Defiance "The Serpent's Egg" Review: Hatching Threats

Defiance S01E05: "The Serpent's Egg"

"The Serpent's Egg" was a solid enough episode. It didn't move the needle of like/dislike much for me—I'm still pretty much exactly where I was last week—but at the end of the season, it end up being the episode where Defiance started to transition to its "bigger" plots.

I put "bigger" in quotes because it's not as if the scheming of the Tarrs, the interpersonal conflict of the McCawleys, whatever case of the week Nolan is dealing with at any given time, and Amanda's struggles to govern the town aren't big stories. They can be, and they have been at times. But those plots are the stuff of melodrama and procedurals, two things that I enjoy but that don't necessarily scream high-stakes storytelling. It's tough to do melodrama without stronger, more interesting characters—only Datak, Stahma, Irisa, and occasionally Nolan really grab me—and the show's more procedural plots have been hit or miss so far. 

So it can benefit Defiance to work in some threats that are located outside or just around the edges of the town. Already there's whatever Nicky and Birch have been planning, and how the golden knot that the McCawleys posses fits into it, but now we have the Earth Republic's Ambassador Olfin Tennety (Jane McLean) and Irisa's position as the prophesied "devouring mother."

Let's discuss Olfin and the "stagecoach" hijacking first, since it's more in the case-of-the-week vein. It was an old Western plot that I was happy to see the show utilize because it never fails to entertain, though I did miss seeing people climb on top of or under the coach to have to do something, like jump to the bandits' vehicle or fix a wheel or something silly and fun like that. However, the standoff and the double-crossing bits were fine enough that I didn't mind too much.

I'm mildly excited about Olfin, though, and the potential that she represents to disrupt the status quo of the series. Similar to the Volge in the pilot, the Earth Republic as a whole is an external threat to Defiance that can likely unite all the otherwise opposing factions in the town in order to keep Defiance operating as it has been. Its independence streak, like the stagecoach plot, fits snugly into traditions of the Western genre, and frontier cities' disinterest in a larger government entity having a say in local governance and economics. So while Defiance may need that railroad to prosper, and likely survive, they'll do it on their own, if you don't mind, Earth Republic. 

What's more, Olfin as an individual character provided Amanda with a new rival, something I think Amanda will need as the show goes forward. Keeping Datak and the town council in line plus being up for election soon will be challenging enough, but an Earth Republic campaign against her will offer not only an interesting challenge, but also a way for her to prove herself a capable leader in defending the town against all sorts of threats.

Irisa's plot, as she confronted the man who tortured her as a child, ended up serving a couple of different purposes, though I admit that one's only a theory at this point. First and foremost, it served to flesh out Irisa some more following the events of "The Devil in the Dark" as we learned about when Nolan killed her parents and why she hated them so much. I would hate my parents too if they willingly subjected me to various forms of torture in the name of some particular brand of religious zealotry. 

There never seemed to be much doubt regarding whether or not the Castithan was the one who tortured Irisa, though the plot tried its damnedest to sow seeds of uncertainty about his identity. Really, I don't know that it it wouldn't have mattered much either way, as it was just a vehicle to learn about Irisa, and she let him go in the end. Killing him without knowing would've been a little bolder, and that sureness robbed the scenes of a lot of tension, narratively-speaking. Visually, the choices in direction and lighting design at least gave the sequences a little extra flair, and I particularly dug some early shots that had Irisa and her prisoner illuminated only by one lamp. A dangerous degree of intimacy.

I will admit that I was sort of fuzzy on why a Castithan would be in charge of this training/rite of passage, but perhaps this devouring mother is a figure common to a particular religion within the Votans? Or perhaps it appears in all of them in some shape, hence all the various life and death connections associated with it? It's not a huge concern, but it kept niggling in the back of my brain during the flashbacks.

Connected to that that is my theory idea. Of course it's that Irisa being this devouring mother will somehow tie into the stuff Nicky is planning, and is connected to the golden knot and the glyphs the McCawley boys found in the mine shaft last week. I don't think it's really that much of a stretch, and  if it doesn't play out this way, I'd be very surprised. It's just when any bit of media tosses out a phrase like "the chosen one" that you can sort of predict the show's destination in some ways. In any case, it it was character development that will likely end up serving a larger purpose on down the road, likely resulting in Irisa's visions becoming clearer and/or more immediate in their value. 

