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Syfy (ended 2015)

Defiance S02E02: "In My Secret Life"


"In My Secret Life" kept up some of the place-setting of Defiance's Season 2 premiere, continuing to establish Pottinger as a force to be reckoned with, and more fully introducing Jessica "Berlin" Rainier (Anna Hopkins)—a character who existed on the fringes of a few scenes in last week's episode but received her showcase this week. It also returned the show to its case-of-the-week plotting within a more serialized framework as Nolan and Irisa made their way back to the frontier town.

Cases of the week were never Defiance's most consistent strength in Season 1, and episode quality often rode rather heavily on whether or not the case was interesting. While some of the ongoing storylines—Nicky and the Kelavar and Irisa and the cult—never really grabbed hold of me, it was easy enough to anticipate them and temper my expectations accordingly; whatever standalone story an episode had in store was always more of a question mark, which may explain why my opinion of show varied as much as it did.

Much like the break between seasons triggered a soft reset of my feelings toward Defiance, the case of the week in "In My Secret Life," which centered on the "search" for a bomber and a bomb-maker, also served as a bit of a reset. While Defiance can't just do away with the E-Rep presence—and nor should it, because Pottinger is already adding a lot to the show, as I'll discuss in just a few moments—it needs to make sure Nolan has something to do in Defiance. In this episode, that meant making him the Lawkeeper again and ensuring that the citizenry doesn't still really hate him for killing a Castithan kid with a paintball gun.


And that's why I put "search" in quotation marks up above, because there wasn't much of a search. Nolan visited the mines, got the name of a suspect out of Joseph (the survivor of the hellbug set-up from last week), went to the NeedWant and waited for the possible perpetrator while getting his flirt on with Amanda, teamed up with Berlin to do some video scanning, beat up the perpetrator and Skevur, saved Stahma and a crowded street form another bomb, and that was it—case closed and reputation salvaged. Outside of knocking Skevur around, Nolan hardly broke a sweat. And for all his ballyhooed tracker skills, this case was likely one that Tommy could've handled once he knew where those little bugs originated. Well, except for maybe the bomb-disarming part, which might make all the difference.

The mechanics of the bombing plot essentially served to ensure that Nolan got to be Lawkeeper again, and that Berlin got some screen time. Yes, the story also primed some of the rebellious feelings from the miners, but the bombs seemed to be more about the Tarrs than the E-Rep, and, well, who in Defiance doesn't want to kill the Tarrs? That line has to be fairly long. So, narratively, the arc ended up being a halfhearted attempt to do what needed to be done to keep the show moving.

The big upside of it all was Berlin—who, like Pottinger, is nice addition to the show's cast of characters. Her political bent already gives her more personality than Tommy was ever really granted last season, and the generational gap between her and most of the rest of Defiance's human denizens provides a unique perspective on the post-Pale Wars Earth, as it seems likely that it's the only Earth she's ever really known. She provided a jaded reading of Nolan with the whole Han Solo and Star Wars diatribe, one that incorporated criticism of the character into the show's internal perception of Nolan, which is something I kind of love. While Defiance had long focused on culture clashes between the different species, it has yet to explore an internal culture clash between generations, and I hope it's something the show continues to do with Berlin.

The other, smaller upside of the bombing plot was that we got Nolan and Amanda flirty times, flirty times that I do generally enjoy. That they were followed by Pottinger creepy times as he watched the two reunited love birds start to get it on via his spy camera in Amanda's room adds more of an ick factor to Pottinger, but two scenes in the episode really helped to solidify Pottinger for me, and they both involved the Tarrs.

Having Pottinger essentially outwit and call out Stahma and Datak—Defiance's primary schemers—provided the necessary oomph to make him a proper antagonist. He blackmailed Stahma into shutting down her drug operation by threatening to let Datak out of prison, preying on her ambition and distaste for having to manipulate Datak into doing things her way. In doing so, he acquired all the Blue Devil he needed to presumably lure Amanda into something later on while also making sure Stahma was unable to assume too much power in Defiance. Clever boy.

