Catching Up on Defiance

I'm almost done watching the first season of Defiance, which I had recorded on my DVR, and I must say it's much better than I expected.  It's one of the highly anticipated original series on Syfy, much better than some of the other low-budget tripe you might find on the network. Once I got passed the first few scenes of the characters driving their road ranger through an alien-transformed future-Earth landscape, scavanging through a crashed space ark, battling a nomadic Road Warrior type gang of Irathients, and shooting some dangerous-looking beasts, all of which seemed to be a tease for the tie-in massively multiplayer online game, the show finally grabbed my attention as it settled down in the city of St. Louis now dubbed "Defiance," where humans and a number of alien species, collectively called Votans, coexist. That's where most of the action takes place, and it's an interesting world, with the iconic Gateway Arch partially destroyed, but still dominating the skyline.

From the mind of Rockne S. O'Bannon, who previously gave us Alien Nation, seaQuest DSV, and the excellent Farscape, the science fiction series delivers the goods. At first it seems as if the stars of the show will be Grant Bowler as Joshua Nolan, a former Marine who fought in the Pale Wars and is now the Chief Lawkeeper for Defiance, and his adopted daughter Irisa (played by Stephanie Leonidas), a moody orphaned Irathient young woman. The stereotypical "new sheriff in town with a rebellious daughter in tow" premise is quickly overshadowed by the far more interesting subplots that weave their way through the narrative, becoming the main focus of the series.

I realized, to my satisfaction, that this was an ensemble show with a terrific cast of characters -- Julie Benz as Amanda Goldwater; the new mayor of Defiance, the always wonderful Mia Kirshner as her sister Kenya who runs the local brothel; Graham Greene as Rafe McCawley, who owns a huge, important mine in the territory; Fionnula Flanagan as former mayor Nicolette Riordan with secrets aplenty; and Dewshane Williams as Deputy Tommy LaSalle. The most interesting of the bunch are the Macbethian Castithan power couple Datak and Stahma, played by Tony Curran and Jaime Murray respectively. Each of their scenes is intense and full of fascinating drama, whether dealing with the pending nuptials of their son Alak (played by Jesse Rath) to his starcrossed human love interest Christie (Nicole Munoz), daughter of Rafe, or the power struggle machinations that they each play against their rivals and each other.

The alien species are each unique, with the Indogene Doc Yewl providing the most mystery.  It's a show that benefits from high-definition, with some nice special effects, settings, and creature makeup.

You don't need to be a science fiction fan to appreciate the action-packed, drama-filled storylines, but there's enough marvelous speculation to keep you tuning in for more if those types of tales of wonder are up your alley.