Do you remember when even the “filler” Battlestar Galactica episodes turned out to have immense importance? Defiance’s 4th episode, A Well Respected Man, definitely fit into that mold. I’ve seen the episode at least three times now and the more I watch it the more my hat is off to the Defiance production team on pulling together perhaps the best show on SyFy since Battlestar Galactica. In this episode we were given insights into so much of the Defiance Universe that the almost ho-drum bad-guy-kidnaps-girlfriend/sister story didn’t even bother me. I saw eight main themes emerge in the episode along with some minor commentaries. Please allow me to step through them.
1. Amanda-Kenya’s Past & Relationship: This pair was intriguing from the start. On one hand you had the well respected strong leader Amanda who has been placed in charge of this incredible diverse and fragil new-world community. On the other hand you had the opportunistic and somewhat manipulative business woman who not only engages in the world’s oldest profession but actively promotes it by owning and running a structured business in that profession. They are both wildly successful considering the flashbacks we saw during this episode. Amanda not only did her best to raise Kenya but also to protect Kenya’s memory of their mother. That is an incredible sacrifice and lifelong secret for anyone to keep and for Amanda’s sake I’m glad she no longer has to keep it secret. In any case the secret is no longer needed as the sisters are older now and have seen the realities of life on new Earth (Which I will start calling ‘Erf’ from now on). Amanda’s devotion to her sister were well played this entire episode from slapping Rupert Mirch’s wife to giving up the precious town council seat to Datak in order to have the chance to get Kenya back, a decision I am sure she will never fully regret nor admit it was a smart move. On her sister’s part, Kenya’s revelation goes a long way to bring the sisters together. A bond I’m sure we will need to see as the series progresses given the magnitude of challenges that Defiance is sure to face. Kenya’s rebellious attitude towards her sister shouldn’t be a large cause of friction anymore. We’ve also seen that Kenya can take care of herself if need be when she killed Miko the drug maker. As for their Mom we never actually see her dead in this episode so there could still be a chance she made it out of the firefight alive and just never was able to reconnect with Amanda and Kenya.
2. The Tarr’s: Datak and Stahma are absolutely the pair to watch in this show. Datak has surprised me with his continued physical ability and ruthlessness. He is not simply a behind-the-desk leader. He is NOT afraid to get his hands dirty. And his energy knife will be the stuff of scifi legend as this show progresses. Datak is also incredibly quick on his feet and will mold each encounter to his advantage if there is any. Yet Datak will never be as adept as his wife Stahma. As Stahma points out herself Datak is a hot head. Stahma, on the other hand, is the real power in the relationship and in town. Part of me wonders if Stahma’s ability to shape events and manipulate people will now diminish after people realize what she has accomplished and what she is capable of. For the time being she is getting her way and has yet to be stopped. The Tarr’s Good-Cop/Bad-Cop routine will likely see some changes. With Rafe’s absence at the town council meeting that instilled Datak on the council this might take a little time for Datak’s manuevering to come to his attention but Rafe is not stupid. I’m sure we’ll see further Tarr-McCrawely clashes in the future. Finally, there was something sensual about how Stahma was crafting outside the council room at the end, wasn’t there? Maybe it was just how she took Nolan’s accusation as a compliment. Stahma remains my favorite Defiance character.
3. Power Vacuum I started to think as to why all these events were happening to Defiance NOW, most notably the Tarr’s rise to power and Kenya’s kidnapping. I put in into persective for myself. Ex-Mayor Nicky left. True, we’ve seen Nicky is probably more of the cause of big events in Defiance than a person that would have been able to stop some of these things from bubbling up to begin with but she seemed to be a strong, respected source of power in the town. I’m sure she had held the Tarr’s at bay for years prior to her departure. Ex-Lawkeeper Clancy was killed. Defiance could have probably withstood Nicky’s leadership absence had it not been for Clancy’s death. However, Clancy was killed by a stray bullet in the Pilot episode during a fight at the NeedWant. Tommy is a good kid, but we’ve seen he is no Clancy. Defiance is sorely missing it’s experienced lawkeeper. Crimes like Kenya’s kidnapping would have been held in check better with Clancy around. Amanda and Nolan are both capable, but they lack experience and connections. Until they ramp up their experience and connections they will continue to have a tough time keeping things from bubbling up as they have. It’s an interesting story to follow.
