Written by Dylan Brandsema
In the beginning of the second season of SyFy’s Defiance, the writers skipped nine months into the future. The finale of Sseason 1 was crazy, and the time jump was a way of skipping over the immediate aftermath of the events, forcing the viewer to put together the pieces of the puzzle on their own. The end of Season 2 was even crazier, and here, they’ve done the same thing, but with a slightly different delivery – skipping seven months ahead of time. We discover that Nolan (Grant Bowler) and Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) are still hibernating in the Kiziri pod, but her (well, technically Irzu’s) attack on New York wiped out the existence of The Earth Republic. This means Defiance is a free town once again, with Amanda (Julie Benz) back in the mayor’s chair.
Last season’s finale also left us with the Tarr family on the run, chasing after Pilar McCawley (Linda Hamilton), who has kidnapped Christie (Nicole Munoz) and Alak (Jesse Rath). Apparently, they’ve been on the run for seven months –because at the beginning of this episode, they’re still catching up. Seems kind of farfetched, as last season Pilar traveled back and forth to home and Defiance pretty quickly. None of these nitpicks matter, as this double-episode premiere “The World We Seize/The Last Unicorns” is probably the best episode Defiance has ever had.
The episode begins with introducing us to a new species of Votan called the Omecs — purple, middle-eastern-like creatures that kind of look like Ronan from Guardians of The Galaxy, who have come to earth in search of gulanite to fuel their ship. But as we’ll learn at the end of the episode, there’s more to their plan than just gas for their pump, but we’ll come back to that. After they stumble onto the ship on which Nolan and Irisa’s is stored, they release them, and the interaction between humans and another alien race officially begins. It’s pleasant to see Nolan and Irisa back together again without them constantly yelling at one another – all that Irzu mind control in mind Season 2, while necessary for the story, sometimes grew repetitive. Also, it’s nice to finally see our beloved father-daughter duo back in action the way they were in Season 1. To see them work as a team again, on whatever adventures the rest of the season may bring, will be a delight.
The biggest game changer for this episode, and of the entire series so far, was a sequence about 30 minutes in which took place in Pilar’s hideaway. Pilar has Alak and Christie chained up, along with their newborn cross-species baby. Along their journey, Rafe (Graham Greene), Datak (Tony Curran) and Stahma Tarr (Jaime Murray) run into a terroristic, ruthless, militant racist Castithan General Rahm Tak, (played wonderfully by Lee Tergesen), who wants to rid Defiance of all humans, and he wants the Tarrs for his army. Why he wants to clear Defiance of its home species, is unclear – he just does. When they make a pitstop at Pilar’s hideout, which the Tarrs have evidently been trying to go to anyway; they discover Alak and Christie’s half-human-half-Castithan infant, all hell breaks loose. In the process, Defiance takes a giant risk and kills off all three remaining members of the McCauley family: Rafe, Christie and Quentin. This was a surprising twist that you can guarantee nobody saw coming, and it’s intriguing to think what directions the show will take without these characters, considering their relevance to the story archs of other characters. It’s also probably the saddest Defiance has ever gotten – when Pilar (whose portrayal by the acclaimed Linda Hamilton has improved greatly from last season) kneels over Rafe’s dying body, Christie’s final fitting final words, “I’m not afraid”, ring out in remembrance, and when we hear Luke (the baby) crying over an aerial shot of their dead bodies, it hits hard. This was certainly a bold creative choice from the writers, and these characters, even with their shady moral choices, will be sorely missed as the show goes on. At least Rafe went out like a boss.
“The World We Seize/The Last Unicorns” ends on one of those double-sided tones this show does so well. After the stasis net comes back up and Nolan and Irisa return, things are looking for our beloved down of Defiance. That is until T’evkin (Conrad Coates) and Kinzi (Nichole Galicia), our two Omecs, speak of taking of over the town, and claiming for themselves, in a similar manner to Tak, again with no clear motive. Introducing 2 sets of new characters with in 2 separate story arcs with a similar goal, that will ultimately effect everyone in both is an interesting, and frankly, quite brilliant storytelling technique.
The finale of shot of the 2-hour premiere is taken straight from I, Robot, but it’s effective – when the gulanite gets the Omec ship up and running again, we’re presented with an image of thousand of Omecs being stored in stored in some kind of hibernation facility (similar to the pod Nolan and Irisa were in). As the camera trucks backwards, they all slowly awaken, signaling a possible war coming to birth.
It’s clear this season of Defiance is going to be much difference than the previous two. “The World We Seize/The Last Unicorns” was much more mature, developed, and much more cinematic than the Defiance we’ve seen in the past. Story-wise, dark times are ahead, and the tone, plot elements, overall structure, and, particularly, the ending of this episode gave us a glimpse of the chaos that is to come. We all best strap on our seatbelts.
Defiance airs every Friday night on SyFy.