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Reviews: Defiance: "The Bride Wore Black" Review

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Defiance: "The Bride Wore Black" Review

Darkness overtook Defiance this week as a murder mystery threatened to derail a big wedding.

This week's episode of Defiance finally delivered on the big McCawley/Tarr family wedding that the series has been building towards all season. But despite the happy occasion, this was quite possibly the darkest episode of Defiance to date. A murder mystery was the catalyst for a great deal of character conflicts, sinister flashbacks, and even more murders as a result. Dark, perhaps, but this was also easily the strongest episode yet.

Early on the series frustrated me somewhat because, while there was never a shortage of character building material for the big players (Nolan, Irisa, Datak, etc.), most of the supporting cast seemed to be left by the wayside. Even Mayor Rosewater rarely seemed to receive the sort of deep focus needed to turn her into a fully realized character with wants and needs and flaws. The novel flashback format in this episode went a long way towards addressing those problems for multiple characters. Tommy benefited from this episode more than anyone. We learned about his past as an illiterate card hustler and the one act of kindness that set him on a better path. I liked that Tommy's loyalty to the late Hunter Bell served as a driving force throughout the investigation, and that said loyalty set him apart from the rest of the cast. The flashback repeatedly showed why various the characters would have reason to kill Bell. It was nice to see one character who had reason to revere him.

One element of Tommy's conflict I wish the episode had explored a bit more is his tension with Nolan. Almost immediately after learning about the circumstances that led to him becoming a lawmaker, it occurred to me that Tommy must harbor some amount of resentment against Nolan for showing up and taking charge out of the blue. Nolan has only been in town for a few months, whereas Tommy has spent six years honing his craft. There were a few spot where that tension seemed to leak through as Tommy became exasperated with Nolan's lack of dedication to the case. But this is a dynamic I hope we see explored in more depth down the road.

[Image: Defiance-62-550x365.jpg]

The flashbacks were a boon for several other characters as well. We learned about more past drama between the Rosewater sisters and that Kenya was the victim of an abusive marriage. For a while I honestly thought Amanda would be revealed as the killer. We also saw the origins of the Rafe McCawley/Datak Tarr rivalry. As it turns out, both men started out on friendly terms, motivated by a mutual dislike and distrust of Bell. As prickly as the two are in the present, one can only assume that Datak sometimes overcompensates because Rafe is one of the few people that knew him before his rise to power and glory within Defiance.

It was a lot of fun to watch the two characters square off in the present. Rafe finally connected the dots and realized why Datak was so willing to allow his son to marry one of the damned, smelly "pink skins." And when Datak learned that Rafe had already taken steps to protect his mines from a Tarr takeover, he responded in his usual manipulative fashion. Datak talks a big game about honor and tradition, but this episode once again hammered home the idea that he's just obsessively self-interested at the end of the day. His narrowly averted physical showdown with Rasfe was also entertaining. Rafe was nothing if not a bad-ass throughout the episode, brandishing firearms and generally putting the bad guys in their place. The question is how swift and damaging Datak's revenge will be.

Ultimately, the episode revealed that Nicky Riordan was the culprit. No real surprise there considering her track record on the series so far. But there were plenty of surprises that accompanied this revelation. This episode delved heavily into last week's cliffhanger that Riordan and Doc Yewll were once co-conspirators, a relationship that included covering up Bell's murder. Not only that, but Riordan is actually an Indogene in human disguise. As if those twists weren't enough, the episode climaxed with Riordan being outsmarted and killed by Yewll. I certainly wasn't expecting that turn of events. As much as I'll be sorry to see Riordan gone, the twist was a major boost for Yewll, who has really only started to come into her own in the last couple weeks

But the episode wasn't a complete downer, as Rafe was able to talk some sense into Alak and the wedding commenced. There were some genuinely sweet moments between various characters during this scene, especially as Irisa showed up to savor the occasion with Tommy. The fact that she still snuck a few weapons into the ceremony was a nice touch. I only wish we had gotten to see a little of the reception. As fond as this show is of post-climax musical sequences, I would have thought a scene of all the attendees dancing to some early 21st Century rock music would have been a natural choice. But I suppose the Castithen choir filled the quota as far as music for the week. In any case, with a hefty dose of darkness and some strong character growth on various fronts, this episode really showcased Defiance's storytelling potential.
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