Defiance season 3 episode 5 review: History Rhymes

If only every Defiance episode could work as well as this week's, which had great story flow and characteristically strong SFX...

This review contains spoilers.

3.5 History Rhymes

From the outset, History Rhymes was a much slicker and tighter narrative than we’ve been graced with so far this season.

The centre-piece is the often turbulent relationship between Nolan and Irisa, and how they’re now bonded together to share a common memory collection.

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It might seem somewhat late in the process to give Nolan more backstory, but as this progressed, his failings and Irisa’s were better revealed. As it went on, I began to wonder if Irisa is actually more guilt-ridden than Nolan, but surely the point is that only these two characters can understand the pain of the other, even if they’re not exactly bonding right now.

The only problem with the memory sequences was that taken out of context it would be easy to edit someone’s experiences and see them either in a very bad, or good, light. That is what the arktech effectively did for each of them, leaving out those things they got right and the better choices they made. People are the sum of all they’ve been, not just the high or low points, I’d contest, but it made for interesting TV.

A definite bonus was the amount of Doc Yewll involved in keeping them alive while a solution to their brain connection was resolved, because she’s a character I find highly watchable. She has some great lines here. I especially liked the one where Amanda tried to rationalise the arktech communications by describing it as ‘like bluetooth’, to which the Doc replies ‘you’re adorable!’ Every show needs a dry and acerbic persona, and the good Doc takes some beating at being just that.

This show needs more Doc Yewll, and probably less Amanda if I’m honest. To save Nolan and Irisa requires the help of the Omec, allowing the welcome return of Kindzi, who has been stuck in the mines for at least three episodes.

There’s an odd dynamic developing between father and daughter team T’evgin and Kindzi, and I’m not convinced that he has any intention of occupying earth once his ship is operational. That he didn’t allow Kindzi to take advantage of the Doc’s DNA suggests that he has a more peaceful solution in mind, perhaps. Can we expect more family conflicts on the horizon?

He’s also not interested in joining forces with Stahma, irrespective of the inducements she’s providing. The placement of the Tarrs at the centre of things is a little predictable, given their general entertainment value, but how they establish themselves as the solution and not the problem seems less obvious.

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The further we get into the season, the stronger the feeling I have that neither Datak nor Stahma can both survive, and given the nuance of Jaimie Murray’s performance, I think I’d know which to kill.

The episode ends with the return of Alak, after his rather convenient escape from General Rahm Tak. He’s none too pleased about what happened to Christie, something it seems obvious Stahma had almost forgotten about.

I wonder if this is a lead-in to a revelation that Stahma didn’t kill her, but it could easily go either way. It was more about Alak becoming a much stronger character than we’ve seen before, and someone capable of forging his own destiny.

Each episode this season has had a different writer, with this one being penned by Anupam Nigam, a producer of the show who has written three previous stories. It was noticeable how much better this worked than the previous three, both in respect of keeping the story flowing, but also of the character moments.

Some responsibility for that much also go to the director, Félix Alcalá, who has the sort of TV resume that includes such wonderful highlights as Battlestar Galactica: Razor, Breaking Bad and a long list of shows going back to Sliders, Lois & Clark and the superb Earth 2.

I feel duty-bound to put a shout out to the effects guys, again, because this season has been generally great from a visual basis. The graphics when the Doc did surgery using the Arktech was really excellent, and made what was a rather fantastical sequence seem much more believable.

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We’re finally poised to cross the line into the second half of the season on Defiance, but we need to see more stories crafted like History Rhymes, and fewer like the first two that started the season.

Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, Dead Air, here.