Defiance 1.08 "I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times" TV REVIEW
Writer: Clark Perry
Director: Alan Kroeker
THE ONE WHERE Nolan and Tommy go out to the arkfall Sukar deflected last week and find Commander Gordon McClintock, a hero astronaut from 2013 in a suspension unit. Meanwhile, Conner – the E-Rep politician who isn’t as clearly evil as Olfin Tennety – makes Amanda a job offer, Datak Tarr edges ever closer to finding out what Stahma’s been up to, Doc Yewl looks shifty and Irisa keeps popping up out of nowhere.
VERDICT Defiance joins the ranks of shows like Elementary , that become gradually more serialised as the season progresses this week. This is a direct sequel to the last episode and Conner even states it’s only been two days since the Razor Rain. That gives them a neat excuse to play with the consequences of the arkfall and to introduce the show’s first real link to 2013; Commander Gordon McClintock.
Brian J Smith is a great choice for McClintock, because the character bears a lot of resemblance to Matthew Scott, his Stargate: Universe role. Both men are young, experienced and hopelessly out of their depth and Smith does a really good job shifting from the modest, “Aw shucks” astronaut of the past to the dazed, not-quite human, arkfall survivor of the present. There’s clearly something wrong with him, he clearly knows it and in a lesser show that would make him the villain of the week. Here he’s a weapon from a war that ended years before he woke up, with no idea of who he is or what to do.
It’s the effect he has on the other characters that really makes the episode work, though. Amanda and Nolan, both too young when the Arks came, view him as a hero but Rafe looks at him like a fan. It makes perfect sense, he’s old enough to remember more about McClintock, and it gives us a new perspective on his character. Rafe wants to believe the best of this man, needs to on some level, and that gives the closing scenes some real emotional weight. McClintock is a man (or a nearly man) who’s lost everything. Rafe has lost so close to everything as to make no difference. He knows what McClintock’s going through and that helps either talk him down or give him some moments of peace, depending on how you want to read the ending.
And what about that ending? It’s a little more ambiguous than it seems. It’s implied, to the point where it’s basically said out loud, that Rafe is lying about McClintock committing suicide but the happy ending with his wife? That’s so absolutely what Amanda describes to Conner that I can’t quite buy it. I don’t think McClintock’s hooked up to a machine in the back of the Doc’s offices or anything, but I suspect he’s not quite home. That being said, odds are we’ll never see him again, and if that’s the case, then the ending we get is perfect. Plus it’s a really nice change for a one-shot character like this to get a happy ending. Nice one, Defiance , and welcome home, Commander.
Meanwhile on the other side of this plot, Doc Yewl is having a very bad time. Nolan’s on the money when he figures out she worked on the sleeper program, especially after her “fan” moment with Pol Madis a few weeks ago. But what else did the Doc work on? And is that why she’s in Defiance, to try and atone? Trenna Keating has been doing great work as the Doc since the start of the season and I’m delighted she’s being brought centre stage. It’s also fun to see someone stand toe-to-toe with Nolan, rather than snipe at him. She knows what she did in the war and what he did too, and she’s made as much peace as she’s going to get with it. The plague episode next week (Cliffhanger!) should be a neat chance to follow this up. I just hope it’s not going to conclude with the Doc redeeming herself by saving the town at the expense of her life. Either way, the fact I’m that invested in a character who’s had maybe 200 lines in the show so far shows they’re doing something right.
Then there’s Stahma. Last week I suspected she was planning something, this week I’m certain. Her relationship with Kenya has a direct impact on Datak which in turn makes him run back to her. The moment where he’s shocked to find her bathing alone is a nice touch but what makes it is how effortlessly she distracts him from that. Nolan was right, back in episode four: she’s the most dangerous member of her family. Based on the last couple of episodes, it’s Datak who should be worried about her.
This was a deceptively gentle episode of Defiance (aside from the violence of course). We got to meet an old-fashioned hero and he, to my surprise, got a happy ending. However, based on the cliffhanger this looks to be the last easy day the town gets. Scrub up, get your masks on, and I’ll see you back here next week.
I’m a huge spaceflight nut so the old, semi-Apollo style command capsule in the middle of the ark made me very, very happy.
It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment but the Doc very pointedly strolls by when McClintock gets into town for the first time. Someone clearly has a police scanner…
Amanda brushing off Conner and his job offer in front of the Defiant Few statue was a really nice touch. Plus, symbolism. I suspect the E-Rep will play a major role in the season finale.
“Thar she blows Captain, two points off the starboard bow.”
“STOP READING MOBY DICK.” Josh Nolan, literary critic there. At least Tommy’s trying to expand his horizons. Or is Irisa expanding them for him?
“My God, your skin… it’s even softer than I thought.”
“Easy, tiger… I’m too old for you.” Doc Yewl, with the bedside manner of a saint. A really angry saint who hasn’t had any coffee yet this morning.