One thing to really like about this entire plot is that it ended up not dragging out both Irisa's past, pre-Nolan, and it went ahead and resolved that sexual tension between her and Tommy. I'll admit that I'm more interested in seeing the latter develop than the former as Irisa and Tommy could supply some enjoyable screwball antics, or as screwball as Defiance is likely to get. Hopefully now that the pre-Nolan Irisa stuff is done we'll get some post-Nolan Irisa stuff, which I think would be significantly more interesting, especially as Nolan appeared to be still be in the military at the time.



LAWKEEPER FILES


– Vegas has become a prison. Was that this week's game tie-in reference?

– Rynn is still in play as a wild card plot element for the show, so I'm sure she'll be back. I'm just sort of hoping she'll have left Olfin's other husband somewhere.

– "Frankly, Reverend, I prefer Scotch, but thank you." Between the Castithan penance rack, Irisa's torture, and a faux-reverend, religion is not doing too well on Defiance.

– Closing montage cover song: The Cure's "Lovesong." The fact that it wasn't A Flock of Seagulls' "Space Age Love Song" is a travesty. It was probably a rights issue more than anything else BUT I STILL SAY IT WAS A TRAVESTY.


What'd you think of "The Serpent's Egg"?

Comments (48)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
I am surprised the review refers to 'bigger plots'. How is an idea introduced suddenly in one episode a plot?

Suddenly, Defiance is a town on a bus route?????

So, is it me, or is this show not making sense?

First we have the city Defiance, protected by a giant shield, self-contained and protected.

And now we find out there has been a regular bus service and anyone can come in?

Why didn't the Volge come on the bus? Then the whole elaborate shield destruction would not have been required.

This show is not making sense, will appear too sci-fi for normal viewers, is not enough sci-fi for sci-fi fans, and is going to get cancelled. Personally, I'm giving it one more episode.
1
Reply
Flag
I agree, to a certain extent.

I keep wondering when either the Sci OR the Fi will appear?

So far it seems to have a few alien species but that's all.

Where are the space craft? The special effects, etc.

All I'm waiting for now is the inevitable "will they, won't they" with Nolan and Amanda and that'll be it for me I'm afraid.
Reply
Flag
Yes..... I thought the same about Nolan and Amanda.

I think it's a real shame that we get that cool premise, the war, destruction and re-birth in the opening sequence, and then we get a western that is trying to be a soap opera.

And why on earth does Nolan have to be called Lawkeeper? Language wasn't forgotten in the war.......
Reply
Flag
"I'm just sort of hoping she'll have left Olfin's other husband somewhere." Given the actor is the Colorado Kid on Haven, probably...
Reply
Flag
Isn't Irisa suppose to be a teenager? Eww. Then again, Dany from GOT was a teenager when she was given to Drogo. Speaking of which, why is Defiance trying to be an HBO show with all these sex/nudity scenes? To me its really off putting. Face it Defiance, you are no GOT. You are not going to be a highly successful niche genre (scifi/fantasy) television show that everyone will be talking about.

I didn't like this episode at all. The caravan part where half of the passengers were backstabbers was just ridiculous. First it was Rynn, then the minister, then the ambassador. I actually miss the Rafe/Datak story lines. I like them better than the Irisa story line.
Reply
Flag
So, in my own little way, I priortize my watching of TV shows. I set almost everything I watch to record on my DVR. I try and watch shows that are 'buzzier' on the night they air (though Vampire Diaries is actually falling out of this category). Other shows I watch the next day after I get home from work and don't feel like cooking dinner so I am just baking a potato. Still others I hold off for weekend watching. These hold offs are either shows I really like to get into (Supernatural, Grimm will become this again) and others are shows that can sit (I loved Southland, but it was a little heavy for me, Elementary falls into this category too). Defiance is right now an after work show. It is okay, but occasionally it feels plodding to me so it isn't relaxing and fun the way other shows are just yet.
3
Reply
Flag
I at least feel that way about Supernatural. It's far from perfect, but I can usually expect to enjoy it, so I save the episodes for myself when I can just sit down with a good meal and watch.

