This week’s episode of Defiance, “A Well Respected Man,” was written by Craig Gore and Tim Walsh and directed by Michael Nankin, who also directed the second episode. Gore and Walsh are relative newcomers, whose only other credits on IMDb are for the short-lived CW show Cult. The script for the most part was tightly written and well-paced. There were some excellent scenes with some powerful moments. There were also a few instances of clunky dialogue. However, there were a few potentially clichéd scenes that were turned on their head, and I’m enjoying getting deeper into the dynamics of the community. The episode featured little in the way of special effects – not what you would expect of a sci-fi series, perhaps. However, the production seems to be spending its budget wisely. The CGI backgrounds are seamless. The drama is grounded in the actors’ performances and realistic sets. The money saved is put to good use on music such as one of Bob Dylan’s latest releases over the final scenes with Amanda revealing their mother’s death to Kenya, Rafe and Quentin in the mine, Datak joining the Council, and Nolan’s chat with Stahma. Once again, the performance of the week has to go to Jaime Murray as Stahma with Tony Curran’s Datak running a close second.
A number of characters are being kept in the dark. Flashbacks reveal that what Kenya (Mia Kirshner) had believed about the death of her mother was a story that Amanda (Julie Benz) had made up to protect her. For her part, Amanda is being kept in the dark about Datak’s illegal gunrunning. Rafe (Graham Greene) explains it was a need to know basis and she didn’t need to know. I’m enjoying watching Amanda slowly simmer towards boiling as people discount her authority. The flashbacks showing how she went bravely back for her sister when her mother abandoned them has me thinking this is not a woman that people want to back up into a corner.
Rafe ultimately takes Quentin into his confidence about the object he found in Luke’s room that he is convinced got him killed. They travel to the bottom of L7 and find bones, artifacts, and cave paintings – knowledge that will no doubt prove to be important.
The title, of course, refers primarily to Datak’s quest for power, standing, and respect. However, Amanda, Nolan, Quentin, and Stahma are also looking for those things. In trying to convince Datak to help look for Kenya, Amanda appeals to his desire for status. She points to his recent actions and how they’ve elevated him in the town’s eyes. She points out that the Bioman, Ulysses, is his and everyone knows it, so if he doesn’t help, everyone will think he’s been a part of the kidnapping. Tony Curran is fabulous in this scene. Datak talks about his hubris in always taking credit for his work. He says it is a personal flaw, but his wife seems to like it. Ultimately, Datak refuses to help in the search for Kenya because they lack respect for him and think they are better than he is. He tells them, they only see him as a wild dog to be kept on a short leash. Datak’s desire for respect and standing is shared by Stahma because the Castithans society is built upon it. When she goes to Amanda, Stahma appeals to the similarities between them. She tells Amanda that both Nolan and Datak are hotheads. She tells Amanda that she can offer Datak respect by appointing him to the vacant Council seat. Stahma is always soft-spoken and makes her requests in a roundabout way.
I enjoyed seeing the Bioman again, and I hope that they will “reprogram” him so that we’ll see him again. I found the Blue Devil storyline a bit simplistic and derivative, even down to the kidnapping and draining victims while putting them in a dream world – see any episode about Djinn in Supernatural, but particularly “What Is and What Should Never Be.” It did, however, serve its purpose as a backdrop to the main character-driven plots.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Is the show starting to find its stride? I remain convinced that the strongest element of the show is its examination of relationships. Let me know your thought in the comments below.