Defiance – Season 1, Episode 3 Review, “The Devil in the Dark”

Rating:    7.1

Well, I guess it’s not just aliens, terraformation, and scary new creatures… DEFIANCE:now with psychic powers and magic rituals!

“The Devil in the Dark”* was a taste of how weird Defiance may actually become. In the course of an hour we had bondage and childhood fetishization (dude was dressed as a baby and being fed by a prostitute dressed like a house wife); creatures called hellbugs that eat humanoids alive—sometimes from the inside out; a giant momma hellbug that looked like a cross between a kraken, crab, spider, and octopus that must have been at least as tall as the St. Louis Arch; psychic powers; nearly nude psychic vision dances; blood everywhere; pheromones; the most steampunk shit I have ever seen; and underground pits in which millions of creepy creatures reside.

Yep, if nothing else, Defiance has some weird imagery. But what surprised me was that it still had a great story with characters I wanted to connect with. The dialogue in “The Devil in the Dark” was terrible; I am not going to defend it. Yet… I somehow not only understood everything that was happening, but I enjoyed genuinely enjoyed the episode. I somehow understood Irisa’s newly expressed psychic powers; Rynn’s obsession with killing all of the humans as a revenge for her parents death; the general politics between Irithients, humans, and other Votans; the continuation of the Tarr family’s clever scheme; and Nolan’s struggle as the adoptive father of a girl who does not even belong to his same species. I also figured out that Defiance functions like any other crime procedural, only with aliens and weird new creatures. HUZZAH!

I’ll be the first to say that even though I am a science fiction and fantasy geek I am in no way, shape, or form attracted to Dr. Who. Every time I have seen that show (which is plenty, I am not making an ignorant claim) it has been the weirdest thing that I have ever seen… and not the kind of weird I particularly like. Somehow “The Devil in the Dark” was even weirder than anything I’ve ever seen in Dr. Who and yet I loved it.

Defiance pulled a lot of the crap I’ve seen and disliked in other scifi: too many characters inhabiting a sequence  (when everyone went to find the hellbug lair I nearly lost it over how unnecessary Tommy’s presence was—seriously, he was only there to fix the broken elevator with his MAGICAL ELECTRICIAN SKILLS THAT HAD YET TO BE MENTIONED UP UNTIL THIS POINT; at least ALLUDE to it earlier in the episode, ya dig?), psychic powers as a gimmick and go-to storytelling device, naked alien ladies sans their naked alien male counterparts (I’m looking at you Stahma Tarr), people dying horrifically while having atypical sex with a prostitute, and overusing a style of dress to the point that it looks campy rather than cool (all of the tribal Irithients). Yet, here I am, wanting Defianceto never end despite these complaints.

I wonder why that is? If I had to put my finger on it, it’s that this world—despite its flaws—feels so well defined and structured that I can overlook them. I’ve seen this series pump out some excellent writing (episodes 1 and 2), been introduced to a fascinating post-apocalyptic world that every part of me wants to learn more about, and I’ve met some characters I am fascinated with. Even though episode 3 was downright terrible (too many plots, very difficult to follow), I still enjoyed myself immensely.

Let’s hope episode 4 picks up the slack!


* – Is the title a Star Trek reference? I think it is…

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