Defiance Season 1 Review “A Well-Respected Man”

Defiance (Syfy) Episode 4 A Well Respected Man (2)

Ask and you shall receive! In last week’s review of “Defiance,” I lamented the fact that the writers had seemingly let certain story-lines fall by the wayside last week, but it turned out that I should have been a little more patient, as they did eventually work their way around to it in this week’s episode, “A Well-Respected Man.” Color me impressed.

Right off the bat, one such plot point was dealt with, when Nolan came down hard on some Castithans that were apparently smuggling guns and the like. Convinced that they were doing so on Datak’s behalf, he busted them and confiscated their stuff, and let them know that their money would be going towards funding Nolan’s take-down of the man himself, referencing the business with his leaving the dead guy at Nolan’s doorstep a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the other plot point I was wondering if they’d left out by mistake- the “relationship” between Nolan and Amanda’s sister, Kenya- was also dealt with in short order, as we saw Amanda discover what they were up to, and be none too pleased about it. Or for that matter, with Kenya’s chosen line of work, and how it reflects on her, even though she hauls off and slaps a townie wife whose hubby frequents the Need/Want in Kenya’s defense, after she calls her a slut.

So, plotting issues dealt with, I could happily move on to the main storyline, which mostly revolved around Kenya, who got into a situation she wasn’t entirely prepared for, no matter how tough she proclaimed herself to be. At least at first, for despite evidence to the contrary, Kenya did end up proving herself to be one hard customer.

The whole “Matrix”-meets-The City of Lost Children-ish plotline was pretty cool, especially as we only realized that it was a virtual reality as Kenya herself did and was able to escape and take out the dastardly Meiko, who was literally harvesting fear from local kidnapped victims that he terrorized with his faux reality in order to create a drug called Blue Devil that consists of pure adrenaline or something like that.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even recognize Syfy-regular and erstwhile Harry Potter stand-in Robin Dunne (Sanctuary) as Meiko, which I suppose is a compliment of sorts. The dynamic between him and Ulysses was interesting, sort of like a drug junkie take on “Frankenstein,” with Dunne as the mad doctor who was addicted to his own drug and the massive “Bio-man” as his monstrous muscle.

I also worried that the show might devolve into a procedural drama, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all here, at least not as of yet. Instead, it seems like we’re going to be revolving through the cast one by one, getting to know everyone better as we go. I don’t mind this approach, especially as it allows for one to find out things as two of our main characters do, Nolan and the mostly-absent-this-week Irisa.

To that end, we had a nice scene between Nolan and Datak, as he took Nolan on an ad-hoc tour of the Hollows, showing him how everything is interconnected in some way, and how he’d do well to get to know the town and its denizens before going off all half-cocked, like he did when he busted Datak’s men, who turned out to be securing weapons in light of Defiance’s force field shield being compromised in the premiere. Of course, Datak, and, as it turned out, members of the town council neglected to inform the Mayor of this, either, so you can’t blame Nolan for busting suspicious characters with good reason. This fact also casts doubt on whether or not the council truly trusts Amanda yet as well.

Speaking of which, good work this week on the behalf of actresses Julie Benz and Mia Kirshner, who play Amanda and Kenya, respectively. I missed the latter in particular last week, and it was nice getting some much-needed back-story on the interestingly complex nature of their relationship. The fact that Amanda not only stands up for her sister despite her dubious line of work, but has been taking some completely unnecessary crap from her for years rather than tell her the truth about their mother, speaks volumes about the strength of her character.

The council needn’t have worried about her resolve, if they had simply known about her past. The medallion that she reinterpreted as a “Saint Finnegan” medal meant to help guard over her sister was a nice touch, too, especially as it ended up being what saved Kenya from the “Aliens”-esque VR sequence, which put me in the mind of that film’s Ripley and Newt, with Kenya standing in as Ripley, of course, and “night porter” Tirra as the hapless Newt. (Nice reference there, too, with the Night Porter bit, BTW, “Defiance” writers. I see what you did there.)

I also liked the continued political maneuvering on the part of Stahma, and the way that Nolan sniffed out what she was up to, along with her husband in that bit where he tried to stage his own heroics in that witness’ trailer. Can’t get anything by this one, am I right? Not that it stopped Amanda from honoring Stahma’s wishes and electing Datak to the council to fill the recently-vacated seat left by someone who died in the first episode’s big battle. That was also a nice bit of business about how she respected Kenya because she thanked her for “sharing” her husband with her.

Overall, a good episode of the show, and one that showed that they may know exactly where they’re headed with all this after all. Sometimes it can be tough to invest in a new show, especially in light of so many shows letting viewers down with slipshod plotting, but the writers here seem to be on top of things thus far. There’s so many characters to deal with that it might take some time to get a better sense of the big, overarching picture, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

I suspect the average viewer of Syfy’s shows expects at least reasonably intelligent writing (barring their customarily cheesy Saturday night Creature Features, of course), and this week, the writers showed that they might be even savvier than I previously thought. That says a lot, and makes me want to invest that much more in the show’s future where I didn’t necessarily before. So…nice going, writers! You did good for yourselves, and the show at hand. That certainly bodes well for the future.

What did you think of “Defiance” this week? Did you enjoy seeing Dunne in disguise? Did you even recognize him? How about the stuff with Kenya? Is her character growing on you? Where do you think the relationship between her and Nolan is going, or will there even be one beyond the professional? How about Amanda? Did you approve of her actions in regards to her sister? And mother, for that matter? Let me know what you think in the comments section!