Defiance episode 8 review: I Just Wasn't Made For These Times

Review Billy Grifter 12 Jun 2013 - 10:15

Defiance loses momentum in its latest episode. Here's Billy's review of I Just Wasn't Made For These Times...

This review contains spoilers.

1.8 I Just Wasn't Made For These Times

When the fragment fell from the sky last week, I couldn't imagine we wouldn't end up investigating the wreck, and that's exactly where this story started.

Predictably it fell for a purpose, and that was to deliver Gordon McClintock, ancient NASA astronaut to Earth. If this sounds vaguely familiar, then it's because this is yet another reworking of the Buck Rogers concept, which was heavily mined with Farscape. I mention that only because Rockne S. O'Bannon is a writer and executive producer on this series, and was also the creator of Farscape. It seemed rather implausible that he wasn't turned to mush by the g-forces of the landing, but everyone in Defiance seems happy to see him.

Is it just me, or are Astronauts never that young these days? They've usually had a long military career before coming to NASA, and that would generally make them more than the 31 years that Brian J. Smith brings to this role.

That point aside, it's obvious from the outset that McClintock isn't what he's assumed to be, and eventually the good people of the town work out that he's not the hero he appears to be. This plot never really went anywhere for me, and the ending was just plain annoying. Was it really necessary to actually show him meeting his wife again in its entirety? It didn't add anything, and the screen time it occupied could have been better used elsewhere. A simple shot of him walking towards the farm would have sufficed, and let the audience paint their own picture for the rest. What also wasn't resolved was that he was programmed to kill Earth's dignitaries, and presumably he's still inclined to do that?

While this part was a standalone story, they also threw in two subplots that are part of the greater season arc. There's the one about nasty Earth Republic wanting to get control of Defiance, and there's the ongoing relationship between Kenya and the Tarrs.

The first of those was marred by a really cheesy performance by Gale Harold as the overly confident Connor Land. I know the audience is meant to be conflicted in the same way that Amanda obviously is about Connor, but a performance that doesn't include painfully obviously placing of hands and tilting of the head like a wading bird would suffice. And, why does he dress like an extra from the Smooth Criminal sequence in Moonwalker?

The scene where Connor offers Amanda a job near the statue made me laugh unintentionally, mostly because I'd never taken a good look at the sculpture before. The soldier with the baby reminded me of the one that Ted paints when in the Ronald Reagan Hospital for the Mentally Ill, in Airplane 2. Surely, some mistake... and, stop calling me Shirley.

That only leaves the tamest interspecies lesbian relationship on fantasy TV to cover, for what progression we got to this subplot. Last week's rest of season peek gave away that Datak eventually finds out that his wife is secretly seeing Kenya, so the notching up of the tension in this didn't really come as much surprise. What struck me most was that Kenya has got emotionally involved with both Nolan and now Stahma, which suggests that in terms of compartmentalising sex and work, she doesn't seem ideally suited to her chosen occupation. 

If there was a redeeming aspect is was how Stahma explained her survival strategy, which reminded me that she's a more complex character than she first appears. Why she felt it necessary to share this with Kenya, I'm unsure, but she generally does things for a good reason. She's still the most interesting character in Defiance, and only Jaime Murray has the acting chops in this production to be quite so mercurial. Stahma's obviously better adjusted to do Kenya's job than she is, perhaps they could swap?

Was there much else to like? Probably the highlight for me was the use of Man Out of Time by Elvis Costello, if I'm honest. This episode didn't carry the momentum that the previous story generated well, and I can also hope that episode nine picks up the pace again.

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, Goodbye Blue Sky, here.

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i gave up on this show after three episodes. after reading this review its pretty clear none of its problems have gone away. i wont say its terrible. its just not worth the time.

I'm still hanging in on there, just. One thing that might make me turn it off are the annoyingly large "Lost Girl next" bits that take over the bottom left of the screen every time the programme comes back from a break. I don't watch Lost Girl, I don't want to watch Lost Girl and I'm sure anyone who does knows full well that it's on next and don't need reminding every 15 minutes. Or do Syfy's execs think their viewers are thick with a 15 minute memory? Oh and the "Tweets" and message the voice over reads out during the breaks sound made up. No one, and I repeat no one could describe Defiance and "unmissable" or "highlight of the week". To be honest I'm only watching it so that I don't get too distracted and miss Hannibal on UK Living that starts just as this finishes.

I found it an average episode - interesting enough on its own terms to keep my attention. The developing character arcs were referenced too, though in a subordinate way, almost as if they were nailed on later. Was this a script commissioned early, before the narrative momentum got going? I was disappointed to see that there was another attack on my favourite sharp-tongued alien doctor bar one - I am afraid Syfy are going to dump her (hopefully not as crudely as they dumped Haven's original Doctor). After the loss of Sukar last week, that's an unwise dilution of the range of characters portrayed. I think we needed to be reminded that Defiance exists on the brink of an ugly re-ignition of the War and that past wrongs (on both sides) are going to have to be forgiven if the people of the town as a whole are to survive. The episode lit that fuse.

Lost Girl is better than you imagine.

Just wondering why Orphan Black isn't being reviewed here...

On the subject of astronaut age, I believe Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were both 39 when they landed on the moon

Defiance can't decide if it's a Western, sci-fi, thriller or Battlestar clone set in a town. so it tries to be all of these, and it simply can't pull it off. While I liked Nolan at the start, the speed with which he's become the Mayor's most ardent supporter rather than the individualist free-ranger he was is dizzying. Tick-tack-Tarr is one minute a seething badass in a bid for ultimate power, then it turns out he's just a pawn of his wife, who is cheating on him with the Mayor's I'll-shag-anyone-for-money-and-then-for-free-for-pleasure-cos-clearly-I'm-some-sort-of-nympho sister.
They shouldn't have killed off Pol Madis, seeing someone who freely admits they just like killing people was a rare refresh from someone who justifies it with their horrible childhood (Rehn) or in the name of 'Irzu', or to protect the town of Defiance where humans inexplicably love and work beside the aliens who have ruined their planet.
it needs to decide what it is, and fast.
Oh and I also hate the endless trails for Lost Girl. it looks crap and I'm never going to watch it.

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