Defiance season 2 episode 2 review: In My Secret Life

After a bumpy start, Defiance is quickly on track towards an interesting second season. Here's Billy's review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.2 In My Secret Life

My disenchantment with the opening episode of Defiance was soon forgotten by this significantly better story, In My Secret Life. The theme of all the shenanigans packed into these forty-two minutes, was that we all have lives we think are secret, but they rarely are completely. 

The return of Nolan and Irisa coincides with a terrorist incident, though oddly nobody points out any potential connection. That’s good, because really there isn’t any. This has more to do with Tarrs, and their organised crime troubles, than anything Nolan should be concerning himself. But, like a moth to a flame, he’s drawn into leading the investigation with the excuse of getting Irisa out of E-Rep custody.

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There were plenty of things to like as this story unfolded, the most unexpected being how rapidly Niles Pottinger’s character is developing into a genuine protagonist. Last week he was just a puffed-up egotist with a side-line in voyeurism, but in this story he’s a much more calculated persona. I especially liked how he dealt with Datak after his so obviously contrived assassination/rescue. This came off the back of another interesting exchange with Stahma, where he shut down her drugs business, and she revealed she’s rather see Datak stay behind bars.

A decent chunk of running time was allocated to the development of a new character, the oddly likeable Jessica “Berlin” Rainier (Anna Hopkins). At first she’s presented rather unsympathetically as a fascist oppressor, but as the story develops she reveals a more complicated personality, that might flip at some point to support the good people of Defiance. Her analysis of Nolan as being based on Han Solo is elegantly observed, and the reveal as her being the new love interest of Tommy was quite unexpected.

As I write this I’m drawn to conclude that almost everything in this story was character development focused, probably to the detriment of the narrative aspects. Nolan’s investigation never really gets going, because he goes to the mine and is immediately told who his suspect is. And then, people compliment him on his work, when he did very little. Admittedly they also compliment him when he defuses the bomb under Stahma’s limo, but that’s a more plausible reaction.

What was interesting about this scene is how it clearly changes Berlin’s view of Nolan, or she becomes easily aroused by seeing people nearly blown to bits with flesh eating bugs. Whatever it is, this might not be good news for Tommy at some point. What’s pivotal about that scene in retrospect is that Stahma now has a debt to repay to Nolan, the payment of which is likely to be a critical plot point in the future.

Other seed-sowing exercises involved Alak, who progresses from irate teen to Tarr enforcer in one difficult lesson. That he was physically sick after killing someone doesn’t suggest he’s cut out for this line of business, but that’s the one his family is in.

A character I loved from season one is Doc Yewll, who had some of the driest lines. In this story, her support for Datak and past history combine to reduce her finger count. We don’t get to see how many she lost, or if her race can regenerate them, but she’s going to be super-annoyed, isn’t she? I suspect she’ll get out without Datak, somehow.

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The character that’s had the least love so far from the writers is Rafe McCawley. He doesn’t get much in this one either, so I predict he’ll either be written out or he’ll get a whole Rafe-centric story soon. It might well involve his daughter, who is feeling the full force of being the one-not-like-the-others in the Tarr household.

If there was a mild disappointment this week it was that Viceroy Berto Mercado (William Atherton) didn’t make a re-appearance. According to my sources, Atherton will be back for at least a three episode arc from episode six onwards.

After a slightly lumpy start, the wheels of this narrative roller are moving. Let’s all hope they take us somewhere interesting.

Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, The Opposite Of Hallelujah, here.

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