Monday, May 27, 2013

The Idiot Box: Defiance 1x06 - “Brothers In Arms” Review


Yeah, I know the TV reviews have been a little late of late, but as I think I may have mentioned, various issues, chief among them sickness, has waylaid me recently. Anyway, the upside is we had a great episode of Defiance this week (or as it happens, last week) that breaks the sorry trend of every other episode being less than stellar, probably the newest best of the series in fact. I know that's kind of silly to say after only six episodes, but this was the closest I think this series has come to reflecting the sort of grandiosity I've been harping on this show so often for failing to exploit.



Brothers In Arms is another cliched plot you've seen in a dozen other similar shows, namely the old friend whose come to town, but has changed and may not be trustworthy anymore. And yet, the episode subverts expectations and uses this well worn trope to explore our main character's past in an interesting way that belies its obvious premise. Its not as cut and dry as a good guy gone bad or a test of loyalty, and the implications are perhaps darker for our hero than for the rough and tumble guest star in the end.


The primary conflict arises when a Castithan pyromaniac who sets off an improvised explosive in town is revealed to be one of the planet's most well known war criminals. Various interested parties are after him, but not necessarily for the reasons you think, establishing a deeper tension between the different governmental bodies of this new Earth than previously realized, leading to the conclusion that war between humans and aliens might be inevitable. I'd say this character might have made for an interesting recurring villain, but then the shocking way in which he exits the episode is worth not having him come back.


Add to this that the subplot involving Graham Green, his son, and the weird golden artifact has actually gotten somewhat interesting, as apparently its influence is causing the younger of the two to experience hallucinations of his dead brother telling him to kill. The allusion to the Scorpius Clone from O'Bannon's previous show Farscape was a nice touch, and this reveal and the consequences of it for one minor character was just enough to move a story along that was up to this point going far too slowly. And if all that wasn't enough, even one of my favorite side characters, the acerbic town doctor finally gets some hint of a dark past.


This episode might just be enough to validate my initial faith in this show, that despite some early missteps seems to have finally realized how much room it has to explore the world that's been created for it. Its still not quite as big as I want it to be, but its clearly building to something in a way that's more obvious than before, and I have reason to hope it will only get better from here. Still no development for those cool Orangutan aliens or the scrunchy-faced servant class dudes we've so far learned nothing about, and no word yet on the energy-based aliens Wikipedia tells me are on the planet somewhere, but at least now I think we might actually have a grand plan at work here.

But seriously, they need to have more of those monkey dudes. 
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