This review contains spoilers.
1.8 I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
When the fragment fell from the sky last week, I couldn’t imagine we wouldn’t end up investigating the wreck, and that’s exactly where this story started.
Predictably it fell for a purpose, and that was to deliver Gordon McClintock, ancient NASA astronaut to Earth. If this sounds vaguely familiar, then it’s because this is yet another reworking of the Buck Rogers concept, which was heavily mined with Farscape. I mention that only because Rockne S. O’Bannon is a writer and executive producer on this series, and was also the creator of Farscape. It seemed rather implausible that he wasn’t turned to mush by the g-forces of the landing, but everyone in Defiance seems happy to see him.
Is it just me, or are Astronauts never that young these days? They’ve usually had a long military career before coming to NASA, and that would generally make them more than the 31 years that Brian J. Smith brings to this role.
That point aside, it’s obvious from the outset that McClintock isn’t what he’s assumed to be, and eventually the good people of the town work out that he’s not the hero he appears to be. This plot never really went anywhere for me, and the ending was just plain annoying. Was it really necessary to actually show him meeting his wife again in its entirety? It didn’t add anything, and the screen time it occupied could have been better used elsewhere. A simple shot of him walking towards the farm would have sufficed, and let the audience paint their own picture for the rest. What also wasn’t resolved was that he was programmed to kill Earth’s dignitaries, and presumably he’s still inclined to do that?
While this part was a standalone story, they also threw in two subplots that are part of the greater season arc. There’s the one about nasty Earth Republic wanting to get control of Defiance, and there’s the ongoing relationship between Kenya and the Tarrs.
The first of those was marred by a really cheesy performance by Gale Harold as the overly confident Connor Land. I know the audience is meant to be conflicted in the same way that Amanda obviously is about Connor, but a performance that doesn’t include painfully obviously placing of hands and tilting of the head like a wading bird would suffice. And, why does he dress like an extra from the Smooth Criminal sequence in Moonwalker?
The scene where Connor offers Amanda a job near the statue made me laugh unintentionally, mostly because I’d never taken a good look at the sculpture before. The soldier with the baby reminded me of the one that Ted paints when in the Ronald Reagan Hospital for the Mentally Ill, in Airplane 2. Surely, some mistake… and, stop calling me Shirley.
That only leaves the tamest interspecies lesbian relationship on fantasy TV to cover, for what progression we got to this subplot. Last week’s rest of season peek gave away that Datak eventually finds out that his wife is secretly seeing Kenya, so the notching up of the tension in this didn’t really come as much surprise. What struck me most was that Kenya has got emotionally involved with both Nolan and now Stahma, which suggests that in terms of compartmentalising sex and work, she doesn’t seem ideally suited to her chosen occupation.
If there was a redeeming aspect is was how Stahma explained her survival strategy, which reminded me that she’s a more complex character than she first appears. Why she felt it necessary to share this with Kenya, I’m unsure, but she generally does things for a good reason. She’s still the most interesting character in Defiance, and only Jaime Murray has the acting chops in this production to be quite so mercurial. Stahma’s obviously better adjusted to do Kenya’s job than she is, perhaps they could swap?
Was there much else to like? Probably the highlight for me was the use of Man Out of Time by Elvis Costello, if I’m honest. This episode didn’t carry the momentum that the previous story generated well, and I can also hope that episode nine picks up the pace again.
Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, Goodbye Blue Sky, here.
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