I’m feeling conflicted. Although “History Rhymes” was another excellent episode of Defiance, its placement directly after last week’s detour from the main storyline means we’ve now had two weeks in a row with little movement forward. General Tahk is taking his sweet time arriving at the town gates, and the Omec are still slowly gathering their gulanite.
Certainly, Alak’s escape was a small but important step, and the Nolan and Irisa backstory was enriching – a fine bit of storytelling. It’s just that now the pacing is a bit off.
Regardless, it makes sense that the so-called “Butcher of Yosemite” would have a violent past and that Irisa would have to endure some brutality during Nolan’s ark hunting days, and I enjoyed seeing this earlier stage in the development of their relationship. I’m also on board with Irisa’s sudden abhorrence for killing, even though it’s a shame since she’s just so damn good at it, but forcing the two to remain within a mile of each other now seems cruel given what they learned from having their minds linked. Irisa as a tragic figure has always been a strength of the series, but sometimes it’s painful to bear, albeit in a good way.
What’s painful in a less enjoyable sense is the stalled mission of Rahm Tahk, who once again is unceremoniously tossed to the ground by a single assailant. The Castithan general was set up as the perfect villain in earlier episodes and now is becoming the vehicle for jokes featuring Little Shop of Horrors. I’m sure his genocidal tendencies will become quite clear in later episodes, but it’s frustrating to have him make this superfluous pit stop to buy weapons. I’m happy that Alak escaped, of course, but it was just too easy for him to get one over on the general.
At least the young Tarr was reunited with his equally stymied parents this week, which hopefully will get their deviousness back on the right track as well. I’m not used to Datak and Stahma floundering so much in the face of adversity. Where seduction and a sniper rifle have failed, perhaps the return of their hostage son will embolden them once more. I’m anxious to see what Alak will do and to witness Tahk falling prey to the seemingly inevitable Tarr betrayal. Whatever happens, though, these are elements the narrative desperately needs sooner rather than later.
There were a few payoffs this week, as well as a bit of foreshadowing of future dangers in store. I appreciated the addition of the veterinarian as assistant to Doc Yewll; the always witty doctor desperately needed a target for her dry humor. It was also nice to see Kindzi again as her talents in biotech become known, and if anyone out there actually believes the young Omec actually destroyed the Indogene brain juice as her father ordered, I’ve got an arch in St. Louis to sell you.
Some obvious questions arise to keep the speculation interesting. What will Alak do with his murderous mother, who, although she had little choice, did not put up much of a fight when being forced to kill Christie? How will Nolan and Irisa react to their new knowledge about each other’s past and their inability to be apart? And then there’s the difficulty of the town still being without weapons in the face of attack.
Perhaps next week will bring the long-awaited battle of humans versus Votans. As Defiance reaches its halfway point, the pressure is on to bring the action the show is known for. I can’t criticize this episode for the strength of its story, only for its potential for stagnation. I’d rather the series not imitate the town that is its namesake, a town which has fallen on hard times with buildings in disrepair. On this 4th of July weekend, I’d rather see fireworks!