Defiance, “Painted From Memory,” was written by showrunner Kevin Murphy and directed by Larry Shaw who also directed “Slouching Towards Bethlehem.” The episode centers around the apparent return of Kenya (Mia Kirshner) to Defiance. Of course, it was too good to be true, but it was a lovely surprise for the show to bring her back for this two episode arc. Before delving into the episode itself, a brief word on the lateness of this review – and those for the final episodes. Look for the next two episode reviews to follow quickly, but I’m watching in Canada and the series finale isn’t available here for a couple of weeks – please stay tuned. Let’s show how much we want the show to be renewed!
The episode features a wonderful performance by Kirshner. In addition, the episode stands out for its exceptional use of effects for the flashback and memory scenes. While we get to see a lot of the Rosewater sisters, there is very little of the other main characters – though what we do see is very important.
All we see of Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) is to set up the next few episodes. She is once again lying to Nolan (Grant Bowler), which can never end well. We see her use Sukar (Noah Danby) as her excuse to Nolan, as she stands with her group watching cars and people pouring into their location for Irzu’s “pilgrimage.”
I loved the scene between Nolan and Tommy (Dewshane Williams). Nolan definitely deserved the punch! And it was great to see the clear difference between them. In many ways, Tommy is the more noble of the two, and he also better understands Irisa in many ways. I loved Tommy telling Nolan he isn’t a kid – Williams was excellent in this scene, and as always, I wish we got more Tommy.
Anna Hopkins delivers another great performance as Berlin. It’s interesting to see her more and more with her hair down in every way. I loved her being ok with Nolan showing up for a threesome! The best part of that scene, of course, was the introduction between Kenya and Berlin and them sharing the histories behind their names. I was really struck by the chemistry between the two and wish there was a possibility for more scenes between the two – but that seems highly unlikely.
As always, Jaime Murray (Stahma) delivers an amazing performance. She is both appalled and confused by Kenya’s apparent return. She’s clearly freaked out that the dead have come back to life and worried she will get caught for the murder, but she also clearly still has feelings for Kenya. Her remorse at the murder is made clear in her discussions with Datak (Tony Curran) when he points out that he never meant for her to kill Kenya – he just wanted her out of town. Curran is, as always, wonderful. I adore the banter between the two of them – and Datak’s obvious awe when it turns out that Stahma is a murderer.
Kudos again to Murray for infusing so much of the alien culture into the physical portrayal of her character. I loved how she smelled Kenya’s hair – even as Datak complained about being in the stench of death. Smell is so much more a part of their world. I also loved the scene when she tries to tell Amanda (Julie Benz) that Kenya isn’t Kenya. Her worry about Amanda’s hurt feelings, which Datak mocks, lead her to try to reach out to her, but when Amanda gets angry with her, she becomes obsequious and falls back into her self-deprecating mode. The pain the conversation causes her is clearly visible on Stahma’s face.
We also get a lot of payoff in this episode as we find out what Pottinger (James Murray) wanted with Amanda’s memories. It seems a pretty needlessly risky way to win Amanda’s heart. Another great scene was Pottinger realizing just exactly what he might have unleashed with Yewll (Trenna Keating). I have to admit that I miss her sarcastic wit and mainly her at least trying to be a better ‘person.’ I liked her better as a good guy. We also find out who was behind the mask and goggles. It was interesting to see Quentin (Justin Rain) back, but what is working for the Earth Republic or the Voltanis Collective? What will this mean for Rafe (Graham Greene)? I suspect he’s the Voltanis soldier that interrupted the procedure.
My favorite scene between Amanda (Julie Benz) and Kenya was the memory of them arriving in Defiance. Both were fabulous in this scene. It was a terrific performance, showing both characters at an earlier and happier time. By the end of the episode, it seems clear that “Kenya” wants nothing to do with Amanda. She calls herself an Indogene and an echo of Kenya. But she’s also heading for San Francisco – likely to the one person Yewll said might be able to help her – and possibly into the video game, which is set in San Francisco. She didn’t break Amanda’s neck and she kept the picture of the two of them together.
It’s interesting that Datak does take pity on Yewll and helps her to find asylum – with Rafe. Is this the headquarters of the Collective? The ending also features a nice parallel to Amanda’s pubic funeral for Kenya and Stahma’s personal one over her actual grave.
A final word about the sets on the show. I was particularly struck by how wonderful the sets are on the show – especially the richness and color of the Need/Want in comparison to the marketplace. Doc Yewll’s office is always a favorite set for me too. Even the CGI landscapes are well done, and they always turn our world as we know it on its head – the Golden Gate Bridge spanning only earth is a great example and contrast to a flooded LA from earlier in the season. What did you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments – and let me know how anxious you are to hear about renewal! Let’s try to trend #RenewDefiance tonight whether you are watching the third last episode or the final two for the season!