I don’t think that I knew that Defiance was actually a really good show. Like, I’m kind of at a loss of words for how good “The Bride Wore Black” was. It never occurred to me that Defiance might have been carefully constructing the entire first season to lead up to the events that transpired in the young series’ 10th episode… not in a million years.
That’s a little bit of a problem. I shouldn’t have been surprised by how fantastic and well written the three most recent episodes have been. Whether or not this is how I should look it at, I’m going to chalk it up to the series being in its freshman year; Defiance has a lot of information to deal with on an episode-by-episode basis because it is in one of the most complicated worlds to ever be explored on television. It’s hard enough writing one or two alien species into a plot, let alone seven.
It’s safe to say that the series has figured itself out. If Defiance continues to write arcs that tie into one another so well (from “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” to “The Bride Wore Black”), plots that don’t simply stand-alone and hardly phase the world without consequence outside of episode-specific events, Defiance may one day live among the great modern science fiction champions of our time (along with Firefly and Battlestar Galactica).
First and foremost, I want to offer my praise to the slow reveal regarding Dr. Yewll’s past and the red herring that was former Mayor Nicki Riordan. For a solid quarter of “The Bride Wore Black” I believed that the true villain of this series was in fact not Datak Tarr, rather that Nicky would rise through the ashes of her former life and rain destruction upon Defiance as a harbinger of all things evil. Nicky Riordan: the Indogene spy was not the long-standing villain I was looking for, rather an abridged one. But I never could have predicted this turn in the story: her dramatic reveal and subsequent demise—my, how I love to be surprised.
Dr. Yewll as Nicky’s demise managed to rip all of those concerns away in the swift yet necessary killing of Nicky, thus leaving me in shock and in search of a villain. Certainly Datak Tarr is in the running for this position, but his character motivations are so much more one-dimensional than any other inhabitant of Defiance. He’s power hungry and angry with the humans—blah. Nicky the spy was way more interesting.
The thing that “The Bride Wore Black” did best, though, was to add dimension to nearly every character simply by either giving each a reason to kill the former proprietor of the NeedWant or forcing them to show their true colors regarding the upcoming wedding. I enjoyed most of these revelations and found others to be a bit trope-ish.
Amanda Rosewater: We continue to learn more and more that Amanda is very dedicated to her small family with Kenya, yet was previously unwilling to start her own family because of her career.
Rafe McCawley and Datak Tarr: It was lovely seeing these two with a little bit less status. Sure, the flashback was only 7 years ago, but it’s interesting to see a Defiance in which Datak is not the powerhouse political animal that he has now become.
Stahma Tarr: Almost certainly the most interesting character in Defiance, Stahma knows what to say in any given situation to get her way. It is slowly becoming clear that Stahma is simply trying to survive with her son in tow. Jaime Murray’s performance sells this character; she clearly understands the subtlety of losing control for a moment and then begging for forgiveness not in words but in body language, vocal delivery, and manipulation. Marray is the queen of subtext.
Tommy LaSalle: It’s nice to see that Tommy has grown as a character; he didn’t always have a heart of gold and he started in literally the lowest possible position with the Sheriff. It is wonderful that Defiance was capable of offering multiple perspectives regarding Kenya’s murdered husband.
Kenya Rosewater: Unfortunately we have learned that Kenya is not a sexually empowered woman; instead she is a woman whom had previously been abused by her husband, thus rendering her a trope and significantly less interesting. It is a tired excuse for women’s sexual empowerment in all forms of storytelling that said empowerment is meant as reclamation of something that she had once been stripped of. So, all of my respect for Kenya as a sexually powerful female figure has now been lessened because she only found this power from having been (severely) slighted by a man. There goes her sexual agency, folks!
Overall, “The Bride Wore Black” was just another example of my roommate coming home and asking me how Defiance went. This is the third week in a row inwhich I have proclaimed, “It was the best episode to date!”