4. The Mystery In The Mine: This is very much intriguing me. Are we looking at a terraforming device to turn Erf back to Earth? Are we looking at a time travel machine? It is an unimaginable weapon that will give the holder utilimate power on Erf? Whatever it is Nicky and Mr. Birch want it badly enough to try and destroy Defiance twice. Hopefully the McCrawley’s will be smart about it and bring in someone they can trust to help figure out the mystery. Isari will most likely start to have visions on it at the very least. I like that we’ve been given clues on this storyline in each episode. I’m hoping to learn more about it next week.
5. Life in the Post-Terraformed/Post-Arkfall Erf: This is what initially drew me to Defiance. It’s also the same sort of thing that drew me to Revolution on NBC. Once the mystery of the power outage was explained on Revolution I didn’t find anything else worth watching in the show so I have not been back. Defiance, on the other hand, has plenty else to offer and endless scifi possibilities. Playing the game on XBox has given me a tremendous amount of backstory to the Defiance Universe but plenty can be found in the show that isn’t in the game (or at least that I haven’t run into in the game yet). It’s definitely a post-apocalyptic Erf society. People are struggling to survive. Resources are scarce yet there still is advanced technology available. New forms of energy are being used. Mulitple races are attempting to coexist. Old cars, goods and services are sought after. People are turning to drugs and prostitution to cope. There is a strong presence of mercenaries and road-warrior style plundering. Rebuilding infrastructure like the Maglev is an economic necessity that takes years to accomplish. While not perfect Defiance has shown a much better handle on how to portray this than Revolution. It keeps me interested.
6. Nolan still getting his Lawman/Defiance Feet Under Him: It’s obvious Nolan is capable. It is equally obvious that Nolan is rash. Stahma calls him a hot head. I would agree. But Nolan learns quickly. It will be interesting to see how his tactics change now that he knows Stahma is the real threat. I like how the Defiance team has depicted him as not perfect. The way he barged in on Datak thus encouraging Datak not to help in the search for Kenya. The way Datak knew the townspeople better than Nolan. The way Nolan mishandled the kid with Kenya’s hailer. Nolan will learn. The sooner the better for him.
7. McCreary’s Music: Okay folks. This is why I love Bear McCreary. He transitioned into this own Defiance theme this episode. Did you hear it? Sorta firefly-esk but not quite? As moving as BSG/Caprica but it didn’t sound anything like it? Bear’s the best in the business right now. He is not disappointing me in the least. Bear, if you read this, thank you. You are a genius, sir, and I love to listen to your work.
8. Kenya-Nolan’s “Relationship”: Perhaps one of the reasons Nolan was so rash this episode is that it ws personal. He would deny it but it is obvious he has feelings towards her. It will be interesting to see how Nolan handles her profession as the series progresses. Nolan’s going to need a good woman behind him. Will Kenya be his ultimate partner?
Amanda As Mayor. I think this is the first episode in which we heard that Amanda was appointed, not elected. It now makes sense that Amanda’s election is right around the corner if she is just finishing off Nicky’s term.
Thank Crom no Christine in this episode. I’ll say it again. That Alak Tarr-Christine McCrawely storyline is annoying. I’m glad we didn’t have to see it this episode.
McCrawley’s relationships. It was good to see Rafe and Quentin get along at the end of the episode. We’ll now see what Quentin is really made up of as he attempts to follow behind Luke’s footsteps into figuring out what’s at the bottom of L-7 with Rafe.
Breaking Bad meets Farscape. It wasn’t a great storyline, but if it works for AMC it might work for SyFy, right? Ick.
Biomen. Strong, but not the most intelligent student in the pre-school.
- St Finnegan Medal. I want one.