TV Review | Defiance 3.04 ‘Dead Air’

Defiance 3.04 ‘Dead Air’
Original UK Airdate July 16th 2015

“Despicable species, the humans, but they have rhythm.”
– General Tak

Well that was that then. The cliffhanger from last week (Datak and Stahma being ordered to destroy the arch) is resolved in the opening teaser this week as the arch goes boomf and Alak’s radio station is no more. It’s another of those GCI sequences that remind you Defiance has a budget lower than the lunch budget of a homeless person and if that moment is robbed of any real drama then the hologram message from General Tak promising immunity and peace to the Votans who surrender to him is a chilling and compelling opening as we see the seeds of division being planted between Defiance’s human and votan residents.

Nolan knows of an old armoury a long night’s drive away and thinks it’s a good idea for him and Amanda to go there alone (spoiler: it’s a bad idea) to get some weapons to defend the town and keep the peace with. He leaves Irisa alone with Berlin to try and figure out who planted the bomb (spoiler: there’s not as much fireworks here as you might expect.)

Defiance 3.04

Elsewhere Tak learns of T’evgin and instructs Mr and Lady McBeth to kill him. Stahma decides to poison him after sex, because that’s what she does.

Nolan and Amanda arrive at the base to find it run by biomen, commanded by POTTINGER!

It would have been a more dramatic, pleasing reveal were it not for the ‘previously in Defiance’ re-cap which pretty much gave the big return away. Pottinger is in sole charge of a monumentally huge weapons cahce/hideout for the human elite/underground paradise. He spins Nolan and Amanda some yarn about the E-Rep being attacked by the Votanis Collective and him being the sole survivor who, wounded, made his way here.

Of course, it’s bull. His delusions and madness have consumed him and he has Nolan imprisoned while he tries to seduce Amanda (again.)

SPOILERS (Seriously this time) BEGIN.

Nolan is imprisoned with a doctor (hope he hasn’t been introduced to replace Ywell) who is conveniently there for a spot of exposition: Pottinger has a Black-hole bomb strapped to him and if he dies the bomb goes off. From there it’s predictable stuff. Nolan escapes easily because it’s Nolan. Amanda works out Pottinger is holding them prisoner and then figures out his perverse, horrible role in her past and kills him and Nolan, Doc and Amanda have to escape before the bomb goes off.

I have mixed feelings about the use of Pottinger. He was one of Defiance’s best characters for 2/3rds of Season Two, before his character was ruined and I appreciated and enjoyed the chance for him to come back as old, for one final blaze of glory and the writing and the excellent performance of Jim Murray made it a worthy return.

But it was a final blaze of glory and another of the shows leading light characters are dead; and there is no mystery about him now: We know all about his past and Amanda knows all about his delusions and psychosis’s. And killing him off in a plot-of-the-week episode (albeit a very good one) seems a little beneath what had been a strong and central character.

Also it seems Mercado has been killed (by Pottinger) off–screen and while the death of a minor character is hardly troubling or upsetting not featuring his demise and writing hm out off-screen seems a little…flat. There is the chance the he wasn’t the “commanding officer” the new Doc was referring to, but the E-Rep don’t seem likely to be featured much any more and there’s every chance the writers have just severed the links between the town and the supporting E-Rep characters in one go.

END SPOILERS

On a side note, I really like the biomen. I wouldn’t want one as a main character but each and every single one of them featured in the show so far has been afforded little pieces of character other shows might not have given them and have all been played well. They’re great side-kicks and comedy relief every now and again and Dead Air’s “Fab Four” are no exception.

And while it was predictable how the Stahma-T’evgin story would play out this week it was enjoyable and fun and Conrad Coates is a fine addition to the cast.

Oh, also Nolan and Irisa have progressively worse headaches this episode, linked to their time in stasis between seasons and both fit and collapse at the end. That’s the hard sell for next week’s episode.

WAIT A MINUTE!? Didn’t T’evgin have a daughter earlier this season?

The Verdict: While it all serves the season-arc; this is the most stand-alone episode of Season Three so far and the most predictable but this is exactly the sort of episode that Defiance has been hit and miss with in its previous years. Dead Air remains a very fun watch with little of the conveniences and lazy plotting that has been the stumbling block of Defiance in the past. The run of good episodes to start the new series continues.

4/5

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