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Defiance S02E01: "The Opposite of Hallelujah"


Welcome back to Defiance, Syfy's hodgepodge of Western film tropes, immigration and culture-clash tales, alien artifact mythologizing, and uneven episodes that will cause me to like the show one week and then pretty much hate it the next! Oh, and there's still a video game tie-in that I haven't played, and probably never will. Ah, well. In any case, "The Opposite of Hallelujah" started Season 2 on the right foot for me, and for Defiance in general.

When Season 1 wrapped up, I was excited by the potential for an increased Earth Republic (E-Rep) presence in the town and on the show, and the premiere provided it right off the bat. It's been nine months since the events of the finale, and the E-Rep has established a considerable foothold in the frontier town, complete with a new interim mayor in one Niles Pottinger (James Murray). 

Basically, while Defiance was on hiatus, the E-Rep was nationalizing Rafe's mines, putting up flags, and reforming the Lawkeeper office—where Tommy still works—into more of a military police. They are, to use Amanda's words, an "occupying army" that appears to have taken steps to make Defiance a profitable and important piece of the E-Rep's map. Important enough, in fact, that Pottinger's boss, Viceroy Mercado (William Atherton, who I never ever recognize without a beard these days), warned that it would be "catastrophic" if the E-Rep lost control of Defiance—and Pottinger was happy to bring down a velvet hammer on dissent after he set up two angry young miners to be eaten by hellbugs during an "escape attempt."

While I could do without the Nazi comparisons (though I've admittedly made them myself, due to how the E-Rep likes to dress some of its officers), I enjoy the character and narrative potential in Pottinger's particular brand of governance, which is all razzle-dazzle and plausible deniability. He's even a co-opter, wanting Amanda to leave her job running NeedWant (Kenya is still "missing") to serve as his chief of staff/advisor. (He's also a creeper, watching Amanda do drugs and sleep, by projecting her onto his wall.) It's good politicking to bring a recognized, generally respected face into your fold, as was the case with his decision to retain Rafe in order to keep the mines and miners in line instead of shipping him off to Camp Reverie with Datak and Yewll. An insurrection is likely brewing in Defiance, and it should make for a far more interesting battle than dealing with hellbugs, razor rain, and the Volge.

Pottinger may be new and interesting, but in terms of established and interesting, Stahma continues to reign supreme. Stahma, and Jaime Murray's performance, were the highlights of Defiance's first season for me, and if this episode is any indication, the show has recognized this particular strength as well. With Datak wasting away at Camp Reverie, waiting for Stahma to swing by with business and legal updates (and handjobs), Alak has "assumed" control of his father's criminal enterprises. While he seems to be doing okay—they're up two percent!—he's not meeting Stahma's expectations.


It shouldn't surprise you, then, that I loved Alak's hissy-fit of a confrontation with Stahma ("The man of the house is addressing you!") after his drug manufacturer made a very public display of paying back Alak's costs. It had everything I came to love about Murray's performance last season—namely perfectly timed swings from the subservient Castithan female ("It is not my place to give orders") to the force of will behind the Tarr operations ("Once again, the strong Castithan male falters, and I am left to open the airlock door myself") to doting mother ("You will have money in your pocket...")—while also supplying a wonderful example of the cultural breakdowns the Votans have experienced since arriving on Earth.

Stahma has steadily exploited fissures in the Castithan patriarchal caste system, operating as an independent agent to further the Tarr's goals, and often in secret from Datak. With him in Camp Reverie—does anyone honestly believe that Stahma has filed any appeals with the Votanis Collective? I sure don't!—she doesn't have to bother with sexy bathing times to nudge Datak to do her bidding; she can just straight-up tell Alak how it's going to be. And with the steady crumbling of the Castithan mores, she might've been able to start openly control things sooner if Yewll hadn't invited Datak to tag along in her escape. These sorts of culture clashes—both between the various species and within them—are what I like most about Defiance, and I will always want more, as the show is well-suited to exploit them.

Away from all the plots in Defiance, Nolan's been searching for Irisa—and he found her in the remains of Los Angeles, now called Angel Ark. Nolan wanted answers regarding his resurrection and his vision of Irisa interacting with the Kelavar (the Golden Pretzel) and Kaziri, and Irisa outright lied to Nolan about what'd happened: She claimed that the E-Rep had grabbed her, but she escaped and has been scrounging around in Angel Ark until she could make it back to Nolan. Couple that with Irisa's more violent than usual behavior—including imagining slicing Nolan's throat—and we're looking at quite a shift in the dynamic between the adopted father and daughter.

