Defiance Review: “Ostinato in White”

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Here’s my review of Defiance season three episode “Ostinato in White.” 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.

There was a plot in “Ostinato in White,” something about mysterious attacks and Doc Yewll’s increasingly hard life, but none of that was quite as interesting as the emotional performances in this episode. There were a multitude of excellent character moments scattered about as all the characters dealt with the aftermath of the averted attack by Rahm Tak. This is the most shaken we’ve ever scene the town of Defiance and that’s what makes the episode so fascinating to watch.

We’ve known from previous seasons that Defiance is a town that doesn’t give up. They’re named that way to show how “defiant” they are in the face of adversity. Earth went through a rough time when the V.C. came in and half-terraformed the planet, but eventually everyone worked out a new normal to live. They’re survivors. Through hardships they become stronger. But what’s interesting here is the idea that averting disaster is actually harder to deal with. Last week, we wrapped up the major story of the season before the season was actually over, so I wondered where they would go from there. Surprisingly, the “Big Bad” and his army were incinerated before they pulled the town into all out war. The only real casualties were the few hostages at the NeedWant and the militia members who got blown up. So in the end, the town got prepared for a struggle they never really faced. Instead of being “survivors,” they just merely continued on with their everyday lives.

And this is why the fallout from last week’s episode becomes so interesting, especially when it comes to Nolan. His backstory is well-established: the ruthless soldier, the hardened lawkeeper. He’s always had a “suck it up and move on” attitude, but not this time. His trusting mistake led to the loss of their militia and he has a hard time dealing with that. It’s a side of Nolan we haven’t really seen before and it’s fascinating to see how it parallels with Irisa’s story earlier this season. The tables have turned. But I like how this has brought them closer together. A few episodes ago, Irisa wanted to leave, have some space, but now she gives him a heartfelt hug, understanding his pain. Nolan doesn’t even have to finish what he was going to say. That moment demonstrated everything they felt much more effectively than any long discussion would have.

The storyline between grieving Nolan and grieving Indur was some of the most heartbreaking of this season. Again, the theme of parenting is an important one as it has been all season. This time we are confronted with a father losing his son. It’s depressing to watch but also interesting to see Nolan try to help him even as he himself is crumbling. It feels like another personal failure when Nolan discovers that Indur had committed suicide. I think the whole storyline was handled well without being too  overdramatic. There wasn’t too much of the episode devoted to it, but the little moments counted, like Indur explaining the name of his son’s gun. I don’t think they’ll mention it too much next week, but I’m still curious to see how this well continue to affect Nolan.

There was another loss of a son and daughter this week but both were just in the metaphorical sense. Stahma’s relationship with Alak is damaged seemingly beyond repair, and T’evgin had to lock Kindzi away because she was attacking the townspeople. Again, the episode handles the emotional fallout well. With Datak gone, Stahma realizes that Alak is the only family she has left. Stahma, who is usually so calm and collected while in control, is a stark contrast from her usual self. Jaime Murray excellently portrays the sense of loss and desperation she feels. As I’ve said many times, the Tarr family has always been one of the most compelling facets of the show. In season one, they were sitting pretty as successful criminals so we were all just waiting for when things would fall apart. Will Stahma be able to have a relationship with Alak ever again? Probably not since murdering his wife isn’t exactly something you easily move past, but I’m curious to see how she’ll try. On that same note, I’m curious to see whether T’evgin and Kindzi will ever come to an agreement over their different ideals or will he just keep her locked away?

“Ostinato in White” was one of the best episodes this season since it took the time to focus on everyone’s emotional state after their narrow escape from certain doom. It was emotionally resonate and showed a lot of character personalities. This season is almost over but we’ve still got some good stuff left.

Beyond the Stasis Nets

  • The camera work here was fantastic! I love the scene of Stahma and Andina shot almost entirely in their mirror reflections. That was cool to watch. And Nolan’s blurry flashbacks to the militia seemed weirdly accurate. If you’re remembering something, it makes sense to be blurred and hard to picture completely. It’s different from how most TV shows portray it anyway.
  • Speaking of the militia, Nolan’s flashback and grief would have been more effective if we’d gotten to know all of them better before they died.
  • Poor Doc Yewll. Her life has been terrible this season. At least she still has her snark.
  • How did T’evgin get so invested in the people of Earth? #thePowerofPancakes?

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


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