Defiance Season 2 Premiere Review: The Opposite of Hallelujah

The Defiance season 2 premiere delivers! A fine welcome back for Syfy's flagship show.

It’s another Founder’s Day in Defiance, and what a difference a year makes! Interim Mayor Pottinger puts a happy face on the “hard workers” and “inclusiveness” of the nine months of E-Rep rule, but the pleasant surprise of the Defiance season 2 premiere is that it makes the entire first season read like exposition. Everything has been shaken up, mostly for the better.

Amanda Rosewater feels much more genuine as the proprietor of the Need Want than she ever did as mayor, whether she’s paying Stahma Tarr the Castithan crime family’s cut of the profits or indulging in a little “blue devil” pick-me-up. With these new flaws, her decision to take the job as Pottinger’s chief of staff doesn’t seem as naive and idealistic as it would have last year.

Likewise, Alak’s new position as head of the Tarr crime organization is so much more believable than his previous role as disc jockey in the St. Louis arch. I find myself wondering if his kindness to the blue devil supplier would have paid off or worked against him had his mother not intervened. Profits are up, Mom, stop interfering! And for god’s sake, stop bathing alone! (On second thought – no, don’t stop doing that.)

But you KNOW Stahma manipulating the family business while maintaining Alak as a figurehead leader will be enticingly evil. I mean, Stahma proved by visiting her husband at Camp Reverie that she’s fairly skilled at, um, manipulating things. It’s too bad Doc Yewll isn’t a little more adept in that arena; poor Datak.

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By far the most interesting part of the episode centered around Irisa, who has been missing from Nolan’s life since he was resurrected. She predictably won’t tell her adoptive father what really happened during last year’s finale, but the young female manifestation of the god, Irzu, still haunts Irisa and has turned her into a true Angel of Death, as prophesied. I can’t wait to see how long she can keep her true nature secret from those around her, especially Nolan.

I’m very much enjoying other minor characters in their new roles this season, too, including Rafe McCawley, now much more interesting working in the mines alongside those he once employed, and Tommy Lasalle, now working as a soldier and enforcer for the Earth Republic regime. And the new E-Rep rulers are not cookie-cutter villains, thank goodness. William Atherton’s Viceroy Mercado is a wonderful foil for Mayor Pottinger, whose obvious crush on Amanda will make for an interesting dynamic.

I sincerely hope we won’t see too many standalone episodes this year. Where Defiance really shines is with its underlying mythology and complex characters. If they stay away from the overwrought social commentary, especially with alien relations masquerading as racial discrimination, the show will really captivate sci-fi fans with its relationships and political intrigue. Here’s to hoping Defiance grows more comfortable with its epic scale in its sophomore year!

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4.5 out of 5