I'm currently treating all this with a touch of kid gloves because, while I wasn't a fan of the Golden Pretzel stuff last season, Irisa and Irzu—one of the primary Irathient deities—are somehow joined now, and I want to avoid assigning any guilt by association because of a lousy story from last season. This arc now has the potential to offer more personal drama (as opposed to the cosmic, religious, and/or conspiracy mythologizing of last season), and that has me slightly more optimistic about its potential, as it could rattle the show's characters more than prophecies and religious cults did.

And maybe I'm just more optimistic about Defiance in general, thanks to the seasonal break. That tends to happen with shows I have a lukewarm opinion toward; a hiatus kicks in, details grow a bit fuzzy, and my opinion engages in a soft reset. Of course, a show can quickly remind me of all its ups and downs—don't say I didn't warn you!—but at the moment, I'm looking forward to Defiance's second season with a mostly clean slate.



CLASSIFIED E-REP FILES

– In case you missed them (like I did), Syfy produced a handful of minisodes that fleshed out Nolan's time with a young Irisa through flashbacks during his search for her in the present day and explained how he ended up in New Chicago. The most interesting nugget to come out of them is that Nolan encouraged Irisa's interest in knives. Irisa saving Nolan in this episode functioned as a callback to a scene in the final minisode. (I hate the word minisode.)

– I didn't recognize William Atherton without a beard.

– "Want me to check you for lumps? Nope, you're good." Cute line, but decidedly icky scene, even if it was a nice illustration of Castithan patriarchy at work: They can't even be bothered to pleasure themselves.

– The episode still featured a closing montage, but it wasn't set to an awful cover of a contemporary song. It was an original, in-universe song, one I'm assuming is called "Across the Storm Divide." It's a little filk-y, but I'll take it!


What did you think of "The Opposite of Hallelujah"? What do you hope to see from Defiance in Season 2?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/28/2015

Season 3 : Episode 13

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Quality summer popcorn, with a few moments where its more than that (see Jaime Murray). Not much more I could ask for.
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Well... watching it I remember why I love so much Julie Benz and Jaime Murray! :-P Ms Murray is killing it this time with that character!

I feel that although the world of Defiance is complex and rather interesting sometimes they have to many things going... but maybe that's me.

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Pretty much what I was expecting. It didn't rock my socks off, but it's still an enjoyable thing. And Jaime Murray is stil completely brilliant.
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Step up in quality so far so good.
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Solid and it tied up a few of the plots from last season - but it is looking like Irisa's plot will be pivotal, so hopefully they handle that well.

The E-Rep plot may drag it down.
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I would like to like it. Revolution was a joke. Falling Skies is kind of OK but watching the first and last episode of each season seems enough. Now waiting for Dominion and The Last Ship but it seems that post-apocalyptic shows are difficult to do right...
I found Defiance boring and left after 4 episodes in Season 1. And having watched S2E01, I also found it boring... Sad to say but not one character makes me want to come back for more.
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totally agree
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Did it get better after its pilot?
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good to be back into the world of Defiance! for a sec I thought Irisa slit Nolan's throat for real and I was like Oh Shtako!!!
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yeah gotta admit, the hand job thing was quite nasty lol
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I'm not crazy about the debut episode of S2. The show has too many races, factions and story-lines and it's distracting. Defiance started out with promise and is wandering into weird. It reminds me a lot of Twin Peaks which also started out with great promise, built a loyal following and then marched off into the tall grass leaving us scratching our heads and wondering, "what the hell?" I'm scratching my head now and wondering, 'what the hell?' Fire walk with me....right out of Defiance-Town.
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This season appears to be going down the same pitfall of too many characters/factions with their own storylines, which get too thinned out to fit and no real gelling of an overall arc.
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Personally I getting sick and tired of every show have jumping forward and avoiding answering questions simply to drag out the story. So how long will have to wait for an explanation of the ship and how it got there, 9 hours.

Only thing I actually like was how Irisa just seemed off this entire episode, to the point that I actually thought she been recast, it does seem her make up as change a little as well.

I found the Stahma storyline dull. More Nolan and Irisa and the minors and less creepy mayor and Stahma.