Unfortunately, I don't get many of those, so about 50% of my DVR is Supernatural. Also the reason I have a Dean avatar and haven't been able to post about Supernatural in time once since I came around here.
Reply
Flag
Ok, it just hit me - Defiance is sc-fi version of Northern Exposure. Nolan is Fleischman and Amanda is Maggie. Defiance even has it's very own Chris in the person of Stahma's spawn.

I think the one character I like is Irisa. I'm eager to find out more about her. I wish the show focused on Irathients - they're far more interesting then bath obsessed Castithans.

"The Serpent's Egg" was "not bad" episode - let's hope the next one will be even better.
3
Reply
Flag
Maybe someone noticed, "hey, most of our inspiration seems to be coming from shows that were prematurely cancelled by Fox" and decided to introduce some elements from more successful shows.
1
Reply
Flag
I loved Northern Exposure. I can't wait to see a Space Moose walking down the main Defiance street.
Reply
Flag
The opening with Blues Image's (thank you for not using cheap remake seeing as how this song was their only song to chart) 'Ride Captain Ride' was cool. Love that song. Without Jaime Murray and Graham Greene or at least some lovely Mia Kirshner this show really has nothing to offer and this episode made this fact abundantly clear. The plotting and execution of this first season is just not good. Maybe I'm just pissed because this could have been 'Alphas' Season 3 and I could be watching David Strathairn on a good show instead of Grant Bowler on this just too blah show. I like Julie Benz but this part isn't the right part for her. The writers really need to let her be a little more 'Darla'. (Loved when she was offered the Bible, she wanted the booze instead) I'm going to stay with it to at least first season finale but its getting tougher and tougher to care about any of this.
Reply
Flag
Noel look at this from the game http://youtu.be/_0Jtjntll90
Reply
Flag
The music has gotten much better. The Cure and Blues Image in one episode. Great! Story was only okay though. E-rep has finally made an appearance. There was some alien mysticism. Irisa and Tommy? I figured it would happen, but I did not want it to. It seems like they were just thrown together for the sake of a romance, like the others in the show. There are too many already. No Jaime Murray, the doctor, nor the madame. Dumb lawkeeper sighting was not securing the prisoner. Rynn gets time served when she killed 3 people and nearly unleashed a plague of those creatures on the town??!! That was a dumb mayor sighting. I thought with Rockne S. O'bannon's name attached this show would be another great like Farscape. I still hope for maybe an appearance by Ben Browder or Claudia Black. Or better yet, Scorpius, D'argo or Chiana. Anyway, this show needs to tighten up and drop some dead weight storylines, there are way too many. I am ambivalent about it right now, and could easily quit watching.
Reply
Flag
They have to change the make-up team like pronto! and spend more money on special effects which is the one thing that is essential in SF anything. If they have an ace in the hole, this is the time to use it. Yes, spolier something so we can have something to look up to.Pretty please.
Reply
Flag
I can't seem to figure out if this show is good or just has aliens.
4
Reply
Flag
I did like the episode. I am also playing the game so I will be interested to see how Rynn now appearing in the game with the new content that was just released will further influence the show. Especially sinc eso far the show has influenced the game by far more than the reverse.
Reply
Flag
The Cure? I try to stay in this show, but they PUSH me back out. At least they set it up to where it's the Castithan kid (Alak?) playing the music. At least there's now some kind of explanation.

I wondered if Irisa was an adult. Now I know.

I'd put this episode second to the bottom, episode two being the bottom. I'm glad the other Irath girl got away (especially since she paid her way out), and that's pretty much it. Irisa was right to go after the guy that tortured her, but her function on this show is pretty much to run off and do w/e she wants in town. The Bart Simpson of Defiance. I get that she has some super destiny of great good or great destruction, but it might've been more interesting if they didn't both match her personality already.

