Defiance S3E10 Review: When Twilight Dims the Sky Above
Since we found out a few weeks ago that Rahm Tak was a renegade and not working for the VC, it wasn’t terribly surprising that a real VC official might show up in Defiance in the wake of his death. Less expected is that they’d have Datak in tow, and have given him a fancy new robot arm to boot. First Coulson, and now Datak. Good year to invest in the robot hand industry, I guess. This is pretty plainly a concession to the budget, but they put it to decent use with overpowering Nolan and having it held over his head by the VC, so I’m willing to let it slide. I really didn’t think he’d be back for a while, or at least not in Defiance itself. The show has a very strong aversion to actually letting any of its characters explore the world they’ve developed; every time there seems to be an obvious setup for a multi-episode arc set outside of town, like Nolan in the season 2 premiere, or Rafe & the Tarrs in the season 3 premiere, it’s rushed along quickly to gather the characters up again. Heck, even when they try to leave town, half the time it doesn’t pan out, like the “landcoach” episode in season 1. It’s always disappointing but at this point, I shouldn’t be surprised.
Datak doesn’t seem to have had any epiphanies out there or on the shaming rack, either, which would’ve been nice. One could argue that bringing a moderate VC representative to negotiate Defiance’s peace and safety is a gesture of good will, but whether it’s for his own benefit or the town’s is far from clear. I think that Defiance is his home, and for better or worse, he wants to go back to that–thus the town’s benefit IS his benefit. In the end, it’s still a selfishly motivated action, so nothing has changed.
Since Stahma runs back to him the moment he sets foot in Defiance, T’Evgin is a little peeved throughout the episode. While he does yell at Stahma, implying that her traveling with him is part of the deal for peace with the Omec, I’m not convinced that was the truth. T’Evgin’s had quite a bit of growth from his first episode, and his commitment to coexistence is sincere. There are a few things going on in that scene that lead me to believe his behavior was mostly an act: first, he highlights the fact that Stahma is still afraid of him. He’s frustrated by this, since she is the one he’d have expected to make the most progress with. If she’s still scared of the Omec, then how can he expect any of the other Votans to react differently? Secondly, he points to the legends and traditions that Stahma had specifically mentioned to him before, as an obvious means of intimidating her. I think he’s playing into her expectations here, doing what she expects him to (hence his use of the word “enchanted,” which he previously expressed distaste for). Kind of a “If you’re going to treat me like a monster, I may as well act like one” approach, which is a bit immature but understandable under the circumstances. Keep in mind, he didn’t even get that mad when she tried to kill him, so why would he now? Lastly, there’s the whole “maybe Kindzi is right” thing in the back of his head; I suspect this is why he finally agrees to meet with the VC as she asks. Coexistence requires an olive branch from both sides, and he can’t let his personal feelings stand in the way of that. So while he’s upset in the moment, ultimately it’s his commitment to peace that wins out. This is, of course, my rather generous interpretation of it, but this is why he’s become a great character so quickly, if you ask me. This is also a great scene for Stahma, showing how she’s grown since embracing the realities of a new world.
Silora, our VC Ambassador, is a lovely new character as well, which we probably should’ve realized would mean she couldn’t last from the moment she set foot on screen. She’s reasonable, rational, and not tied up in notions of pride or racism that have plagued so many of the authority figures we’ve seen so far in the show. It’s a shame she didn’t get any scenes earlier in the season to help set her up; as it stands, it’s mostly sad that she’s dead because of the lost opportunity it represents. If we could have set her up as a positive face for the VC earlier on, especially one contending with a large number of radicals like Rahm Tak, then the blow would’ve been much harder for the audience. But given only one episode to work with, she’s established very well and I can’t really complain about it. There are other characters with three or four times the screentime she gets who are less well developed. *cough*Treasure Doll…*cough*
And is it any surprise that Nolan would be the one to ruin our Last, Best Hope For Peace? He’s been getting more and more unhinged, and really, Amanda and/or Irisa ought to have tossed him in the jail until he could get his head on straight. Like, four or five episodes ago. He’s far too stubborn to admit there’s anything wrong with himself, so it’d have to be someone else restraining him. I mean even under the best of circumstances, he’s hotheaded and irrational, quick to violence; the second they found out he was suffering mental problems from the Arktech, he should’ve at least had his badge and gun taken away. But then, I’d never have given him those to start with. He’s as confident as Han Solo but nowhere near as effective. The hallucinations aren’t really an excuse, no more than they were for Irisa last season; this whole thing is getting a little too close to the Kaziri plotline for me. It’s only season 3, too early to be rehashing plots already. At least Irisa is doing a way better job being the sane one than Nolan ever did. Either way, they’re both being shipped off to Brazil, although it doesn’t seem like they’ll make it.
The same thing applies to Kindzi as well: the only reason she is free is because T’Evgin, after watching her reprogram Doc Yewll, did absolutely nothing to counter that. An underestimation of Yewll’s abilities? Maybe. But T’Evgin should have removed the control chip if for no other reason than his declared intent to treat the Votans, including Indogene, as equals. Leaving it in is stupidity to further the plot, just like not arresting Nolan is. Bad writing, bad writing… sigh.
It was an engrossing episode, but the more you think about it afterwards, the less it stands up. Everything about Nolan in the episode just makes no sense. Kindzi and T’Evgin have swapped places, with her free and him back on the ship, but we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out. Just three episodes left–so we may as well come back for the next episode, “Of a Demon in My View.”