“Defiance”: Review of season 1 finale, ‘Everything is Broken’

The unbreakable daughter-father bond between Irathient Irissa Nyira (Stephanie Leonidas) and Human Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler), which have formed the heart from episode 1, remain central to the telling of the finale’s emotional powerful tale (image via awesomedl.com (c) syfy)


Embodying pretty much everything you could want in an explosive, emotionally-rich, fingernail-embedded in armchair finale, “Everything is Broken” was a fitting end to season 1 of syfy’s groundbreaking new show Defiance (which operates in conjunction with a Massively Multiplayer Online game, or MMO, of the same name).

Central to it, as in every episode, was Irissa (Stephanie Leonidas), petulant, impetuous, strong-willed Irissa, adoptive daughter of the town of Defiance’s law keeper, Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler).

Escaping from the conflicted clutches of the sardonically-inclined Doc Yewll (Trenna Keating), who in turn ended up in the involuntary care of Earth Republic mercenaries led by sociopath-for-hire, Black Jonah (Matthew Lemche), Irissa found herself taken in by Rynn (Kaniehtiio Horn) and the Spirit Riders of Sukar (who stubbornly refuses to be completely dead; he is looking more creepily cat-like every time he reappears with his endless succession of lives).

She barely has time to recover from Dr Yewll’s surgery (and Rynn’s in-the-field stitching up), intended to recover the two Knots, one silver and one gold, which together form a genocidal Votan weapon called the Kaziri when now-private citizen Nolan and Tommy LaSalle, still deputy law maker and Irissa’s on again/off again beau, find her.

(Handily, in a post-apocalyptic Earth where apparently the Votan have forgotten how to fly anywhere making traveling problematic, the Kaziri is in Rafe McCawley’s (Graham Greene) nearby mines.)


Operated on by Dr Yewll a second time, this time under duress with the deadly Black Jonah coercing her to help him, Irissa is rescued in the nick of time by Nolan (image via nerdophiles.com (c) syfy)


Alas any time for celebrations – both that Irissa is alive, and Nolan’s narratively-convenient tracking skills –  is cut short when Black Jonah, who seems to speak in that peculiarly clipped camp manner common to villains from James Bond to any of Disney’s cartoon epics, lobs onto the scene and threatens to kill Rynn and the rest of the Spirit Riders unless the now departed Irissa shows herself.

Which to Nolan’s horror, she does, setting in train a series of events including her father’s death then rebirth (the latter effected if she agreed to conform to her destiny as Devouring Mother; the Irathient’s god Irzu is one sick little phantasm and a hard-assed negotiator) and the activation of the Kaziri by Irissa’s hands, accompanied by all manner of Irzu-generated CGI hocus-pocus.

While it’s not entirely obvious what has happened by the end of the show – it seems that Irissa’s voluntary tumble into the iridescent blues and greens of Irzu’s genocidal stew at the bottom of the mine sets either the Votan or the humans to vanish from the face of the Earth – one thing is certain.

We have one mother of a cliffhanger on our hands, which is going to take a good deal of time to properly work through in the first few episodes of the second season of Defiance, if they want to hang onto any semblance of storytelling integrity.


Why fancy finding you out her … Kenya and Stahma have one last lovers tiff, with only one of them walking away from it (image via facebook.com (c) syfy)


With the world possibly coming to end AGAIN, at least for one of the two groups of sentient beings struggling to co-exist on Earth Mark 2, things were no less messy and complicated back in Defiance itself.

On again/off again sapphic lovers Kenya (Mia Kershner), owner and head prostitute of the town’s main watering hole and brothel, and Stahma (Jaime Murray), sometime-conflicted but usually coldly-resolute wife of the Castithan, found that breaking up was indeed hard to do   (no sign of Neil Sedaka unfortunately).

Extremely hard in fact especially if your husband is Datak Tarr (Tony Curran), newly installed mayor of Defiance – leaving Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) out in the cold – who is now aware, thanks to a rather thoughtlessly heat-of-the-moment comment by Kenya, that his wife has not exactly stayed faithful to her marriage vows.

Being Castithan, of course, a race who has yet to find an inflexible cultural edict they can’t enforce with death, maiming or dismemberment (and hopefully all three), his first impulse is to garrote his lovely wife the moment the impulse strikes him.

Alas he can’t since he connects the cuckolding dots in the building housing the polling booths with a host of witnesses looking on, meaning Stahma must either draw up a will and fast since death is knocking at her door with some urgency, or do away with Kenya as quickly as possible.

No prizes for guessing which option the double-dealing, social-climbing wife of the Castithan everyone loves to hate, chooses with Kenya, who seems to genuinely love although not as much as she values power and influence, meeting her fate at an out of the way copse of trees on the edge of town.

(This is a probably an opportune time to note that this was the mother of all obvious traps, so obvious in fact that Rob Bricken at io9.com, correctly noted that “even Wile E. Coyote would shake his head in disapproval”.)


No one said relationships were easy but the one between Datak and Stahma seems more problematic than most, held together by rampant self-interest for the most part (image via geeksunleashed.me (c) syfy)


But lest you think that Datak, newly elected to the ultimate position of power in Defiance by a narrow but decisive margin, with a handy income stream guaranteed his cosy “power sharing” deal  (read he essentially sells Defiance to the evil empire) by the devilish Earth Republic, fronted by Colonel Marsh (Barry Flatman), is awash in celebratory champagne, he has very messy troubles of his own.

Quite apart from his liro-shaming harlot of a wife, of course.

So messy in fact that when Stahma returns from poisoning her lover, she finds Datak in the mayor’s office covered in scratches, bruises and an unholy amount of blood, the corpse of a violently dismembered Colonel Marsh at this feet, and his men at the door, demanding to be let in.

Evidence again that while Datak has acquired all the trappings his elevated position in society demands, he remains at heart the easily-antagonised, street thug that Stahma married all those years ago.

And cleaning up this mess, both physical and otherwise is not going to be easy, and as the title suggests, as broken as anything in life can be.

It’s a situation that pretty much everyone in Defiance finds themselves in at the end of the episode, which while it had its flaws, nevertheless brought the main themes season 1 to an enthralling conclusion while providing the perfect platform for what promises to be a highly-charged season 2.



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