Defiance episode 9 review: If I Ever Leave This World Alive

Defiance needs to step away from the Western genre and forge its own identity, suggests Billy...

This review contains spoilers.

1.9 If I Ever Leave This World Alive

Pacing a story isn’t easily, but If I Ever Leave This World Alive wasn’t a master class in this art, or even a close attempt.

My immediate reaction to the plague plot was to recall that in the first season of Deadwood there was an epidemic, and this reworking of that idea didn’t actually bring much new to the scenario. Put people under pressure and they’ll return to old and well worn discriminations, which is really easy when they’re different species. What kept going through my mind in this largely uninteresting collection of people who are clearly infected, but say they’re ‘just sweating’, was the story of how Star Trek started.

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The story goes that Gene Roddenberry sold the concept of the show to NBC as “Wagon Train to the Stars”, although that’s not what he intended to make. And, nearly fifty years later, Defiance has essentially done the opposite, by promising something out of this world, and yet delivering Wagon Train instead.

That said, it wasn’t without a few redemptions for those with the patience to wait till much deeper into the narrative.

The first of those came in the machinations of Nicky. Her meeting with Quentin answered many questions, if all of what she told him was the truth. I was rather surprised that he gave up the golden pretzel so easily, but it wasn’t that well-made a prop, so I guess it doesn’t matter. Presumably once you’ve got the silver one of these then you can terraform, not that Defiance really needs that right now. I don’t often get subtle things right in my reviews, but I did pick up the hint of the relationship between her and Rafe McCawley in the ‘you know the way’ comment from the previous episode. Rafe really can pick them, can’t he?

So Quentin heads off to find his bi-polar mother and get that rat poison on rye that he’s always wanted, which given his limited contributions since the dead of Birch isn’t much of a loss. But hers wasn’t the only character to exit, and if you’ve not seen the episode I’d not read on from here.

Datak and Stahma are the real stars of this show, and it does come alive when they’re centre stage. The climatic sequence, where Datak comes to the aid of Connor and Nolan only to take the opportunity to kill one of them off, was well delivered. Actually, he wanted to kill them both, but was thinking tactically enough to realise that making it believable was going to be problematic. The death of Connor was an unexpected twist, just as I was beginning to warm to his smooth criminal dress code. It’s very clear that Stahma is the real player here, but Datak is the weapon of choice.

What Datak might not know is that when humans are unconscious the last sense that shuts down is hearing, so there isn’t any guarantee that Nolan didn’t hear exactly what went on. Or, through some symmetrical stone stacking ceremony he’ll be able to remember.

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Datak continues to position himself, with the help of Stahma, to replace Amanda. Rafe is down to one of three children, and Nicky is a third of the way to her master plot and is recruiting the Doctor as a Birch replacement. It’s all a bit well, soap, isn’t it?

It ended much better than it started, though frankly you could have hacked twenty minutes out of this story and not missed anything of any great significance.

Next week election fever is the pathogen of choice. Kenya’s ex-husband turns up very dead indeed, and that might have serious implications for the marriage of Alak and Christie.

This show needs to stop trying to be a western, and create its own identity, or I’ll need some serious convincing to watch the promised season two. 

Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times, here.

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