Defiance: Goodbye Blue Sky Review -

Defiance Review

Mania Grade: B

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  • Episode: Goodbye Blue Sky (Season 1, Episode 8)
  • Starring: Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Stephanie Leonidas, Mia Kirshner
  • Written By: Anupam Nigam, Amanda Alpert Muscat
  • Directed by: Andy Wolk
  • Network: SyFy Channel
  • Series:

Defiance: Goodbye Blue Sky Review

Shiny Happy People

By Chuck Francisco     June 07, 2013

Non-Spoiler Review

This week's Defiance successfully weaves a number of divergent stories together into an hour of compelling entertainment. Deception and misdirection plague Rafe's home as Nicky makes an unexpected storm time visit; love is in the air for a surprising pair over at the Need Want; Doc Yewll gets her hands dirty with some Ark tech; and Irathient mysticism is front and center. An action packed first half gives way to an emotionally tumultuous second act. Goodbye Blue Sky continues upon the strength of last week's episode while additionally fleshing out this fascinating world and the characters who inhabit it. 

Full spoilers begin below

There are a number of sizable discussion point to speak on but it's the little touches this week which were vital to combining the whole into a cohesive package. The opening camera work accompanying the Spirit Riders flight from the Razor Rain storm was exciting. The kinetic nature of this sequence's visuals translated into a much more dangerous feeling, punctuated by the death of Sukar. It also lent a lucid quality to the moment, confusing Irisa and the audience about the truth (was this a premonition or was she seeing a live feed). The spinning centrifugal light on the hood of Nolan's Dodge feels like something off a Ghostbuster's proton pack, which helped establish more of the full flavor of the setting.

The more time spent with Rafe, the less he seems like a good man. He's quickly moving toward the corrupt company owner/organized crime family end of the spectrum. With the organized crime side of the equation clearly covered in the person of Datak, that leaves Rafe as the subtler, more respectable face of Defiance's under belly. Given how careful he's been, it's all the more surprising that Nicky was able to get one over on him and fool him into admitting Birch was murdered in the McCawley home. Again there's "head Luke", advising baby brother Quentin on exactly what to say. It's still not clear if Luke is a hallucination but I'd wager it's more likely that he's a manifestation caused by the alien object.

The first association that springs to mind when razor rain was mentioned is razor hail from Gears of War. In that context, it functions more like flesh shredding mega hail. Here on Defiance it's used to refer to a rain of lethal shrapnel pouring down from among the orbital ark belt (super cool name). The use of dangerous storm conditions to force characters together into confrontational situations is not a new one, but it shows great creativity to devise a unique and suitably science fiction steeped "storm". Nolan's patch into Raider Radio to warn the town further fostered the feeling of small town community, which is sometimes misplaced among the show's priorities. It very much gave this episode a "small midwestern community battening down the hatches to wait out a tornado" feel; this very much fits and enhances the setting. 

I was sad to discover that Sukar actually died as he's a figure I find quite interesting. Even more shocking was his resurrection and Wolverine level regeneration. Are we tired of nanites yet? They seem to be microscopically hiding in plain sight everywhere you look. Have they became the "radiation gave them superpowers" of the 2010's? I'm much more apt to believe their existence here since they're a part of ridiculously advanced alien technology. After saving the town from destruction they go dormant in Sukar, leaving him in a permanent coma. Very interesting will be the day when he is reactivated to serve the sentience of the ark belt. Make no mistake, we haven't seen the last of the mountainous former leader of the Spirit Riders.

Have we seen the end of Nolan and Irisa's relationship? It's doubtful that the rift formed by Nolan's actions inside the Arch will permanently sever their bond (and from our perspective he's reasonably justified), but an ever enlarging gap seems to be materializing between them. I was vey unhappy with the handling of Irisa's character this week. So much time has been spent showcasing her barely restrained lethality that relegating her to the role of useless sidelined girl, screaming for the tough men to stop their fighting, is jarring. Disarming her ability as a person because it was needed to fit the story is lazy, and removing her combat capability to shout at the boys is misogynistic. I found her lack of agency troubling all around. 

On the other hand completely, I found the subplot between Kenya and Stahma to be charming, emotionally deep, and endearing. Kenya's role has always been far from simply town prostitute, and she strikingly resembles a trained companion cut from Inara's cloth (Firefly). Her ability to comfort Stahma, see needs within her (needs plural, emotional as well as sexual), and address those on several levels is fascinating. Both actresses display a range of emotional states from vulnerability and discomfort, to brevity and sincere longing. Their on screen chemistry is fun and they bring out great things in each other. For added entertainment value, be sure to follow Jaime Murray on twitter (@DefianceWorld) as her live episode tweets are spectacular (and her back and forth with other cast members is highly engaging).

Here is yet another solid episode from the folks at SyFy. Early on it appears that the balanced episodes, which work a number of disparate plots, are the most entertaining. The intrigue is starting to deepen and the characters are solidly growing. Next week's episode sees the wrath of Datak in response to Stahma's stress relieving indiscretion, and the discovery of a US solider long left in some manner of stasis. Maybe Amanda will finally get her way and we'll be subjected to Shiny Happy People? Let's hope not. 

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.



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ddiaz28 6/7/2013 6:28:23 AM

Definitely a decent episode.  I kept thinking though if the razor rain is just space shrapnel falling from the sky, why does it cause thunder clouds and lightning to form?  Sukar dying definitely stinks because he seemed like he'd play a bigger role in the show.  And I'm usually not the horn dog here but whe Stahma and Kenya were in bed all I could think of was "If only this were on HBO".  LOL

Iridan 6/7/2013 7:17:48 AM

I think we'll be seeing Sukar again. They made the point that the nanites are still in him, but inactive.

I had to wonder how hiding in a house would protect them from metal falling from outer space. I would think they'd crash right through walls and roofs.

And yeah, how does the falling shrapnel cause lightning?

redhairs99 6/7/2013 7:58:23 AM

Isn't that unfrozen solider in the next episode that dude from Stargate Universe?  Let's hope he's taken some acting classes since then.  Couldn't stand him in that show!

I assumed Sukar is dead.  Didn't they redo the floating ceremony or whatever at the end?  I know we didn't see them dunk him in again, but I assumed that was what was going on.


almostunbiased 6/7/2013 8:53:41 AM

I thought so too redhairs, but good point Iridan.  I liked this episode as well.  Show keeps getting better, and yea the love scene (if you want to call it that) at the end definitely got my attention.


monkeyfoot 6/7/2013 11:14:13 AM

This was indeed a good episode. Great storyline and great continuation of plotlines. The argument scene between Rafe and the former mayor (can't remember her name) reminded me of Dallas or Dynasty. Good old fashioned coniviving and threating. If they were both wome there would have been hair pulling.n Great fun.

I don't like Nolan and Irisa's deteriorating relationship. It looks like they are setting her up to completely sever the father-daughter team with her going all "Dark Irisa" or maybe even killing her off.

The Kenya/Stahma scene totally shocked me. I was convinced Stahma was manipulating her for some selfish end at first. In nearly every interaction with someone, including her husband it was always to twist them for some evil end that benefits her. So I was suprised she let all her walls down at that moment. I'm pretty convinced it was genuine and from the promos from future episodes it looks like this new relationship will get her in trouble.

ThinkGeek ought to sell a gag toy called Box 'O Nanites with something magnetic like iron shavings in a clear case that moves around in spooky ways.

renderman72 6/7/2013 1:39:05 PM

 This show's still on? 



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