Review: Defiance, “Painted From Memory”

Will the real Kenya Rosewater please stand up?

A promotional image for Defiance“Painted From Memory” deals almost exclusively with Kenya’s return to Defiance, but what starts out as a joyous reunion quickly takes a darker turn as more and more questions pop up surrounding her sudden reappearance. Kenya has odd gaps in her memory, and what she does remember is ominous: A laboratory where she is the test subject.

Nolan attempts to find the truth, while Doc Yewll and the returned Mayor Pottinger are a bit less eager to solve the mystery. Stahma is a panic, desperate to keep her attempt to murder Kenya secret, and Amanda willfully ignores any signs that things aren’t fine, choosing only to enjoy her sister’s return.

But the Rosewaters aren’t the only ones having a family reunion. Quentin McCawley finally reappears in Defiance, a much changed man.

I’m a little unsure how to rate this episode. It feels like a bit of a tangent to the main story, and considering how Defiance generally splits its attention between many different arcs, it feels very strange to have virtually the entire episode focused on Kenya. It feels a little thin — a snack, not a meal.

It came close to a lot of big reveals — things that could radically change the relationships between the characters and the ongoing arc of the show. But it managed to avoid all of them. All secrets remain secret — to the characters, if not to the viewers. Feels a bit like wasted potential.

On the other hand, it was a fairly entertaining episode. The hour flew by in no time at all.

Mia Kirshner as Kenya Rosewater in DefianceStahma, and her desperation to keep Kenya’s murder a secret, was probably the highlight. She’s such an ice queen most of the time. It was quite fun to see all that flawless Castithan poise ripped away and her completely losing her shtako.

I’m also quite enjoying how her relationship with Datak has evolved now that they’re on more equal footing. I reckon if those two could ever overcome their differences and actually work together well, as equals, they could probably rule the world.

Although I’m not the biggest fan of Kenya’s character, I also quite liked how they showed off her relationship with Amanda. You could see their closeness, and their love for each other, as well as a certain friction and good-natured squabbling one would expect from siblings. I may not be an expert, being an only child myself, but to me, it seemed very authentic.

It occurs to me that, given the ending, Kenya is likely to show up in Defiance the game soon. Perhaps I’ll dust off my account to see what her missions are like, assuming I’m right. Let’s hope she doesn’t have too much of a negative association with Castithan women… (:P)

All in all, “Painted From Memory” was a well-executed and enjoyable episode, but I don’t expect it’s one that will prove very memorable in the long run — no pun intended. It doesn’t really mean enough to the long-term story, and it was too narrow in focus.

Overall rating: 7.4/10

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2 thoughts on “Review: Defiance, “Painted From Memory”

  1. The thing I find most interesting about Stahma is the cadence of her speech. You know when she’s lying and when she’s not by how much spacing she puts between her phrases. When she’s lying, she’s smiling and bobbing her head, and putting long pauses in between phrases. Very stilted sounding. But when she’s being completely honest, the words flow like you’d normally expect to hear. One would think that a gangster’s wife who is ruthless enough to take over and even push him out when he returns wouldn’t have such an obvious tell like that.

    I’m very interested to learn more about this Irzu pilgrimage that Nolan can’t be allowed to interrupt. Also very interested to see if the Kenya host can be saved by Yewll’s colleague in Marin county, since it looked like that was where she headed after leaving Defiance.

    • I’m guessing the answer to the latter question is yes. Marin is the setting of Defiance the game, and that colleague is a major NPC, so that was almost certainly a set-up for a new mission series surrounding Kenya. I don’t expect they’d allow players to fail to save her; that would feel pretty sucky.

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