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- Episode: The Bride Wore Black (Season 1, Episode 10)
- Starring: Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Stephanie Leonidas, Mia Kirshner
- Written By: Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer (episode), Rockne S. O'Bannon (developer), Kevin Murphy (developer), Michael Taylor,
- Directed By: Todd Slavkin
- Network: SyFy Channel
Defiance: The Bride Wore Black Review
By Chuck Francisco
June 27, 2013
Full spoilers begin below
One hallmark of proficient story telling is found in the setup. That infrequently commented on ability to put an element into play in a way which makes it seem self contained, when in actuality it has far reaching connections. Commander McClintock's tragic condition (that his memories were placed inside an Idogene body modified to appear human) was treated as an incredibly rare circumstance two weeks ago. The end of that episode, I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, is wrapped up with a neat little bow, such that we expect to continue on this show's journey without encountering another sleeper agent. The possibility is there certainly, but the deft hands behind the show focused attention elsewhere while propagating a fast one on the audience. When clever turns like this work out they really pay off. Mayor Nicky is a prime example of this concept perfectly executed.
As an overarching (phantom) menace, Nicky has the technique of a vaudevillian puppet master. Her strings invisible, her influence hidden from view, she has instigated much of the conflict which has befallen Defiance since we claimed our front row seats. Now that she's been taken off the board, a power vacuum exists. Large scale potential conflicts loom with the E-Rep, now that Ambassador Tennety is back on scene to throw babies onto beehives in her insatiable quest for power. The sense is present that the secret Idogene agenda was far more reaching than we understand and may still be active in other parts of the world. Whatever ruthless action they'd once worked toward, it's clear that Yewll will have none of it. Trenna Keating brings a quiet, subtle sadness to her normally gruff country doctor this week. Her reluctance is understated, which speaks much more strongly than coming at Nicky's death with a heavier hand.
Tommy may be on a mission to uncover the killer of Hunter Bell, Kenya's abusive husband and a opportunistic bully, but he meets with resistance at every turn. Understandably Bell is not fondly remembered, yet he did set Tommy right at a moment where his life could have diverged down a darker path. From everything else we learn about the man, this is wildly uncharacteristic of him. In reply to Tommy's pleas, Nolan makes a statement that rings so true of so many westerns but seldom goes said: "I'm here to keep the peace, not run around like Sherlock Holmes". Obviously the first idea is the one which I'm referring to. He is a law keeper who has placed a priority on keeping peace over obtaining justice. And just like that the writers have surmised the character in easily digested, appetizer sized bites.
Rafe is so human, so flawed; it's great. I love him; I hate him; he makes me loathe him. Then he comes along in an episode, out maneuvers Datak handily, then is in touch enough with his core values that he can reach out and welcome Alak into his family. He seems to be the only parent among the three who appraised this marriage along noble lines. He further was able to appraise Alak's earnest love with a fatherly glare. From that point forward, the Castithan boy was under his protection. The face off between the two fathers was brilliant, even if it was spoiled by the previews, and I completely expected Graham Geene to add the Untouchables knife to a gun fight flourish (he's certainly old enough to remember it, according to the time line). Rafe's the guy you so want to like, you want him to be better than he is, but he's so human that he frequently fails (as we all do).
Stahma fooled me again; totally. Jaime Murray you wonderful actress you. I completely bought her fake sincerity as she bonds with Christy. As she whispers sweet, endearing Castithan titles to her, then relents AND crafts a traditional human veil for her heart daughter, it seemed as though there was some truth to the feelings she was projecting. So my near audible gasp as she feigns ignorance to Datak regarding the whereabouts of the headpiece should surprise no one. If she keeps this up, she may well surpass Giaus Baltar as my favorite duplicitous character in science fiction.
Defiance typically packs a dense amount of content into its allotted hour, but this week's episode may take the cake of concurrent elements. Smart pacing can only take a show so far. After a point it has to give way to clever plot construction and a strong guiding hand. The sum total of this is that I looked over at my clock during a commercial break, expecting only twenty more minutes of TV, and was shocked (and delighted) to see only twenty minutes had eclipsed already. Perhaps it's a subtle thing, whatever secret sauce the show runners are drizzling on our desert; I find myself perpetually ready for more.
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.