Last night, Syfy finally revealed their massive sci-fi project, Defiance, which attempts to combine the world of television with the world of video games, to build a complete universe for audiences to immerse themselves in. Will Syfy’s impressive venture pay off for the network? Will Defiance be a hit, or soon canceled?
Defiance follows Nolan (Grant Bowler), a former Marine turned wander – and his adopted Irathient daughter, Irisia – who after being stripped of all their belongings while savaging a fallen Votan Ark, are rescued and brought to the city once called St. Louis, now called Defiance. Inside Defiance, an energized stasis net protects its inhabitants – humans and Votans – from any outside threat. But even as new Mayor of Defiance, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz), attempts to climb of out the shadow of her predecessor, Nicky Riordon (Trenna Keating), a trusted insider betrays the city, forcing its citizens to come together in order to protect their own existence.
The series, created sci-fi favorite Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape, SeaQuest), is, as one expects from someone of O’Bannon’s caliber, thoroughly engrossing and beautifully realized. From its unique and memorable characters (of both species) to its futuristic twists on familiar elements of modern society, O’Bannon, along with producers Kevin Murphy (Caprica, Reaper) and Michael Taylor (Battlestar Gallactica, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), have created a series where viewers are, at every turn, introduced to new and thoroughly fascinating elements of Defiance which, along with the accompanying video game, establishes the fact that they’ve just touched the surface of what the actual series mythology holds. What more could a sci-fi fan ask for?
Inside Defiance, the city, too, contains its own cornucopia of impressively defined characters: Datak Tarr (Tony Curran), the wealthy Castithan co-founder of Defiance; Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), the proverbial “working man” and owner of the largest mine in the area; Nicky Riordon, the former Mayor with an agenda; Amanda Rosewater, the new Mayor trying desperately to unite Defiance’s citizens; and Doc Yewll (Trenna Keating), an Indogene doctor who is he series’ break-out character.
In the two-hour premiere, everything that’s needed to build a foundation for the series is essentially represented: villainous outsiders, an expansive race of aliens, infighting amongst Defiance’s citizens, hidden backstories, secret vengeance, an epic battle and the heroic newcomers everyone has to learn to trust. In many ways, those who are familiar with the sci-fi genre already had a good idea of what they were likely to see.
What separates Defiance from many other television series that have come and gone, however, is the fact that its vast yet contained universe and riveting characters – like Doc Yewll – serve to breathe new life in these familiar genre elements, elevating them. Though Defiance may have a slight hint of former sci-fi hits in it, the series currently has no equal; whatever post-apocoplic and/or alien invasion and/or future series there is currently on the air, Defiance bests them all. (Notwithstanding Doctor Who – but that’s an entirely different type of show; in this case think NBC’s Revolution for comparison.)
But in the end it’s up to you, the viewers, to decide Defiance’s fate – so we ask:
Defiance returns next Monday with “The Devil in the Dark” @9pm on Syfy. You can check out the pilot in its entirety below: