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Defiance - I Almost Prayed - Finale Review

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Defiance, “I Almost Prayed,” was written by showrunner Kevin Murphy and directed by regular Michael Nankin. For those just tuning in in the UK, spoilers for the season finale follow! It felt like it could have been a series finale if it had to be. One of the reasons that I haven’t posted this review is that I was waiting for a definitive answer from Syfy about the show’s fate. However, the only news we’ve had from Syfy so far is a tweet that there is no news either way just yet. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that there will be more of this show. It may not always deliver a completely satisfying storyarc, but I adore the depth of talent behind every episode. The sets and costuming have all been a reflection of the on-going story this season (and last!). Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, and Jesse Rath have delivered fantastic performances day in and day out. Dewshane Williams will be sorely missed if they don’t bring him back, and it was great to see Trenna Keating get to play a more central role this season. Anna Hopkins was a brilliant new addition.

Hopkins is wonderful in the scene in which she tells Amanda (Julie Benz) that Tommy (Williams) is dead. I thought Amanda’s reaction was off, but I’ve had a problem with her characterization all season – it just hasn’t felt consistent to me at all. For her part, Benz does the most professional thing she could, she takes a backseat to Hopkins’ performance. I did wonder about having Berlin contorted over the bar – the posture seemed completely unnatural (and somewhat painful). Surely, they could have found another, more natural way to foreground Berlin’s pain in the shot? Regardless, Berlin’s pain and her love of Tommy shines through. The episode clearly moves her away from the E-Rep and into the camp of our heroes as she almost becomes the victim of a firing squad.

While the episode was focused on moving all the plots along, it also contained a few of its signature moments of humor – which are some of my favorite ever scenes. I loved Datak saying to Christie (Nicole Munoz) that “Well, it’s not like I dropped a whore from the top of GatewayArch now, is it?” I loved Mercado (William Atherton) asking Berlin if she’d been drinking, and then her honest answer followed by his reply that she “might want to gargle.” Atherton has handled the humor particularly well this season, and I do hope we’ll see him back. 

The end of the season finally sees Datak (Curran) and Stahma (Murray) working together again. Datak is clearly happy to be home and already pushing the boundaries set by Stahma. I did love seeing them come together against Pilar (Linda Hamilton), though that scene bothered me for what seems like “retconning” to me. It seems implausible that given Stahma’s caste that she would ever have cleaned anyone’s toilet, especially on first arriving when she would have been even more firmly entrenched in Castithan society. This would also make her blowing Rafe (Graham Greene) implausible too and not in line with the discomfort he displayed on Stahma joining him in the family bath either. And surely, Rafe would have taken great pleasure in throwing that in Datak’s face at some point. Of course, we can also attribute that to Pilar being crazy. 

Hamiliton is better in this episode than previous ones. It has to be becoming clear to Quentin (Justin Rain) at this point that she’s either not playing with a full deck or she’s dangerous after she kidnaps Alak and Christie. She can’t keep her temper long enough to get what she wants out of Stahma and Datak, but she definitely knows how to manipulate Christie with promises of horses and a better life for her baby. It will be interesting, however, to see what lengths Christie will go to to keep her baby and Alak safe from her mother. 

Amanda makes her choice in this episode. I have to admit that I’ve been hoping the show didn’t go with the cliché and have the lawman hook up with the school marm – or in this case the mayor, so I may be alone in liking that Amanda doesn’t choose Nolan (Grant Bowler) over the world, Defiance, or even Pottinger (James Murray). It's a great scene when Pottinger is surprised to see Amanda defend him and then he steps up to defend her. Murray has done a great job in delivering a nuanced performance all season, making Pottinger a sympathetic figure. In fact, Atherton has done the same with Mercado. It’s hard to see the E-Rep as the bad guys by the end of the season as they all have to work together to save the planet. If anything, we see Amanda more aligned with then against Nolan and Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). 

Another great scene is the one between Pottinger, Yewll and Amanda. Murray and Keating have a terrific rhythm as they talk over each other – not an easy exercise! I also loved Murray alternating between horror that he’s about to be exposed and then relief as he watches Yewll spin her lies. I will never tire of Keating's dry delivery of Yewll's sarcastic comments. Of course, it sets us up for this web to be unraveled next season.

There were a few things about the episode that did bother me. The fight scene between Nolan and Pottinger was amusing – I loved Pottinger calling Nolan a bully, and Yewll pointing out how much Nolan had looked forward to punching her. But if Pottinger and Yewll stayed unconscious for that long, they’d have brain damage and very few punches could have left them out for that long. While Robin Dunne was enjoyable as Miko, he does this thing with his mouth that I find distracting enough to take me out of the story. Do no directors actually notice this? Could someone give him the note to close his mouth? Sorry – personal bugbear… It certainly wasn’t his fault that Miko got used for a lot of comic relief in this episode which felt like it took away from that storyline a bit for me.

Bowler and Leonidas have their best scenes towards the end of the episode as Irisa must deal with the reality that she’s killed Tommy and Nolan realizes he can’t save them. Williams if fantastic in what would appear to be his last scene on the show. I have to admit that I almost wanted Irisa to say yes just to get Tommy back, and it was easy to feel how difficult that decision was for Irisa. Ending the season with the two together in a pod sets the stage for another time jump or at least them being absent from the beginning of a new season. After all, there are other storylines that are pressing for a conclusion. 

I loved Datak and Stahma’s pragmatic response to possible death from the Heavens. I also love that they’ve set up Datak, Stahma, and Rafe (Graham Greene) as a team – and this chase/hunt is the storyline I’m most anxious to have continue! I love the thought of these three finding more common ground than just their kids and grandchild to work together. 

Some of the special effects in this episode seemed less accomplished than some other episodes, but in general, it felt like the effects were supposed to make the episode look and feel like the video game which I think is a brilliant tie in. I did notice a few problems with the make up in this episode – Yewll’s eyes seemed too “pink” and so did Datak’s mouth and hands while he was eating. It’s possible that these might normally be cleaned up in post but with such an incredibly effects heavy episode perhaps attention had to be paid elsewhere. 

This season premiere’s today in the UK. SyFy has been running a special ad campaign on Spoiler.Tv in the UK, so I’m taking that as a really good sign that they are still behind the show and we may get the good news we’re looking for soon! What did you think of the episode and the season? What are you most anxious to see in a new season? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Remember #RenewDefiance!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Forever, Defiance, Bitten, Glee, and a few others! Highlights of this past year include covering San Diego Comic Con as press and a set visit to Bitten. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.

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