Review: Defiance, “The Cord and the Ax” + What Makes an eSport?

“The Cord and the Ax” is another strong showing from Defiance’s second season.

A promotional image for DefianceIt’s a busy story, with major developments for pretty much every character. Alak learns that he is soon to be a father, which brings his personal crisis over his role in the family business to a head. Irisa continues to be tormented by visions and compulsions apparently from the Irathient goddess Irzu, driving her to the breaking point.

Meanwhile, Amanda’s adreno addiction worsens, Datak learns that Stahma has left him to rot in prison, and Mayor Pottinger uses Yewll’s severed finger to uncover the secrets left in her office.

There’s a lot going on, but it doesn’t feel too scattered. Everyone seems to get a fair level of attention appropriate to their plot, but some did stand above the others.

I continue to thoroughly enjoy Alak’s growth as a character. His larger role really came out of left field, but against all expectations, it’s turned out to be a very interesting direction. He’s clearly being torn in two by his duty to his family and their Castithan traditions, and his desire to be a kinder and more just person than his parents, and to protect his budding family from the dark legacy of the Tarr clan.

His plot also gave Rafe McCawley the opportunity to once again be a complete badass. If I have one complaint about this season so far, it’s that Rafe hasn’t gotten nearly enough screen time.

Graham Greene as Rafe McCawley in DefianceAnd then there’s Datak’s contribution to the story. I won’t spoil anything, but… wow. That last scene.

Once again, I am blown away by the sheer intensity Tony Curran is able to portray.

I also quite enjoyed the continuation of Irisa’s struggles. I’m still not the biggest fan of Irisa’s character, but this episode made the best use of her strengths, giving the viewer insight into how tortured she has become — and she was pretty tortured to begin with.

I also liked how it continued to show the friction between her and Nolan. Nolan truly loves her and wants the best for her, but as Amanda is quick to point out, he’s just not that good of a parent. He’s never truly understood Irisa, and so he struggles to control her when she needs an ally and not a guide, or a warden.

“The Cord and the Ax” also offers some glimpses of what’s really going on with her, and just what is buried beneath the gulanite mines. Not enough to fully understand, but enough for me to be thoroughly intrigued.

This is one thing Defiance does very well: They maintain their mysteries just long enough to keep you intrigued, but not so long that you’re just being strung along without a clue. They hit a perfect cadence for parceling out new information.

The town of DefianceIt’s really amazing how much this show has improved since its shaky beginnings.

Overall rating: 8.5/10

New article:

eSports are exploding in popularity, but did you ever stop to wonder what determines whether or not a video game will be an eSport? It’s quite a tall order. Just as only a tiny minority of gamers will ever achieve the skills necessary to play competitively, only a handful of games have what it takes to become a sport.

In my latest article for ADANAI, I take a look at just what is necessary for a game to become an eSport.

4 thoughts on “Review: Defiance, “The Cord and the Ax” + What Makes an eSport?

  1. Yeah, that final scene was really something. I can’t help but wonder how the dynamic would have changed had Christy been there too. That would have opened up even bigger cans of worms for Alak, I would think.

      • Yeah, had she been there for that…. I think she would have moved back to the McCauley residence and told Alak he either came too or it was over. I think the writers recognized that and a) didn’t want the story to take that dynamic and/or b) they want her to find out about it later so it can create a separate dramatic scene.

      • More importantly, if she’d been there, she would have told Rafe, and McCawley’s Dog Food would have mysteriously resumed production for a limited time.

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