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TV REVIEW: Defiance “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” Features A Welcome Returned

By on August 8, 2014

Pictured: Julie Benz as Amanda Rosewater -- Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

Defiance‘s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” was an apt title as the series awkwardly slumped its way towards what will most likely be an exciting season’s end.

The main arcs this week focused on a bomb attack against the E-Rep in New York and Irisa’s Irzu issue. While not “bad” by any means, the episode felt disjointed. Not just internally, but in relation to what has come before. It is clear we have reached the part of the second season where the writing is attempting to pull together the storylines from the first half and set up the second, however, it feels less like a transition and more like a scramble to put the pieces together. Not to mention, story lines from last week were all but abandoned and so there’s a little bit of an engagement hole where there shouldn’t be.

Whereas the storylines in main focus earlier in the season were tighter and more serialized, more recent episodes — particularly “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” — are giving off a procedural feel which is more reminiscent of season one. And while season one was good, it wasn’t great (or as great as season two), leaving storylines feeling a little less than compelling.

The E-Rep and Irzu arcs will play a large part in the season’s crescendo, but neither one has been tended to as well as say the Tarr family dynamics or Amanda’s emotional deterioration. So when this week decided to pay attention to both, it almost felt like we were watching a different show altogether. The focus swings aren’t being linked as well as they could be either, and so the last string of episodes now has an all too disjointed and overcrowded feel. Shows with a big cast and big town often struggle with this, so it’s not a surprise. Still, one can cling to the hope that this was only a bump and not a hill.

On the other hand, the episode offered us some much needed answers while raising even more (dramatically exciting) questions. We learn that the resistance against the E-Rep is quite large as in it’s working on a nationally organized level. What Rafe and Datak have gotten themselves into could either restore their places as prominent town players or… could it get them killed?

In typical Stahma fashion, she is looking out for herself. With the potential for implication/association with her husband’s resistance dealings, Stahma chooses to help him thus helping herself. It’s a move that — while seemingly smart — doesn’t go over well with her men, and could jeopardize her wavering empire. Tommy and Berlin stay busy helping the E-Rep interrogate an Irathient spy alongside Nolan, while Amanda attempts to break him free in order to save none other than her missing sister.

It’s wonderful to finally have Kenya back (and alive!), and while her return is positive for the likes of Amanda, it puts the Tarrs in an awkward place. Remember that time last season when Stahma attempted to kill Kenya? Yeah, me, you and Kenya. I’m guessing Kenya’s not about to let that go. And if Amanda finds out? Well, I’m sure that won’t go over well either.

Kenya’s return does some interesting things for Amanda though. With it it brings the possibility of a clean and together character who may not need to step into the uncomfortable and dangerous clutches of Yewll in order to get clean. At the same time, when she finds out what Stahma did (and let’s be real it’s a when not an if), she might go completely over the edge.

While I don’t like seeing Amanda fall apart, her instability has been a dramatic diamond of season two. It’s clear that she is not only resourceful, reliable and responsible. She is a survivor to her core which sometimes means we step on the darkside. Quite honestly Amanda’s had some of the strongest and most interesting development from season one to season two and I hope that no matter how the season ends, it doesn’t forget to do that growth justice.

Elsewhere, Irisa meets her Irzu fate and “the reckoning” if you will begins. It remains unclear whether this murder-rising thing is a positive for Earth, but we do know now that: 1. Irzu stays creepy no matter what she is doing or saying, and 2. Whatever is coming is gonna be BIG. It seems to be coming soon, too. One of the most anticipated aspects of Defiance’s sophomore season hasn’t had much attention paid to it, but we are finally getting to see some of the fruits of Irzu’s labor. The potential for it to cross plot arc paths with an E-Rep/Resistance battle only increases my eagerness for the action.

Next week we are set to see Kenya return to the town. Hopefully this won’t mean we have to wait another week to follow up with some of the storylines that developed this week. Let’s also cross our fingers that we get some scenes with Alak and Christie as their falling out episode was a huge focus. Oh and maybe at some point we can touch on the fact that Berlin and Nolan slept together. That might be good to touch on again.

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