Yewll and Datak's escape attempt went awry after Pottinger cut off one of Yewll's fingers for failing to disclose why, exactly, Marsh was so interested in Irisa—leaving Datak to take matters into his own hands. The pair motivated a religious fanatic in the camp to try to assassinate Pottinger, allowing Datak to intervene and save Pottinger's life in an obvious attempt to get his sentence commuted. But while Datak spun a nice, indirect tale about his potential value as Pottinger's lackey and/or advisor, Pottinger's response essentially boiled down to "Don't bullshit a bullshitter," and he left Datak to continue to rot. Plus, he needs Datak locked up, or he loses his leverage against Stahma.

So Pottinger can co-opt Amanda by sending two boys to be killed and maintaining his deniability in the matter, he can outmaneuver Stahma, and he can see Datak's flimsier schemes for what they are. In a matter of two episodes, Defiance has crafted a very worthy foe, one who poses an actual threat to other characters (even if it's not in a violent way),  and that's something I can really get behind, especially after seeing how long the whole Nicky thing was drawn out last season.

With Pottinger and Berlin established and Nolan back in the Lawkeeper headquarters, I expect that the story may begin to speed up a bit, though I'm not quite sure of its direction quite yet. I suspect we'll get a Rafe episode sooner rather than later, since he's the last main regular who hasn't had much screen time, and I have to imagine it'll have something to do with his conflicting impulses regarding not wanting to end up in Camp Reverie while also loathing the E-Rep.



CLASSIFIED E-REP FILES

– I love the E-Rep propaganda posters in the market square, and that they're even printed in different versions. "A piece of POW in every pot!" is in English, with a human woman, and then it's redone for a Castithan audience; that's just the kind of world-building through production design that I really respond to.

– Along those lines, Defiance Season 2 feels more visually interesting, at least as of these first two episodes, than the show ever was in Season 1. There were a couple of nice shots in the premiere, and then this episode contained some interesting blocking, like in the picture above with Amanda, Tommy, and Pottinger, that gave scenes some visual depth. While I don't care for an over-abundance of Dutch angles (Fay Grim being the exception), they generally worked for me this week.

– Tommy has moved on from Irisa and her fierce formal wear, and is now involved with Berlin, which... okay? I mean, I liked Irisa and Tommy as a couple, but we never spent a lot of time with them, so I'm not too broken up about their split. I'm honestly more interested in Tommy's wounded professionalism, and how that that'll play out as the season progresses, as well as how he'll pick sides when the time comes.

– Oh! Christie! Right! Gosh, I almost forgot about her. She's dealing with awkward communal bathing with her husband and mother-in-law in traditional Castithan garb while also needling Alak about the Tarrs' criminal activities (activities he's still under the impression he can handle, but not so much). It's almost as if she didn't understand the family she was marrying into. I'm shocked.

– Closing montage song: "On Every Street" from Dire Straits, and it didn't sound like a cover to me, but I admit to having a lousy ear.


What did you think of "In My Secret Life"?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/28/2015

Season 3 : Episode 13

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She provided a jaded reading of Nolan with the whole Han Solo and Star Wars diatribe

Might be one of my favourite character assessments of any show ever. In part for it's accuracy, in part for it's simplicity, in part for it's perfect pop culture metaphore...but mostly for the "hot Chewbaca" line
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Defiance is not making any sense.
What is Nolan the Lawkeeper for. What is he lawkeeping?

Defiance is run by two criminal enterprises.

1) A criminal business, extortion etc. (The Tarr family) and drug dealing.
2) A lesser Drug dealing/Drug distribution syndicate and prostitution (Amanda Rosewater)

Are the mines legitimate.

What is Amanda talking about reclaiming the town to do!!?
Amanda is now in the worst situation to be.
Amanda Rosewater is now a drug using/drug dealing/pimp and hooker.
Amanda is now like the lowest of lowlifes.

It seems they wish to take back the town to simply run it as an ongoing
criminal concern, without outside interference.

Let's say the E-reps are thrown out. Will Amanda stop being a drug addict/drug dealer pimp and hooker. Remember she is selling drugs to whomever, including kids.

It is a welcome change for the E-reps to come in and clean up Defiance.
But the show presents the E-reps as bad guys or Nazis.

Let's fact it. Nolan is hired to protect the criminal enterprises and drug dealing from outside interference and to keep the peace on the streets.

Why the hell did he save Stahma the criminal queen of Defiance.

This show makes no sense.

