Films and video games never seem to get along. When one is made to complement the other, it’s either a rush to get it out of the gate to double dip on the profits or the story is completely bastardized to the point where the only thing the two share is in the name. Enter Defiance- a TV series and video game combination that is trying to break the boundaries of interaction between two mediums in a way that hasn’t been attempted yet. In simplest terms, what happens in the show will have indirect consequences on quests that happen in the game. I’m still trudging my way though the game, so I thought I would review the pilot episode of the show first. Luckily, due to an error on Amazon’s part, I was able to watch the entire episode on their instant video before the show aired. Was it any good? Well, it definitely isn’t a load of Shtako.
• Director: Michael Nankin
• Exhibition: TV
• Rating: TV-14
• Run Time: Pilot: 1Hr 25Min
This review will be as spoiler free as I can manage so you’ll be able to gauge your interest if you want to actually watch it or not. If you have played the game already, you’ll be familiar with the first two main characters you see in the show, Nolan and Irisa, who were last seen heading towards St. Louis from San Francisco. The entire 14 minute opening scene does an excellent job setting up the feel of the world and the relationship between the two characters- a father, daughter type set up. The technology is in stark contrast between the rundown humanity pieces alongside the collective Votan race. Despite taking place entirely on Earth (for now) the universe has a weird Firefly vibe to it both due to the technology and the characters.
I know post-apocalyptic feel with futuristic technology isn’t new or exclusive to Firefly. However, Defiance pulls it off rather well. Nolan is your standard rogue-like character with his quick tongue and even quicker actions. Throughout the episode, he shows he isn’t afraid to get into or start fights. He’s definitely one of those shoot first, ask questions later kind of guys when it comes to dealing with shady characters. Irisa complements him well in her eagerness to stab someone with one of her numerous hidden knives. However, quite like Mal in Firefly or Han Solo in Star Wars, Nolan doesn’t shy away from helping random strangers when the time comes. Multiple times during the episode he came to the aid of complete strangers, whether the asked for help or not. Irisa reluctantly helps, only if because they rarely ever do something completely out of the kindness of their hearts. Since they are essentially traveling scavengers, Nolan and Irisa tend to be broke more often than not. Ultimately, almost every action they take is a calculated one in how to make some quick money. This also gets them into a mess of trouble frequently, as evidently seen throughout the episode. What that may be, you’ll have to see for yourself.
Now, these aren’t the only main characters in the show. Being a sci-fi show, there are at least a half dozen races, each with their own unique appearances and main characters. This is great as it allows for countless side stories to be told that don’t always have to revolve around Nolan and Irisa. However, despite each race looking unique, it’s hard to remember everyone’s name and race. In fact, Irisa is a part of one of the alien races called the Irathients, which are one of the 2 most human-like races. The only real distinguishing features is the broader nose-bridge and brightly colored eyes. They live a more rugged live, preferring the wilderness to the civilization life. The other race, the Castithans, are essentially incredibly pale humans, and are known for their politics and beauty. No, you aren’t crazy. These two races seem awfully similar to Dwarves and Elves respectively. I wouldn’t count that as a negative as I enjoyed watching the differences between all the races, even though they are quite similar to fantasy races.
There are some other minor alien races too, however, they were not as heavily introduced as the Irathients and Castithans. That was probably for the best as enough information was already being delivered about the universe in the single episode. To go more in depth with the other races would have been too much. It was still a bit confusing to figure out what roles the other races had in Defiance. Hopefully more will be revealed in the coming episodes. Another thing that sticks out at times is the CGI. While some scenes look spectacular (especially one at the end), one of the creatures that Nolan fights off in the beginning looks incredibly cheesy. Luckily they were only shown for a brief moment in the entirety of the episode.
If you are a fan of Firefly, I highly recommend giving this series a try. Just the interaction between Nolan, Irisa, and the rest of the inhabitants of Defiance is enough to keep me interested. I’m also curious where the game will head once the series actually kicks off.