Defiance S3E4 Review: Dead Air
One thing you can say for Defiance is that they’re never afraid to destroy that status quo. There’s hardly a status quo at all, really. We’ve got returning characters this week, so we can wrap up that already idiotic hanging plot thread from season 2, and pretty much nothing else. But there’s a new character, and a few significant shifts at the end of the episode, so you can’t just skip this one.
Bringing back Pottinger was something that had to be done eventually. It didn’t really make sense to have him missing in the premiere, so it was a question that was going to linger until answered. And since I wasn’t a big fan of this whole cartoonishly evil side plot in season 2, you can guess how I feel about coming back to deal with it again.
But that’s what the bulk of this week’s episode consists of. I’ll get to that later, though. The B plot, if you can even call it that with how much it takes a backseat, deals with Datak and Stahma getting new orders from Rahm Tak after successfully destroying the Arch (it was so easy we didn’t even have to see them try it on screen!). Now, they’re supposed to kill T’Evgin, the Omec. Naturally Stahma thinks the way to do this is with poison, and the easiest way to deliver poison is to seduce him first. What I did like here was that her poison didn’t work on him; the show actually acknowledged the fact that the Omec likely have radically different physiology, and that the other Votan races would probably have very little knowledge of it. It also puts Stahma and Datak into a far more interesting position, where they’re going to have to play their loyalties to both sides. And that’s what makes Stahma worth watching, after all, so all the better for this plot.
And I guess that means I can’t put this off any longer. Ugh…
So last season we had the issue of Amanda being raped come up. At the time it seemed like a bold move, and it’s one of those topics that, sadly, would be a fact of life in a post-apocalyptic world like that of Defiance. It’s often ignored, though, or only acknowledged through the vague implications of bandits right before the hero swoops in and shoots them. And it seemed like it was going about this tricky issue well, giving Pottinger a similar incident in his past… and then his character was completely obliterated by a number of really creepy and, frankly, insane revelations. Apparently we’re supposed to believe that Pottinger was insane enough to obsess over both Connor Lang and Amanda for years and years, and yet still capable enough to rise to high levels of Earth Republic leadership. High enough that he’s able to choose his own assignments, where he then comes up with the convoluted plan of using Adreno to drug Amanda, threatening Doc Yewll into helping him steal her memories of her sister, capture an Indogene and turn her into a doppelganger of Kenya using those memories, then have the doppelganger killed just so he could be there to comfort her when she lost her sister again. That is the kind of moronic plot that I’d expect out of an unusually dark Silver Age comic book villain. It makes no sense at all.
Aside from being the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard (almost. If it weren’t for the Casti Cosplay Club…), it took what had been up to this point a rather morally gray character who was giving the E-Rep some badly-needed depth and turned him into a cacklingly evil nutcase. So this episode picks up where that left off to ensure there can’t be anything left of his character (quite literally, actually). See as it turns out, not only did he leave Amanda in Defiance and left with the E-Rep, he actually lost the last bit of sanity he had and went totally psycho, killing a bunch of his own guys and wiring a deadman switch to his body and holing up in a long-forgotten underground bunker alone where he’s put together a madman’s Connor/Amanda museum. But now he’s got 4 Biomen to wait on him and a veterinarian locked up in the basement. AND to top it all off, he’s apparently the person who attacked Amanda in the first place. Never mind how insanely unlikely that seems to be and how it erases all the things that I thought were bold about this plot to start with; it ensures no one could possibly even care that he dies or returns now. In other words, the last few remaining scraps of this plot thread that could even begin to justify its existence are gone and the entire thing has been an insult on top of wasting our time. The only thing coming out of this is that, after many close calls, Amanda has now personally killed someone.
God damn, Defiance, when you let me down, you REALLY let me down. It’s never a little thing, it’s always a huge fucking misstep that makes me want to bang my head against the wall. And it seems like it’s all just designed for no other reason than to make Nolan look… well, not good, but less bad. It doesn’t work though. I was excited to see new Biomen, too, as I’ve always been interested in them, and this was the first time we’d seen more than one on screen at a time (and first since Churchill died). It seemed like this would be the glimpse into their plight I’d been hoping for. While there’s a bit of it, with George’s 3-legged dog, and the description of the singularity as “pretty,” it’s a far cry from actually focusing on them. But no, these four were killed off in the same episode, putting our Biomen kill rate at 6 for 6. So it’s a shame on that front, too.
Speaking of Nolan, he makes some pretty stupid decisions himself through this episode, like leaving Irisa with Berlin just a few episodes after the latter was beating the shit out of the former. And when he’s forced to fight a Bioman, like he did in… oh, the VERY FIRST EPISODE, he conveniently forgets that off-button trick he used then. So we can add that to the stupidity of Pottinger’s plot and the wasted potential of skipping over the Arch bombing entirely. The only redeeming part of the episode comes in Samir, the aforementioned veterinarian. After the McCawley family got killed off in the premiere, we were officially out of non-white human characters, so it’s about time we got a new one. He’s also shown to be crafty and brave, helping Nolan fight off the Biomen after he forgets how. So we got one good thing out of this, at least.
I don’t know if anyone else is going to feel this way about the episode but damn. If they don’t, they didn’t think about it enough.
Next week, Irisa and Nolan have seizures or something. I don’t know. I don’t really care about them. Ugh… since they’re going to be unconscious, maybe things will be better with “History Rhymes.”