I kinda wish the show was just about Nolan and Irisa surviving in this new world, trying to make a living, running from cults, and gangs and army personnel because that when this show is at it best.
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I thought it was a pretty good season opener, but I think they waited too long to air it because Season 1 is kind of hazy in my memory (it ended too long ago) because I can't remember what happened with Kenya. When was the last time we saw her?
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They ran a Defiance Marathon on Memorial Day.
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When Stahma poisoned her/murdered her as a way to apologize to Datak for sleeping with her. I'd forgotten about it too until I researched the last season finale.
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Thank you! I actually do kind of rememebr that scene now.
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I love Irisa, but I'm a bit 'm'eh' about Irzu. I mean usually I try to take an interest in the more supernatural/religious/bizarre elements of shows/books, etc. But Irzu just left me a little cold. That and the whole Castithan arc. Also the writers need to tone down the 'nazi' message symbolism - we've got it already.......
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Nice, solid season opener. I'm a big fan of the close father-daughter relationship of Nolan and Irisa so I can only hope they don't screw around too much there. it was weird seeing Amanda fill Kenya's role after being outed from the mayor's office (Kenya's fate last season was a low point as she was a fun counterpoint to Amanda, not to mention her run-in's with Nolan) and it doesn't seem right to me, so hope it changes soon. Hopefully next week, we'll see Datak and the doc freed when Nolan returns to defiance.
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My main problem with Defiance is, that everyone always looks like they are actors wearing a costume and the sets look like sets.
It is not real, it is not believeable and it just does not pull me into the story. I am always fully aware that I am watching a Show. And thats a big - for me.
It is kind of sad actually, since i reall do love Scifi.
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I liked the season premiere. If some things in first season left me lukewarm (at best) this ep was good. Hope show keeps it up and expands on brewing conflict in city.
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Some many handjobs, so little time.

Oh Defiance, how I've missed you.

Welcome back show, welcome back.
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I like this show, PERIOD!
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This episode gave me the same doubts as last season did. There is this feeling of something that might be huge, mysterious, appealing with lots of drama and action, but it doesn't fulfil that promise.

I love SciFi shows and will watch almost all of them. If it's not good, I will try to see if I can have a bit of fun by laughing about the mistakes, story holes, bad acting or just plain stupidity. Revolution season one had all of that, the start of season two was good and then it just became of bad show with not that much fun. Helix kept me asking questions that were not answered at all and Under the Dome had me laughing all season. Defiant is different, it is more like Revolution in between the better start of season 2 and the end of season 2. So I'm in doubt what to think, what to expect and I am seriously lacking moment I can laugh because it was hilariously bad.

Stahma and Jamie murray were great. I do like her anyway, she played a great HG in Warehouse 13 and she was the one where the fans were asking for a spin off. I also feel that she is that character the writers have the most fun writing as there are so many layers in her character. Most of the others feel more one dimensional. Her 'straight talk' to Alak and also making it in something he asked her to do was brilliant. She will do anything to move forward and get her way, but in manner that is very pleasing to watch (or look at).

I am undecided about Amanda. She was (and that is relative) one of the better characters of last season, but now she is a sexy barkeeper (didn't mind the dress at all), on drugs and she hadn't noticed that huge cam on the wall. I am really not sure where they are heading with her. I loved that wall where Pottinger could watch tv (or cam).

That E-rep does remind me too much of the Patriots in Revolution. As if they have the same writer(s) on the team. I do hope we get some more interesting stories out here.

As last season, I found Nolan and Irisa the least interesting. In Angel Ark obviously nobody cares about a live, they've 'reassigned' the Hollywood sign near and facing the ocean now and when you kill all his men but leave the baddy alive, you do not bother to look over your shoulder. He had been looking for her for nine months and the first time he needs help, she's there. It is especially this part of the story that never really fulfills its promise. let's hope it will this time.

I was surprised by the fact that we (indirectly) saw that handjob by Stahma where she obviously was keeping Datak happy in the sense he wouldn't make that much trouble, f.i. by challenging her more on the release issue. We had that comical moment at the end when, as described in the review, Datak's new friend asked him when he put her hand in his groins: "You want me to check you for lumps? No, you're good". He is confronted with a second women who can take him on.

More+
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Jamie murray was great in Dexter too.
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Yay! Defiance is back! Finally!

1. I loved Irisa and Nolan's reunion. I'm so glad he found her.
2. I adore Jaime Murray. Every scene with her is delight. However, I found the handjob thing very disturbing.
3. I want the white powder that Stahma is pouring to her bath.
4. Two best quotes of the episode:
"And you wanna stop bathing by yourself. It's weird"
"Want me to check you for lumps? Nope, you're good." - that was icky, but still funny.
5. So is Amanda only running NeedWant (and taking drugs) or does she also take clients?
6. The New Mayor is a creepy stalker.
7. Looks like Kenya won't be back :( The show implies she's dead.

