Defiance: Broken Bough review

Defiance builds up tension, deception, and character flaws for both the villains and the heroes that could be their undoing.

This Defiance review contains spoilers.

The Tarrs can always be counted on for a carefully woven, delicately balanced deception in Defiance, and the one that’s developing in “Broken Bough” promises to explode in everyone’s face very soon. But the new villain of the season, General Rahm Tahk of the Votanis Collective, both overshadows and contributes to their duplicity, bringing a hefty amount of necessary evil to a town that has lost much of its former glory.

I say necessary because each of the characters in this show have had their chance in the first two seasons to assert their roles within the town of Defiance. The impending attack from the VC promises to shake things up in an exciting way that could tear apart friendships and unite enemies against a common foe. Already the groundwork is being laid for intriguingly difficult times ahead for the show’s heroes. Everybody likes a good come-from-behind victory!

And it’s not as if we didn’t expect the Tarrs to betray their human neighbors anyway; they’re most interesting when they’re at their most duplicitous. Passing information to Rahm Tahk about Nolan’s approach and sabotaging the town’s armory elicits a knowing nod from the audience, even though everyone is in mortal danger. It’s easy to smile at Stahma’s discomfort at the idea of blowing up the St. Louis arch because it’s so deliciously destructive and completely manipulative.

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Similarly, viewers are meant to cheer on Nolan and Irisa, the obvious protagonists, even as they make mistakes and encounter sabotage. It’s both refreshing and frustrating that Irisa is having trouble using lethal force, since her out-of-control killer instinct from last season both explains her current reticence and creates a striking contrast between the deadly Irathient we’ve come to know and love and the sympathetic, damaged creature we now see. I especially enjoyed the maternal instincts she displayed when caring for Alak’s child.

She’d certainly make a better mother than Pilar, who takes a predictable path in this episode. The audience is meant to despise her, of course, so it was a great joy to see Nolan easily figure out her attempt to steal their roller and continue on her grandmotherly murder spree. And who could possibly overlook the great Terminator reference for actress Linda Hamilton: “Come with me if you want to live.” Great character!

More troubling than Pilar’s attempt to disrupt the stealthy infiltration of Rahm Tahk’s camp, however, was the ease with which the Votanis Collective was overcome. Despite losing the element of surprise, Nolan is able to take out a majority of the hardened soldiers, and Irisa is able to get the drop on Tahk. Really?? The overly simple victory made Irisa’s hesitation even more painful, but not in a good way. Considering the destruction the Castithan general is likely to inflict in the future, this missed opportunity will likely haunt Irisa even more than most of her many disappointments, but it will haunt me even more because it was a chance so easily gained.

Still a strong episode, though, and I’m anxious to see the inhabitants of Defiance clash with the VC death squad in coming episodes. I’m particularly interested to see what the Omec will do, since they are dependent on the gulanite mines for their own mission. Will they help the humans that are providing them sanctuary or assist in a massacre against an inferior species? With Stahma putting the moves on T’evgin, it’s anyone’s guess, but the elements are there for a fierce and potentially glorious battle.

Defiance is headed in the right direction but remains delightfully unpredictable, making for an entertaining show with plenty of action, conflict, and character interest. I can’t wait to see what happens in the coming weeks, but with such believable villains and flawed heroes, it’s bound to be a fun season.

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4 out of 5