Defiance: Slouching Towards Bethlehem Review

We've been raving about Defiance all season. That doesn't change here with our review of the season's eighth episode...

I’ve been singing the praises of Defiance’s new strategy all season. You know the one: a crime of the week is introduced, easily solved, but couched within it is a deep political intrigue or the underlying mythology that all sci-fi fans crave. And because the culture and backstory of Defiance is so rich and complex, the story takes on an epic scale of importance even though it’s really just another day in the life of a small town.

That being said, this week’s crime may have been a little bit TOO easily solved. Don’t get me wrong, the terrorist plot to bomb New York, the heart of the E-Rep government, had a grand enough scope to justify Nolan’s involvement in the government’s affairs. Thousands of lives were at stake after all, and obviously the Votanis Collective couldn’t risk the exact tactic Viceroy Mercado chose to employ: an EGO extraction!

It was the imbalance between the strong, unbreakable prisoner, Mahsuvus Gorath, and the inept anonymous kidnapper seeking his release by enlisting Amanda’s help. Our amazement at seeing Kenya Rosewater (whom regular viewers will remember supposedly died at the hands of Stahma Tarr at the end of season 1) alive again cannot distract us from how bumbling her captor is. Chaining her to a rusty anchor loop? Getting double-crossed while exchanging prisoners and just running off without your one bargaining chip? Wow, nice work, Greedo.

However, it does seem like there might be a deeper plot involved. Clearly, the Votanis Collective has something on Gorath and his family in Brazil which forces him to spy for them, and the VC operatives did, after all, live to fight another day. Perhaps New York being targeted is just the beginning of an offensive, especially given that Datak has been dealing with the Votans to supply Rafe with weapons in his fight to overthrow the E-Rep rule of Defiance. That’s a broad storyline I could get behind!

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Speaking of the Tarr family involvement with the Irathient prisoner, Gorath, what a nice tie-in that was! The crime organization has been dealing with the VC, and they can’t allow the EGO extraction to bring their duplicity to light. Datak acting as Gorath’s assassin not only brilliantly brings the storylines together; it also asserts Stahma’s power once again as she forces the issue with her husband (who remarkably doesn’t seem all that reluctant) and puts her Sensoth associate in his place. The Castithan “game of thrones,” so to speak, has just been top-notch this season.

In fact, the magnificence of the writing all summer has been in the details. Tommy joining the E-Rep but finding out about Berlin’s dalliances with Nolan; several reminders of Amanda’s continuing drug problem, though she’s now in recovery; the Votan-language lyrics of the songs featured in the show; Nolan conceding what we’ve all gleefully accepted: that Irisa can’t be killed, and he should take full advantage of that fact – these are the little touches that have made this season great.

And it was extremely satisfying to see Irisa’s struggle with Irzu come to a head unexpectedly with the gathering of all the people Irisa has claimed, as well as her victims’ victims. Presumably, all have seen their younger selves posing as gods along with visions of the Kaziri, the ship buried in the gulanite mines beneath the town. Is this an army assembling? For what purpose? And what did Irzu mean when she said “This is where it will begin… Arkrise”? All I know is – I can’t wait to find out!

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4.5 out of 5