Defiance season 1 finale review: Everything Is Broken

Review Billy Grifter 10 Jul 2013 - 12:20

Defiance concludes a bumpy first season with a finale that leaves more threads hanging than Billy would have liked...

This review contains spoilers.

1.12 Everything Is Broken

I'll admit from the outset that Everything is Broken started very well, and showed some real ambition that has been sadly missing up until now, but ultimately, annoyed the hell out of me.
I said last week that the penultimate episode was really the first part of an extended story, only to realise this week that it was only a third. The final part's conclusions we must now wait eleven months for, frustratingly.

Where the finale was undoubtedly at its best, as it has been all season, was with Stahma and Datak. For twelve episodes, the writers have been playing a game where we get to guess just how ruthless they are, and now finally in this story it's painted big and colourfully.

It wasn't much of a guess that Datak wouldn't get what he wanted, though when he was actually made Mayor it looked like he'd achieved that desire. All along, Datak has been all about respect, and the getting of it. When he discovered that he'd inherited a title where the E-Rep had taken all his power, the results weren't pretty. To me, this highlighted the nature of the senior Tarrs, who each represent two sides of a single personality. Stahma is cerebral and sensual, where Datak is primal rage that's barely contained. Great acting from both, and a lovely line, "I miss home", to underline how out of place they really are on Earth.

Of the two, Stahma is by far the more complicated, which made her killing of Kenya somewhat unexpected, even if it was obvious that whatever happened, they'd not be leaving Defiance together. She tells Datak that she's done as he asked, though we've no way of knowing if she's really killed Kenya, or if she'll wake up on a cross country bus next season.

Dying in this show is clearly a less than final thing, as proven by the reappearance of Sukar, whom - as I'd commented in episode seven - we'd not seen take a second acid bath after Nolan shot him dead. Not entirely dead it seems, not enough to miss a quick conversation with Irisa, anyway. I hope he does come back fully, as he's fun.

Where the story started to fall apart was when Irisa was captured by the E-Rep and they tried to get the artefacts out of her body. What was most irritating about this was the effects budget didn't really seem to stretch to showing much of what actually happened. For at least the third time recently we were presented with a scene where plenty had just happened, without actually witnessing it. In the end the whole plot with her gaining entrance to the alien ship in the mine seemed an anticlimax rather than the opposite, though at least they didn't write Nolan out too.

I've seen a number of people conclude that Irisa died when she fell into the ship, which I didn't assume at all. Yes, there was plenty of talk of ultimate sacrifice, but I suspect she'll be back, even if as a ghost to haunt Nolan's quiet moments.

What we were left with in the end was almost no resolution whatsoever. What happened ultimately to Kenya (who may or may not be dead), Tommy, Doctor Yewll, Irisa, Sukar, Stahma and Datak? No idea. Anything is possible, as we weren't given any hints to even point the way. I wonder if the point of this was to give the writers maximum flexibility to re-jig the show in almost whatever way they want without having any big plot issues.

With the exception of Nolan, which characters are likely to show up in season two is pure conjecture now. I don't mind a few hooks to make me watch the second season, but that's far too many things up in the air, and probably too many to be sorted out by the season's opening episode.

The first season of Defiance has been a somewhat bumpy ride, like a long distance roller expedition with only three wheels. When it's good, then the characters are engaging and their motivations interesting, but somehow it's failed to so far join all the dots. The arc of the golden pretzel was rather weak, and needed more explanation of what the ship in the mine might do once Irisa became its 'weapon'. Without exception, the Tarrs had all the best scenes and dialogue, and I'd been majorly concerned if they weren't centre-stage in the second season.

While not gripping on occasion, Defiance's first season was by no means Revolution-abysmal, and as such I'll be tuning in to cover it again when it returns in June 2014. 

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, Past Is Prologue, here.

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