DEFIANCE Actually Has a Plot With a Plot

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Episode 111 “Past is Prologue”

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Ah, Defiance. You finally give me an interesting episode to watch. Not that it’s much of an improvement over the others, but at least it had layers.

Not going to spend a lot of time on it, because frankly, I’ve just about given up on this show. It’s nothing but tropes the whole way through, and as I’ve said before, a lot of what’s in this show we’ve seen before — and done much better in other places.

But this episode had some redeeming qualities — mainly, Datak Tarr’s scheme. Or rather, Stahma’s scheme. Because we know she’s pulling the strings on all of this. So to see the roundabout way in which she connives to get her husband elected as the town’s mayor — well, it actually feels like the writers put some thought into this one. Because you have to pay attention to keep up.

Initially, we have Kenya dumping Stahma. The whole “two for one” special is off the table, it seems. So there’s that piece that falls into this, because Datak was also a customer of Kenya’s. That little nugget only helps push the Stahma Drama up a notch — discrediting Amanda also will serve to emotionally swipe at Kenya.

So here’s how this scheme plays out: Stahma whispers in Datak’s ear. Datak gets “shamed” son Alak to enlist a friend in a prank — shooting a paintball at Amanda during the mayoral debates. Said friend gets shot dead by Nolan, who sees gun and reacts accordingly — and for the record, if I had Nolan’s background and responsibilities, I’d have done the same thing. It happens a lot in real life, and seeing as how the paintball gun looks like a real weapon, Nolan is well within his authority to take this kid down.

So it starts as a terrible tragedy, but Datak uses it to attack Nolan as Amanda’s “pit bull” — using classified E-Republic documents to show how much of a warmonger Nolan was during the war. But isn’t that kind of the point when you’re fighting a war? The enemy is the enemy, and deserves no quarter. Datak paints Nolan as a vicious animal rather than brave soldier, and by extension indicts Amanda over her unflinching support of Nolan — which she voiced after Nolan shot the teenager brandishing a paintball gun.

It’s convoluted, but it’s actually a storyline that held my interest this week. So … OK, writers. You managed to put one in the win column. And having Datak make a political speech at Ex-Mayor Nikki’s wake was an interesting choice. Makes Datak that much more unlikeable. I know a lot of people gravitate toward his character, but you realize he’s just a pawn for Stahma, right?

The other bit — Irisa having one of those metal-plated pretzels actually inside her – is still a little bit out there for me to be interested in it, as it plays to the whole “Chosen One” thing that’s just too contrived and trope-y for words.

The knock-down drag-out fist fight between Nolan and Datak has been a long time coming, and it was a satisfying bit of fight choreography that leaves me wondering — now that Nolan has resigned, what’s it going to take to bring him back to the badge? Of course, we already get a tease that someone is going to die in the season finale. Since the “bad guy” Nikki is already dead — and we learned last week that she wasn’t human, but a disguised Irathian — likely it will be someone relatively important to Nolan or Amanda, but not someone in the main cast. So… Tommy?

I’m really surprised he’s lasted this long.

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[Defiance web site at Syfy]

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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