Defiance 2.11 ‘Doll Parts’
Original UK Airdate: 27th November 2014
In America Doll parts was aired back-to-back with last weeks episode, ‘Bottom of the World’, the belief being that the two episodes worked far better together than apart, and Doll Parts is certainly a direct follow-on.
It begins with what we’ve known was coming for a few weeks now – the death of Treasure Doll aka Deirdre, who gets herself thrown off the Gateway Arch. Nolan is speeding off to help Irisa, so he deputises Amanda – who sees entirely fine after her ordeal down the mine – to investigate. You assume that Datak or Stahma are involved somewhere, and the beauty is they assume the other one is responsible. Stahma’s reaction when the penny drops as to who is actually the killer is a fantastic moment.
Yes, it’s Christy, who’s certainly come a long way from the meek girl-next-door of 1.01. She discovers the truth about Treasure Doll and Alak’s affair when the former tries to poison her and gets into a fight which results in Deirdre’s deadly fall. She’s now completely a Tarr…
While Defiance has generally done a commendable job of rounding and humanising it’s character,s Treasure Doll was more interesting when she was just a psychopathic prostitute and the attempts to normalise her – and entirely event a friendship with Amanda – through a series of flashbacks is not too successful.
After a stand-off with Nolan, conveniently and for no reason, Tommy’s body rejects ‘Urzu’s’ gift and he becomes regular old Tommy again. Nolan believes that Irisa and her people are simply being controlled by some alien AI tech. He teams up with Tommy to break Irisa free of its grasp by using a device which will scramble the power of the AI long enough to break Irisa free.
It’s inevitable that this plan will go wrong somewhere, especially since as Nolan seems to have no clue what to do after (and also because there are two episodes left….), but rather than rumbling his plan it works, only for Irisa to reawaken in the car journey back to Defiance. You have a bad feeling for Tommy as soon as he and Nolan kiss and make up (figuratively, not literally) but it’s still a shock and a horrible (in a good way) moment when, after having crashed the car, Irisa stabs him and leaves him for dead, allowing Doll Parts to end with Nolan dragging him on a sledge down a snowy road.
Some great moments then, but Doll Parts does feel a little padded out, especially through the baby-doll flashbacks, and it is probably better served as the second half of Bottom of the World.
At the start of Season Two, the writers made an extended, concerted effort to add meat to the flesh of its characters and I can’t help but feel that the Irisa/Urzu/The Rapture arc continues to take away from that. Great drama comes from conflict with great characters, and yes okay, this is a sci-fi show and there’s a story about mind-controlling alien tech, fine, but it’s a story which seems to remove a lot of that conflict (Irisa fighting Urzu’s control was interesting, Irisa the happily mind controlled pawn isn’t); and it’s a story which seems to separate itself from the cast of great characters back in Defiance. Okay, so only Stahma is truly great by modern TV standards, but Datak and Pottinger (missing again) run close as do Rafe and Amanda on their days.
The start of Season Two seemed to be building a resistance story pitting the occupying E-Rep force against selected members of the town and that would have been a far more rich arc, I believe, full of human drama, sacrifice, a look at how far people are prepared to go for their freedom and beliefs and the dilemma’s of people who could have come down on either side. That could still be the main arc for season three, but right now the E-Rep are about as dangerous as a plastic knife.
Anyway, I’ve become side-tracked. Reservations about the overall arc aside, you could have made a great (if slightly long) episode out of the last two.