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"Nolan is hired to protect the criminal enterprises and drug dealing from outside interference"
Prostitution is legal in Defiance. In fact the show took great pains early on to point out the staff work there voluntarily. It's so legal that your vaunted E-Rep haven't shut it down either.
Mining is legal in Defiance. Why wouldn't it be? Have the mines ever appeared to be slave labour camps, the only thing I can possibly imagine you mean? Unless by legitimate you mean does Rafe have permits.
Alcohol is legal in Defiance. I can only assume your reference to Amanda as a drug dealer is a reference to alcohol.
How did you get this far into the show without noticing these things?
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Defiance still makes no sense, What is Nolan lawkeeping?

Prostitution is indeed legal. Apparently so are drugs. So why the
mixed messages. Amanda dissaproving of Kenya's profession and now the
surreptitious passing of drugs (Stahma and Amanda). This is a big writer's fail.

Amanda as drug addict/dealer/hooker/pimp is a laughable mix to create
an edgy character. You simply need your wits about you to survive and cut it in Defiance, and being a drug addict is not part of being a success.

In the first season we had Kenya portrayed as a hardnosed businesswoman/pimp. Then a big writer's fail had her falling in love with customers (Nolan and Stahma), andnot charging for sex. Stahma had to insist she take money for sex. What a ridiculous portrayal. Not making sense at all.

Like I said either the characters are believeable or laughable.

Nolan the "Lawkeeper" who saves the criminal queen Stahma is laughable.

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It's like Deadwood in the future!
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The end-montage-with-a-commercial-track is getting very old. Raiding your old record collection isn't clever and is some of the laziest television I've ever seen. I was hoping they'd drop it for season two in favour of some real program making.
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I don't know if the song necessarily fit the episode but its definitely a gorgeous song. Thank you for mentioning it, I haven't heard it before and thought I was going to have to search.
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The perfect show for summer! Cheesy a times, clichéd at times but fun. Despite the criticism, I loved it last year and so far loving it even more this year! Thanks for the review.
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Couldn't stop laughing when Nolan tried to frog leap over Berlin and fell. Datak's plan backfired tough shtako!!
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The story would be much better if E-rep weren't such caricatures. The only more obvious way to call them Nazis would be to have them wear swastika armbands and call themselves Nazis.

Show missed a great chance to have some ambiguity thrown in. Are they really that bad? Is defiance better off under them because they provide order and integrate city into rest of society rather than being outside of it and rampant organised crime. How much of bad rep they have is simply people refusing to be part of wider society and prefering to be big boss in outlaw town.

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Caricatures? Surely not.
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Well I liked this episode much more than the 1st. The 1st got me worried because I felt it booooring.

"Well, except for maybe the bomb-disarming part, which might make all the difference." Oh definitely, that and running around bumping into everybody like a headless chicken LOL.

Yes! Pottinger & Berlin very interesting additions! Was it me or Berlin had like a coup de foudre for Nolan after he disarmed the bomb? Pottinger seems to be really drooling for Amanda! Poor thing! That will be his fall... calling it now! :-P

And... was Nolan really that flirty with Amanda? I do not remember (getting old I guess!) wasn't he more into her (RIP) sister?

Also, Yewll: Ouch! :-(

Stahma is like a Castithan Machiavelli, right? Absolutely adore her!


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Still the best current science fiction show.
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Major deception. I thought for a while that the show was going to expand into the "wild" outside Defiance. Of course, it has to keep the focus on Defiance, but I was waiting for something a bit like Stargate in which the central base would be Defiance. Let's see the world at first, then the stars ...
Here, it is not the case. After the events at the end of Season 1, the main characters are back in the same position. I have enough good shows, if this one continues like that until episode 3, I'll stop watching.
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How long til Nolan and amanda are fighting and doing a unnecessary break up over something stupid.
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More like 'How long till Nolan and Amanda are fighting over her drug habit?'
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No comment about Alak killing someone to please mom?
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First two eps of season 2 have been terrific IMO, loved season 1 but season 2 is already much stronger :)
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1. "Running the NeedWant has its attractions. There is no council meetings to attend, no speeches to give, no complications - just sex and money."

Now I'm fully convinced Amanda IS taking clients. The question is - did she give Nolan a Kenya's style freebie or are they getting back together?

2. Irisa needs a new love interest. Someone who will cherish her. Tommy doesn't deserve her. As far as I'm concerned he can stay in Berlin for good.

