Defiance Review: “Where the Apples Fell”

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Here’s my review of Defiance season three episode “Where the Apples Fell.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.

Parenthood has been a big theme this season. There has always been, of course, the father/daughter relationship between Nolan and Irisa as the backbone of the series. But this season has really kicked it up a notch. Just about every major plot point has been about the sacrifices parents make for their children. Since we focused on Nolan and Irisa last week, the focus shifts to the Tarr family in “Where the Apples Fell.” Their family dynamics have always been fascinatingly screwed up and the plot of this episode created a great opportunity to explore it.

So Alak has successfully escaped his captivity and the scene where he reunites with his family is astonishing in its brutality. No one would blame Alak, I think, for threatening Stahma since he did watch her slit his own wife’s throat. He is rightfully angry. But what is unexpected is the harsh beating Datak and Stahma give Alak in return. They’ve worked so hard to get him back, you would think they would be happy to see he’s okay. But this is where good characterization comes into play. Datak and Stahma have always been two dominant personalities warring over who gets the most power, and Alak has always been caught in the crossfire. Alak’s experiences this season have taught him how to fight back, so he doesn’t hesitate to betray their spying secret when given the chance. Defiance may be just another genre show on Syfy Channel, but you have to admit they are doing some excellent character work with their storylines this season. We’ve finally hit the point in the series where the characters are established enough to create interesting points of tension like this while still moving the plot forward.

Now that Alak is back in town, he’s confronted with the fact that he’s a single father now. Jesse Rath did an excellent job conveying Alak’s emotions when he’s first reunited with little Luke. And the scene later where he talks with Irisa demonstrates that he’s not quite prepared to raise Luke on his own, no matter how much he loves him. Of course, the scene near the end with Nolan at the bar shows how he’s dealing with the weight of responsibility. It’s excellent emotional conflict. I’m curious to see whether Alak will be a good father or will he turn into Datak.

Speaking of Datak, was anyone surprised when he pleaded for Alak while Nolan threatened him? Even after treating Alak terribly, he still cares about him. The whole scene was really well done by Tony Curran who effortlessly switches from smug to panicked to slightly unhinged hysterical laughter. It’s these kinds of scenes that keep the audience interested. There is tension and conflict and it’s intriguing to see Datak act this way. It’s a good scene because it’s so emotionally resonant and it will possibly affect how the characters react to each other in the future.

This was such a good episode because it managed to combine good character development (the Tarr family drama) with an interesting plot (finding the traitors). The characters had a chance to grow and change but that never got in the way of the action. In fact, it helped it move forward. Defiance has picked up a lot of momentum lately and I’m excited to see what will happen when Rahm Tak makes his move.

Beyond the Stasis Net

  • Speaking of Rahm Tak, how tragic is it that he’s so crazy that he killed his wife! Poor lady. And also poor kids apparently left behind in Brazil. 😦 It would be easy to make Rahm Tak and over-the-top villain, but this twist complicates his story.
  • I don’t talk about episode titles too much but I liked this one because of its reference to the old saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Nice touch.
  • Let’s not even mention the T’evgin and Kindzi reveal this week. Let’s forget that ever happened please.
  • Doc Yewll continues to be the best at snarkiness. “I hope you washed your hand. It’s flu season.”
  • The best line of the episode was actually Rahm Tak’s crazy casual: “Put on the coffee. It’s time to burn the city.”
  • Next week’s review will probably be a little bit delayed again. (And if anyone was reading my Killjoys and Dark Matter reviews, I’m sorry to say that I had to drop regular coverage of them because I don’t have enough time)

So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


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