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Defiance

Defiance Review: What Do You Believe In?

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Defiance got off to a great start last Monday with the most watched pilot on Syfy since Eureka.

This week, "Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go" took advantage of the momentum that premiere created, propelling us into the exploration of the beliefs of some of the Defiance residents. 

It's pretty common for shows that feature aliens to ask: "how are they physically different?" In some unique cases we might get, "how are they culturally different?" instead, but it’s a rare show indeed that’s willing to step out of the safety zone by starting with the question: "Who or what do they worship?" 

But this is why Defiance is a stand out; it lets the sci-fi "tech" and CGI take a back seat while giving us a very personal look at some of the key figures around town and what they believe in. 

It's pretty clear that the Castithans have strong beliefs toward cowardice. No surprise to this reviewer that the strongest among them was Datak Tarr, who was the most vocal defender of the ritual of cleansing both to Nolan as the outside and to his wife Stahma. Overall, Stahma’s beliefs were a little more ethereal as she explained to Christie how fate (and a convenient air lock) intervened on her betrothed as he was heading to fight Datak on the ship to Earth. 

Datak's Ritual

Does anyone believe her “tossed out an air lock freak accident?” I don’t either. My bet is that she spaced her betrothed before he could hurt Datak. I said it before: Datak maybe ruthless, but Stahama is the dangerous one.  

Meanwhile, ex-Mayor Nicky believes she is doing the right thing even though she regrets the deaths it will cause. Her touching moment with Amanda was almost laughable given he ruthlessness towards her “master plan.”

Nolan showed us that he believes in Irisa, leaving her with Deputy Tommy knowing how much she hated the Castithans ritual of cleansing happening to Elah Bandik. If you have any questions of the depth of his knowledge of her, look no further than their exchange when he returned. 

He could tell she was on edge and was not only careful to get inside her comfort zone, but he lowered himself down and spoke encouragingly to her. Nolan knows his daughter very well. The surprise for me was Amanda coming to the defense of Irisa and Tommy. 

It stands to reason she would believe in her Lawkeeper and his deputies, but to step in and say that they were acting under her order was pretty awesome. 

When all was said and done, Rafe and Nolan are a little closer friends, Amanda knows that Nolan is the man she gambled on and Irisa knows that Antarctica is not as real as the town of Defiance is, where she and Nolan have a chance to make a difference. 

However, there were a few absentees on the roster. Did you miss Kenya and the Need/Want club this week? Or the Liberata housekeeper that was cooking for the McCawley last week?

How do you think the second offering did? Share your thoughts below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (76 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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Fortyseven

1st episode was overly busy and cliched. This episode was just boring and muddled.

Jimg

Looks like Defiance did 2.4 million viewers total (down from 2.7 last week) but still a respectable number I believe.

Jimg

(cont) That's not to say there isn't some middle ground between my "brave" and your "brave" -- Much like Nolan and Irisa needed to understand the Castithan's view on their ritual, you and I needed to understand how the other viewed the episode. Thanks for sharing!

Jimg

@WatchesTooMuch Thanks for defining "Bullish" -- honestly, nobody is paying me to be bullish, I just have very high hopes for Defiance. SyFy needs to get back to it's roots and if Defiance does well, we may actually see more Sci-Fi on TV. I'm guessing your not from the U.S. Allow me to provide a little history. There are large sections of the lower 48 states (known as the bible belt) that take religion in shows very, very, VERY seriously. In the past entire states banned shows like "SOAP" because they had openly gay characters and that was against their religious beliefs. So, Defiance's willingness to even take on religion this soon is pretty brave in my eyes. I understand you would rather see them be brave by doing something "dramatically out of the norm" for religion, but it really comes down to making sure we can identify with the characters and their beliefs/culture.

Watchestoomuch

@Jim: Thanks for the response. "Bullish" as in "Meryl Lynch is bullish on America"; that is, "strongly optimistic about" and "endorsing enthusiastically." Sorry, I still don't see anything daring here. If you want to be daring, show us a rite of passage that culminates in the rape of a child ... or do something equally shocking and repulsive to human (or at least Western) sensibilities. Torture? That's semi-official US government policy now. Torture of a deserter? Forget it.

Avatar

Not the best SciFi I've ever seen, but not the worst by a long shot! I'll keep watching; even with it's flaws, it's still better than 95 % of drivel on TV these days.

Jimg

(cont)
I should have better clarified that I was admiring the shows bravery in jumping into this topic on the second offering of a brand new series. I'm hoping it's this type of depth that will continue to make the show more rich and keep it around for many more seasons to come.

Jimg

@WatchesTooMuch I'm not sure what your term "bullish" means. I'm sorry if something I wrote seems offensive. Allow me to clarify a bit. The cleansing ritual was about their religious beliefs that Elah's shame was prevent his entire Liro from entering the after-life. While the ceremony was a reflection of their culture, the underlying reason was about beliefs. Also, I said "rarely," as you quoted. Babylon 5 and Alien Nation were two shows that came to mind as touching on religion (who can forget G'Kar yelling "Do Not Thump the Book of G'Quan"). But there are many more sci-fi shows decide to go with "let's show you how cool/awesome/scary/etc we can be with special effects" in the first few episodes after the pilot. Even the Dr. Who episode you mention is in season 7 of the new series and would be season 33 if you counted them all. My comment was very specific to the second episode of a new series. I should have better clarified that I was admiring the shows bravery in jumping into this topic on the second episode of a brand new series. I'm hopeful it's this type of depth that will keep the shows rating us and around for us to discuss for many seasons to come!

Avatar

I have to agree with Rod as genius as the concept of this show is I find it hard to think of another show so formulaic in its execution. Everything seems forced, to make a plot point or create shock value, it all reeks author intrusion, compare this to Orphan Black which has a dirt simple concept but is geniuslly executed by the Producers and actors and its hard to see why this show is getting such great reviews. In a television landscape filled with brilliant series whose plot developments and character choices are both completely surprising and make total sense given the world and the personalities of the characters involved its kind of frustrating to see characters acting in a way that makes no sense yet are predictable from a mile away. I kind of wanted this to be a scifi equivalent of Game of Thrones or a nice blend of the insanity of Farscape with grittiness of Battlestar Galactica, a new and alien place with serious dangers and human drama, but it feels more like an 80s soap opera despite the cool scenery, an evolutionary step back award over territory Star Trek especially Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5 have covered better before. I don't like to carp, but it does seem like a waste of a really genius concept.

Marissa

Really good episode and I'm liking were learning about the aliens and there beliefs and everything a little at a time. I can't wait till the next episode this show is really good.

Defiance Season 1 Episode 2 Quotes

Rafe, you can do the right thing by your dead child, or you can do the right thing or by the two living ones. But you cannot do both. You make your choice right now.

Nolan

Tommy: Elah Bandik is under arrest.
Male Castithan: For what?
Tommy: Loitering.

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