So yeah, Defiance. I think many of my thoughts can actually be summed up fairly well in the review that io9 released yesterday. I’m not 100% with everything the reviewer says, but most of my disagreements are nitpicky, so I won’t go into wasting time on that. Honestly, this last episode was a let down, especially considering how good the show had become in the episodes leading up to it.
Having a two hour finale episode may have smoothed things out because a lot of the problems seemed to come from having to rush through things and cram all of these plot threads into an hour. I mean really, why did Julie Benz only have one scene? She’s a mayor who just lost a major election that is going to let the Earth Republic roll into town; it seems like she should’ve had more going on at this point. Where did Doc Yewll go after Irisa breaks free? She just sort of vanished from that Republic lab base right before Nolan, Irisa, Tommy, Rafe, and Rynn (Who is back in Defiance why? I mean, I like the character, so it’s cool she’s back in that regard, but why is she there?) get into the big shoot out. And then of course, who the hell is Black Jona, and why is he being randomly introduced now if only to be killed off? I understand that he is apparently a big player in the Defiance game, but I think it’s a bad decision to assume that all of the people who watch the show play the game (I certainly don’t), so on the show he comes off as this random 2D villain who shows up to be menacing and then die.
Now I think several of these things, and some other issues can be cleared up in the opening of the second season. Unfortunately that’s a year away, so answers will be long in coming (though that’s better than Sherlock, which is coming back when?), and we’re stuck with this wholly unsatisfying episode as our final glimpse into the story.
But I have to say, I think that some of the problems here were in the writing leading up to this point. For instance, I feel as though the plot line with Mayor Nicky was rushed. I thought she was one of the more compelling characters (and villains) in the show, and she got written right out of it, just after we found out she wasn’t even a human (oh, spoilers for those who haven’t been keeping up, btw). I think that reveal, or at least some of the consequences of it, should have come later on in the season…perhaps in the finale. This would have given us, the audience, a villain we were familiar with for Nolan and Irisa to confront during the end of the season. Of course, we’re familiar with the Earth Republic, but they’re pretty boring, just a big evil government that wants to subsume the independent town.
Speaking of that, whatever happened to Representative Olfin? You know, that woman with the two husbands (or I guess none after she killed one and the other ran off with Rynn). She was a great villain, and I think keeping her more in the loop would have given the audience a face for the Earth Republic that we could really hate. Instead, while she’s who-knows-where, we get Colonel Marsh running the show and Black Jona randomly showing up to create another evil underling to carry out commands. I think this was a mistake, since as I said Black Jona doesn’t really get fleshed out, and Colonel Marsh, while more established, isn’t as captivating a character as Olfin. I would have made Olfin the “big bad” giving out all of the orders with Colonel Marsh being the officer who has to carry them all out, perhaps resenting the position he’s in, as she’s a civilian and he’s a military leader. He might even be conflicted about the orders he is receiving. He was, in fact, the person who gave the order that allowed Connor Lang and Nolan to bring the antidote to the plague back to Defiance, so I don’t think this portrayal of him is really out of character. But instead Olfin is nowhere to be found, Black Jona is shot by Nolan, and Colonel Marsh is bleeding all over the floor of Datak’s office.
None of these hypothetical “better plotting” ideas will ever come to pass, but hopefully Defiance will manage to right itself next season. I enjoyed the show leading up to the finale quite a bit, and I think we’ve all seen the potential that it has. For that reason, I am still excited to see it continue. I just hope they can pull it together and get back to their strengths.