TV Review | Defiance 2.08 ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’

Defiance 2.08 ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’
Original UK Airdate: 6th November 2014

The Votanis Collective plan to set off a suitcase nuke in New York City (‘Cos that’s what they do), and the E-Rep arrest Mahsuvus, one of Amanda’s ‘night porters,’ and Datak’s contact within the VC. Nolan (who seems to have gone to the same interrogation school as Jack Bauer) begins to torture him for information when Amanda gets a phone call from a man who is holding her sister Kenya hostage. Yep, it appears that Stahma didn’t kill Kenya afterall, and the younger Rosewater sister has managed to get herself kidnapped by the VC. Amanda must bust Mahsuvus free, or Kenya will be killed. Presumably actually killed this time.
When Mahsuvus doesn’t crack, Mercado orders the use of an EGO extracting device. It’ll simply lift all information out of Mahsuvus’ head, but will kill him as a result. Stahma points out to Datak that if this happens its likely that the pair of them and Rafe will be executed for collusion.

The first twenty minutes which set all of this up are pretty much perfect, and the best patch of television that the show has done so far. The quality dips after that, but this remains a compelling episode.

Defiance 2.08

Amanda confides in Nolan and he comes up with a plan to use their short range communication devices to triangulate the location of Kenya’s kidnapper. Irisa goes off into the wilderness to this end, experiences a vision and stops her vehicle in convenient walking distance from the the campsite of the woman she attacked back in 2.01. From this point on it is entirely obvious where the rest of this episode plot is taking her, as everyone else she has ‘attacked,’ and people that her victims have also ‘attacked,’ all turn up at the camp. Irzu tells Irisa that it’s time for the Arkrise to begin.

After Irisa meets her first victim, Kenya tries to escape. She gets free of her shackles all too easily and then gets into a fight with her captor, who is suspiciously alone (moreso since as we discover that he does have back-up later on). While their fight is mainly well choreographed, her victory over him relies on him having his head stuck under a car bonnet for no reason whatsoever. Seriously, watch the fight back. She runs, he bends over and throws her over his shoulder, she lands on the car windscreen and then he appears to helpfully stick his head under the car bonnet so she can stomp on it and K.O him. It makes ZERO sense.

Also I feel a little drama was lost as soon as Mercado announces he has a device which can simply extract the thoughts from Mahsuvus. The drama was in Nolan trying to get the man to talk before the nuke goes off or before Amanda springs him. The writers tried to artificially reinsert drama by saying the procedure will kill the man, but the drama was lost as soon as the E-Rep can just simply take whatever information they need.

It was fun to see Amanda working against Nolan for once, and the scene where she convinces Doc. Yewll that she’s still an addict so she can swipe some drugs to help her in her plan to free Mahsuvus was a great touch.

The first twenty minutes were just so well written. Nolan and Irisa’s conversation was both funny and heartfelt; and the scene in the torture room between Nolan and Mahsuvus was a superbly crafted and well acted exchange. The script also allowed great little character touches for Berlin, Tommy, Datak and Stahma.

I’m going to give it the extra ½ mark because even if the episode didn’t quite manage to live up to the set-up, the set-up was superb. I’ve felt for a long time that Defiance was almost the next must-watch science fiction show, it was almost unmissable television. A few more episodes like this, without the minor niggle, and Defiance will finally reach that potential.

4.5/5

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