To sum up: Ehh, The Cure sucks, Lovesong is one of their worst songs, and Morrissey 4evr.
1
Reply
Flag
... at least you closed with "Morrissey 4evr".
Reply
Flag
If the Castilian had REALLY wanted to torture Arisa then all he had to do was play an endless loop of the tone deaf cretin that is Morrissey.

She would have done anything to make it stop!
Reply
Flag
As with Stones or Beatles, it doesn't *have* to be one or the other, I just don't see how anyone likes both. To each their own.
Reply
Flag
I think the choice of using the Cure was the best end song yet so definitely on a different level there. :D I think Defiance is setting things up fairly well and it needs to with so many different characters and possible stories. I'm still a "more is more" fan so I look forward to the deep main plots to advance.

Got a kick out of the DJ stuff top of the Arch, haha. I'd still like to know how they get up and down since I'm sure the pods still wouldn't work.

5
Reply
Flag
I liked it. It's "settling in" as most shows do after 4 or 5 episodes. Every sci-fi always parallels the Old West vibes and plots, must be the whole "frontier" thing. I have hopes for this series, I think it can make it.
4
Reply
Flag
Not impressed at all. I would even say a bit boring this episode was.
I'll still watch because I believe it can become very interesting. But my patience is limited to Season 1.If by the end of Season 1, they are still playing with small uninteresting stories, that will be it.
2
Reply
Flag
Did I see that right, the husband(who lived) took a .45 to the gut and walked it off? or did he get hit somewhere else?
1
Reply
Flag
I stil have hope for this show, but its going from mediocore to bad with every next episode. Still its slightly better than Revolution and Faling skies, but that is saying much. Orphan black is the only good sci-fi currently.
2
Reply
Flag
I can't watch anymore...was open minded,looked over gaps and all,but this episode,I couldn't even watch whole episode. Make-up team is bad,because you can see on that guy Irisa tortures,that one scene his face is white,then not so white and so on... Final nail in coffin was,when they were in that bus and prisoners escaped for 2s and someone came to rob them. Acting sucks,granted there were no Jaime and Tony and that might be reason,why I had enough. I only watched show because of those 2, Grant was so-so at times,but no more. Done with this show,but gl to those who watch it. You are getting 2nd season,so it might improve and get some real stories. I think season 2 is all it's getting,because they made such big hype about show and game,but that will quickly fumble:D
2
Reply
Flag
This episode was the last I'll watch as well. It had a decent premier but it's been totally downhill since. Nothing original in the story lines, lame actors and terrible makeup add up to a complete fail as far as I am concerned. The show had an interesting concept but the execution is very lackluster. Oh and it doesn't help that the whole right half of the screen is continuously covered in opaque watermarks (#defiance, the HUGE SyFY moniker, as if I didn't know what channel I'm watching, and worst of all the "all new episode of Warehouse 13 next") that completely distract the eye while trying to watch the actual show.
2
Reply
Flag
prisoner*
Reply
Flag
I thought that this episode was the most solid yet. It had the case of the week but it also had a decent amount of reveal and provided a little backstory as well. I think you theory is correct that Irisa is likely tied into all of this. Amanda's new rival might fit into that somewhere as well. But over all this was a pretty good leap forward in quality.
2
Reply
Flag
A travesty indeed. Although it's not perfect I rather like this show. Many of you on this site know me and some even like me. I'd like to share something with you all. Due to Tim's wonderful coverage of Fringe, I wrote a book, A Brief History of Time Travel and it's exactly that and very comprehensive. I'd like to give it to you folks as I find you're the perfect audience. I also have a website and email. So, if you send me an email there for the next two days, I'll send anyone on here who asks a free copy (PDF). My website is historyoftimetravel (dot com) and the email is john at the same place. So help me out folks. I'm rather proud of this book and believe word of mouth is the answer here. So email me for a free copy, you won't be disappointed, I promise
Reply
Flag
But Amanda actually said, "Take her away." She said THAT. Was that supposed to be a nostalgic western something? Or just really lazy writing. I mean... I cringed. Other than that last week's episode is still the standout so far. I feel like Datak and Stahma are awesome characters and Defiance disservices itself when they leave them out. As far as the Tarr's go, Alak doesn't count. I am enjoying the musical pieces at the end each week. Rynn is the first official tie in to the game, so not sure how they'll balance that character or just move her into the game space. Here's hoping next week's epi continues to make me care about other characters...
Reply
Flag
I pictured Nolan saying "Book her," and I don't know which would've been worse.
1
Reply
Flag
E-rep husbands and polygamy was the best thing in the hole episode and it didn't sound fake. I like the Defiance shows that the world changed and it makes it fell natural.

