Defiance episode 6 review: Brothers In Arms

Billy sees an improvement in this week's Defiance, which takes in romantic complications and war crimes...

This review contains spoilers.

1.6 Brothers In Arms

Before I get into the actual mechanics of this story, I’d like to say that I think the show is getting better, after a rocky start. Some of the characters are becoming more engaging, and the performances in general are good.

Where Defiance seems to get bogged down is occasionally rough dialogue exchanges that are full of cop show or western clichés. Each time one of these happens it ruins the alternate-world context, and reminds us that the show is written to a deadline and shot on a budget.

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The action in Brothers in Arms centres on Pol Madis, a Castithan war criminal that comes to defiance pursued by an old war buddy of Nolan, Eddie Braddock. Of the two Pol Madis is by far the interesting of the two, as it transpires that he’s a sociopath with a superiority complex. When Nolan arrests Pol, who Eddie is looking to capture for bounty, that then sets them on a course for conflict, and messes up Nolan’s love life along the way. I’d thought for at least four episodes that the deal between Nolan and Kenya was far too good to be true, to the extent that I wondered if she always kept that relationship with the current sheriff for strategic reasons.

The problematic aspects of this relationship as being real are exposed when Eddie turns up, and Kenya suddenly gets sensitive to Nolan’s feelings. Except, this didn’t make much sense to me, because Nolan could have easily asked Kenya to get him some company without actually asking her personally to deal with it. And, then by ending their relationship she crushed him rather brutally, rather forgetting why she’d not serviced Eddie herself! I’ve an idea, why doesn’t Amanda take over the brothel, and Kenya become Mayor? That way Amanda could obvious work out her sexual frustrations, and Kenya could form a more meaning relationship with Nolan. Or, have I just ruined the final episode already?

Anyway, romantic complications were a subplot in this story with the dashing Connor Lang turning up to cross swords with Amanda over the jurisdiction of the now escaped Pol. I’m not sure if it was said implicitly, but the vibe (or is that ‘vibro’?) was that they’d had a previous relationship? What made me laugh here was that in the previous scenes to this Amanda was wearing her working women ensemble, and he walks in the door (and she didn’t know he was coming) and she’s suddenly she’s in a very feminine contour hugging outfit. Gosh, that was lucky.

These interactions aren’t moving many plot markers about, but they do flesh out the characters, something badly needed. While it’s easy to see these meetings as dead time in overall context of the show, without them, things can rapidly degenerate into wall-to-wall exposition.

The really interesting parts of this story revolved around Quentin, who, with the help of his dead brother, managed to dispatch Mr Birch rather easily. It seems safe to assume that the device has some means to interact with the human brain, which is creating the illusion in Quentin’s that his brother still exists. Lots of questions, but as yet few answers.

What I wasn’t so keen on was the part where he threw Birch’s body into Dante’s Drop, the nature of which we were given no explanation about. When they first mentioned this location I reasonably assumed it was a lava flow, but it’s blue, glowing and sounds like moving ice. It might be some weird geological effect of the terra-forming process, but some explanation would have helped.

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I also wasn’t keen on the critical resolution scene, where Eddie flipped wildly from being good, bad, and back to good, before being hauled away for killing Pol where he gets one last shot at being bad. This entirely undermined the rather thin character they’d built, and I can’t say I’ll be overly thrilled to see him inevitably return.

But what concerns me more is that this old war buddy story is so generic that during it you could easily forget that there was any sci-fi context whatsoever. I’m not really interested in seeing old Western scripts rehashed with thirty percent of those taking part wearing Halloween makeup. There are good and interesting things in here, the scene with Nicky and Quentin was electric, but they’re currently in the minority. I’m hoping from this point we get more Datak and less Amanda, because the show badly needs to focus what’s working.

Next week the story is called Good Bye Blue Sky, which I’m assured isn’t a long homage to the creative works of The Electric Light Orchestra.

Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, The Serpent’s Egg, here.

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