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Defiance - When Twilight Dims the Sky Above - Review

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Defiance, “When Twilight Dims the Sky Above,” was written by Brian Allen Alexander and was directed by Allan Arkush. The episode features the return of Datak (Tony Curran) and the apparent departure of Nolan (Grant Bowler) and Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). The episode falters from relying on presumably smart characters doing bone-headedly stupid things.

Nolan is suffering from hallucinations caused by the arc-tech in his brain. He’s clearly unstable – even if only from grief and guilt as the others should think – so why did they not keep a closer eye on him? My other big complaint about this episode is that if the Omec are supposed to be the superior race and T’evgin (Conrad Coates) is their leader, how is he stupid enough to let Kindzi (Nichole Galicia) so thoroughly get the upper hand on him?

The episode is interestingly structured, starting with the scene we see later in the episode with Nolan and Irisa trapped. How do they end up in a dead end in their own town when they are being chased by VC who just arrived? We then jump to a mere 12 hours earlier. At first, I was “oh no, not a voiceover” but I did like the way they let us in on the fact that Nolan was hallucinating. We see the shadowy figure whispering in his ear – though it was clear to me from the outset that it was gung-ho-military-Nolan from the beginning. I did like the use of a hazy filter as well.

As the episode begins, Stahma (Jaime Murray) receives an invitation from T’evgin to come with him to Australia, which we learn is uninhabited. Stahma still fears him and is unable to decline outright, though Murray’s performance is nicely nuanced as we see her hesitate for a moment when T’evgin points out that no one in Defiance wants her there. There’s another nice moment when a vendor wants to send her away, but T’evgin intervenes. Stahma isn’t the only one afraid of the Omec.

It’s this fear that brings the Voltan Collective to Defiance. I loved Datak getting out of the car and the utter disbelief on Amanda’s (Julie Benz) face in particular. Benz is terrific in the episode – despite her character stupidly missing the severity of Nolan’s condition. We finally get to see a more competent Amanda again. I also thought that her reaction to Stahma and Datak’s reunion was interesting. Amanda seems almost to soften in the face of Stahma’s genuine love for Datak. Certainly, T’evgin is dismayed by it.

Datak and Stahma’s private reunion is a terrific scene. Datak is clearly ashamed of his new arm and doesn’t want Stahma to look at it – or consider him damaged goods in any way. I also really liked his confrontation with Nolan on his way to make love to his wife. That new arm is a great weapon. But another great Datak line to tell Nolan that he got away because a tiger cannot change his strips. Datak is never going to simply give up and die. Stahma tells him that she finds pragmatism alluring – she appreciates why he cut off his own arm.

I very much liked the team up of Silora (Wendy Crewson) and Amanda to find peace, so I was even more disappointed at the ridiculousness of having Nolan able to get to her and kill her. One of the best things about Defiance is that women are so often in the positions of power, however, that’s negated by having them miss the obvious. Silora tells Amanda that Rahm was rogue and not acting for the rest, so it also doesn’t make sense for her to be the only moderate.

Murray and Coates also do a wonderful job in all their scenes. Amanda and Silora demand that Stahma get T’evgin to the party. There’s a lovely scene between Stahma and Datak in which Datak insists she try to get T’evgin to come to the party but make it clear that she’s staying with Datak. I loved that it was pretty clear that neither of them really knew where Australia is! Stahma does go to T’evgin and insists that this is a new world and that he can’t be tied to events that happened a long time ago and far away. She does realize that he has a wise heart – though again, not wise enough to outwit his own daughter.

Yewll (Trenna Keating) is being forced to do Kindzi’s bidding even though Kindzi is trapped in stasis aboard their ship. I loved the scene between Yewll and Irisa as she tries to get Yewll’s help for Nolan. Keating is terrific as she struggles against the pull of Kindzi’s orders and the device in her. If you were wondering about Yewll’s remark, “Oh the humanity” as she woke Kindzi, it’s a shout out to the radio reporter who described the Hindenberg disaster – Yewll is clearly expecting an even bigger fallout from waking Kindzi.

Amanda and Silora have an interesting conversation about Silora’s father – the Votan whose assassination started the Pale Wars. Amanda asks if she’s sure it was a human who killed him. I have to wonder if this little point is going to come back to be important.

I also loved Amanda greeting Stahma and how much fun Benz and Murray had acting liking enemies when they are best of friends in real life! It was also fun watching Datak chafe at having to be accompanied by Andina (Amy Forsyth) as Stahma accompanied T’evgin.

While I wasn’t overly thrilled to see Kindzi back, I did appreciate her saying she’d been upstaged when Nolan arrived and killed Silaro. Datak and Amanda are forced to work together to save Defiance. Amanda must give up Nolan to appease the Votan Collective. Datak insists they won’t listen to reason that Nolan wasn’t acting politically but only due to the arc-tech in his brain. Of course, Irisa must knock him out with the medicine Yewll gave her to save both their lives for the time being.

The scene between Datak and T’evgin is also a good one. It’s clear that they hate each other and are jealous of the other’s relationship with Stahma, yet at the same time, they are united by her too. T’evgin tells Datak to guard her with his life, and Datak says he will to the death – and he’s already proven his willingness to do so.

The episode ends with Kindzi getting the upper hand on T’evgin. My biggest problem is that Coates is so much better an actor than Galicia, so I’d much rather have him on screen. The scene between Nolan and Amanda is touching. He knows she has to give him up to save the town and won’t let her sacrifice either herself or the town by coming with him to defend him. Amanda has collected money from the citizens of Defiance that she gives to Irisa to break Nolan out. She tells her that they will be on the run for the rest of their lives – I guess that means that there’s no end in sight for the video game at least.

Our musical montage covers Nolan leaving Defiance with Irisa – for one last adventure. Of course, the real kicker is that Nolan is getting Irisa killed one way or the other because if he dies so does she, and she has to stay with him or die. Perhaps Kindzi will actually be useful if she decides to rescue Nolan and fix the arc-tech in his head.

I can’t imagine the show without Nolan and Irisa, so I can only imagine they will be back somehow. I’m hoping that Datak’s new super-powered arm will help him to defeat Kindzi, and I’m also hoping that he’ll notice that Yewll is not herself. Irisa clearly thought she was being abrupt even for Yewll, but of course, she’s gone now. Overall, while there were some good scenes and performances from Murray, Curran, Benz, Keating, and Coates, the characters’ basic stupidity was an impediment to giving this episode a thumb’s up. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts 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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