Spoiler free review of Syfy’s Defiance – A refreshing science fiction space western

By | Posted on 20 March 2013

Defiance - Season 1

Ever since Syfy changed its name and added WWE to its lineup, its been looking hard and long for a cult classic scifi show to call its own. Over the past few years, Syfy has increased its reality TV lineup and competition shows based on public demand. We are not one of those people who enjoy reality TV, so when we first heard about the concept behind defiance we were excited but worried. Syfy is known for its goofy saturday creature features and hasn’t had a hard-hitting true to the core science fiction scripted show of its own since Battlestar Galactica finished. So word of Defiance comes along and the first thing we hear “video game and tv series tie in”.

The idea of bringing in a video game to some how go along with the tv series was, what many considered, TV suicide. At a budget of over $100 million, it was a gamble that even large networks dare touch. To put this into prospective, Terra Nova on Fox cost $50mil for its first season and was cancelled and this was Fox spending the money. HBO, which is a premium pay channel, spent about $60 mil on its first season of Game Of Thrones. Now breaking down that $100 mil, $50 goes into the TV show and the rest into the game. The burden of the cost for the game is split between Trion and NBC, in which Trion takes the larger burden. The fact remains that $50 mil for Syfy and its parent company NBC Universal is a  huge gamble.

So what is the bottom line on this gamble? Was it worth the money spent? ABSOLUTELY. And we will give you our spoiler free review as to why.

What is Defiance?

In the year 2046, it’s a new Earth – with new rules. Over thirty years after various alien races arrived on Earth, the landscape is completely altered, terraformed nearly beyond recognition. To the town of Defiance, on what used to be St. Louis, comes the mysterious Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his charge, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). As they settle into town – overseen by the mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and filled with residents like the powerful Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), enterprising lounge owner Kenya (Mia Kirshner) and the ambitious, alien Tarrs (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray) – events begin to unfold that threaten the fragile peace this border town has fought for.

We were able to screen the first 3 episodes, which included a 2 hour pilot episode. The concept brings back memories of Firefly and the western style space drama it brought along with it. The story feels as though you could go on a thousand side stories with endless possibilities. Sometimes shows get lost on that and spend too much time with ‘filler’ episodes and don’t advance the main plot. Defiance makes the right choice of mixing the two. While there will be an episode or two where the main story is what you might call a ‘side plot’, it manages to still advance the main plot by tying into the side story.

Who are the citizens of Defiance?

Defiance - Season 1

Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) is a former lieutenant in the Earth Military Coalition who fought in the alien conflict. Born prior to the Arks’ arrival, he saw his comfortable life turned upside down when the war between the humans and Votans began. The conflict took its toll, and in the aftermath of Arkfall, he found himself a wanderer in a dangerous new world. There he was joined by Irisa, a young Irathient he raised as his own, and who served as his lone companion in the lawless badlands.

Grant Bowler is no stranger to the Syfy family, having appeared in Chiller’s 2011 zombie opus, Remains, as well as three other major releases: Atlas ShruggedThe City of Guardians and The Killer Elite alongside Robert De Niro, Clive Owen and Jason Statham. Recent credits include playing Richard Burton to Lindsay Lohan’s Elizabeth Taylor in Lifetime’s Liz & Dick. Bowler is no doubt beloved by genre fans for his role as Cooter, the biker werewolf, on HBO’s monster mash-up True Blood, as well as a turn on the sci-fi smash Lost  as the mysterious Captain Gault.

Defiance - Season 1

An attractive Irathient woman, Irisa is Nolan’s tacit second in command. Smart, independent and feisty, Irisa still struggles with the weight of her unusual upbringing. A drifter since birth, she only stays in Defiance due to the loyalty she feels for Nolan. Nolan has encouraged Irisa to leave behind her traumatic past. He rescued her at a young age, and the two have been inseparable ever since.

Stephanie Leonidas is known for her many television appearances, most recently in WhitechapelEternal Law, and the BBC’s Dracula, as well as the award-winning ITV film for television Wall of Silence. Other film credits include the lead role of Helena in David McKean’s Mirrormask, Luis Llosa’s feature filmFeast of the Goat, Ben Sombogaart’s Crusade in Jeans: A March through Time,Luna and Andrew Douglas’ U Want Me To Kill Him. Stephanie has also appeared on stage in the lead role of Dani in Marianne Elliott’s The Sugar Syndrome at the Royal Court, receiving rave reviews. Most recently, she portrayed Adela in Gadi Roll’s House of Bernarda Alba.

Defiance - Season 1

Kenya is the beautiful spitfire who runs the NeedWant, the town’s bar and brothel. Self-assured and dauntless, she has an unwavering devotion to the town that has inexorably woven her into many of its complicated affairs. Growing up, Kenya rebelled by making trouble and embracing her sexuality. When Kenya arrived in Defiance, she took up residence at the NeedWant, eventually becoming its proprietor. She has a keen insight into the needs of others, but a blind spot when it comes to her own emotions.

Born in Toronto, Canada, Mia Kirshner studied Russian literature at McGill University in Montreal while pursuing an acting career in the early 1990s. Kirshner portrayed a young, clairvoyant dominatrix in Deny Arcand’s Love and Human Remains before her memorable turn in Atom Egoyan’s Exotica. In 1995, Kirshner had a supporting role in the Southern coming-of-age tale, The Grass Harp, starring Sissy Spacek and Walter Matthau. She then played the lead opposite Vincent Perez in The Crow: City of Angels and revealed her lighter side with a featured role in the spoof comedy Not Another Teen Movie. In 2001, she appeared as a professional assassin in the action-filled drama 24alongside Kiefer Sutherland.She’s known to many for her role as Jenny in the critically acclaimed series The L Word. She followed that with a turn in Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia.

Defiance - Season 1

Amanda Rosewater is the Mayor of Defiance. Every day, she uses her political wits to give this struggling town a chance for survival. Born in New York in 2011, Amanda shouldered a great responsibility at an early age, serving as a stand-in parent for her sister when their mother and father died during the Pale Wars. Adrift in a post-war world, Amanda eventually heard of a town where humans and Votans were attempting to coexist. She traveled to Defiance and accepted a job cleaning the mayor’s office. Despite these humble beginnings, she so impressed then-Mayor Nicolette Riordon that, upon her retirement, Nicky appointed Amanda to finish out her term. Now, Amanda is determined to maintain peace in the community, an ambitious task in this deadly new world.

With chameleon-like abilities to transform from a bubbly blonde to a tortured brunette, actress Julie Benz won a Golden Satellite Award for her role as beloved Rita Bennett on Showtime’s award-winning series Dexter. Benz recurred on the CBS medical drama A Gifted Man, and also starred in the TNT movie Ricochet. She also appeared on ABC’s No Ordinary Family, followed by a stint on Desperate Housewives. Throughout her career, Benz has starred in an array of cult classics including Buffy the Vampire SlayerAngel and Roswell, as well as the Steven Spielberg-produced alien abduction miniseriesTaken.

Defiance - Season 1

The wife of Datak Tarr, one of the most powerful men in Defiance, Stahma is beautiful and loyal, the perfect picture of a Castithan wife. Beneath the surface, however, lies a dark side that is ready to break from the traditional roles assigned her by her caste.

DatakTarr is the primary figure in Defiance’s underworld, running everything from gambling to weapons smuggling and organized crime. True to his Castithan ways, Datak is always on the lookout for opportunities that allow him to get his hooks into people so he can later manipulate them to his own ends.

Defiance - Season 1

Tony Curran rose to fame in the BBC series This Life. Since then, the actor has appeared in a number of major film and television roles, including The Invisible ManThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Guillermo de Toro’s Blade II. Curran is a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Jaime Murray was born in London, England and named for Lindsay Wagner’s character in The Bionic Woman. She is best known for playing Stacie Monroe in the BBC series Hustle and Lila Tournay in season two of the Showtime series,Dexter. She has also had recurring roles as H.G. Wells in Syfy’sWarehouse 13, Gaia in the Starz series Spartacus: Gods in the Arena and Olivia Charles in The CW series Ringer.

Defiance - Season 1

Rafe McCawley is Defiance’s richest and most powerful human – a mine owner whose family has been in this territory for generations. Raised by a tough-as-nails father, Rafe disobeyed his father’s wishes and enlisted. After the Pale Wars, he took his wife and burgeoning family back to his home of St. Louis, now barely recognizable due to terraforming. He longs for the world as it was before the Votans arrived.

Graham Greene’s screen debut was in 1983’s Running Brave, but it was his Academy Award-nominated role as Kicking Bird in the 1990 film Dances With Wolves that brought him stardom. This role was followed by appearances in such films as ThunderheartBenefit of the Doubt, and Maverick, as well as the TV series Northern Exposure. Green also acted alongside Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in the 1995 film Die Hard With a Vengeance and played a Death Row inmate in the Oscar-nominated The Green Mile.

The Alien Races of Defiance

Defiance - Season 1


The indogenes are a technically-minded race who augment their bodies with cybernetic implants. They value science above all else and make excellent scientists and doctors. Since most Indogenes stayed on the Arks in orbit, they are among the fewest in number of the Votan races on earth.

Defiance - Season 1


They are among the most common race Votan race on earth. They are a tribal race who pride themselves on their low tech hand-to hand combat skills and are a deeply spiritual race.

Defiance - Season 1


Catithans are an aristocratic and ethereal race. They perceive themselves as the most important species on Earth and have made use of their cunning intelligence and ambition to excel in social situations. It is rumored that they dominate the leadership in the Votanis Collective. Castithans belong to a rigid caste system that determines tehir social status from birth.

Bottom line is, Defiance is a must see series that could create a whole new generation of cult following for Syfy. Checkout another preview below and don’t miss Defiance when it airs April 15th only on Syfy.

Founder and managing editor for Three If By Space. A Sci-Fi Geek who loves shows like Dr. Who, BSG, Caprica, Falling Skies, Terra Nova and much more. Loves to write about anything science fiction or fantasy. His sole mission is to help increase the awareness of online media and their influence on the media world and to expose its importance to an ever changing industry.

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