I’ve been watching this show. I find it fascinating. It’s not for everyone. Nearly every character has some major flaws that makes them almost unlikeable. They also have some pretty charismatic actors to portray them. Some trade off.
This idea of a show on an Earth that is no longer like the Earth we see around us. That some characters still remember as the lavish world of comfort is pretty damn interesting. Lots of in-jokes that date the characters “If you don’t play “shiny happy people” you’re fired.”
Our human leaders – White, Native American, White – Ironic that the NA is the one with the biggest hate-on for the other races.
The premise is that sometime in the near future aliens come. They’ve fled their home system because a rogue star colliding with their home star was going to kill them all. So, five races held their own versions of lottery/selective passage/snuck aboard and set off for the nearest habitable planet. They had all sorts of tools to make the transition to a new system easier. Namely Terra-forming technology. Naturally, there’s a war because we don’t want them here. Ships get destroyed, terra-forming do-dads get loose on earth. The entire landscape changes. Literally. All Over The Earth.
In this world of the aftermath. After the wars are over. After the races have decided to get on with their lives. After. After. After. The survivors are trying to keep themselves alive. They’re using wreckage of the ships, rubble of cities and the scraps of the world before to move on. Adults remember the worlds that were but the children have never known anything different from the desert wasteland that is Earth.
Humans have their baggage. The aliens have their baggage. All the baggage gets in the way of the cooperation of the races. Sound a tad familiar?
I find myself getting lost in thought a lot while watching the show. Just watching how the races interact with each other. The war has come and gone and the survivors are trying to survive but they keep making the mistakes that we’ve tried to overcome.
The episode I watched today dealt with plague and racism. Every episode deals with racism.
Irisa, the Irathient, raised by a human because crappy parents are a universal issue.
They gathered all the members of one race, the Irathients, in the town and stuck them in the mines. One of these unfortunate individuals stated “You know they’re going to gas us.” Or something to that effect.
Makes me wonder why we don’t learn. Ever. I mean we’re forced to read about atrocities in school. We remember the ones that are the most horrific, the most talked about. Everyone can tell you something about the Holocaust and American Slavery. Some people will be able to give you some tidbits about the Trail of Tears. Almost no one I know can tell you anything about the “deportations” of Mexicans through out time. Sure, sure, recent history but back when Texas was a newly claimed territory, the natives were sent “home” to a land most of them had never known. No one talks about that. It’s still a pretty hot button issue.
If you don’t think so, just watch me go when I’ve been waiting in line with racist rednecks for any length of time. They love to ask me where I’m from and they get pissy when my answer never changes. I’m from Texas. My folks are from Texas, their folks are from Texas, mostly. One of my grandmothers is from Colorado. One of her parents is from Mexico. My dad’s father’s people… about eight generations ago, came over on a boat. From Spain. The wife in that duo was from France but one of her folks was from England.
See, I’m just as mixed up as everyone else in this country. I get a lot of shit cause my skin is brown. Also… I have to check like three boxes on any census because there is no single box for me. (Native American, Hispanic-Mexican, this last one is usually a two-parter).
So, maybe I identity with the issues that are on parade every week on Sci-Fi… or SyFy. SyFy is a stupid name for a network, by the way. It makes me sad that the reason I love this show so much is that it seems to be a pretty accurate depiction of what would happen if we were given more people to hate. It’s not like we’re all that friendly to the people we’ve already got on this planet, forget adding some more.
Castithans who, guess what, are run by a caste system which has not had a lower class caste in millenia.
Every week, someone is hating on the Irathients and the Castithans feel snubbed and put upon because no one cares how important they used to be. Everyone lives in the dirt. THOUGH, the Castithans seem to have the richest digs I’ve ever seen. The upper-caste Castithans, that is. Everyone else lives in hovels.
Occasionally, we meet some of the ‘lesser’ races who just kind of go with the flow.
Sensoths are long-lived, strong and steady and don’t seem to give a shit about everyone else’s politics.
Liberata are the long-suffering servants of the universe, serving in order to atone for the greedy atrocities of their racial past. Not at all cryptic.
Indogenes are technologically advanced. You name it, they built it… and some other things you have no idea about.
Not all of it is about surviving each other. The war left some things behind. Weapons and things people would rather forget. Imagine if cockroaches mutated so that they not only carried disease but could grow to elephant size and chew through you if they felt like it? I know! Or the biological experiments created for warfare were found to have sentience and could not be simply decommissioned? I know! I did mention that some races snuck aboard ships? Yeah. Gremlins with a sense of purpose in destroying everything.
Biomen – Earth Defense project with no one left to manage.
Volge are the assholes of the new world. They just love tearing shit apart. You name and they were probably part of destroying it.
No Sci-Fi show is without its cliches but I really do like shows that are grounded. I love that this show is on Earth. Just like Earth: Final Conflict which had aliens arrive in a peaceful manner, to an Earth in a not too far off future, only to be subverted by the politics of alien history and warfare. Firefly that was gone and removed from Earth-that-was but held people living like people Old Western-style and also in highly advanced arenas because we all know that wealth is not universal.
Farmers, miners, prostitutes, lawmen. Rollers, coaches. Hellbugs, Volge attacks. Spirit Riders of two varieties. Castithans of multiple castes, a wide range of Earth politicians (complete with an evil bitch). It can be confusing. Understanding the entire show is not possible without a crib sheet. Enjoying it on a weekly basis is still possible.
Nolan, the human-former soldier, raising his teenage daughter Irisa, an Irathient rescued from a cult, is all perfect normal television these days. Irisa trying to understand a heritage she doesn’t know is extremely relevant these days. The McCawley-Tarr power struggles are pretty awesome since the daughter of the one and the son of the other are in love. The mad hate-on those families have for each other is pretty awesome (I always love me some Graham Greene). The lovely mayor is the older sister of the sultry madame and both are pretty taken with the new lawkeeper. The town doc has her secrets. The former mayor is in on some conspiracy. The McCawleys are up to their ears in mystery. The Tarrs are dying to get all the power they can. Earth Republic wants the mines and they don’t like the mayor.
Diseases and cult religions. Fanatics. Strange customs. Sounds like any major city on Earth now.
Heroes are in small supply.
Fear is always under the surface.
Doing what is right has changed.
It is cheesy on most occasions. Irathients come off as very gypsy-like in some episodes, other episodes American Tribe-like and always war-like. Stereotypes run rampant. All you have to do is look and you can figure out who ranks above who. It is entertaining. I stress this because we tend to pick shows apart mercilessly and forget their purpose.
There are loads of shows that I don’t watch because if I wanted to watch that, I’d step outside and participate in the nonsense outside my front door and I’d laugh a whole lot less. I tend to park in front of Sci-Fi shows, Spy shows and serial killer shows. Does it help that I can learn and think while watching a show? Yes, it does.
Defiance is a television show on SyFy and owned by NBC Universal. All images were found at SyFy.com.