Honestly? I’m not sure what to think of Defiance just yet.
It seems like it’s a pretty basic SyFy series. Nothing special. They keep things pretty campy and seem to be channeling a lot of Eureka in some ways. The lead character with the sort of strained relationship with his daughter who eventually gets involved with things in a new town and ends up the sheriff? Yeah. It’s basically Eureka meets Alien Nation with a little bit of Firefly and Star Wars mixed in. I wasn’t exactly impressed with the way the show looked either but it’s SyFy. What can you do?
So. Defiance. Right.
Like all goods shows with intricate plots and not a whole lot of time to bother with world building, Defiance begins with someone’s internal monologue. Irisa, the adopted alien daughter of our man leading alpha male Josh Nolan, is writing in her journal bemoaning all of her father’s bad decisions in life while they ride through an alien terraformed Earth looking for things to scavenge and sell so they can go to Antarctica which is now apparently some mystical paradise or something. I don’t know. The fact that they started singing randomly for literally like five minutes sort of distracted me from everything.
Eventually they find the ruins of some ship or something and they pull the core out of it (or something) which is apparently worth a lot of money. Of course, they have a run in with some other scavengers who try to take it, Irisa gets shot, and Nolan tries to drag her through the woods but, you know. That’s hard after a while. They nearly get eaten by crazy mutant animal things and are luckily saved by a ragtag group of people who take them home with them to Defiance. Which used to be St. Louis until there was some battle where the Vortan races and the humans refused to fight any more over the planet and that was a monumental event so St. Louis became Defiance.
Or something? I honestly have hard time keeping up with this backstory. Nolan actually fought in that battle himself and is considered one of the ‘Defiant Few’ though whether he is still the hero people thinks he is remains pretty ambiguous. He’s basically like a goofy Han Solo. Rather, a goofier Han Solo? He also apparently maybe helped design these sentient bio-men soldier things that he later fights in an arena for quick cash because no one else but him knows they have an off switch. I mean, he’s a cool guy but the character is so stereotypical it hurts. Its literally Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds, and Jack Carter mixed into one.
The new mayor of Defiance is played by Julie Benz and she’s really unsure of herself. Which probably comes from the fact that she can’t keep the wealthiest human family from feuding with this wealthy, criminal Vortan guy’s family. It isn’t bloody yet – and actually two of their kids are totally hot for each other in a Romeo and Juliet way – but it does get bloody eventually. Because someone kills one of the human guy’s kids, frames the alien guy, and all hell sort of breaks loose. Nolan saves him along with Irisa but eventually shit goes a bit wrong and Irisa winds up in prison where she hits on the adorable deputy kid and tells him that she can kill him with her mind. Okay, so, maybe not. But she does make it pretty obvious that she can escape at any time. Not that the kid cares. He’s totally in love with her.
Nolan – in order to free Irisa, get his money, and go – offers to help the mayor get to the bottom of what’s going on in the city and whose manipulating who. Which in turn apparently turns into them discovering that someone has this big sinister plot to some how destroy Defiance all together. For some reason someone had the protective barrier shield thing destroyed so that these super bad ass killer soldier things from the Pale War (I have no idea why the war was called that) are coming to kill all of them. Again, for no good reason that anyone knows.
Meanwhile Nolan – in true Han Solo fashion – loads up his truck and preps to hightail it out of there. Until he has a crisis of confidence and goes back to rescue the town. Which pisses the shit out of Irisa initially because it meant using the super special orb thing they got at the beginning of the episode. So that means no money. No Antarctica. I hear you, girl. She drives off all angry. But eventually she comes back with some back up (basically the scavengers who tried to kill them earlier). And they all help the good people of Defiance band together and fight back the hoards. I mean, it’s all kinds of nice. The humans and the seven Voltan races coming together to protect their awesome multi-special city. Even the feuding families see eye to eye on protecting the town and the mafia mobster alien forgives everyone their debts to him.*
And afterward everyone comes back and is grateful to be alive. But they still have no idea why anyone is coming to kill them. Julie Benz’s character comes to Nolan and tells him he should stay. Take over for the old sheriff who was killed. Of course, she doesn’t seem to know that he banged her sister so. There’s that. Also, it turns out that the beloved old ex-mayor that Julie Benz took over for was behind the whole thing. Uhm. What? I guess they’ll explain that eventually but c’mon. Maybe we should have found out a little later?
Or maybe that’s just me.
What does the rest of the season hold? Who knows. How will the video game continue to tie in to the show? No idea. But we’ll see soon enough.
A few things I liked:
- The sassy alien doctor who doesn’t take shit from anyone
- The fact that there are seven alien races with very distinct characteristics, etc.
- The potential for all the reconciliation and bonding
- The whole background story with the Voltan races coming to Earth, etc.
Some thing was iffy about:
- The whole Princess Leia/Han Solo moment that basically rips the whole scene from right before the Battle of Yavin
- The fact that they really do just want Joshua Nolan to be Mal Reynolds (war hero from a famous battle that shit is named after, same personality, etc.)
- The ex-mayor and finding out about the ex-mayor being evil
- The special effects
I’m willing to give this show a chance but it’s gonna give me something here. Right now it’s just an awkward amalgamation of tons of bits and pieces of shows I liked that don’t really go together or are so cliche it’s just not fun any more.