“I thought you were out for the evening. At the NeedWant.” It’s how this line is said. Stahma calls her husband on the fact he went out to have sex with another woman, which is surely a higher crime than taking a solo bath, and he hears her loud and clear.
“President, Prime Minister, Defence Secretary… Or MAYOR… Apparently.” The Doc has a raft of good lines this week, including her mild incredulity at just how specific the Sleeper program was.
“I’m… sorry for your situation, Gordon.” This was really sweet. Doc Yewl knows what she did was wrong, knows he needs and deserves comfort and tries to give it.
“Humans change all the time. You rage like Jonah against the fate that’s been handed to you. It’s the nature of what’s inside you. You’re human.” The entire scene on the shores of Lake Nothing was great but this was a real standout from Rafe.
“What if I’m not as strong as you.”
“Then jump.” As was this. Get past it or get out of the way. Compassionate, and brutal, pragmatism.
“If you’d had a little faith, we’d be a family.” Defiance is getting really good at implying so much with so little. One line and Conner, who’s been one-note up to now, is given real depth. Suddenly the relationship he has with Amanda makes a lot more sense, as does her coming to Defiance.
“It was a war. You try to win those. You should know, you butchered enough of my people.” Remember last week when I said Nolan might spend this week trying to curb his basic problem with most Votans? Yeah, not so much. Admittedly he’s right that the Doc was up to her eyes in the program, but so’s she. It was a war. One Nolan may never have quite stopped fighting.
SMARTEST MOMENT The discussion about the movie of McClintock’s life is great. The Twilight reference, just for once, doesn’t feel like a joke five years out of date but a cheeky acknowledgement of the movies and cast member Graham Greene’s role in them. Plus you know Nolan totally read those books as well. And was Team Jacob.
McClintock’s abduction being presented as a classic UFO abduction, complete with bright lights and silhouettes was a really nice touch. Which leads us to…
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMMM… So the Votan scouted the planet before appearing huh? Like… maybe visiting what would be the McCawley mines? Years before the arks arrived?
Also, where’s Nikki this week?
PUNCH THE AIR MOMENT Eddie successfully escaped! See you in season two, buddy!
MONTAGE OF THE WEEK Not really a montage this week as it was fading out by the time Nolan went to see the Doc. Before that though, we got McClintock reunited with his wife to the strains of Elvis Costello and the Attraction’s “Man Out Of Time”. Some weeks (*COUGH* Van Morrison cover *COUGH*) the music director on this show doesn’t hit the spot. Other weeks, like this, they hit the bullseye.
GAME TIME The Defiance MMO staggers into the Doc’s office and bleeds all over the floor this week. That plague has been rattling around the Bay Area for a couple of weeks now and it gets UGLY. Like 28 Days Later ugly.
Brian J Smith , of course, is best known as Lt Matthew Scott on Stargate: Universe . He also played Jake Mason in the Red Faction: Origins TV movie and has appeared in Law & Order , Agatha Christie’s Poirot , Gossip Girl , Warehouse 13 , The Good Wife , Person Of Interest and Blue Bloods . So there’s a reasonable chance you’ve seen him around.
• If Nolan was one of the defiant few, why did he leave?
• What really happened at that battle?
• What does Nicolette want?
• Why didn’t she grab it during her time as mayor?
• Who directed the Volge at Defiance?
• Why did Ben kill himself?
• What was Luke doing?
• Why did he meet Ben in the woods?
• Where did Luke get the artefact?
• What IS the artefact?
• Who terraformed the region around St Louis?
• Did they leave Old St Louis underground on purpose?
• Who was Niko selling the Adreno to outside the town?
• What benefit would a monorail have for the town?
• Was Mr Birch at the bottom of the mine? (Well he certainly is now!)
• What startled him away, given he left his glasses?
• How old are those cave paintings?
• What does the E-Rep want with Defiance?
• Is it the same thing Nicolette is looking for?
• Why is the bike rack at the NeedWant on the first floor? Is it a visual metaphor?
• Why was Nolan so infamously bloodthirsty during the war?
• Why did he need Tommy’s help to get Irisa out?
• Is Quentin insane?
• If so, for how long?
• If not, how is he seeing Luke?
• Why does the artefact seem to want to be with Quentin?
• If the Nanites were the only thing keeping Sukar alive, how did he see Irisa in a vision? And how did she see him die?
• When’s the election?
• Is Sukar going to wake up?
• Was anyone else hit with the Nanites?
• What else are they programmed to do?
• Just how many REM albums does Amanda own?
• What else did the Doc do during the war?
• What other Sleepers are still active?
• What’s Stahma planning? (Everything is an acceptable answer here)
• What other classic works of English literature will Irisa lend Tommy?
That “piece” of Arkfall looked a lot like a coherent ship, and it crashed nearby. Are there any survivors? Oh yes, yes indeedy.
Where’s Olfin Tennety? Back in the bosom of the E-Rep in New York and gunning for Amanda and Defiance.
• New episodes of Defiance air in the UK on Syfy, Tuesdays at 9pm