Defiance: Bottom of the World and Doll Parts Review

Defiance takes it slow and ultimately satisfies in Bottom of the World and Doll Parts. Here is our review.

I’m kind of glad Defiance was two hours long this week, because I’m not sure either episode, “Bottom of the World” or “Doll Parts,” would have satisfied me on its own, but the two together felt like a intricate unfolding of relationships with a variety of changes for the principle characters to absorb and plenty of time to draw out the associated emotions. The pace was very deliberate, though, and if I had had to wait for Irzu’s plan to play out over several weeks, I think I would have gone crazy. Thank goodness there’s only the two-hour finale left!

The most exciting part of the first hour was Irisa’s theft of the terrasphere and the rapture of the chosen few Votans. I won’t pretend to understand what it all means, but at least Irzu’s plan is moving forward. Over the course of the double episode, it becomes clear that Irisa is no longer in control of the fate Irzu is steering her towards, which I’m not sure would have been as clear if there had been a week between episodes. And, as expected, the tendril-thing inside Irisa and her converts is confirmed to be the AI navigation system of the Kaziri, which seeks to wipe the planet clean for a purely Votan existence on Earth. The religious overtones of the rapture would normally be off-putting (as they often were in season 1), but the technological explanation of it all tempers the situation nicely.

And then there’s Tommy, the first human convert of the Kaziri. As cool as his recruitment was, complete with super-healing, I was relieved that the writers chose to have the Kaziri reject Tommy and his repugnant humanity, incapable of assisting with the master plan. His resulting awakening brought Tommy comfort and acceptance of his feelings for Irisa and his friendship with Nolan as well, and I felt like the old Tommy I enjoyed last season was finally back. It’s too bad Irisa had to hug him so… sharply.

Tommy’s not the only one coming to realizations about his feelings, though. The cave-in down in the gulanite mines provides the perfect circumstance for Pottinger to impress Amanda with his self-sacrifice and for Nolan to realize he doesn’t want to lose her. Berlin took the change well, but I’ll admit I did enjoy her and Nolan together while it lasted. The dialogue in the collapsed mine – and the situation overall – seemed a bit contrived, though, and this was one of the rare times that I found myself thinking more about the crime itself, the sabotaging of the mines and the killing of Ambassador Tennety, than the effects it had on the community.

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Clearly, the saboteur himself, Quentin, is feeling hurt by Rafe’s decision to abandon his mother, and the explanation of him becoming an assassin to earn money for her release is plausible if not altogether interesting. What is much more interesting, and certainly one of my favorite moments of the episode, is the reveal of Linda Hamilton playing the McCawley matriarch! She’s still as badass as ever, and I’m extremely pleased that she sided with Rafe, despite everything she could justifiably be angry with him about. Rafe has made more sacrifices than anyone between seasons 1 and 2, and I definitely hope we see him regain his former status in the town someday.

In the meantime, there’s another McCawley moving up in the world! Christie, who was such a non-entity last year, has really blossomed this season into a player that can stand alongside the ruthless Tarrs as well as the conniving McCawleys. I guess I should have been able to predict her part in the murder of Treasure Doll, but in all honesty, I was fooled. Personally, I suspected Stahma throughout the investigation, taking her at her word that she would take care of things herself. Christie’s uncharacteristic behavior was admirably explained by her heightened Castithan senses and her newfound fascination with Casti culture. Well done, Christie… it’s too bad your husband, Alak, is more changeable and prone to human weakness than you are.

I enjoyed Amanda’s transformation as she reflected on her relationship with Treasure Doll, especially coming on the heels of her near-death experience in the mines. When she sees firsthand the deal that Stahma has made with the false confessor on behalf of his daughter, she seemed more regretful of her part in pushing Deirdre too hard to fight for her man than of letting the Tarr family get away with the crime. The detail of her flashback confession to Deirdre about letting Nolan get away is also more powerful having come in the later part of the same double episode that showed Nolan coming to terms with his feelings as well. Fitting for a two-hour, slow-paced, emotional arc.

Some stray observations:

  • Nice touch including a wanted poster for Doc Yewll at the beginning of the episode!
  • The new Castithan handmaiden is super-cute. I suspect more marriage tensions ahead.
  • I’m more disappointed than I am worried with Irisa having stabbed Tommy. #Torisa
  • The two-hour finale is going to a wild ride on the Kaziri – buckle up!

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4 out of 5