Syfy’s ‘Defiance,’ A Non-Spoiler Review of the First Few Episodes

by on April 14, 2013

in Entertainment, tv reviews


Mia Kirshner, Graham Greene, Julie Benz, Grant Bowler, Stephanie Leonidas, Jaime Murray and Nicole Muñoz in 'Defiance'

I’ve had the opportunity to check out Syfy’s newest offering called Defiance. and I think this will be a show that grows on you.  It seems that show creator Rockne O’Bannon has taken his Farscape mindset and created something that will reward the patient genre fan.

For the impatient readers:  What I’ve seen so far, the series has good solid story telling, with enough suspense and action to keep everyone happy.  And if you think you’re not sure about it, give Defiance a few episodes just to make sure.

In this piece, I show you the official synopsis, give you some prequel background on the franchise prior to the pilot episode and then talk about the what I saw.  In short, it’s a slow burn of a good story.

Syfy’s new TV “experience,” called Defiance, premieres on Monday, April 15th, 2013.  It stars Grant Bowler (True Blood), Julie Benz (Dexter), Jamie Murray (Warehouse 13), Stephanie Leonidas, Dewshane Williams (Being Erica),  Nicole Munoz (Defying Gravity), Brittany Allen and more.

Julie Benz and Grant Bowler in 'Defiance'

It’s written & executive produced by Rockne O’Bannon (Farscape), Kevin Murphy (Desperate Housewives, Caprica), and Michael Taylor (Battlestar Galactica). Kevin Murphy is the showrunner.

The Official Synopsis of Defiance goes as follows:


From Syfy and Trion Worlds comes a revolution in entertainment: powerful scripted drama and a massive online world, united for the very first time. Set on a transformed Earth in the near future, events in the show will impact the game, and players will impact the show, creating an unprecedented immersive experience.

“Defiance” introduces players and viewers to a world where humans and aliens live together on a planet ravaged by decades of war and transformed by alien terra-forming machines. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler), the law-keeper in a bustling frontier boomtown that is one of the new world’s few oases of civility and inclusion. Nolan is a former Marine who fought in the alien conflict and suffered the loss of his wife and child in the war. The trauma transformed him into a lone wanderer in the wilds of this new and dangerous world.

Defiance is directed by Scott Stewart (Legion, Priest)… Defiance is produced by Universal Cable Productions.

Before coming into the premiere episode of Defiance, you do need to know the history of events that leads up to what you are about to see in the series that takes place in the year 2046.

Defiance Newspaper fr tumblr

Prequel Background of the Defiance Story:

In our near future, a group of aliens known collectively as the Votans come to Earth looking for a new home after their star system is destroyed.  They thought Earth was uninhabited.  They’d like a place to live but humans respond to the Votans with hostility and suspicion.

After ten years, the Votan and human governments were finally about to figure things out when a Votan ambassador is assassinated by a human supremacist on live TV. This starts the war between the humans and aliens known as the “Pale Wars”.

In 2030 one of the Ark fleets mysteriously explodes and is referred to as the apocalyptic “Arkfall” event.  Millions of Votans who were still in hypersleep died during Arkfall.  But more importantly, pieces of the ships rained down on Earth and the Voltan terraform technology that was on board gets released.  This causes radical changes to our planet, where suddenly, Earth is a dangerous place for aliens & humans alike.

A ceasefire was finally negotiated in the Pale Wars but very little organized government exists and both sides end up developing groups of factions. It’s in these regional factions that human and Votan militias band together to survive this “new” planet.

Meanwhile, debris from the destroyed Ark fleet occasionally plummets to Earth.  It’s both a hazard and salvage opportunities for those on the surface.  If the debris don’t kill ya, the advanced technology that comes crashing down can make you rich!

About the Show:

The year is 2046 and we find ourselves following Nolan, who was only ten-years-old when the Votans arrived in 2013 and he served in the military during the war.   The first few episodes of Defiance picks up, with the war over, Nolan (Bowler) returning (well, ends up in) St. Louis to find that it’s nothing more than a border town that’s been renamed “Defiance.”

