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Defiance - Upon the March We Fittest Die - Review

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Defiance’s third season came to an end with “Upon the March We Fittest Die.” As of this writing, there’s still no word about whether this is a season or series finale, but it felt a lot like a series finale to me. The episode really brings Nolan (Grant Bowler) and Irisa’s (Stephanie Leonidas) journey together to an end. It also opens up whole new vistas for the game going forward. Fittingly, the episode was written by series helmer Kevin Murphy and was directed by Michael Nankin. The music was supplied by the always wonderful Bear McCreary.

The episode picks up right where we left off last week with Kindzi (Nichole Galicia) licking baby Luke. Alak (Jesse Rath) is still unconscious, but Stahma (Jaime Murray) is prepared to sacrifice everything for the baby. Murray is fantastic as she drags herself to Kindzi’s feet, offering the most precious gift she has – her free will, something we know she has carefully guarded. She promises Kindzi to love her as her Enchanter.

Kindzi’s hatred, however, runs much too deeply to accept Stahma’s offer when she knows the baby means more to Stahma than her free will. She’s prevented from eating the baby by Datak striding in, declaring, “You’ve upset my wife,” and literally nailing Kindzi to the wall. I adored Alak’s “How is she still alive?” I loved the way Datak just barges in and takes care of business! As they make their escape, Alak actually shows some appreciation for what Stahma has done. He still doesn’t understand his mother. She replies that “I did no more than any mother would have done for her child…. No more than Christie did.” Alak tells her not to push her luck – he still won’t tolerate any mention of Christie. I wonder if or when anyone is ever going to tell him that Stahma killed Christie to protect the baby and Christie told her to do it.

The loss of Stahma and the baby doesn’t put Kindzi in a particularly good mood, so when Uno (Rainbow Sun Francks) questions her leadership, she kills him and tells the others to eat him. One Omec is appalled, saying “Omec don’t eat Omec!” However, Dos (Demore Barnes) seems a bit smarter than the average Omec and fauns all over Kindzi, appeasing her and thanking her for the “gift.” I liked the very animalistic way he showed subservience by showing his neck to her.

Meanwhile, back at the Lawkeeper’s, Amanda (Julie Benz), Berlin (Anna Hopkins), Yewll (Trenna Keating), Nolan, and Irisa are having a strategy meeting. Nolan wants to take advantage of the Omec being distracted by hunting, and Yewll suggests blowing up the ship. Once again, Datak bursts in, this time pointing a gun at Yewll who he thinks is still working for the Omec. Nolan quickly jumps in front of her, and they convince him that she’s back on their side. I loved Berlin and Amanda nodding their heads that she was okay. Some of the best moments in the show have come when the entire ensemble fight against a common enemy, so it was nice to see this in the finale.

Yewll needs three volunteers to help blow up the ship. Nolan questions how they’ll get off if there isn’t a functioning arc-brain, and Yewll tells him to leave it to her. The look they share was a good indication to me that he knew she wasn’t planning on returning with them. Amanda also volunteers as does Datak – “If the mayor will have me.” Stahma is not happy about it.

There’s another nice scene between Alak and Irisa. She’s playing with the baby which Alak clearly finds adorable. And as an aside, is that the happiest baby ever? Alak offers to let Irisa spend more time with the baby when everything is over, telling her that Luke really likes her – meaning he does as well. She responds that she’d like to spend more time with the baby as she really likes him too – clearly meaning Alak. Even without Nolan in the picture, having the Lawkeeper for a daughter-in-law is going to be an issue for Datak I’m betting!

After apologizing to the town, Amanda and Berlin make their way to the rendez vous only to be interrupted by gunfire. Lambert (Gilles Savard) has attacked the Omec who are rounding up more townspeople to eat. Amanda ends up injured by a slash to her abdomen. She’s not happy to wake up and find out she can’t go and that the rest haven’t already left without her. Yewll wouldn’t leave because she was taking care of the injured.