3. Bug bombs - eeeek!!! That's like something straight from my nightmares.

4. The creepy Mayor Guy should join the cast of PLL. He would feel like in home there.

5. That wasn't a cover of "On Every Street". Mark Knoplfer is just old.

6. So Stahma is E-Rep's B!tch. I didn't expect that.

7. So when will a full scale uprising begin?

Thanks for review, Noel :)
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That is the original recording of Mark & Dire Straits from way back when. It ain't "just old". It is "just good". Can you think of a better use of music for that?
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I thought it was a recent recording. Mark sounded somehow different to me.
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I have a huge problem with the way this show is going.. to me the long story in the first season was about a father and a daughter. (A white father and a daughter born from a different race) And that is where the first season started off.. noone could belive she were his daughter.. and then the writers (And the critics here on tv.com) lost sight of the cultural implications the show could bring and it just became a sci-fi show..

But why I am writing now is because this episode totaly lost the heart of the show.. it is a father who wants the best for his daughter.. and that is it!.. but the reason for nolan to take up the badge was blackmail? I mean come on! The only reason needed was "It will make your daughter safe!"... Trust me.. that would have been enough.. I do hope that they will come back to the father-daughter bond later but the end of this episode shows that there is a serious lack of men who has daughters in the writingroom..

And connect back to the way this show started.. it was a good tvshow that showcased the troubles having a child who is not the same race as you are.. but 2-3 episodes in the writers got scared I guess.. well they ain't star trek material
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I agree, Pottinger is a much better foe than Nancy and that alien artifact thing from last year. I mean at least we see him every episode so far whereas Nancy was in the first and then it was like long enough for me to go, oh, I forgot about that stuff. What is most curious about him is that I have a feeling he actually is doing good things for the general town of Defiance (I mean just calling the Tarrs out on their bs alone would work) and its just that we know he is so freaking creepy. I also get a kick out of his BioMan who seems to weirdly have the same opinion, he doesn't seem to just be going along with everything but he is unhappy about some things but seems pleased by other things. I honestly didn't know BioMen had opinions on anything, but he clearly does.

You know, I sort of forgot about Nolan shooting that kid.

I feel in general so bad for Irissa, I hope she can get rid of the whole god thing sooner rather than later. Just the point she made to Tommy that Nolan looks at her as his human adopted daughter when she isn't human is really an interesting enough issue for her to be having. Tommy is going to find himself in a wee bit of a love triangle, and dude, you aren't really going to get any help because I sense we will come to really like Jessica (I don't really want to call her Berlin).
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I got the feeling Irissa will end up killing either Berlin or Tommy at some point
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Eh...I suspect we might be seeing the end of the engine control or whatever this whole thing is next week (it sort of looks like we are entirely in her head for much of next week's episode). Irissa on her own is much more reasonable.
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I haven't seen a preview - but if we are in her head for most of the next episode, I can see the little girl totally taking over Irissa for a "twist" near the end of the episode
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This show seems to have found some footing this season. 'Orange is the New Black' gets popular - now everyone wants characters in prison. Datak and Yewll are too much fun. Last week their interpersonal interaction was a highlight -- this story is so watchable but we need him out of prison b/c him and 'Stahma' is going to be awesome.

When is Kenya's rotting corpse going to make an appearance to really get this show moving? My bet is some Irathians found her all stabbed up where Stahma left her to die and she'll be back - pissed. Amanda the madam did look sexy but its so sad she's in her sisters dress considering the last time we saw Kenya.

That was most definitely Mark Knopfler at the end.

Christie looked so out of place in that bath tub. Jamie Murray 'owned' it in that scene. Christie is going to have to grow up this season. Hopefully the actress can bring something out of this character cause so far, there is nothing there and she remains a weak spot.

Liking the new characters, will like them even better if they remove the tons and tons of clichés from their respective stories.

Alec is getting better - we know completely understand that he just isn't strong enough to lead - he's just weak. The humans turned him into a wimp but the actor is getting better revealing the pain he is in at all times.

Irisa is a 'hot Chewbacca'. That is how the producers and creators have always described her character in interviews - weird to see it directly referenced in script but oh well these scripts are still problematic.

So far, so good Season 2. Nice to see you working at improving and figuring out and delivering what does work this time. Improving the grade, just like you should sophomore season. I'm back for 2. Need to get some better stuff from Alec and Christie and always needs more Graham Greene.


