HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Defiance: Season 2
HTS Overall Score:77
What? “Defiance” lasted a full second season AND has a third season on the way? The sci-fi gods must have lifted their curse on me, because usually any show that I like right off the bat gets cancelled by the SyFy channel after the first one or two seasons! “Defiance” is a weird hybrid of MMO and Television show, blending their two storytelling mediums together in a way that’s never been done before. The TV show augments the MMO without being needed, while the reverse is also true. Each one is connected to the other, but each medium can be enjoyed perfectly fine on its own if you’re not a fan of video games. I wasn’t sure how well it would do when I first got wind of the connection, but I have been pleasantly surprised with “Defiance” so far. The first season was a bit slow to get its footing stabilized, but once it took off, it didn’t slow down till the very end. Season two starts the pace off at a midway point, not being as slow as the first 1/3rd of season 1, but not keeping the same level of intensity of the second half until its second half of the season kicks into high gear.
It’s the year 2047 and the Earth is not how we know it today. In 2013 an alien invasion occurred, ships blasted in from nowhere and started to terra form the earth and destroying humanity in its wake. What they didn’t expect was for humanity to fight back as hard as they did and the war ended in destruction for both sides. The Votan, consisting of 8 separate races, and the humans finally declared a truce when it was obvious that neither side was going to come out of this a winner. The only problem was that the Earth is now a wasteland of terra formed alien world and the world that we knew it. Cities are destroyed, the sky has been blackened by radiation and the surviving invaders and natives had to learn how to come together and rebuild the world from scratch. As a result the survivors have created city states out of the ruins of the world and created localized governments that have allegiances to either the Earth Republic or the Votan Council.
For those who haven’t seen the 1st season, you can read our review HERE to catch up. Nolan (Grant Bowler) has left the town of Defiance in search for his missing daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) after her encounter with a strange power in the 3000 year old found Votan Spacecraft. Healed from a wound that should have killed him, Nolan is determined to his his adopted daughter and get out of dodge. Finding Irisa in a far off town, the two are dragged back to the little frontier town of Defiance by a strange force within Irisa. Arriving, the two find that things are not as they had left it. While they were gone, Earth Rep had completely taken over after the treacherous Datak Tarr (Tony Curran) had killed an ambassador of theirs, and Amanda (Julie Benz) is now off taking care of her dead sister’s brothel. With the new Earth Rep appointed mayor, Niles Pottinger (James Murray) getting himself humiliated by an attacking band of scavengers, Nolan is once more appointed to the position of lawman in order to get some order in the little frontier town.
While Nolan is back to his old gig, things are clearly not right with Irisa. Ever since the finale of season 1 she has been experiencing blackouts and hallucinations that lead to only one conclusion, Something dark is taking a hold of her. A hunger is growing inside, a hunger that is not her own and soon that hunger will consume her and everyone around her in fire. Simultaneously to these events, the Tarr family is being reorganized as Datak has been jailed for his crimes last season and his wife, Stahma (Jaime Murray) has now taken her husband’s place as crime lord of Defiance. Ruling with an iron fist, she controls everyone around her, just as she secretly controlled and manipulated her own household all these and years. However, this control comes with a price, as her son and husband are now aware of her treachery and are rather eager to break free from the controlled thumb that she has put them under.
After a series of catastrophic attacks by the Votan Collective, Nolan and the rest of the town realize that something big is coming, the only problem is that it’s almost too late to realize this something “big” is one of their very own..... Irisa. Now we finally get to see just what happened to her in that hidden spaceship, and just what devil they are dealing with. Only thing is, they may have to kill Irisa in order to save the planet from total annihilation to do so.
Season 2 starts off a bit slower than the way it ended last season, but in no way was it as slow as the previous season’s start. Once we get back to Defiance, the plot starts to unfold at a steady and controlled pace, slowly unfurling around all the machinations and back stabbing until we finally get to see just what we glimpsed at during season one. The spaceship is revealed for what it was and just WHY so many people were looking to get a hold of it last season. While the main plot is certainly intriguing, I really love the characters and the different back room deals that really make the show fun. The nasty Tarr family is the highlight of the crime world, back stabbing and clawing their way up the social and criminal ladder in a way that both repulses you and makes you admire them at the same time. Alak (Jesse Rath) is trying his best to unwind himself from his parent’s strict Castithan teachings and wants to start a different life with his human wife, Christie McCawley (Nicole Munoz), but doing so is proving more difficult than imagined. Nolan is still the rash rogue that he always is, but he has a heart of gold that truly shine when his daughter is in danger. Irisa takes a front seat in the plot department this season, but takes a back row in the character development due to her unique “condition” for the entirety of the season. My personal favorite is still Doc Yewll (Trenna Keating), as the wildly sarcastic, but very deadly Indogen doctor with PLENTY of secrets running around her messed up little head. Between her and Nolan there is no shortage of humor to break up all the seriousness that the rest of the characters dole out in droves.
