Syfy’s latest Monday night drama Defiance is oddly familiar to long time viewers of the network, perhaps maybe too familiar. Defiance is Syfy’s newest “Powerful Mondays” drama to replace the beloved and well received lineup of Monday night. Set in a post apocalyptic Earth circa 2050, it centers around a refugee town filled with various survivors, both human and otherwise, of the destruction of Earth 33 years ago. It has been 33 years since the Votan, a collective of 8 different species fleeing their home system, arrived to Earth seeking refuge, and 15 years since the end of the resultant war once everyone realized that Earth would be the final tomb for all races if they continued on.
Staring Grant Bowler (Ugly Betty) as human Joshua Nolan and Stephanie Leonidas as his adopted Irathient daughter Irisa, the duo happen upon the town as they flee a bandit ambush while scavenging a derelict spaceship that crashed to Earth. Cautiously they start to integrate among the townsfolk, inspiring them and helping band them together against an even more sinister enemy bent on destroying everything in their path.
After two hours of Defiance, a few things come to mind. On the on set, the show has this strange familiarity amongst other SyFy shows. A nomadic father and daughter searching for a future end up in a strange new town full of strange new people. Neither fit in very well, but in the end the father ends up the sherif of the town tasked with protecting the inhabitants. If it sounds familiar, it should, as it’s straight up out of Eureka. Joshua Nolan even have a passing resemblance to the grittiness of Sherif Jack Carter while Irisa is a redhead teenager with a temperament like Zoe Carter.
Then if you turn around a think to yourself, this show’s deescalation seems oddly similar as well, you have to consider the thematic and stylistic inspiration of the recent Battlestar Galactica and its gritty “survivors of the end of the world” motif. There’s a western tone reminiscent of Firefly with plenty of dust, a saloon, and I’m sure to be a train robbery soon enough.
If you look at the truly mixed environment of different species, you have to look back to “Babylon 5” to see such a close knit while kept at arms length integration of characters. All species work together to survive in this harsh new world, yet deep down, there is plenty of intolerance, some of which is centered around race and some centered around pure family rivalry.
Syfy defiantly has taken the playbook of developing a series that hand picks many of the motifs fans have enjoyed over the last 15 years in science fiction television, and even more decades beyond that in terms of general literature. It’s hard to fault SyFy for going this route, as the genre in general is by far the hardest to maintain in the long run in a numbers driven environment.
Despite this though, Defiance is a promising series that hopefully doesn’t get bogged down by its own self affirmation and excessive rehash of plot we’ve seen time and time again.