Defiance Review by John Keegan

Defiance 2.08: Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Defiance 2.08: Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Written By:
Bryan Q. Miller
Directed By:
Larry Shaw

Something about this episode left me feeling like Defiance is losing a bit of cohesion.  Others have said that the season seems a bit too over-packed with various plot threads, but for the most part, I felt like things were moving along in a logical manner.  I’m not so sure after this episode.  There’s momentum, but it’s hard to see how it’s all supposed to fit together.


Part of the problem is that Defiance is struggling in the ratings during a summer season that has been decidedly mediocre.  Even perennial favorites have been less than inspiring, and so it’s hard to generate a lot of enthusiasm when a show isn’t hitting on all cylinders.  The slow burn of Irisa’s “possession”, now escalated to a new level, is just one example of how elements that might have progressed with more energy have been spooling out awfully slowly.


One would think, given my general attraction to Mia Kirschner, that I would welcome the return of Kenya and what that might mean in the larger context of the Castithan power struggle between Datak and Stahma.  Yet even as I enjoy the notion of her return, the execution leaves me less than inspired.  Was it the forced conflict between Nolan and Amanda, or the fact that it feels like the show has moved on from that moment?  It might even be that killing off Kenya was a bold move for the season finale, and this steals some of that edge from the series as a whole.


There is some hope that Kenya’s resurrection (if she was actually fully dead at all) is connected in some way to Irisa’s ongoing activities; at least in that case, the various threads would be leading to something cohesive.  More likely, it’s just an element that was waiting in the wings until Datak regained enough clout to put Stahma in a difficult position with her aborning organization.  That, on top of the previous episode’s drama over Christie, is the last thing Stahma needs if she is going to meet her goals of reforming Castithan society for her gender.


The plot thread regarding the threat to New York probably sounded great on paper.  After all, if there is any easy way to generate tension regarding terrorism in this century, invoking the memories of 9/11, however indirectly, is it.  What undermines that tension, however, is the nagging fact that we’ve never really seen much of the world outside of Defiance beyond the brief glimpses in the second season premiere.  Even then, it wasn’t New York.  So within the context of the series, targeting New York really isn’t that big of a deal.  We’ve been given no in-universe reason to care.


Defiance remains one of the more consistent series on Syfy, at least from a classical science fiction perspective.  It’s certainly a lot more amenable than Dominion turned out to be, and until Haven returns in the fall, it’s really the only dramatic series on the network worth mentioning.  (Yes, there’s The Almighty Johnsons, but that was as quiet a launch as I’ve ever seen.)  Therein lies the problem: other than perhaps Face Off, what is there to remind summer viewers that Defiance is out there?

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • The Castithan politics continue to shine
  • Kenya is back!
The Bad:
  • Using New York as a terrorism target doesn’t work

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Defiance by - 8/8/2014 5:09 AM265 views

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