Nolan and Amanda share their last moment. I loved Samir watching them with a sappy look on his face – let’s not forget he’s Nolan’s biggest fanboy. I was a little disappointed that that was all he was given to do. Going forward, I wonder if he will have to step up as town doctor. Of course, they also have 2 clones of Yewll in Kindzi’s lair too. Nolan tells Amanda this is his last run as the VC will be after him once he returns. She tells him they will have to forgive him because he will have saved the world. He calls her an eternal optimist and “this is my final ride and I’m ok with that.” It’s clear he knows his own trip is a one way one too.

Naturally, Irisa insists on coming too. I loved her throwing “one rule” at him and Nolan complaining to Datak that she “uses it like a club.” Of course so does he! I also really liked Nolan giggling all the way up in the launch pod and his reverence for the beauty of earth. Nolan’s arc in this episode was carefully crafted for the audience to accept his decision. Nolan is happy to fulfill his childhood dream to go to space and at least see earth from space.

Naturally, Irisa coming means trouble. But then, this is also a nice culmination of her season long – and really series long progression. Irisa is appalled to see that there are children in stasis too. It’s one thing to blow up adults, but children are innocent. Datak tells her that evil comes in all shapes and sizes, but it’s no surprise when she refuses to leave at the end and wants to save the Omec. For Datak, it always boils down to protecting his own and he asks her how he’d feel if one of them ate Luke.

Yewll makes the ultimate sacrifice – or intends to. She enters the arc brain and is pierced with thousands of needles as it closes. Datak is immediately concerned asking if this is what was supposed to happen. I’ve made no secret about how much I love the relationship between Datak and Yewll and the great chemistry between Keating and Curran. Yewll asks him to put the cables into her, starting with the neck port. Datak asks her if she’s sure – he clearly doesn’t want to hurt her. It’s interesting to see him putting her before the mission too. It’s clearly painful, and later, we see her “blood” running out from the arc-brain. Yewll has to fight the system to gain control. Keating really was excellent in the episode – as in the series. Her voice clearly conveys Yewll’s fear.

Meanwhile on earth, Stahma and Amanda share a moment. Amanda tells Stahma that she can’t work off her debt to the town. But is it just the town, or is it Sthama’s debt for Kenya that Amanda can’t forgive? Stahma tells Amanda that she frustrates her. She tells her that Amanda is the woman she respects the most and that Amanda inspires those around her to be the best they can be – Kenya, Yewll, Nolan. Stahma regrets that she has fallen short and that she can never be Amanda’s friend. Amanda suggests that it’s not her Stahma is frustrated with – it goes unspoken that Stahma is frustrated with herself. Stahma does apologize.

Amanda appears to be dreaming – the Omec are taking the people from the clinic, including Stahma and Luke. Amanda gets up, picks up a gun, and trailing blood, follows the Omec to the truck they are loading with snacks. Once again, Amanda saves the day by shooting the three Omec. There’s a nice moment between Stahma and Amanda as Amanda smiles at Stahma and then collapses into Stahma’s arms. Perhaps, there is the possibility of friendship here. It’s such an ironic scene considering the friendship between Benz and Murray!

On the ship, Nolan is attacked by security drones. This is clearly begging to be a level of the game, right? This requires Yewll to have yet more ports inserted. The final one must go directly into the top of her skull. Irisa realizes that Yewll never intended to return with them. This is one of the best scenes between Yewll and Datak in the entire series. Datak wants to know why she didn’t tell them it was a suicide mission for her. She laughingly says, “Because I’m not a drama queen like you!” Datak smiles, and Irisa says she’s sorry. Yewll replies, “Don’t be. An artificial person is a tolerable loss.” Of course, we know that Yewll is far more than simply an artificial person as we’ve seen her display emotions throughout the series. Datak tells her, “No. You’re a real person with enormous honor and infinite soul.”

