated in her moderate stance. Surely irrespective of whether Nolan does or does not stand trial, the feeling which is stirred up will still be towards an aggressively anti-Human regime.
  • Presuming, of course, that the Omec don’t eat everybody.
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