Defiance Review: We Live or Die Together

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Wrapping up Defiance Season 1, "Everything Is Broken" gave us answers to many questions, some of which have been out there since the pilot. However, it also left us with plenty to ponder, debate and discuss until the show’s return for season two.  

Let’s start with the big answers and then get into the significant questions...

What Is The Gold Medallion?
The medallion that Luke died over - that Quentin gave to Nikki, that then Doc Yewll fired a coldfire weapon into - is one half of a key to an ancient Votan weapon that Earth Republic has been after for years. The other half of the key has been inside Irisa since she was a little girl.

Who Will Be Mayor?
Datak Tarr was elected after pulling some pretty underhanded tricks. This included getting one of Alak friends killed trying to pull a “prank” and attempting to shoot Amanda at the debate and releasing classified information from Nolan’s military records over the radio station. I wasn’t surprised. After murdering a man because he saw him at “less than his best,” nothing shocks me about Datak.

Amanda For Mayor

Now to move on to the plethora of questions this episode created. In general, I loathe cliffhangers as an ending; with today’s streaming media and Internet awareness, leaving season-long story items unanswered at the end of a season is just frustrating and no longer encourages anyone to come back in the fall.

That said, I’m not against a new questions being raised as a primer for the next season. 

Is Kenya Really Dead?
While I would not put it past Stahma to have only drugged Kenya, part of me hopes she really is poisoned and is gone. First, it would make the show have a sharper edge to lose a cast member from the first season. Second, I’ve said many times that Kenya is an awkward, out of place character and she really hasn't brought much to the series. If she had not been Amanda’s sibling, would she even have been a regular?

Sadly, I suspect we'll find Kenya wrapped in a blanket with a note pinned to her saying "found this in the woods" delivered by Rynn and/or other Irathients.

What Happened To Irisa?
First, she made a deal to save Nolan. I was thrilled to see that when it came down to it, she showed how much she loved him. Her behavior around the whole Sukar issue seemed totally out of character. Second, given that she jumped into the ultimate weapon, I think she will blow it up, deactivate it or otherwise render it null and void. That won’t come without a price, but we have all of season two to learn what that price will be. 

What Is Going To Happen To Datak Tarr?
Okay, a good rule of thumb for anyone who wants to run for Mayor: Killing an Earth Republic General in your office and then casually holding the bloody weapon when your wife comes in is NOT the way to keep your job.

For my taste, Datak has not been as interesting as Stahma has been. But I doubt they are willing to let a talent like Tony Curran leave just yet, so my bet will be on some sort of loophole defense that will result in him losing being Mayor, but staying in Defiance. Datak could make a great "wounded predator" plotting his return to power. This, of course, would allow the "runner up" candidate, Amanda to become Mayor elect. 

Is Earth Republic Really In Charge?
As we heard right at the end of the episode, Earth Republic has taken control of the town. That’s pretty easy to do when they have all the guns and the Mayor just killed a General. I’m pretty sure Nolan, Amanda and Rafe will come up with some super clever plan to chase them back out. Maybe Irisa will threaten to turn the Votan weapon on them if they don’t leave. 

When all was said and done, only the Irisa question really struck me as a cliffhanger. We've been dealing with that damn medallion and "what’s in the mine" for the entire season, so it would have been nice to have seen her in control of it or something at the end. But, that aside, it was a good finale. I’m happy with how the episode moved, and I adored Nolan for wanting to do the right thing by having Amanda fire him instead of trying to fight the propaganda fight Datak was staging. 

Here is hoping that season two picks up with some much needed pruning of the storylines (i.e. now that Christy and Alak are married, we don’t really need to see them much). I’m giving the finale 4.3 votes for Amanda as Mayor!

What did you think of if the finale, where there answered offered that I missed? Did you catch a question I didn't list? Sound off below.


Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (46 Votes)

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


...So, we'll have to see.


...The Tarrs are indeed a very ambitious, lethal team. But, it's clear Stahma has her hands full battling the psychotic tendencies of her husband that sabotage their climb to the top at every turn. Someone before referred to them as "mafia-like." They remind me more of ancient Rome, with Datak as a Caligula-type of character whose excessive appetites border on mania. Stahma told the truth to Kenya when she said she loved Datak's cruelty. What she didn't say, but the viewers have seen in private moments, is that Kenya was right too. Stahma is terrified of her husband, & that she or Alak will one day being on the receiving end of his rage. The dance of submission & ego-stroking that she does on a daily basis to keep him calm & satisfied that he feels important must be exhausting. What isn't clear to me yet is how much of that is Castithan culture & how much is the Tarr family dynamic. We haven't been privvy to a non-corrupt, "normal" Castithan family yet. So, we'll have to see.


