Defiance: Past is Prologue Review (

By:Chuck Francisco
Review Date: Friday, July 05, 2013

Full spoilers begin below!

Elections in the public consciousness are vicious, catty affairs. The base nature channeled as a requirement to win is disgusting, yet indeed required on both sides; neither is exempt from it. The thing is that most people believe their selected side is above reproach, it's a part of our mental mechanism. Defiance has done an impeccable job even handedly portraying complex issues in a three dimensional space, so it comes across as slightly odd that the mayoral elections are being portrayed as black or white. Datak is wrong and willing to utilize any underhanded trick to win, while Amanda is altruistic and trying to win nobly. It's the ultimate pipe dream in our modern times: that one of the candidates up for election is somehow good and noble, yet can still win. Still, Defiance has proven to be quite compelling, so expect a Battlestar Galactica style election rigging if it appears that Datak is on the cusp of victory.

Doc Yewll puts on her best mad science fair, and her flair for castle Frankenstein technology is visually interesting. She would make the perfect late night horror host, delivering endearingly corny puns with her gruff manner, while conducting absurd experiments on silly humans (make this happen SyFy!). There's been a noticeable, visible change in the depiction of Yewll in the wake of her murder of Nicky. She comes off as a hollowed, more hunched figure, conveying the toll her actions have taken despite their necessity.
Through her experimentation we learn a great deal more about the artifact.

These revelations make it clear that the torture Irisa's been subjected to were in service to a silver version of the artifact. It's somehow been grafted into her. Yewll's experiments trigger Irisa's internalized one, which ruins Tommy's happy time, likely making for an awkward conversation between them later. From the preview of next week's episode, the combined power of these objects makes for a potent weapons system. The Earth Republic clearly has knowledge of these artifacts and is willing to kill to obtain them.

While we're speaking of the E-rep, they've thrown their considerable weight behind Datak Tarr for mayor in their bid to control the mineral rich mines of Rafe McCawley. Still this backing isn't enough for Datak, who is weaving a number of schemes simultaneously. I had quite of a bit of trouble believing that Alak would be complicit in his father's assassination plot, but I find it even more difficult to believe that he didn't think his friend would be killed for aiming a realistic looking paintball gun at the mayor.  Then there's the mob boss side of Rafe again this week, beating a message into his own son-in-law. The moment is so very Godfather. I found it somewhat chilling.

Nolan's sins are put on open display for the entire town to examine thanks to Datak's access to the law keeper's sealed file. There had been a number of small hints about atrocities in Nolan's past, but this is the first real indictment of his character. The Yosemite Massacre and audio trial testimony where his own brutality damns him, it's all part of a clever ploy by Datak to undermine Amanda and the town council. Nolan see through it at least, and insists that Amanda claim to have fired him, disavowing her faith in his abilities. I wonder if she has it in her.

The street fight between Datak and Nolan was awesome, showcasing two completely different styles. The Castithan appears at first to have the upper hand with his speedy mix of kicks and evasion. It's a finesse driven style, very much inline with his race's aversion to getting dirty. He's successful at first, until Nolan actually lands a few blows with his gritty brawling. The human is relying on his superior endurance to take a few hits in an effort to land one big one, which turns the tide of the battle. The dynamic is very much like  Rocky's fight against Apollo Creed. I liked the Castithan Kung fu, but Datak has a glass jaw.

This was a good episode, but I didn't find it quite as good as the last several. The difference is in degrees though; the disparity is minimal. There were a number of minor, but cool bits that I found really interesting: the rock song which had lyrics in both English and Castithan (I believe), the camera shots gathered from the paintball gun mounted angle, and the goose bump inspiring cover of Time After Time. The finale on Monday looks to be pulling out all the stops and I can't wait. 

Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous  Colonial Theatre  in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.

Mania Grade: B
Episode: Past is Prologue (Season 1, Episode 12)
Starring: Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Stephanie Leonidas, Mia Kirshner
Written By: Michael Nankin
Directed By: Michael Taylor
Network: SyFy Channel
Studio: Universal