Defiance Reviews: “Down In the Ground Where the Dead Men Go” and “The Devil in the Dark”

It’s been far too long since I had any sci-fi TV to watch, so I’ve decided to keep watching Defiance for now, despite my lukewarm feelings on it. I reserve the right to give up on it at any time, so if the reviews suddenly stop coming, that’s why.

A promotional image for DefianceReview: “Down In the — Screw it, this episode name is too long”:

The episode whose name I will shorten to “Down In the Ground” picks up almost immediately where the pilot left off. Nolan is in hot pursuit of the traitor who took down Defiance’s defenses. Meanwhile, the town is torn by controversy over a brutal Castithan ritual to punish one of their own who deserted during the battle.

I don’t really have much to say about this episode. On the plus side, it lacked the jarring, all-over-the-map storytelling of the pilot, and the plot had a nice flow. And I still think the cast is very good, although Nolan seems to have suddenly lost his sense of humour.

On the downside, nothing really happened. Or at least that’s how it felt. There weren’t any new revelations to speak of, and the plot was not advanced in any meaningful way.

The main point of the story seemed to be that Datak Tarr is an evil bastard, but we already knew that from the pilot. I’m not sure why that needed to be repeated.

And for the record, I really enjoy Datak as a character. He’s deliciously vile. But I think his cruelty and cunning were already well-established, so driving the point home again just seemed to be a waste of time.

Datak Tarr (Tony Curran) in DefianceAll in all, “Down in the Ground” felt like filler, and considering this is only the second episode, that doesn’t bode well for the future of the series.

Overall rating: 5/10

Review: “The Devil in the Dark”:

Ignoring the events of the previous episode (which may be for the best), “The Devil in the Dark” focuses on the Irathient Spirit Riders Irisa befriended in the pilot. They’ve formed a loose alliance with Defiance, but the town has a bloody history with Irathients, and tensions are high on both sides.

Meanwhile, in a plot that totally isn’t connected or anything, several residents of Defiance turn up dead after being attacked by the aptly named “Hellbugs.”

I found this another mediocre plot. Pretty predictable, though at least it advanced the story more than the last one did. Also, I feel like they’re spending too much time on this “Romeo and Juliet” thing Alak and Christie have.

The one thing that makes this episode memorable for me is that it was the first time Irisa got some real development. She was the only character I didn’t get a good read on in the pilot.

Nolan and Irisa in DefianceI’m not sure what to make of her. She seems so highly strung… like she’s ready to snap and go on a killing spree at any moment. She seems to cling to the edge of sanity at the best of times.

I think that’s intentional, and it fits what little we know of her backstory, but it’s hard to like her when her response to every situation is either A: stab it, B: yell, C: burst into tears, or D: STABITSTABITSTABIT!!!!

I think keeping her past a mystery is a mistake. When we’re only told, not shown, that she’s been through Hell, her instability comes across more as emo craziness than an appropriate response to what she’s suffered.

This was my problem with the Bajorans on Star Trek. We never actually saw the horrible things that had been done to them, so they just came across as self-indulgent douches more than anything.

But there’s still hope for Irisa. There’s still time to reveal her past before she gets too irritating.

Also, props to Stephanie Leonidas for playing the character’s intensity so well. If they ever do any World Spectrum movies, maybe she can play Leha…

Overall rating: 6.9/10

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