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Defiance 1.10 "The Bride Wore Black" Review: Bridges

    This week’s episode of Defiance, “The Bride Wore Black,” was written by Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer. Slavkin also directed. I have to admit that the title really had me fearing for Rafe’s (Graham Greene) life. Even though Greene made it out of the episode, there were still plenty of bodies dropping and some really great plot twists and turns. While Nolan (Grant Bowler) insists to Tommy (Dewshane Williams) that he is a Peacekeeper – interested in keeping the peace, not being Sherlock Holmes, I thoroughly enjoyed trying to piece the evidence together.
    I enjoyed the flashbacks which gave us a different look at some of the relationships between characters. However, while the lighting reflected a time-change, I think 7 years would have made a greater impact on all the characters’ appearance, but then aging is a much easier effect than de-aging. Kenya (Mia Kirshner) was probably the character to look the youngest. It was also very interesting to see her under the complete control of her husband, Hunter Bell (Brendan McCarthy). While being the owner of a brothel would give her a great deal of control, she is still putting other women in potential harm’s way, including herself, as evidenced in her encounter with Datak (Tony Curran) last week. In the flashback with Amanda (Julie Benz), it is easy to see that Kenya was already using Amanda’s decision to have an abortion and break up with Connor Lang against her. It isn’t hard to imagine the discussion between the two when Kenya decided to start running the Need/Want. It wasn’t really made explicit whether Kenya was already working in the Need/Want or whether she was just Bell’s abused wife. Once again, most of the character revelations felt natural, and I think this speaks once again to the extensive preparation that went into crafting this world. The stories may not always unfold with no plot holes, but I still feel like patience with the unfolding of the characters’ stories has been rewarded.
    It was a bit fun to see Rafe coming to Datak’s rescue. Seven years seems to have made a big difference in just how much more assimilated everyone is in Defiance – but not how much more tolerant they are of each other. The young Castithans at Alak’s (Jesse Rath) bachelor party refer to Christie (Nicole Munoz) as “pink meat” and Alak’s respect for her ‘human’ sensibilities lead to the fight with his Castithan friends who do not respect the more monogamous tendencies of the humans. Datak also remarks that Rafe’s “pink skin” sickens him. This leads to one of the best exchanges for me so far in the series as Rafe replies, “Does this look pink to you?” This is something that has struck me since the pilot – Rafe isn’t caucasion – he’s Native American (and of course, Greene is actually an Oneida from Canada!). I hope that more will be made of the fact that Native Americans should have a lot in common with the “alien” races having been treated as such by the European settlers who invaded their land. Yet, I don’t think that it is by chance that the Castithans and Indogenes, for that matter, are light skinned to an extreme degree.
    I was glad to see that Rafe was already on to the Tarr’s ultimate goal of gaining control of the mines and had already made arrangements to keep it out of their hands (and keep himself protected). I found it interesting that Rafe would want to leave the mine to the Irathients – the race most oppressed and reviled by the Castithans and humans both. In the end, while Rafe was hoping that the wedding was off, once he realized that Christie and Alak were both truly in love, he was the one to see that the young lovers were united. I will say that the scene in the bar when Datak accuses Rafe of killing Hunter Bell and then they argue over the wedding did feel a bit heavy handed in its Romeo and Juliet overtones – but as the show has been very good at incorporating lots of Shakespeare overtones, I’ll forgive it...
    I also appreciated the discussion over whether Christie would wear the “teelo” headdress or not. The discussion and back and forth over it between Christie and Alak was a nice illustration of two young lovers but also a good illustration of them trying to come to terms with the cultural differences between them. Stahma’s (Jaime Murray) input was also very interesting. Once again, I have to pause to praise Murray’s acting throughout the episode. Stahma is clearly emotionally tied to the object as part of her cultural heritage. It’s symbolic on many levels for Christie to enter this marriage blindly – but it hardly seems likely that Stahma truly entered her own marriage blindly.
       Having Christie wear the teelo then, seems like a way of placating Datak. It also seems likely that Stahma on some level envies the more equal relationship women have in human relationships. Murray plays Stahma so well, it’s hard to get a real indication of Stahma’s real feelings – but of course, that is also the lot of a Castithan woman – to play a subservient role to her husband. Murray plays this to great effect in the scene in which she tries to convince Datak to let the marriage go ahead. In fact, Stahma may be spending too much time with her human lover, and she actually loses her temper with Datak. I loved the look on Datak’s face – and once again kudos to Curran who keeps delivering fantastic performances as well. Datak seems taken aback and stunned by Stahma’s outburst – but he doesn’t fly into a rage over it. Stahma quickly smothers her anger and turns on the charm – and here in particular, Murray is outstanding – and resorts to seducing Datak to get what she wants. In the end, it doesn’t stop Datak, however. The exchange also highlights the difference between the two. Stahma has always had to be patient to get what she wants while Datak has always been able to bully his way to get what he wants. In the end, the wedding goes forward, and Stahma presents Christie with a veil instead of the teelo. It’s impossible to read whether she is genuinely happy for the young couple or just furthering her long-term plan. She tells Datak that Alak is “of this new world.” Stahma appears to be far more accepting of the new world than Datak who is still tied to the old traditions – unless he can further his own agenda.
    The flashbacks also fill in Tommy’s backstory, and we learn how he got to be a lawkeeper. In fact, Tommy seems to be the only one with any positive memories of Bell. I’m really enjoying the chemistry between Tommy and Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). It was clearly a big step for her to come to the wedding, but she commits to it as evidenced by her taking Tommy’s hand. But what was she wearing at the wedding! The wedding itself was a nice showcase of the way the young couple is bridging the gap – with the humans and their customs on one side and the Castithans on the other.
    Of course, the big twist of the episode was that Nicolette (Fionnula Flanagan) was, in fact, an Indogene disguised to look like a human! Seriously, did anyone see that coming? Because I sure as heck did not! We also learn that she is utterly ruthless as she killed Hunter Bell in the past and Jered (Jessica Nichols) in the present. Lucky for Jessica Nichols she actually plays all of the Liberata on the show. It does help to explain the alliance with Yewll (Trenna Keating). We also learn that there is a genocidal weapon hidden somewhere in Defiance – my bets are on the mine. Yewll cold-bloodedly kills Nicky while asserting that she is doing it for the greater good because she is now a healer and no longer the destroyer she once was. I’m betting she had a lot to do with creating the weapon, and I’m betting that the artifact also has something to do with it. I have to wonder given the artifact’s influence on Quentin whether it is similarly influencing Yewll now.
    Nicky’s death also leaves a few people vulnerable. Who will support Amanda in the run for mayor now? For that matter, will the fact that Nicky supported Amanda actually now have a negative effect on Amanda’s run for mayor given Nicky’s confessions in her suicide note? What about the death of Birch? Will this end up coming back to haunt Rafe?
    Only two more episodes to go to finish out the first season. Filming begins on season two in August in Toronto. I’ve been very much enjoying the season – it is definitely the character driven show we were promised last fall on the press tour. What did you think of this week’s episode? Who do you think will win the race for mayor? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below.

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