Defiance Episode 1 review

DefianceI had heard a little bit about the new sci-fi show Defiance. Not much, but just enough to get me interested in finding out more about the concept, and that in turn made me want to check out the first episode. So I did. And I liked it.

There’s a lot of back story to the show but the makers don’t spend a lot of time giving you a history lesson. It’s more a case of “find out as you go” I think. And it works.

Briefly a lot of aliens called the Voltans arrived at Earth wanting to colonise and terraform the planet. War breaks out with the humans, the alien big ships are destroyed and along the way Earth gets accidentally terraformed into an alien world. And that’s kind of all you need to know.

After the prolog showing massive alien arks arriving we jump forward 33 years (I think) where a human man and an alien girl are driving along in their “roller”. Nolan is an ark hunter who scavengers alien tech out of crashed arks. The girl is Irisa, an “Irathient” (it says on Wikipedia) who he adopted and brought up as his daughter. Their plan is to make enough money to make it to Antarctica, which apparently is quite nice now.

But they’re not speaking. Well, he’s speaking and she is doing a lot of silent ignoring as only a teenage girl probably can. The silence continues until he plays a song on his alien looking iPod and starts to sing. Reluctantly the girl finds herself joining in. It’s a very well-judged scene in both the writing and the performances as it introduces you to the characters and tells you about their world very efficiently. And it also shows that this series might well concentrate on character.

Without giving too much away they find an alien tech McGuffin in a crashed ark, only to end up on the run from some scavenging alien dudes on bikes. Eventually they find their way to the town of Defiance – formerly St Louis – where new mayor Julie Benz (Darla From Buffy And Angel) is marking 15 years since Armistice Day.

But there are tensions just under the surface, especially between alien loan-shark Datak Tarr and human miner Rafe McCawley. And it doesn’t help that their kids are seeing each other…

Adventures will be had, murders solved and a big battle at the climax of the episode.

Special mention must be made of Stephanie Leonidas who plays the sulky and occasionally violent Irisa. I remember seeing Stephanie in various British TV shows in the past, including an interesting take on Dracula. Here she is just about totally unrecognisable as the alien Irisa and gives a wonderful performance. The show will be worth watching for her alone I think.

And a that’s a perfect excuse for me to include a photo of Stephanie both before …


… and after …


I also want to mention Trenna Keating as the sarcastic Doctor Yewll. Her Indogene make-up is one of the most “alien” aliens I have ever seen, certainly with a human actor under there.