You should be watching: DEFIANCE

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It’s been a while since I was really able to sink my teeth into a science fiction series and with recent trends, I thought I may still have to wait a while. Everyone seems to want boobs, swearing, gratuitous violence and more boobs. Of course there are shows like Continuum, but even with all its great sci-fi gadgets it’s still set on present day Earth (bar the occasional jumping forward and back) and I wanted something different.  So when I was told about Defiance I was cautiously optimistic and decided to give it a go. And praise be to the Emperor that I did, as I am loving it.

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Starting in the year 2046 on Earth (yes, I said I wanted different, but wait) the series follows the lives of both humans and aliens living on the ruins of St Louis. To coin a term I think apt, the Earth has been fracked, both in terms of resources and conditions. You see our alien ‘friends’ left their doomed solar system some 5000 years prior heading to an Earth they believed to have no intelligent life (and in many ways still doesn’t). This led to a huge war that lasted 7 years, until terafforming ships still in orbit suddenly exploded, raining down technology that changed the face of the Earth in a chaotic manner creating a dangerous place for all.

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The now-transformed Earth has to deal with aliens collectively called the Votons (a group of different races all with unique characteristics) and also unexpected, mutated indigenous wildlife and fauna.  The show takes place in what the locals have renamed Defiance – the name of a group of soldiers who decided to lay down their weapons and live in harmony with the new ‘guests’. The series follows scavenger-turned-lawman Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his misbehaving adopted alien daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) and their new roles in Defiance.

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What I enjoy about the show are the interactions between the different races. You have the humans who feel slighted (and rightly so) by the arrival of a species far more advance than they are, and on the opposite side you have an advanced species who look at the humans as bloody savages (and again, most rightly so). The series’ main focus is on two families (very much like Romeo and Juliet), the Tarrs and the McCawleys. The Tarrs are Castithan (one of the alien races) while the McCawleys (headed by Graham Grenene) are human, and yes, their kids are in love. This of course creates major tensions, especially between the respective family patriarchs.

Defiance - Season 1

Datak Tarr (Tony Curran) has to be my favourite as he is a scheming bastard willing to do anything to continue his illegal dealings in practically everything in Defiance, he’s also a total racist and bigot (not why I like him!) Alongside is his wife Stahma Tarr played by the always beautiful Jaime Murray (Dexter, Spartacus) and somewhere in the middle of the families is the newly appointed and head-strong Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz, also in Dexter!)

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The story is the main pull of the show for me. The special effects are not bad (sort of on a par with Babylon 5) but are by no means anything to write home about. The characters are well developed as are their interactions. The first season is a bit slow starting, with some characters being ‘bad’ but also being inherently good (this changes later) but does form a platform that is well utilised halfway through the 12 episodes of season 1 (season 2 is currently running as of July 2014 and will have 13 episodes).

Defiance - Season 1

Grant Bowler really takes on the role as the lawman with enthusiasm and conviction. He reminds me of a dirtier Jack Carter from Eureka and is constantly whoring himself out (not like Carter). His ‘daughter’ Irisa, or RAGE as I like to call her, has a deep story that will constantly shock you and keep you coming back for more as she slowly remembers who she is. I think that is the great thing about this show, the characters are constantly developing. Sure, it isn’t ground-breaking in what it is doing, instead opting to pull on many different narrative techniques that work. I also have to point out that the soundtrack is fantastic, one scene keeps playing itself out in my mind but I shan’t ruin that here!

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If you are looking for a great deal of science fiction fun that hovers between being very gritty but is at the same time accessible to a younger audience (PG-14?) then Defiance will definitely fill that gap. The attention to detail (two languages were actually developed for the two main alien races, so take that Tolkien!) is remarkable as are the main characters’ development. Also, the number of bath scenes with scantily clad (read almost nothing) Jaime Murray is enough for me! Add in some cool weapons, a race of warriors that look like they just missed the boat to join Warhammer 40K, a very Mad Max vibe (especially between the distant colonies) and you have FUN.

As of July 29 2014 the show is still waiting for a green light for season 3 but rumours are that the script has been mapped out up till season 5.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: July 29, 2014

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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