Defiance: Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go
by Ashley Binion
What a difference a week makes. From the pilot, I was left somewhat ambivalent about whether or not Defiance was going to grab my attention enough for me to continue watching. But after this episode, it’s safe to say I will be tuning in for more.
Even though there was no fancy climatic battle like in the pilot, this episode was much more reserved and instead deepened its exploration of the dynamics between the different alien species.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
At the end of last week’s pilot, Nolan and his adopted daughter Irisa decided to stay in Defiance become the town’s lawkeepers after winning a battle with the Volge. It was revealed that former Defiance mayor Nicky Riordan is looking for something beneath the city and was behind the Volge attack.
This episode began with Elah Bandik, a Castithan, being charged by his own people of cowardice during the Volge battle. As a result, they began conducting a cleansing ceremony, in which they would slowly stretch his limbs, until Nolan and Irisa showed up to break up the ceremony.
Mayor Amanda appeared and told the Castithans it was fine to continue their ceremony. This began a continuing dialogue about religion and culture throughout the episode. To me, this was more interesting than the other storyline in the episode because how relevant the topic is to today’s society.
Speaking of the other storyline, Ben, who was a part of bringing the Volge to Defiance and the one who killed Rafe McCawley’s son, escaped custody via Riordan’s creepy henchman Mr. Birch. Through the mines, Ben made his way to Old St. Louis looking to blow up a nuclear plant.
Rafe and Nolan went down to Old St. Louis searching for Ben. They had a quiet scene that revealed some of Rafe’s past before Arkfall.
The premise of having old St. Louis underneath Defiance will obviously come into play throughout the course of the series. By the way, their green screen technology was actually quite impressive compared to the show’s first outing. It seemed as if they scaled down the effects, which fits the tone of the series much better.
Another scene I enjoyed was the interaction between Nicky and Amanda, the former mayor giving her predecessor some advice.
Toward the end of the episode, Amanda backpedaled and pardoned Elah from his Castithan charges. Datak reluctantly agreed to the mayor’s terms, but soon recanted and killed Elah leaving him on the step of the Lawkeeper station.
It’s refreshing to see actual aliens on a science fiction show. In recent memory, I can’t think of a series besides Star Trek: The Next Generation that actually had aliens. If I counted correctly, the audience still hasn’t seen all eight of the species included in the treaty.
I still think the characters are somewhat too archetypal, but hopefully throughout the series, like any good show, the characters eventually evolve.
Overall, this episode was stronger than the pilot by delving deeper into species relations, religion, and culture.
Rating: 4 out of 5