This review contains spoilers for the most recent episode.
This season of Defiance is becoming a victim of my high expectations. The emotional moments for the characters are compelling and a strong testament to the writing in this series, but there just isn’t enough going on. I remember fondly the multiple plots being juggled skillfully last season as political manipulations and conspiracies hid around every corner, and I long for those days when Irisa was a killer and the Tarrs ruthlessly punished their enemies. Don’t get me wrong; I love the pacifist turn for Irisa and the comeuppance for Datak and Stahma, but now they’re just not doing anything!
One new element was the introduction of Conrad Von Bach, son of the arms dealer from the Defiance video game, played with inexplicable charm by Ian Ziering of 90210 fame. For some reason, he sold weapons to the VC and now is giving away a treasure trove of goodies to the town for its defense. He says it’s to win back Berlin, with whom he had a previous relationship, but is it really? His generosity seems suspicious, and he doesn’t win points for luring away a needed soldier in the coming battle.
I do like how Berlin’s decision, although unpopular and – as Amanda puts it – cowardly, does make sense in the context of the dying town. Several characters in this episode make realistic choices that go against expectation, and that strengthens the believability of the show, which I greatly admire. I’m a big fan of Anna Hopkins’ role and hope to see her back, but I respect her choice to leave, given the misunderstanding that led to her breakup.
Datak’s choice is an interesting one as well. I can’t help but suspect him of having a selfish plan beneath his request to be executed via the shaming rack, but in the end, he does receive the respect of his betrayed son, Alak, and a final visit from his grandson. In a season that saw the deaths of an entire family of recurring characters, Datak’s death sentence (and Berlin’s departure for that matter) is unsettling to say the least but provides another heartfelt moment for this episode.
Irisa’s troubling vision of Tommy as she struggles with her inability to fight creates an equally heart wrenching moment for the audience. Like the townspeople, viewers want to see the “Goddess of the Badlands” back in battle, and perhaps they still will. But this perceived weakness is also quite endearing, especially given Nolan’s more sympathetic reaction to her inner demons this week. The problem becomes: what will the town (or the show) do without its warriors?
Even the lovely, conniving Stahma is at a severe disadvantage as she relies on the aid of T’evgin. Wounded and in hiding, she is at the mercy of Kindzi, who tortures Stahma with talk of becoming the Omec’s next meal. I guess what it boils down to is I don’t like seeing these characters so powerless, whether it’s Berlin, Datak, Irisa, or Stahma. Perhaps these lows are being placed in contrast to the victories they are soon to achieve. I sure hope so.
Because the VC is coming! As they tunnel through the gulanite mines, I can only hope they will encounter the Omec first and be caught off guard. I thought for sure the long-awaited confrontation between Rahm Tahk’s men and the citizens of Defiance would be happening this week, and each time it gets pushed back, my appetite is further whetted. What I thought might take a few episodes has now taken up more than half of the season.
A bright spot of note: I like the Irathient crack shot with the homemade rifle. Can’t wait to see what trouble he can cause! And what’s with Stahma swallowing a pill and ending up in space? If nothing else, that ending certainly was a surprise. Now, seriously this time, can we get to the confrontation already?