There are some flaws to the series for sure. It tends to take some rather derivative elements of sci-fi shows and blend them all into a big pot. It’s been done before, an alien race invades, devastation ensues, and the world has to rebuild with bits of old and Alien tech scattered among the wreckage. What really gives the show life is the amount of detail and back story to these characters. If you look at the show, on the surface it seems to be pretty well fleshed out and there’s plenty of Alien species to go around, but if you look deeper into the back story, created by the game, then the show takes on a much more special feel as the amount of world building and socio political undertones come to the surface. Even just watching the minisodes in the extras of each season help with the layering that goes on underneath. I’ve really enjoyed the exploration so far and really hope for another good season in the next year.
Episode Rundown is as follows
The Opposite of Hallelujah
In My Secret Life
The Cord and the Ax
Beasts of Burden
Putting the Damage On
This Woman's Work
If You Could See Her Through My Eyes
Slouching Toward Bethlehem
Painted From Memory
Bottom of the World
All Things Must Pass
I Almost Prayed
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=28665[/img]Almost identical to it's season one counterpart, “Defiance” is presented in a very pleasing 1.78:1 VC-1 encode that while it has it’s quirks, is still a very pretty picture. Shot digitally it has a glossy CGI coated color palette, with a WILD display of conflicting and contrasting colors. Brilliant Whites of the Castican homes, complete with blown out contrasts that only enhance the feeling of being in a dream state, and the dark blues and neon colors of the human hang outs and bars. Skin tones can range anywhere from running a bit hot, to cool and smooth depending on which Alien race is being represented on screen. Detail is great for the most part. The CGI is still a bit spotty sometimes, especially in the big giant space ships where the limited TV budget starts to show it's cracks and seams Sometimes the CGI and the occasional dark scene with digital noise can compromise the detail, but for a majority of the film the picture is crystal clear and shows some great depth, especially in outdoor scenes of the badlands. Black levels are still impressively good, with only a few little bits of digital noise to mar the picture. The low budget SyFy CGI and the digital camera work keep it from becoming a truly great transfer, but the show does a lot with the limited funds that it has, creating a really unique and stylized post apocalyptic wasteland on screen.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=28673[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is impressive, but still has a few quirks of it's own that keeps it from rivaling the true big boys. As with most TV series the show is pretty front heavy for the most part, but don't worry, the surrounds certainly light up with plenty of action when the need arises. There is plenty of gunfire and hand to hand combat to keep the 5.1 channels fully occupied and their is no shortage of LFE to accompany it. Like season one, there is a very weird little bit of distortion that shows up in the opening song and I'm starting to wonder if it's baked into the track, because all three of the speaker sets that I have reproduce it with varying degrees of intensity, with my high sensitivity main system being the least noticeable. Dialogue is excellent, as always and it is well balanced with rest of the action. SyFy isn't known for having the greatest audio tracks for their TV shows, but this is one of the better ones for sure.
• Season One Alternate Ending
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes
• Defiance: The Lost Ones Minisodes
• Jesse Does "Defiance"
“Defiance” managed to come back with a very solid season, and thankfully, has been renewed for a third season as well. I was crossing my fingers with the utmost intensity, just begging SyFy not to cancel the series, as they are so prone to doing and it looks like I have my wish. The series is a bit of light hearted fun, mixed with a healthy dose of darkness and twisted political machinations to spice up the action. It may not be the BEST cable television show on the planet, but its good Sci-fi fun and there’s not a lot of those shows left around anymore with the advent of reality television. The audio and video scores are right up to snuff with last season’s and if you liked that entry into the “Defiance” world, than season two should give you just as much fun. Recommended.
Starring: Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Tony Curran
Created by: Rockne S. O'Bannon
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 VC-1
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal Studios
Runtime: 555 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Sept 23rd, 2013
Buy Defiance: Season 2 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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