Defiance S3E3 Review: The Broken Bough
After the intensity of the Defiance season 3 premiere, things step back a little bit to give everyone a little room to breathe. Well, not everyone. Life always sucks when you’re Alak. And that doesn’t really mean that things are looking up, either.
It’s starting to become clear what everyone’s character arcs will be this season as we move into the third episode. The name of the game is consequences, which is actually a refreshing change of pace for Defiance. We saw last week that Berlin’s not forgiving Irisa any time soon, possessed or not. And after all those people she was randomly “killing” last season, and having nearly destroyed the world to boot, Irisa’s starting to show an aversion to violence for the first time, which is nice considering how unnecessarily violent both her and Nolan had been up to this point (as satirized in the show itself with Kai’s book). It’ll be interesting to see where this takes her, because on the one hand it’s an important adjustment to her character, but on the other, the world of Defiance is not one that lends itself to pacifism. Hopefully what this will mean is that she learns where to draw the line: violence only when absolutely required. That’s a huge character development opportunity for her.
That whole assault we see in this episode was a huge mistake for Nolan, though, and illustrates how they’re growing apart: Nolan is still very quick to jump back into that soldier persona, even when it’s clearly not the smart thing to do. I kind of get what they’re aiming for with that character trait, but really, it just makes him seem like a rabid dog sometimes (you know, exactly how Rahm Tak described him). His decisions are not thought out any further than “these are bad guys, and dangerous, therefore I must kill them,” and that usually includes the risks that it poses to the people he’s allegedly trying to protect. I think that’s part of why he showed up very aggressively in Amanda’s hallucinations last season; even she’s not quite comfortable around him. Obviously Nolan isn’t a bad guy, really, and he has plenty of heroic attributes (like dragging Tommy god knows how far through the snow to try to save him), but this is such a huge character flaw that’s been with him from the early scenes of the pilot that it can’t be ignored the way it has been. If Irisa’s making a turnaround now, then he’ll have to face it.
And as far as consequences go, I nearly forgot about Amanda’s grudge against the Tarrs, so it was great to be reminded this week that Kenya’s death isn’t just being swept under the table. Considering it happened at the tail end of season 2, I really should’ve realized it’d come back quickly. It’s just so hard to hate Datak and Stahma, though; they’re by far the most fun characters to watch on the show, and I personally didn’t like Kenya very much so her death didn’t really upset me. But I think that’s what they’re counting on–we all know Amanda is the purest “good” character on the show, so we should naturally side with her, and yet… If they take that angle going forward, it’ll make for some great television. Plus, we got to see their handmaiden from the finale, Andina, again. Those twitter hints about season 3 are turning out really close to the mark! Too bad Alak is getting beaten up… again…
It’s hard to talk about the actual plot of the episode, because it’s so wrapped up in character this week. I do feel like the ease with which Irisa got the drop on Rahm Tak while being held hostage really put a mark against his competence; that’s not something you want to see out of the new big bad in his second/third appearance. And as far as the Omec go, it’s clear they’re hiding something, as T’evgin’s story to Stahma is something we already know to be a lie. So what’s the deal with his ship in orbit? Are they just planning to show up the other Votan and teach them how to do a proper alien invasion? But to counter that, we also got some interesting insight into their old culture. I find it odd that the Castithans would be studying Omec literature, just because I’m not sure how they’d get their hands on it, but it still fits perfectly with that whole “fall of Rome” vibe that I’ve been picking up off them so far. And if any Votan race would be obsessed with studying and emulating the culture of the advanced and “noble” precursors, it’d be the Castis.
Moving forward into next week, what I’m most interested to see is just what the hell direction they take Pilar in from here. They got the baby from her, she’s stuck outside the town, and she’s surrounded by a human-hating VC army. Kinda puts her in a corner, doesn’t it? Guess there’s only one way to find out, so come back next weekend for “Dead Air.”