Defiance – Season 1 Review
Man, when Rockne S. O’Bannon gets his hands on science fiction epics that involve many races of aliens trying to work it all out and live with each other, he truly shines.
I watched every single episode of Farscape and still think it’s better than most other sci-fi that came out in the last 30 years (including a few Star Trek series), and while that tale was of deep space, wormholes, and battling tyrants…Defiance gives us something we’ve all been craving for some time, sci-fi with less space, more Earth.
I can’t state with any serious face that Defiance will be a winner of huge accolades or anything of the sort, but if you took the short season we had on their limited budget that was probably spent by episode 3 or 4, and compared it to what you’d see on any other series’ first season, you’d catch one hell of a competent show.
Let’s not forget that Defiance doubles as an MMO of sorts too, but I’ll keep it to the show.
This season we had an election, a murder mystery, intrigue, double agents, a bus robbery, bugs eating people, a giant battle between alien races, a marriage, existential crises, a resurrection, murder after murder, and oh so much more. The show might not be the most elaborate when it comes to costume choices and set pieces, but dammit if it isn’t entertaining each episode.
As for the characters, there is no person I love to hate more than the Datak Tar and his amazingly hot wife. You combine that with the great love triangle that she had with the mayor’s sister/whorehouse owner, and it’s gold. The lawkeeper Nolan and his Irathient ‘daughter’ Irisa are always the odd man out couple in the town, especially when it comes to their pasts. Nolan being an ex-military badass who slaughtered many, and she being the object of a religious cult who has visions of the future…the intrigue is always there.
Then there are the subplots of Arkfalls, criminal elements coming into town, the Earth Republic encroaching on the independence of Defiance (aka St. Louis), Sukar and his Freedom Riders, my gosh there is just so much going on with this show that I can’t wait to see what might happen next.
The series doesn’t rely on long shots of external spaceship CG, it does most everything using practical effects and lots of add-on futurism, take for instance the ‘cop car’ Nolan rides around in. Yes it’s an obvious way of selling more Dodge vehicles, but they dirty it up enough, and slap on some extra pipes and props and bingo! Future cop car. I just love it when a show can rely on its characters, film crew, and writers more than it needs unnecessary action.
The pacing for the show is excellent through the entire season with maybe one to two slower episodes for the whole arc, but you can see a point where they were able to breathe a sigh of relief about being picked up for another season and started to settle into the long-story format that we sci-fi geeks have come to love. Hell, just watch the finale for this season and be amazed at the deaths, the turnouts, and the neck breaking changes that it goes through.
I really enjoy the hell out of this show, and I hope to continue doing so for the next couple of years. It’s nice to have a somewhat futuristic space-western that isn’t a direct rip off of Firefly, but at the same time keeps up my favorite of the Rockne S. O’Bannon talents and that’s writing for a menagerie of races and characters.
Please give this show a shot if you haven’t already and let me know if you agree or disagree, and if anyone reading this has only had exposure with the game, I too would like to hear your opinion as that’s a major piece of the story that I’m not getting.