Defiance: Pilot


by Ashley Binion

After over a year of hearing the buzz about Syfy’s latest project, Defiance finally made its way on the television screens. Sure, there were some kinks that the series needs to sort out, like with almost every pilot, but overall I found the first episode solid.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Thirty-three years ago, eight alien races, came to earth in what are called Arks. When they arrived, war broke out and eventually an armistice was signed. Fifteen years later, Defiance, a city named after a battle in the Arkfall, was built

Now, in 2046 humans and aliens are living together on Earth and trying to maintain peace. That isn’t so easy when none of the races trust each other.

That is when we meet the show’s main character Nolan, who fought in the Defiance battle, and his adopted daughter Irisa, who is of the Irathients race. Essentially, they duo go around pillaging so they can survive.

This is where I felt like Nolan was a watered down version of Han Solo. I mean he even called Defiance’s mayor, Amanda, “sweetheart” a few times.

Nolan and Irisa wander into Defiance and after getting into some trouble and exploring the city, they end up helping fighting the Volges in the big fight scene at the climax of the episode. By episode’s end, Nolan becomes the town’s lawkeeper.

I enjoyed the town doctor, Yewll. She was snarky and added a fun dynamic.

The biggest problem I had with Defiance was the Romeo and Juliet storyline. I’m always hesitant when a series has a teenager at the center of an adult show, let alone have a romance.

Christie McCrawley and Alek Tarr’s parents are fierce rivals. Naturally, they fall in love and become engaged by the end of the episode. But Alek’s parents, Datak and Stahma, are taking full advantage of the situation and might become a fantastic villainous pair as the series continues.

Talking about romance, I’m calling a triangle between the Nolan, Amanda, and her brothel owner sister, Kenya.

I really like what Syfy is trying to do by actually bringing science-fiction back to their network. They went all out by creating this massive project to try and recapture their glory days when Battlestar Galactica was on the air. But for some reason I found myself comparing the pilot to the rebooted BSG and Firefly. Of course, nothing will compare to the two, so it somewhat hampered my viewing.

BSG introduced the famous phrase “frak” and Defiance introduced “shtako.” BSG had the unwavering and inspiring President Laura Roslin and Defiance introduced Amanda, a newly appointed mayor who is still settling into her position of power. Both series pits human against an alien form in a post-apocalyptic setting. There are a few more, but I won’t bore you.

I did appreciate how they paralleled the beginning of the episode with the end of the episode. At the beginning, there was a boy standing in a field with the St. Louis Arch in the background when the aliens came. One of the final scenes had Nolan standing looking up with the Arch in the background. It was a nice touch.

The final scene of the episode brought in a nice hook. The former mayor, Nicky Riordan, was the one behind the attack on Defiance. Apparently, she is looking for something that is buried under the city that will change the trajectory of Earth.

Even though the first half was somewhat slow, including a random sing along, the second half picked up the pace and introduced some mystery to the series.

What did you think of the pilot? Will you be tuning in for more?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


  1. Tony McCallieApril 17th, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I enjoyed the show, but I found myself thinking of it as Eureka 2.0.. the new town sheriff and rebellious daughter… the isolated and eclectic populace. It doesn’t have the same levity, granted, but it definitely felt familiar. I’m looking forward to the actors settling in to their roles because I think the story has potential.

  2. Eric RossApril 17th, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Thanks for the article… I’ve been looking for other people who watched it! I was a little distracted by the CG and the borrowing of ideas from Eureka, BSG, Shakespeare (Romeo & Juliet) and Firefly. I didn’t place Nolan as Solo until this article, but that fits, too.

    I guess I shouldn’t complain about that, because I love all those things, but it didn’t feel cohesive enough to draw me in… I guess my question is if it’s worth watching, or if SyFy is going to can it after 8 episodes and 10 copies of the video game sell…

    Can a real science fiction show that seems to be all green screen survive in this new era of cable tv with shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, etc?

    Jury is still out for me. One, maybe two more episodes to see if it’ll find its footing before I commit one way or another.

  3. gregApril 17th, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I liked this episode and I can’t wait to see the next episode and little bits of the show reminded me of Firefly.

  4. AshleyApril 17th, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    @Tony: I totally agree with you about it feeling like Eureka. Once the original lawkeeper died I immediately said Nolan was going to replace him; just like what happened in Eureka. It irked me that it was so predictable.

    @Eric: The CG bothered me as well! It seems as if Syfy is invested in it, and it pulled in pretty good ratings (well…at least for Syfy), so I can see them airing the whole season. But, as for a second, who knows it’s too early to tell. *shrug* I am hesitant to get invested because Syfy is so erratic (like the cancellations of Eureka and Alphas).

    @greg: Yep, I could spot the Firefly influences, especially the whole western vibe. Also, Nolan reminded me a lot of Mal too.

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