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Defiance - Ostinato in White - Review

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Defiance, “Ostinato in White,” was written by Bryan Q Miller and was directed by Allan Arkush. Both are familiar names from last season. Despite the excitement of some grisly murders, I found this episode a bit slow, for reasons that I’ll elaborate on below. The episode does set up some power changes to come. I won’t lie though, my major disappointment in the episode definitely stems from the fact that I wanted to see Datak’s (Tony Curran) homecoming! But those shifts in power needed this episode to really set them up.

The episode begins with an Indogene – that looked an awful lot like Yewll (Trenna Keating) being chased through the darkened streets of Defiance and attacked. Of course, as we soon learn, the Indogene was brutally murdered, by what they think may be a wild animal. I felt less stupid for thinking it was Yewll when Samir (Raymond Ablack) and Yewll discover during the autopsy that it is Yewll’s clone. Actually, Samir asks the logical question of how they can know who is the clone, which just pisses Yewll off. I like him.

Meanwhile, after the credits, we go directly to an all too familiar scene in Defiance – another funeral/memorial. Ostinato means a musical phrase that is repeated over and over again. And here we see the major power shift. Nolan (Grant Bowler) is no longer the hero. He knows it and so does everyone else. He screwed up big time and people died. Datak on the other hand has suddenly gone from traitor and terrorist to hero – for everyone except Alak (Jesse Rath) anyway. I also highly doubt that Amanda (Julie Benz) will be too quick to forgive his past sins either. Bowler is very good in this scene as we see the usually brash Nolan really faltering and doubting himself.

While I liked this first scene with Nolan, I found the rest of his story in this episode tedious in the extreme as he wallows in self-pity. Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) tries to prevent Nolan from taking Zero’s gun back to Hinder (Tony Nappo), but Nolan insists. Hinder is grieving his son and initially pulls a gun on Nolan before letting him in. Nappo has been excellent in his short run here. Nolan tries to make things better by using platitudes but eventually just tells Hinder not to lose himself. Hinder seems impressed that Nolan came to see him when Nolan admits he’s not going to the families of any of the others killed. Of course, Nolan feels guilty about not living up to his promise to keep Zero safe. In the end, he goes to Hinder not to help Hinder but to get absolution for himself. He does nothing to help Hinder, who Nolan finds dead by suicide at the end of the episode.

Irisa is left to investigate the murder and even has to send Nolan away when he goes off half-cocked and shoots a raccoon. Nolan further wallows in self-pity and we are subjected to a lengthy – it certainly felt lengthy, though I didn’t time it – musical montage as he drinks and visits the memorial. He ends up drunk back at the office where Kindzi (Nichole Galicia) finds him and tries to seduce him. Amanda shows up at the office, looking for his help to confront T’evgin (Conrad Coates) but has to leave him to sober up and go in the morning. When T’evgin tells them there will be no more killings, Amanda is willing to leave, but Nolan once more does the wrong thing and pulls a gun on T’evgin, who easily defeats him. The episode ends with Nolan’s drunken discover of Hinder’s hanging body. He’s let Hinder down again by not being there for Hinder.

T’evgin approaches Alak after the memorial and Alak tells him that he knows the Omec knows where Stahma (Jaime Murray) is. Alak tells him to tell her that while Amanda may have pardoned her, he hasn’t, and he thinks she is both a coward and a murderer. Murray is wonderful in this episode as we see a power shift in her too. She’s always had the upper hand with Datak – society and Alak have always loved her best and accepted her. She is clearly devastated to learn of Alak’s feelings as well as learning of Datak’s death – or so she thinks.

Stahma returns home to find Andina (Amy Forsyth) cleaning the word terrorist off her front door. Forsyth is doing a great job with Andina – there is clearly far more to this servant than meets the eye. In fact, she reminds me of a young Stahma with her clearly superior powers of manipulation. She tells Stahma that the dead are dead and they all need to move on. She goes on to mention that she visits Alak twice a week – Alak is living in the old McCawley house. When Stahma suggests she could visit him there, Andina discourages her by telling her that Alak keeps Rafe’s rifle loaded with two bullets – and they are meant for Stahma. It seems pretty clear that Andina is determined to improve her station by getting her claws into Alak. I liked the use of mirrors in this scene and how it is mirrored by the final scene with Stahma when she is painting the black ink on herself.

I did really like the scene in which Stahma attempts to buy the dye she needs in order to honor her dead husband. Amanda shows up and buys the ink for her when the shopkeeper shuns Stahma. Stahma attempts to thank Amanda for the pardon, and Amanda tells her to thank her husband, before adding, “Oops, he’s dead.” Stahma then tries to apologize for “the incident” in Amanda’s office. Under her breath as she walks away, Amanda says, you’re not sorry yet. It’s clear that Amanda is enjoying seeing Stahma shunned and grieving for her husband. Of course, it’s another reason for Amanda not to be happy to see Datak return.

Meanwhile, the situation with Kindzi comes to a head. Yewll suspects the Omecs in the original murder when she discovers spores in the corpse’s lungs. She heads to the mine to check it out. Samir wants to come with her, but she tells him she’s going alone but he can sound the alarm if she’s not back by morning. I did like how they managed to tease out exactly who was doing the killings by having T’evgin also “roaring” when Kindzi was with Nolan to shed some doubt that it was her.

Of course, it turns out that it is Kindzi and that she’s been cloning Yewlls to hunt for sport, practice, and fun. Kindzi forces Yewll to put a control system into herself and T’evgin arrives in the nick of time to prevent Yewll from cutting off her own hand, but not before Kindzi could program Yewll to protect Kindzi at all costs. It’s the last straw for T’evgin who tells Kindzi that he’s tired of teaching her and he puts her back to sleep on the ship. Even though he’s assured Stahma that Kindzi will follow him, it seem clear that she won’t. And if she won’t, does he really have any hope of getting the others to follow him?

Sadly, when Yewll returns to her office, she tries to put Samir off, but he won’t have it, and she seems to kill him. As the episode works through its final musical montage, Stahma, T’evgin, and Nolan are all alone. While this episode did move the plot along in a few major ways, I found it overall disappointing. What did you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments below.

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, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Forever, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, 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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