  His words clearly mean everything to her, but she replies with her customary humor: “Just stick it in me, sailor!” This was another powerful moment as the two lock eyes. Datak lays his hand on her neck/cheek and thanks her for saving them. She tells him, “I’m gonna miss you, pal.” Datak sticks the plug in, and her eyes roll back into her head. Other than this being the apparent end of Yewll, this may have been my favorite scene in the entire series.

Nolan makes it to the engine room, which is a beautiful set. Yewll changes the Omec instructions to English, and even though she’s now plugged in completely to the ship still sarcastically tells him to sound out the big words. Kindzi naturally shows up – having managed to avoid Yewll detecting her and Irisa and Datak running into her. They fight, and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see a character die – not even Joffrey on Game of Thrones

Nolan makes it back to the pods only to find Irisa refusing to leave. I had to say I really felt his “oh, c’mon!” She refuses to destroy a ship full of intelligent beings – especially the children. Nolan tells her the Omec are monsters, and she tells him, “So were you once. So was I. We can save the Omec.” It’s a nice ending to the arc of both of them dealing with their violent pasts and finding a better way.

The only way to stop the explosion is to vent the energy to the propulsion system, sending them irrevocably away from Earth. Nolan points out that that’s a good thing as it means they’ll find a home far away from Earth for the Omec. Irisa says, “One last adventure?” And Nolan responds with their mantra: “Live or die together.” Irisa moves in to hug Nolan, and he zaps her, putting her in the pod to send her back to Earth. He tells her, “I’m going to miss you like crazy, baby girl. I’m so proud of you. You’ve got one life. Use it well.” Leonidas face is perfect as she says she loves him – though I suspect it may be somewhat enhanced by the CGI.

Nolan heads to Yewll, who has him pull the plug from her head – seems she may be able to extricate herself from the ship. She sets Nolan up with a chair but can’t supply him with any Johnny Cash. Bowler is terrific in this scene as his face looks like a kid in a candy store – full of wonder and excitement for his new adventure. He breathes “We’re goin’ to Jackson” as the engines kick in and the ship takes off – I loved that effect with the smoke rings. Back in the “Pilot,” Nolan and Irisa sing “We’re going to Jackson in the first scene they have together.

Irisa watches the blast off from Earth, both laughing and crying. The episode then moves into the musical montage that so many of the episodes conclude with, but with Irisa doing a voice-over. And this is how the “Pilot” began. In fact, the shot of young Nolan looking up at the Voltan ship is right out of the opening scenes of the “Pilot.” Irisa tells us that “Ever since he was little, he’s dreamed of having adventures in outer space. Right now? I bet he’s in some galactic cantina in a fist fight because he hit on the wrong alien princess.” And in the “Pilot,” Nolan is apologizing to Irisa for involving her in some debacle resulting from him hitting on the wrong woman.

It seems that Irisa is to be Lawkeeper. Presumably, after the dedication of the new arch – named for Nolan who is credited with saving the Earth, Berlin will return to Conrad. Amanda will, no doubt, continue as Mayor. Irisa tells us that Amanda considers Nolan dead – but Irisa knows better. Her final comments are that “His other great wish was to be a good father. Wherever he is, I hope he knows that dream came true too.” We see Irisa striding off to take care of some trouble in the town, but the final sequence of the episode follows Nolan’s journey through the stars and the final shot is of Nolan’s face.

The title of the episode comes from Walt Whitman’s poem “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” which is about Whitman’s veneration for westward expansion and the poem is about the American Dream – the quest for new adventures and a restless spirit. Perfect for Nolan, our restless rogue. I thought the episode was a bit light on what was in store for the Tarrs. Can Datak make an “honest” living? Will Amanda and Stahma develop into friends? What of Alak and Irisa? One of my biggest peeves with the show is that Trenna Keating should have been made a series regular. Could we be satisfied with one of her clones being activated to take over as Doc? Better yet, how about two Docs for the price of one! What did you think of the episode? Is this the end? Should it be? What would you like to see in a new season? 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, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. 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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