I can't wait to see what happens next. Thanks for review, Noel!
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I can't really see Amanda taking clients, but they do leave that question up in the air, I suppose.
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Perhaps Amanda had a nervous breakdown after Kenya disappeared? She kind of dress like a working girl now.
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I think the nerves/depression explains the drugs, and the outfit is more about maintaining the atmosphere of the NeedWant, more a not-for-sale Madame than an for-sale one?
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If it was only the clothes I would definitely support your maintaining the club atmosphere idea.

However, since Amanda is taking drugs now she probably doesn't care anymore. So for me it's definitely possible she's selling her body.

After all, Old Amanda wouldn't dress like that and wouldn't take drugs. And she also didn't like Kenya's job.
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I liked it. I love Stahma so I'm really glad when they spend time on her, but they can kill off Datak and I won't miss him.
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I was actually really disappointed that the Hollywood sign still had all its letters. I was hoping some would have fallen off, like how the sign used to read Hollywoodland. Maybe it could have read Lywood or something....
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That would've been fantastic.
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Wow this was boring than the first season.. I will give it one more episode just to see if this snooze-feast can get a grip.. *yawn..
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I like Defiance but all the weird hallucinations/visions that Irisa had last year were pretty boring. This new twist with her seeing her past self is a bit more interesting. My two favorite characters on this show right now are Amanda Rosewater and Stahma. I was hoping they would reveal Kenya was a prisoner of Stahma's somewhere but it looks like she's gone for good.
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Her past-self as a representation of Irzu...I think. The credits list the actress as Young Irisa/Irzu, so the deal that she made to keep Nolan alive last season is part of whatever is bringing her back to Defiance, but who knows. It's the part of the show I'm least invested in, but am trying to care.
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I liked most of last season... surprisingly the part I hated the most was Datak scheming while running for office. I'm usually cool with storylines like that and liked most of his scheming-scenes throughout the season... except those that had to do with the mayoral race.

I don't know why.

But that was only a small part of the show that only spanned the last 1/3rd of the episodes.

I was fine with the rest and enjoyed it. It's not my favorite show in the world, but I enjoy it. Plus... you know... Jaime Murray
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You and Cory: hating on mayoral elections plots. ;)
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Honestly, I don't know why I didn't like that part. I like Amanda (the mayor) and I like Datak with his scheming. I even liked them butting heads for the first 2/3rds of the season.

But for whatever reason I didn't like it when the actual mayoral race kicked in.

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Eh, happens. Some things just don't click into our brains, and we cannot explain why. I'm sort of like this with The Americans as a whole, a show I recognize is "good", but just the show and I have never connected on a basic level.
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I read this show got a second season (when so many good shows never did) and thought "hey, this must be at least ok". It's not.
I'm gonna give it the benefit of the doubt and actualy finish the 1st episode, but I'm 15min into it and already saw a lip-syncing scene (either that or she moves her mouth in a weird way when she sings... maybe it's the 3kg makeup), a bunch of overdesigned empty characters and a gun recoil 2 or 3 times without actualy firing.

By overdesigned characters I mean Mr. Googles-Over-a-Top-Hat. Seriously?... Com'on, what do you want a top hat for? And what good can googles do if they're sitting on the top hat? So, this guy, a post-apocalyptic rebel wannabee wants to look like a steampunk pimp from the 80's? Jesus... You're trying too hard to make your characters memorable, it's like anime characters here.
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It just occurred to me. It's another Eureka, except instead of having genius killing each other, you have aliens killing each other.
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This crap couldn't get worse then season one. I really hoped season two would have learned from the mistakes made in season one and it absolutely did not.

True what happened to Irisa and Stahma taking over is interesting, but I doubt that will be enough to keep everything going. Like I stated last year, if your doing multiple storylines make sure to keep them interesting.

Datak in prison : dead air
E Rep stuff : dead air
Amanda in NeedWant: dead air
Mining stuff: dead air
Nolan in Chicago and travelling to LA in 5 seconds flat with a boat: dead air and complete nonsense. (What do they call boats anyways? Floaters?)

The only thing I want to see more of is Jaimy Murray, especially her getting off in the bathtub, but what was with all the clothes?
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I imagine someone, perhaps even Ms. Murray herself, complained about her old bathing outfit. If I remember correctly it was two strips of white cloth matching her skin making a V to cover her most naughty bits.

Either that it was rediculous or "too revealing" for basic cable early in primetime.

Which is funny since now they're give full-blown "handies" on the show, which made me laugh out loud.
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Sorry but I just couldnt get past the hero in season 1. He's badly cast and not worth watching.
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