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Wasn't Kenya poisoned? I forget if Stahma overkilled her with a knife too.

That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if she came back. Being that it's a sci-fi show that ended S1 with the resurrection of a main character by an omnipotent alien entity.

But as much as I really liked the character, I kind of wish she'd stay dead.
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Kenya pulled the gun on her and then she started reacting to the poison and falling down I think Stahma grabbed her and then stabbed her with one of the lightning blades. It would serve the story much much better if Stahma did kill her despite my like of Mia Kirshner.
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Yeah and why must the theme always be "evil nazis" vs "jews" even if it does not make any sense at all. The new "e-rep" woman basically has a nazi uniform for some odd reason, even if no e-rep soldier had uniforms like that in season 1 and it does not make any sense either because the Earth Republic is not "nazi-inspired" in any way what so ever. From Wiki:

"The Earth Republic's government is derived from the U.S. Constitution and led by the remnants of the United Nations."

The funeral last episode was held in hebrew. Why?
Judaism is one of the smallest religions on earth, and it is also non proselytizing. The odds for it surviving and becoming even MORE popular after an event like this when the earth is invaded by several new kinds of aliens, cultures and religions is just microscopic and the human population decimated. Unless, the people preserving the religion is the people in power. But then they would have to be be the leaders of the e-rep, not some miners out in the wilderness.

The first season had none of this either, that miner family were never named as jewish as far as i know and there were no references to jewish culture or rituals. The e-reps were not nazis and did not look like nazis. The character is even named Berlin in case we did not get the hint!
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Couldn't have responded to that ?!?!? better. Thank you. George Wendt called and doesn't want his most famous character besmirched by some tool.
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How totally horrible was the carnivorous worm bomb. If I made a list of ways I did not want to die, being eating by carnivorous worms that had exploded out of a bomb into me would rank very high.
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How high on the list?
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The only problem with Pottinger character is that he too good and to clever and they are going have to make him make dumb if they are ever going to remove him and the e-pubs from Defiance and have him make dumb decisions, which we all know going to happen eventually. Which will ruin his character.

Berlin is cute but her character arc obvious and predictable and thus boring when it time to remove E-repub from Defiance she will die being the hero that makes the defiance rebel plan work. She will probably be the one that will die taking the control center raising the barrier just in time to stop e pub reinforcements start arriving.

I hope someone keeping an eye on where the miners are digging their tunnels ;).
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A white man who is clever! The Limo Liberals missed this one. We see it on the shows where the social engineering writers and producers have this formula where the woman is portrayed as stronger than the man. Men on most shows are demoted to nitwits or the woman takes the lead as the men cower and act helpless in the background. You don't need to make a strong woman character by belittling or demeaning men.
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I think instead of making him dumb, they'll make him too obsessed with Amanda. And that obsession will lead to his downfall.

That being said, being too smart and skilled doesn't mean he's unstoppable. He can be stopped by ego, ambition, or facing someone more powerful than himself (like that politician in the premiere).
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Ambition, I suspect, in conjunction with the Amanda fixation, will bring down Pottinger. Mercado (the politico in the premiere) made allusions to Pottingers bigger desires (some sort of an ambassadorship), so I imagine he's looking for a feather in his cap by trying to get Yewll to spill some beans.
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Man, Jaime Murray is so amazing as Stahma. So beautiful, subserviant, and pleasant yet she frightens the living daylight out of me. The role really suits her, and it almost reminds me of an advanced version of her schemer from Spartacus series
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I think 'Stahma' is a little more 'Lucretia' than 'Gaia'. There is a lot of her buddy Lucy Lawless in her performance.
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"while also needling Datak about the Tarrs' criminal activities" - I think you mean Alak, Datak is still locked up outside of town, but is in all likelihood taking care of business behind bars better than Alak is in Defiance.
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I do indeed. I'll correct that in just a moment, thanks!
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Chewy never looked that hot!
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You clearly never saw him after a fresh shave...
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I'm a big Mark Knopfler fan, and he's ony gotten better since Dire Straits broke up for good in 1995. He was Dire Straits, anyway, and still does all the old stuff without them. On Every Street isn't my favorite though, not even close.

I'm really glad you like the show, Noel, because I like it too. Great review, and very perceptive...
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