Defiance season 3 episode 13 review: Upon The March We Fittest Die

Defiance concludes its third season with an effects-heavy episode, but is that the last we'll ever see of the show?

This review contains spoilers.

3.13 Upon The March We Fittest Die

What I can say with some certainty was that the effects budget for the entire show was mostly blown on this episode, in what I generally take to be its conclusion. It’s not as if the door is slammed shut for a potential return, but Syfy hasn’t yet announced Defiance‘s fate, and it could end here without too many unresolved aspects.

The title, Upon The March We Fittest Die, comes from American poet Walt Whitman’s poem Pioneers! O Pioneers! about the expansion West, and what a noble endeavour he saw in that. But before we can get to that somewhat tenuous linkage, we still have the Omec to deal with, and their seemingly indestructible leader, all-mother Kindzi.

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The action splices directly into the end of previous story where Kindzi is threatening to eat baby Luke, who, given the way she’s sniffing him, has had a recent change.

Last week I hypothesised that maybe Pilar might return to save her grandson, but alas the budget said ‘no’ to another Linda Hamilton appearance.That was one unresolved plot point, because we never found out if she lived or died, and Alak had obviously entirely forgotten he had a mother-in-law. No, it’s brave Datak who comes to the rescue, though he rather ruins his nifty switchblade arm for them to make good their escape.

What transpires from here is the rather obvious result of Kindzi having no strategic skills whatsoever. Last week I pointed out that bringing the Omec down in small numbers was a horribly flawed plan, and actually landing them at Defiance is really stupid. From orbit, they had a whole planet to choose where to assemble, and yet they go to the only tiny bit of it that knows they’re there and a threat.

That, and being so dumb as not to protect the only means of gaining access to the ship, demonstrates that Kindzi is a rather poor excuse for a nemesis, even if she can soak up the odd bullet. In retrospect Rahm Tak was actually more dangerous, and the plot might have been better had he ended up controlling the Omec ship.

The messing around, because that’s all it is, that sees Amanda seriously wounded only serves to slow the pace of what was up to that point a rather smoothly moving story. The emotional scenes between her and Nolan just didn’t work, as there is no chemistry between these characters, sadly. I’d have believed more in one between him and Berlin than I did with Amanda, who has always been the weakest main character. And on the subject of Berlin, why did they bring her back? Her character contributed almost nothing after her return, and here she just generally stands and pouts, and has a couple of lines. She was never going to be pivotal, but surely they made her come back for some reason?

The final phase of the story sees the relevant characters, namely Nolan, Irisa, Datak and the good Doc, get to the Omec ship and plan to destroy it in orbit. Though they don’t lock the system they used to get there, so Kindzi is free to follow them, alone. At this stage it is pretty obvious that they’re not all coming back, it’s just a matter of which one, or ones don’t make it.

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Once they’ve plugged Doc Yewll into the ship, it is pretty obvious that she’s not booked a return flight, which was my first indication that they really wanted to wrap things up here. That, and how heavily they sold the idea that Amanda was dying back on earth. That she ultimately didn’t die rather disappointed me, given the self-sacrifice hoops they made the character jump through.

There are some touching scenes with Datak and Yewll, but the real star of this final sequence is the ship, which for the first time we get to see in all her CGI finery.

The arrival of Kindzi, and her massive overconfidence is all rather predictable. For me, she’d lost what credibility she had when I we saw her run towards the transport pad. Because for whatever reason, Nichole Galicia can’t run in the footwear or outfit they gave her character. And, the later fight between her and Nolan seemed equally ponderous probably for the same reason. They also entirely telegraphed her ultimate death with Nolan’s tumbling firearm, in a way that I truly wish TV shows wouldn’t do. All that was left to do was, as Han Solo once said, blow this thing and go home! Well, except Death Star workers have families too, remember.

Nolan’s redemption is to fly off into the universe with his Omec buddies and Doc Yewll, and leave Irisa and Amanda behind. To complete the circle, Irisa becomes the Lawkeeper, and we get a glimpse of what Nolan sees after he leaves earth. This is a very long effects sequence, and sort of pays a little homage to the end credits of Star Trek (2009), where see many very different worlds and space environments. As nice as this all was, it did make me wonder why they didn’t try to do more with the characters to finalise things.

Could it come back? Never say never, but I think Defiance is done. They’ve taken two of the best characters and blasted them light-years away from earth with no practical way to get them back. I’d say that’s done.

A show with little love lost between Amanda, Stahma, Irisa and Berlin would seem rather pointless, if not wholly antagonistic. They resolved the Irisa and Nolan relationship, the arch got put back-ish, the immediate threat is negated, and Alak and his mother are at least on talking terms even if it’s a strained conversation.

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As a season I think it was better than the second, though not as well-crafted as the first. It has its moments, though once Rahm Tak was dispatched it lost momentum. With the Tarrs mostly on their back foot, they were generally much less entertaining this year.

The loss of main characters in the opening story was surprising, though by the end the only one I really missed was Rafe. If he’d come back, somehow, I’d have cheered!

If they do renew this show then it will need entirely retooling, possibly with a largely fresh cast of characters, and that for me is gamble that Syfy is unlikely to take. Then again, given some of the shows they’ve renewed, anything is possible.

If it does by some quirk of fate come back, I’ll be here to review it, because compared with some of the dross on this channel and others, this is definitely watchable even when it isn’t firing on all cylinders.

Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, The Awakening, here.