Defiance season 2 episode 3 review: The Cord And The Ax

Review Billy Grifter 4 Jul 2014 - 16:00

Defiance is in danger of losing its jeopardy, argues Billy. Here's his review of The Cord And The Ax...

This review contains spoilers.

2.3 The Cord And The Ax

Having laid out the new status quo and character motivations in the first two episodes, in The Cord And The Ax the writers set out on a destructive path to destabilise just about every cosy structure they’d previously created. In doing this, they delivered both the very best of what Defiance does, and some of the worst, for good measure.

Where the episode really worked well was the whole Amanda/Nolan/Pottinger dynamic, in which having a foot in each camp makes Amanda a significantly more interesting character than before. Her assault on the difficult customer demonstrated a whole new side, one who isn’t beyond some excessive violence. That was an unexpected direction, and the announcement that Christie is expecting is another. I’d have preferred some explanation as to how two species that evolved on different planets could share enough DNA to make this possible, but it binds Rafe back into the bigger story quite conveniently.

So far so good. However, where I really started to diverge with this story was the whole Irisa arc, and her killing people in what initially seems entirely random fashion. It's too early to deduce yet where this will ultimately take us, but it concerns me that the writers have created a character in the form of Irzu that seems to have no obvious limitations whatsoever. Kill someone, bring them back to life, be real or imaginary, blow up computers, give someone the strength of ten people, Irzu doesn’t know where to stop. That could be disastrous for future plots, because any situation can be diffused or solved by the actions of this entity. What’s more confusing is that it acts like that’s not so, trying to dissuade Irisa from killing herself, knowing full well that if she did, rebuilding her wouldn't be a problem. It had better turn out to be a power for good, because if it’s for bad I don’t see how it might reasonably be stopped.

Perhaps I’m seeing phantoms, but is the entity seeking out one of each species it encounters to kill and then regenerate? Is that part of a master-plan to control, or protect them? What we’re meant to wonder, and quite reasonably, is that if it can bring the dead body of Bertie back to life, who else lying in a shallow grave might reappear? I’ve no indication that Kenya will be back, but it’s now a possibility.

I find this all concerning because once you go past the line where dead characters don’t remain that way, you’re undermining all jeopardy situations going forward. I’d also like to put on record how much I disliked the sex-obsessed DJ character that was introduced, and hope that Alak does indeed kick her off the Arch pronto.

This all said, I did like the flashback sequence where we see who I assumed to be Irisa’s mother (or relative) aboard a colonisation vessel 3,000 years before. She clearly took control of the ship to stop them colonising Earth then, but at what cost? Whatever the bigger story arc, they need to shackle Irzu before it becomes the go-to in solving any narrative problem, as all powerful things have a tendency to become.

The dramatic return of Datak to the Tarrs household was a fitting ending. Datak is the primal force here, and he takes little time to reassert his dominance on all parties.

The big mistake that Datak makes - even if the show would miss Jamie Murray terribly - is leaving Stahma alive. Because she’s not a women who will take being nearly drowned in her own bath well, or lying down. I can’t see one of these two surviving the season, and at the moment my money is on the wily old Stahma.

While I have my worries, I can’t deny that season two of Defiance has some interesting new story threads and character developments to follow. And, because of that I’m keen to see where episode four takes us.

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, In My Secret Life, here.

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