Defiance: The Cord and the Ax review

Defiance just surpasses our expectations every week. Here's our review of "The Cord and the Ax."

The pacing of these first three episodes of Defiance has been flawless! Slow but satisfying progression has kept my interest on all story arcs equally, and none of the characters have been needlessly obtuse. No annoying caricatures either, which is surprising given my expectations for the Earth Republic villains. The writers are to be commended!

And that’s even taking into account Datak’s early release from Camp Reverie, which was sooner than expected but brought a welcome resolution to a potentially stale situation. The obligatory weekly bath scene was a masterful Godfather-esque alternative to the musical montage Defiance occasionally indulges in. The conditions of his release also give me great joy: he must protect Doc Yewll as she continues her incomprehensible Indogene research on behalf of Pottinger. Something tells me, though, that both Yewll and Datak will manipulate the situation to their own benefit.

Not everyone is in control, though. Alak’s moment of triumph upon discovering that Christie is pregnant is marred by Rafe’s warning against any “gangster crap.” His guilt over the death of Skeever may help him with the new female DJ in the Arch, but few others are impressed with his reluctant brutality. His visit to Datak in prison makes it clear he’s not cut out to lead the family business, and his narrow focus on the profits leads to Datak’s realization that Stahma is actually steering things.

But who cares about Skeever dying when Bertie, beloved Liberata housekeeper to the McCawley family, and Sukar, the most badass Irathient on the show, have been murdered by Irisa at Irzu’s command? Irisa’s attempts to avoid her debt, both by handcuffing herself and taking a shotgun to her chin, are completely ineffectual. But the flashbacks to the Votan progenitor ship gives the first indications that Irzu is not the angel of death she initially appeared to be. I am really looking forward to see what the not-so-dead-after-all servants of Irzu do at the culmination of Irzu’s plans.

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And I love that Nolan isn’t fooled by Irisa’s secrets. Even when his eyes tell him unequivocally that Bertie is alive after all, he knows the Liberata blood on her wraps means something. Nolan clearly doesn’t like Irisa keeping things from him, and who can blame him for seeking solace in the bottle and the adreno-addled arms of Amanda? I can’t help but wonder, though, why Pottinger bothered telling Nolan about his interest in Amanda when his cameras clearly tell him what Amanda’s predilections are.

The show sneaks in other tantalizing details, too, like Irisa chatting casually with Berlin about Tommy and Stahma blithely discussing Kenya, whom she killed at the end of last season, with Amanda. I’m also enjoying the music this season, which has featured contextual (and sometimes Votan) lyrics with familiar tunes and musical genres.

This episode had just the right touch for each character and didn’t burden us with a “crime of the week,” much to its credit. If Defiance stays on this path, the show will win big points with me and many fans of serial sci-fi. Great stuff!

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5 out of 5