The game reference: There's some mission in game this week that you get to help the escape prisoner and help her escape from some renegade e-rep soldier that wants to control hellbugs.
1
Reply
Flag
I didn't understand the comment about Irisa's parents traveling halfway across the galaxy for that ceremony. And, why would that ceremony involve snakes? You have all of these species from Interstellar space and all of the private parts just happen to match humans. I guess this is standard Star Trek. Aliens can't be too alien, especially for a given budget.
1
Reply
Flag
Ah, Hollywood and it's improvised lock-picks. Worst hand-cuffs ever!
All in all, the show's floating my boat, still not a joy trip tho'.
4
Reply
Flag
yeah, it was bad enough when she picked the lock with a piece of a pen she grabbed off someone, but then to have her find a paperclip just randomly lying on the floor of the transport vehicle and pick the cuffs again? That was a jumping the shark moment for me.
4
Reply
Flag
Where the hell did the random paper clip come from?????
1
Reply
Flag
I enjoyed the episode. Irisa is by far my favorite character, so I like learning more about her. I like Rynn too, so I hope to see more of her.
1
Reply
Flag
Pretty ok episode, I'm a little surprised this show is getting so much attention...I only wish Continuum would be in featured articles...
9
Reply
Flag
Season 2 is coming soon to SyFy - they moved it to Fridays and the premiere date is June 7. Comparing this show to 'Continuum' does a great disservice to the cast/crew of 'Continuum'. One is smart and could become one of the greatest and the other is this garbage where it is hard to remember what you saw the next day. Eagerly anticipating US premiere.
1
Reply
Flag
I think the reason Defiance is getting so much attention is that its a first. Its the first game/TV Show where each influence the other. Albeit so far its been mostly that the show has influenced the game. With regards to Continuum. It probably never will because there is not a whole lot of people watching it. I watched the first 4 or 5 episodes and found myself so bored by the show that I was trying to find other stuff to do while it was on in the background.
1
Reply
Flag
We'll see how it goes now that SyFy's picked up Continuum, it will probably gather more viewers. Certain people have already compared it to Fringe (or taken it as the new Fringe) which also wasn't a strict scifi...but ended up being super popular. Also, the Continuum storyline isn't for everyone, it's leans less on the individual episodes and more on the season long storyline - so it really depends what's more your thing...
1
Reply
Flag
I heard Fringe was a great show, but like Continuum it was not for me. I just found it uninteresting the mulitiple times I tried to like it. I guess I'm more of a SciFi fan in the vein of Star Wars, Star Trek and Eureka.
Reply
Flag
I found Eureka to be a bit too quirky at times (I watched it fully though), I guess it kind of contrasts with the Fringe like seriousness of Continuum. Nevertheless, Continuum's first few eps weren't the best, but the last quarter of season 1 and beginning of season 2 has been awesome !
Flag
Agreed, Continuum is a far superior show in which the science fiction is a major element that drives the stories as opposed to a trapping hung on mundane procedurals. Thank goodness it's produced by someone other than SyFy or it would probably be just as bad as Defiance has turned out to be.
8
Reply
Flag
Heh. Alien invasion, years of planetary warfare, terraformers gone wild... and New-Yorkers are still insufferable
11
Reply
Flag
What a fun episode! This show is better by the week. I think Rynn has officially become my favorite character. Hope we get to see her on a semi-regular basis. Olfin is such a bitch, her plotting against Amanda should entertaining to watch. The sexy times in the jail...I hope Nolan walks in them next week. Fireworks! And speaking of our top cop, I do believe he's bungled into a love triangle. That won't end well.
4
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook