History Rhymes is a rollicking ride of excellent one liners and meaty dialogue opening scene to end credits. The Defiance writers team deserve additional applause this week. My favorite episode this season top to bottom. My favorite episode to date.
Please enjoy my favorite lines to kick off this review. Each is worth a reaction, pause, and rewind.
“It’s okay Jon Stewart says they’re friendly.” Young Joshua Nolan.
“But is the Omec dead? No. He’s at home smelling my wife on his fingers and chuckling how he cuckolded Datak Tarr.” Datak
“Grandma Stahma loves purple-enchanter penis so much…” Datak
“Contrary to what you think darling, you chivo is not magic.” Datak
“Well the daily special seems to be scrambled brains.” Doc Yewll
“You see I was going to kill you slowly. I like a little bit of foreplay.” Doc Yewll
Skillful writing laced with humor adds depth and connecting points to characters in a well paced action filled hour. I especially appreciate the use of cuckold to perfection.
Onto the nuts and bolts of this episode.
Linked by Ark technology, dreamy emotionally charged shared memories between Nolan and Irisa expose difficult hidden truths. Flashing back to the war post alien invasion, we see the untimely death of Nolan’s sister Rebecca because he hesitated to kill first. A decisive moment in young Nolan’s development. His initial inaction is the transformative moment leading him to being the killing machine we know. The next linked sequence gives a peek into the relationship he had with very young Irisa. He kills one of her own in front of her, he trains her to be a killer alongside him. She is impressionable and emotionally unsettled. His callousness drives the young teen Irisa to attempt murdering Nolan in his sleep. Their complicated adoptive father/daughter relationship grows ever more so. They need each other. They love each other. They loathe each other. Sounds like most parents and children at one time or another.
While sharing these memories, both Nolan and Irisa, in reality are at death’s door. Doc Yewll discovers the Ark technology not only biologically tethered them together in the life pod but they must be in physical proximity to each other to stay alive. Hence the headaches and seizures with their physical separation. Berlin is rightfully freaked out when Amanda asks her to find Irisa since she left her on the ground to die. Lucky girl Irisa was still alive. They both stabilize once back in proximity to each other. Clever Yewll knows how to save them, but requires Omec technology to do so. Considering that Nolan and Amanda forcibly stole tissue from Yewll to save Kindzi, there’s some well placed awkwardness in the asking. Kindzi allowing the Doc access to the technology angers dear old dad, T’evgin, but the prize of Yewll’s network is a bonus. Doubtful Kindzi will follow daddy’s orders and destroy it. T’evgin better watch out, he taught his daughter very well. I predict, this departure of agreement will be part of their downfall. With the Ark tech merely repaired, they must maintain a close distance foiling Irisa’s plans to leave.
Going rounds like boxers in the marital ring. Jealousy and insults fly (see above quotes) from Datak to Stahma. These two play off of each other beautifully. Beat to beat the acting is seamless. The raw passionate anger and passive-aggressive barbs transition to calm diffused strategizing. It feels quite realistic. The subtle richness of these characters shine week to week. Grab a bowl of popcorn and be deliciously engrossed by their dysfunctional and mission focused relationship. Stahma urges Datak to trust her. She assures him her relationship with T’evgin will be in the best interest of saving Alak. Stahma moves ahead with her plans. In wily form tries to lure T’evgin into helping her free Alak from Rahm Tak via sex and verbal manipulation. His bait biting is tenuous at best. Datak might be correct that her chivo is not magic. A storyline that most assuredly will be played out in the weeks to come. Datak is jealous and not convinced of his wife’s path. He still plans on trying to shoot T’evgin as ordered. The “sneaky bitch” foiled him. They won this episode for me without a doubt.
The final turn of importance, is Alak finally having a show of strength and power. A timely maturation with all he has been through, losing his wife, child, and being held prisoner by Rahm Tak. Ever opportunistic like his parents, the brutality of dismembering dead humans is made simpler when he finds a knife on one of the corpses. A plan formulates. It is a triumphant moment when he escapes the camp. Alak grew a pair and got the job done. I like this Alak much better than whiny indecisive Alak of yesterday. His return home only momentarily heartening for Stahma. He is fueled by anger toward her for killing his wife. He knows not she killed in order to save Datak and his baby. This my friends, gives us this week’s cliffhanger.
This series is in full stride. The characters are well-rounded and have layers to peel back. The visual effects are lively and sometimes unexpected. The writing team is showing a bravery and fearlessness with where they are willing to take the twists and turns. This is not a safe or shiny place in time to be, yet it is ever beguiling.
All photos belong to Syfy.
Defiance airs on Syfy, Fridays at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central