EXCELLENT finale! I'm definitely excited to see this series return next summer. As much as I enjoy Nolan & Amanda try and tame the town of Defiance, a big part of me is always thinking, "Why? This town isn't worth it! It's as corrupt as Chicago in the 1920's, without the jazz & dancing to make it remotely bearable." One main question I had in the episode was why Kenya even went to meet Stahma. She didn't trust Stahma & was prepared for a betrayal. So, why go there alone? What was she hoping to accomplish? If Stahma hadn't betrayed her, would Kenya have left with her?...cont'd


Fine finale and a good first season. I think the writing will pick up now that they have a some time to focus on plot, and are not having to worry about immediate cancelation. One thing the show does need is some more big battles, against alien tech or whatever, but it does need to ramp up the action quota a touch. Anyways, this has been my go-to scifi action series since its intro, and I am grateful for this. My fav characters are Nolan and Irisa, and I think they can do a lot more with their relationship. I recall the opening moments of the first episode, when they were in the roller singing, which was magical.


This was an excellent season finale. The big surprise was Nolan "dying"... he looked pretty darn dead there, but I should have known that Irisa loved him enough to do something really dramatic to bring him back. When she jumped, my husband and I both said, "She's going all Ridley (in Alien Resurrection) on us." I suspect Kenya really is dead, whereas there's no doubt the Earth Republic general is dead. That interrogator guy was creepy, in what I assume is an obvious Nazi parallel way (think of Christoph Walz in Inglourious Bastards.)


I'm still trying to process what happened after watching it twice. This whole episode is full of things that I never saw coming. I expected Datak to win the election, but really, that was it. Nolan's death: no part of me expected that. I didn't expect Kenya to die. I actually didn't expect Nolan to come back to life. I definitely didn't expect that Irisa would do what she did. Well, I do understand why she did it. Nolan is her family, and nothing will separate them. Live or die together. But overall, it was an amazing episode. I can't wait to see season two.


What I've learn from tv is that there's always a price in bringing someone back to life especially syfy or supernatural type shows where the price could be someone else's life or something worse. It was a really good finale I knew Nolan wouldn't stay dead and the preview said someone will die and that was Nolan he did die he was just brought back to life a little late so I don't think Kenya is dead but I also wouldn't be suprized if it turns out she is. The one question I will be wondering is what is going to happen to Irisa.


Bottom line: This was the best episode of the season. It was intense and occasionally even surprising -- like in the Tarr's tag-team murders. If they were able to bring this level of intensity and depth to next season, it would be incredible. They won't, of course, but we can still hope. And it's going to be a whole year!?!!? Shtako!


Lame bad guys, etc.: As is so often the case in TV shows, the elite mercenary bad guys can't shoot straight. Admittedly, they do hit Rafe and Nolan, but they get wiped out, and even the really sinister baddie, the torture guy, might be dead. (On the other hand, it's more likely they'll bring him back to be a frightening menace in the early days of next season.) The music was too heavily BSG-accented; wake up, composer! This isn't BSG! The editing was choppy and moving among locations was sometimes confusing. They either shot too much material and had to do a hatchet job, or they planned for a 2-parter and really had to do a hatchet job.


Nolan and Irisa: Didn't see his death coming. Not even slightly surprised that it didn't stick. (Frankly, I thought she was going to kiss him on the lips and unintentionally pass some healing nanobots.) Not entirely disappointed about that. What is Irisa's status now? I don't think it's decided, and I will not be surprised if she spends all of S2E1 battling with the ship/device to decide her fate, and will be even less surprised if the price she has to pay for resurrecting Nolan is something really bad.

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Defiance Season 1 Episode 12 Quotes

Kenya: If you gave a shtako about me, you would stop your husband from hurting my sister.
Stahma: I guess I'm not as brave as you.

Irisa: I'm the Angel of Death
Nolan: No you're not, you're a little girl in a bad situation. MY little girl.