Trenna Keating and Stephanie Leonidas in Defiance

He travels with a young companion named Irisa (Leonidas), but it’s not what it appears to be.  You’ll see what I mean when you watch the show.  Regardless, they make a good team when it comes to confrontations, though she’s a bit quick to being hot-blooded.  (She’s the one with the knife in the above production still from Defiance)

They find themselves ending up in St. Louis, or what’s now called Defiance, with the archway in the background, and through several situations that take place, he finds himself in the position of the Chief Lawkeeper in Defiance, and now protects the town from the various situations that take place between humans and aliens.

Defiance, being created by Farscape‘s Rockne S. O’Bannon, has the same feel his older show did.  Meaning, the town is populated with a multitude of alien species that make up the population.  They all come bearing their own unique perspectives, secrets, agendas, religions and what not.  And they work together for a common goal of survival. Despite the potential tinderbox this collective can be.


Tony Curran and Jaime Murray in Defiance

There’s a lot to see and much of it is in the subtle undertones of the aliens, much like Farscape was (for me).  But also, let’s not forget that the showrunner is not O’Bannon, but Kevin Murphy.  O’Bannon kick started the series & is an executive producer and writer, but Murphy will be the day-to-day overseeing influence of the series.  His TV resume includes 2002’s Ed, Desperate Housewives, Reaper, Caprica and Tom Welling’s Hellcats.

Murphy’s experience suggests he can pull this show off.  Or, I’m picking and choosing some of his past shows as indicators that he can.

In front of the camera,Julie Benz plays the new mayor of the town, whose learning to deal with this delicately balanced town, while Nicole Muñoz & Jesse Rath play two young lovebirds from different races.  That alone is quite the tinderbox of tensions for both the dads and potentially the town.  Jamie Murray plays the intuitively intelligent wife of one of the Votans.  She has this… creepy presence that seems soothing, all the while, you think there’s a dagger in the hand you don’t see!  I like her!

Nicole Muñoz and Jesse Rath in Defiance

These two lovebirds can be trouble, or our salvation!

When you watch the pilot and subsequent episodes, I think the lure of the show will be the slow and cohesive development of the characters underneath the weekly stories we watch as they all learn to work together and get along… or not.

What I’ve seen so far, the series has good solid story telling, with enough suspense and action to keep everyone happy.  And if you think you’re not sure about it, give Defiance a few episodes just to make sure.

More importantly, this new series, this transmedia event, if allowed to carry on, is intended to be a five-year project.  For now.  Between the gameplay of the game, which takes place in San Francisco leading up to events in Defiance, and this project, has the earmarks of Mark Stern all over it.  Stern loves heralding television networks into the broad spectrum of today’s consumer, that being of TV watchers, online game players and social network momentum.

What’s interesting about this media event is that collective actions taken by players in the game, will/could be having an impact on the story you see on TV, so you, the game player, are the script writers, so to speak.  (I think that means ask questions first, shoot things later in the game!)

I don’t think game play will have huge impact on the series, considering how a show script has to be plotted out in the major story lines, but I’m betting that game will contribute to some background details.  But neither platform, game or show, depends totally on the other.  If one fades, the other could potentially go on.  But to see how this plays out, could very well have us watching the very leading edge of the future of entertainment.  It almost borders on reality television, where the “house guests” create the scripts and the show runners temper it into a dialog for fans to follow.

Trenna Keating in Defiance

Be it as it may, if anything, I did enjoy the first few episodes.  The story, which has to catch your attention and lead you into this franchise, worked for me.  And of particular interest, the Defiance humor sources will be coming from Dewshane Williams interactions with Stephanie Leonidas.  Williams is a newbie deputy.  My other favorite character (and tell me she doesn’t remind you of a conglomerate of a few Farscape characters) is Trenna Keating’s character… doctor, scientist, all around snarky, short-tempered, well meaning humanoid.  (Pictured above)

I left a lot out and touched on the overall feel of the series.  There’s much to enjoy and discover and I thought I’d leave that for you to do.  You can catch the Defiance premiere on Syfy on April 15th and then let me know what you thought of it!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tom King April 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm

I have heard good things about this show through word of mouth. Hoping to catch the next episode!

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