The minds behind SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica are back with Defiance. Developed for television by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy, and Michael Taylor, and produced by Universal Cable Productions, it just might be the perfect new show for the network. Defiance‘s Facebook fan page already has people expressing their excitement for something to fill the void left by Battlestar‘s departure in 2009. The show even has a companion video game, with each one implementing and influencing the other with every episode (which is pretty awesome, if you think about it).Naturally, there’s been a lot of social media buzz about both the game and the show. There are lots of extended trailers on the fan page, and one link lets you watch the entire first fourteen minutes without commercial interruption. The story begins in the year 2046, thirty three years after the Votans arrived on Earth when their own star system was destroyed. The Votans aren’t just one species of alien, though…there are seven (possibly eight) different races that vary in appearance and ideologies, but have managed to coexist peacefully for the most part on their former planets. They travel to Earth in spaceships known as Arks, thinking that our planet is uninhabited. Whoops! Needless to say, this created a few problems that resulted in the Pale Wars, which literally transformed the face of Earth.
Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) is a futuristic Indiana Jones type of guy, scruffy with a penchant for getting into trouble, making his way around the new world with his adopted Irathient alien daughter, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). The landscape is bleak, and Nolan is an Ark hunter, looking for the ships that have fallen to Earth and harvesting their alien technology for big bucks. He was ten years old when the Votans arrived (in an eerie opening scene, where the Arks descend on a group of people enjoying a nice sunny day in the park). When an Ark crashes up ahead of them, he and Irisa find it and score an important piece called a terrasphere that looks like a giant Dungeons and Dragons die, only to have some of their stash (and their vehicle) taken by a roving band of Irathients. (Alien languages in Defiance come courtesy of David J. Peterson, who has also done work for Game of Thrones).Nolan and Irisa flee into the woods, but Irisa’s been injured, and they meet up with some (what I think are) Hellbugs. They come in all shapes and sizes, but these evil bastards are about the size of a rhinoceros and look like a cross between a wolf and a spider. Nolan buries the terrasphere and runs out of ammunition, but they are saved by a group of humans who take them to the city of Defiance, which is the former St. Louis, Missouri, and only recognizable by its large metal arch.Defiance is a city built on second chances and new beginnings. After the Pale Wars, aliens and humans are trying to coexist within its borders. Problem is, it’s also a city that represents the world at large, and there is going to be conflict inside those borders. When Nolan arrives, Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz), who has only been in power for three weeks, is holding an Armistice Day festival. There is obvious tension between the two biggest rival families, one alien, the other human. Datak and Stahma Tarr (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray) are pale eyed, pale skinned Castithians; Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene) is a wealthy miner looking out for his family. Seems like there’s a little Romeo and Juliet action going on between their kids, but it’s only hinted at in the ceremony. We see more later on when Christie McCawley (Nicole Muñoz) and Alak Tarr (Jesse Rath) meet up at a party, only to get in a fight with her older brother Luke.Nolan gets invited to Amanda’s office, where he makes it clear that he does not intend to put down roots in the town. Irisa is being cared for in the hospital by Dr. Yewll (Trenna Keating), and the mayor suggests that Nolan leave as soon as she’s better, also agreeing to give him back his weapon. He ends up at the Need / Want, a brothel/store run by Kenya (Mia Kershner). When Nolan tells her he needs to make some money, fast, she directs him to the Hollows, which is basically an underground fighting ring overseen by Datak (surprise, surprise, since we’ve already found out that he’s a slumlord who rules his section of town with threats and violence). Nolan manages to beat a foe much larger than he is, and Datak is intrigued. Or perturbed. He always looks angry so I can’t really tell.Back at the McCawley household, everyone is settling in for dinner until Mayor Rosewater shows up to tell Rafe that his older son has been murdered. Rafe goes to confront Alak, who has no clue what’s happened, even though he and Luke fought earlier. Nolan tries to make the best of a bad situation, but things get heated, and the lead detective ends up dead. I’m starting to get the feeling that Nolan is going to stay in Defiance a lot longer than he planned, either because he’s starting trouble, or trying to prevent it. And I must admit that I love seeing Irisa roll her eyes at him repeatedly, knowing he’s kind of an idiot. Seems like he’s found himself a new job, since he’s a tracker by trade and is willing to find Luke’s killer…for the right price. Irisa is held by the deputy as “bounty” until Nolan completes the job.