Aired on: Syfy
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
For months, I have been hearing about this new Syfy science fiction television series and the video game that goes along with it. When I first saw a preview of Defiance, I was definitely intrigued, but I was also a bit leery. After all, there have been a great many shows over the years that have been hyped up heavily, only to fail disastrously after the first episode or two. I decided to forego the fifteen minute preview of the show and, instead, watched the full two hour debut of the series on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 9:00EST on the Syfy Channel.
The show begins with that classic alien invasion – the park scene where a kid stares mesmerized at a spaceship hovering overhead while his mother tries to drag him to safety. We are then treated to narration by Irisa (Stephanie Leonides), who explains what happened after that fateful moment. The Earth as it was known then is now gone, terraformed by the alien “invaders” known collectively as the Voltan. We learn that the Voltan are made up of a number of different species, Irisa being one of them. She is an Irithiant warrior whose adopted father is a human war veteran.
While salvaging materials from the remains of an Ark fleet of Voltan that mysteriously exploded long ago and are just finding their way into the Earth’s atmosphere, Irisa and her adopted father Jed Nolan (Grant Bowler) are attacked by marauding Irithiants and Irisa is injured. Jed carries Irisa to the outskirts of the nearest settlement, where they are rescued by its law enforcement officers.
The two are brought to the town and treated for their ailments. They soon learn that the town formerly known as St. Louis is now known as Defiance, named after a battle during the Pale Wars (the war between the aliens and the humans). During this battle, humans and Voltan of various species laid down their weapons and declared a truce, defying orders from command to continue fighting. Defiance is a town where all species are welcome and live together in a semblance of harmony.
But as Jed and Irisa realize, the appearance of harmony is just that – an outward appearance. The town is riddled with adversaries and traitors and although they didn’t plan on sticking around, Jed and Irisa find themselves drawn in, especially when one specific act of treachery puts the entire town in jeopardy.
After the first fifteen minutes, I began wondering why I was watching this Farscape meets Romeo and Juliet (or, considering the knives used in the fight scene between the romantic duo’s rival families, West Side Story) science fiction drama. Sure, the special effects and alien species were pretty cool, but the story was kinda boring. I was tempted to turn the TV off, but I realized that many a television series didn’t really get interesting until their second episode. I decided to stick around for a bit.
And I have to say, although relatively predictable, Defiance sort of grew on me. I liked the main characters Jed and Irisa and I also liked many of the Defiance elite. Buffy and Angel fans will recognize Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) as Darla, Angel's former lover. Although the rugged and likeable Jed is currently involved with Amanda's sister Kenya (Myra Kirshner), the proprietress and prostitute of the Need/Want brothel/bar, there is a special sort of charisma between Jed and Amanda that one might want to see explored. Defiance fan fiction shippers will probably be coming out of the woodwork very soon, given the potential romances budding in this show. Speaking of cool characters, I love Doc Yewell (Trenna Keating), an Indogene. Not only is her species rather interesting looking, but her sarcastic nature is hysterical.
The premiere episode of Defiance was intriguing enough to lure me in. It told a story, but left a lot of history untold and there is enough treachery about to make you wonder what will become of the town. The special effects are cool and the aliens are cooler. I think this is definitely one of those shows that deserves another watch or two. Perhaps over the next couple of episodes, the powers that be will get rid of the predictable nature and take us on a journey filled with science fiction, action, suspense and intrigue. But for now, three out of four ain't bad.