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- Episode: Everything is Broken (Episode 13, Season 1)
- Starring: Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Stephanie Leonidas, Mia Kirshner
- Written By: Kevin Murphy
- Directed By: Michael Nankin
- Network: SyFy Channel
- Studio: Universal Studios
Defiance: Everything is Broken Review
Does Defiance go out with a sufficient bang?
By Chuck Francisco
July 11, 2013
Full spoilers begin below!
If the episodes of a normal TV show are like the soft and disused muscles of a cubicle bound weekend warrior, this week's Defiance stacks up like a Greek god by comparison. I'm continually amazed at the content density brought to bear by this show. Yet even though so much is being accomplished each week, nothing ever feels rush; the pacing is perfect. Defiance offers its own brand of time travel: making an hour block feel like an engrossing ninety minutes. I scarcely know where to begin.
The logical jumping off point would be the mondo mystery reveal: the artifacts which have made their home inside Irisa are actually keys to a genocidal weapon, long hidden beneath the surface of St. Louis. If triggered, it has the capability to wipe out all humans or all votans. The origin of this craft will likely form the basis of season two's enduring mystery. Why did this extinction level device arrive on Earth so far in advance of the collective of alien races? Were they planning our demise before setting out, or was this a scout ship which the Indogenes equipped to erase indigenous life it might happen upon? Despite the awesome capacity for destruction, this ship or weapon also possesses the capacity for great good, clearly able to resurrect the fallen dead.
I could not believe in the truth of the moment immediately following Nolan's last breath. While this is an ensemble cast, the former ark hunter is practically the primary focal point. My mind raced with possibilities: could Defiance work without him? Should it? How would this effect the dynamic of the show and who would assume the principal spotlight? After wiping away the cold sweat, a conclusion ricocheted around the inside walls of my skull: while this show has the balls to make such a command structure change, its crew are also intelligent enough to recognize the mistake that would represent. The impact would be deep but the show would suffer without the rugged Grant Bowler. After picking up on the buzz in the air, his resurrection in exchange for Irisa's sacrifice was nearly guaranteed.
Unfortunately for Kenya, she decided to enter into a lethal stakes chess match with a master manipulator and fell one move behind. Stahma appeared to have been backed into a corner with no escape, but fans of the show know that this is where she is at her most dangerous. Over the past two episodes, Stahma has revealed herself to be a sociopath, having no empathy for any other beings beyond her immediate family. That she would have to murder Kenya to remain in Datak's good graces was foreshadowed by Alak's penance last week. The day that Datak loses the graces of Stahma is the day the entire pantheon of Castithan deities had better have marshaled to his aid, because that's the only thing which could protect him.
Did Back Jonah's mannerisms strike anyone else as completely odd? At first I found him quite campy, which didn't exude the menace expected from a mercenary interrogator. With more screen time he developed into an unbalanced madman with a foppish streak smile wide. As a character, I don't believe I ever cared for him one way or another; a mistake when he could have been someone impeccably menacing like Giancarlo Espositio on Revolution. Still, he doesn't seem to have lived long enough to matter, but he did setup the most entertaining line of the whole episode: "What's a golf ball?". Doc Yewll coated that one in such disdain. Perfect.
Mayor Datak's first order of business is to murder his E-Rep co-conspirator for disrespecting him. It's a wonder that officer rose so far up the ranks without possessing any modicum of interpersonal skills. Did he think the Castithan gangster was going to simply allow him to walk away as insult was piled upon insult? The ensuing gun fight when Defiance resumes is going to be awesome. The last few episodes have been hammering home the point that Castithans are culturally very different from humans, despite general physical similarities and public behavior. Kenya and the colonel learned the lesson with their lives. Many others doubtlessly will too.
So as the stakes come more clearly into focus, and open war is looming at the horizon like black, semiautomatic storm clouds, will the town of Defiance tear itself apart before the E-Rep can murder them all to take it? Season one has been highly speculative, imaginative, inventive, and (most importantly) entertaining. The only downside is the nearly year long delay for new episodes, debuting in June 2014. If the cunning plan behind that was to persuade me to play the Defiance video game to tide myself over on this world until then, congrats SyFy; you caught me hook, line, and sinker. It's still going to be a long year waiting to discover how these cliffhangers resolve themselves.
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.