I guess I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Defiance, the Syfy Friday night show based on, or at least released in conjunction with, an MMO. I mean, I wanted to like it and it has its moments, but the characters are really not redeemable in any way, they have a few spots to shine here and there, but nothing that really lasts long. In fact, the only reason it gets watched is because it’s part of a block of programming on Fridays that I’m already watching.
So now, season 3 has finished. Was it worth spending time on every week? Why don’t we take a look at it and find out?
At the end of season two, Irisa and Nolan are trapped inside of a Votan life support device where their minds are linked by implanted ark technology. They are rescued by purple-skinned aliens called Omec, who are the creators of many of the Votan, but also their predators. The town is terrified at the arrival of these thought-extinct creatures, but they’re not the only ones to fear. A rogue Castithan named Rahm Tak sets his sights on Defiance, planning on killing all humans and taking the place in the name of the Votanis Collective. But even that isn’t the worst thing coming to Defiance and things may never be the same.
There are just so many things that have gone completely wrong this season, it’s hard to know where to begin. There are a lot of things that were thrown in that ultimately meant nothing. There was a big deal while they were preparing for the attack by Rahm Tak, that Berlin decided to go away with an old boyfriend who came into town, yet it was only a couple of episodes later that she came back, saying her boyfriend understood her obligations in the town. So why did she leave in the first place? Unsatisfying drama! And there was a plot where a young Castithan boy got killed because Nolan was taken in by a spy. This led to his father hating Nolan, yet it just kind of faded away after an episode or so. There are so many of those moments, where something is built up to be important, yet just vanishes along the way. And there are a lot of points where Nolan ought to have handed in his badge but nobody even asked for it.
Then there’s the Tarr family. I hate them. I hate them with a burning passion of a billion suns. They have no redeeming characteristics at all. If they ever do anything positive, it’s entirely by accident. They become out-and-out terrorists this season, blowing up the arch, murdering people, helping Rahm Tak (granted, Alak was being held prisoner, but still…), Datak is sentenced to death, conveniently gets out of it, chops off his own arm, then redeems himself and Stahma, sort of, and returns to being Defiance’s resident scumbag. Can someone kill all of them? Please?
One thing that really drove me crazy this season, and it isn’t just Defiance, but there’s this underlying thread of jealousy through a lot of different shows. People doing stupid things because they’re jealous, things that don’t even make sense. Stahma starts sleeping around with the head Omec, making Datak jealous, driving him to do stupid things. The same goes for the Tarr family housemaid. The same goes for tons of characters. I got tired of it all very quickly.
They also did away with major plot points absurdly quickly. The whole Rahm Tak invasion plot that they built up to for the first half of the season, they did away with in a minute. Oh, blow up the stasis net, kill everyone, problem solved! Then the Omec plot, they cleared up just as easily. After making mistake after mistake trying to kill Kindzi’, shooting her in the head, but only clipping her, stabbing her in the neck when it should have been really easy to stab her in the head, etc., Nolan makes a ludicrously obvious move, stabs her in the head and flips her into the ship’s engines. Then he and Doc Ywell go on a magical mystery tour in a stolen Omec cruiser. Please. Please. Please do not let either of them return, should this show get a fourth season!
Honestly, this show suffers from the awful trope that everything interesting happens in a very small area, all invasions happen right outside of Defiance, all homicidal AIs are buried under Defiance, nobody ever has to go too far to get to the exciting stuff and that loses credibility very quickly. If there’s ever a second coming of Jesus, it’ll happen in Defiance. It gets silly.
I don’t know if I’d watch a fourth season of Defiance. If I did, I’d want them to kill the entire Tarr family in the most painful way possible, I’d want Nolan and Ywell never to return, I’d want to see some serious structural changes that makes it a far superior show and I don’t know that they’ve got the will to do what needs to be done. This isn’t the worst thing I’ve seen on Syfy this summer but it’s close.