Defiance: “The World We Seize” and “The Last Unicorns”

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By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

Defiance’s third season returned with more focus than ever with two new episodes, “The World We Seize” and “The Last Unicorns.” After ending season two on multiple cliffhangers, the show returned with a time jump, new characters, and surprising turns.  

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Let’s remind ourselves where season two left off, because honestly I completely forgot. Irisa was controlled by the Ark Brain, also known as Kaziri, and as a result destroyed, New York City along with the Earth Republic. She and her adoptive father Nolan were trapped in life pods underneath the rubble of the McCawley Mines. Speaking of the McCawleys, they were on their own adventure thanks to the McCawley matriarch, Pilar. With the help of her son Quentin, Pilar, played by the talented Linda Hamilton, kidnapped her pregnant daughter Christie and son-in-law Alak. Rafe teamed up with Datak and Stahma to rescue their children and grandchild.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on. Much like season two’s premiere, there was a time jump; this time it was seven months. For this particular series, it’s a smart way to move along the plot, not get bogged down with the immediate aftermath of the cliffhangers, and introduce new threats to the characters and town.

One of the central conflicts of the series, the McCawley and Tarr families, came to a deadly climax in the premiere episodes. The entire McCawley family, except Pilar and baby Luke, was killed. After Quinten’s shocking murder, the deaths of Rafe and Christie felt cruel and superfluous. However, in the long run, the series will benefit from the demolition of a keystone family. There were too many problems with these characters, especially Christie, to justify their stay after the McCawley Mine collapse. And, it’s no surprise that the family’s downfall came at the hands of the Tarrs, more specifically Stahma.

Season two’s premiere hinted toward a season focused on the Earth Republic’s occupation of the city of Defiance, but it fell short of their lofty goals. Pottinger was a half-realized villain who would’ve been more effective if his only motive wasn’t being obsessed with Amanda.

Throughout the series, Defiance has struggled with its identity, the first season especially. Tonally, it was all over the place. They tried to do a resistance story in season two, but it ended up feeling half-hearted. Seven months after the finale, the E-Rep has abandoned the city of Defiance, allowing the series to go full on post-apocalyptic.

Up until this point, the Earth Republic has been a force that has had a strong presence in the city, almost like its protector. Now, the city is practically a ghost town with a huge population decrease, lack of weapons, and a struggling economy. It shows the characters and the city like we’ve never seen before: desperate.

Through these first two episodes, the introduction of the Omec race and General Rahm Tak feel like right fits for the series. The Votanis Collective has been an entity that’s been discussed but rarely shown, so it’s fun to see one of the rare glimpses of it through its representative, General Rahm Tak. And so far he’s living up to his nickname “The Beast.”

In the past, Defiance has had average special effects and green screen work. These episodes were on point, especially the sweeping shots of the Omec ship.

Amanda has undergone a character change in the seven months since the season two finale. Even though she’s back in the mayor’s office, she has become colder and has a “the ends justify the means” attitude. This was shown with the skinning of Doc Yewll and shooting the robber in the kneecaps. In order to get gulanite, she’s willing to physically harm Yewll. A season one or two Amanda would’ve figured out another way to save Kindzi.

Defiance’s new winter setting is a fantastic change of scenery. The icy and cold aesthetic fits in well with the series’ more focused post apocalyptic and dire narrative.  

Rating:
“The World We Seize” 4.5 out of 5 stars
“The Last Unicorns” 4 out of 5 stars


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