Preview: SyFy’s Defiance


On April 15th, that’s right Tax Day, SyFy will premier its newest scripted drama, Defiance.

Defiance is set in the near future, where aliens known collectively as Votans have come to Earth seeking a new home after their star system was destroyed. However, upon reaching Earth they found that they were not welcome. The Votans waited in orbit for six years as prolonged negotiations with Earth governments for settlement on the planet ultimately proved fruitless. With supplies on their ships running low, eventually in desperation the Votans began a war with humans to force the issue and make Earth their new home. During the war, Votan ships were mysteriously destroyed and rained down on Earth; accidentally releasing terraformer technology, which made haphazard and radical changes to the biosphere and even the geology of Earth, making the planet dangerous to both humans and the aliens. The earth was scorched, chasms opened in the ground, and the surface of the planet was covered with dust and debris. After decades of war, both sides had fought to the point of mutual exhaustion, and a ceasefire was declared. Few organized governments remained for either the humans or the aliens, and both sides factionalized as their members began looking out for themselves. In several areas, local human and Votan militias began to band together when they realized that they had to cooperate if they hoped to survive on this new, almost alien planet.

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There are 8 Votan races, each evolved on a different planet in the Votan star system.  They all banded together to evacuate their star system when their sun went nova.  It took 5000 years for the Votan fleet to reach Earth; the Votans spent the journey in hypersleep.

Defiance - Season 1Castithan:  They appear very similar to humans.  Their coloration is very pale, however, verging on albinism, with pale white skin, white hair, and pale yellow eyes. The Castithan society is deeply religious and spiritual. The Castithans used to have a patriarchal, rigidly segregated caste-based society on their home planet.  The Castithan language is created by linguist David J. Peterson, developer of the Dothraki language used in Game of Thrones.



Defiance - Season 1Indogene: Are most technologically advanced Votan race. They have bright white skin and no visible hair follicles. Their heads are hairless and smooth; their external ears don’t really protrude, smoothly merging with the rest of the head. They have hexagonal shaped irises, and their skin is covered in faint hexagon-shaped scales; even their written language is based on hexagon shapes. As the most scientifically advanced Votan race, they have been upgraded with numerous genetic and cybernetic implants (which are often not externally visible).


Defiance - Season 1Irathient: Their coloration is more similar to humans than the pale Castithans, with brightly colored hair and white markings on their faces (which might be cultural decoration, not biological). However, the proportions of their facial features are slightly different from humans (and the human-like Castithans), with a wider bridge of the nose arcing towards the eyes, and very large multi-colored irises. David J. Peterson also developed the full Irathient language.


Liberata: are slightly shorter than humans, with blockier facial features and have long scruffy yellow hair.  They are described as a servant –class.

Sensoth: are slightly taller than humans, and basically resemble a large orangutang.

Gulanee: are an energy based race

Volge: are a militant race of automatons, disliked by the other Votan races

The eighth Votan race is believed to have died out when the Votan star system was destroyed, but I imagine they will show up at some point.


We come into Defiance 33 years after Arkfall, so our new Earth and its rules are fairly well established.  The younger members of the story were born into this new world, while anyone middle aged or older has clear memories of how the world used to be.


Most people of all the Earth and Votan races get along fairly well, and just want to live their lives, you know kind of like your average person nowadays.  But as with our current world you do still find a fair amount of bigotry and misunderstandings, as well as a few people that are just out to get more money and power than they should have.

Defiance - Season 1

We start off following Jeb Nolan and Irisa played by Grant Bowler and Stephanie Leonidas respectively.  They have a good chemistry and play well off each other.  In fact the main cast is all excellent.  We have Fionnula Flannagan (Lost) as the retired mayor of Defiance, Julie Benz (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dexter, No Ordinary Family) as Amanda Rosewater the current Mayor of Defiance, and Graham Green as Rafe McCawley.  Then on top of that you have Vincent Van Gogh married to H.G. Wells.  You read that right Tony Curran (Doctor Who, Underworld, The Pillars of the Earth) plays Datak Tarr, and Jaime Murray (Warehouse 13, Spartacus) plays Stahma Tarr.  There is no denying , this is an excellent cast of regulars to build a series off of.

Defiance - Season 1

The Tarr’s relationship is very interesting.  They are both Castithans who have a rigidly segregated caste-based society, but Stahma is clearly from the upper class and Datak obviously worked or rather killed his way to the upper class.  Their society is also patriarchal in nature.  Datak due to his mafia like business and his status cannot be seen to be week, or have his wife do his thinking for him.  On the other hand after seeing the first few episodes Stahma is clearly the brains of the operation, and has figured out exactly how to get Datak to do precisely what she wants, and make Datak think it was his idea in the first place.  I love watching this kind of manipulation go on.


For the most part you get this kind of outpost feeling going on with Defiance.  It’s just a little town out in the middle of nowhere with little to no communication with the outside world.  There is mention of some fledgling governments trying to start up, but they seem to need more from the little border towns like Defiance, than they give in return.


There are also roving bands of mercenaries to deal with as well.  Through in all kinds of mutations done to the wildlife of earth and the wildlife the Votan’s brought with them; and you have any number of nasty things the good folks of Defiance have to deal with on a regular basis.

Defiance - Season 1

The one thing that really bugged me with Defiance was one line spoken by Rafe McCawley.  He mentioned how difficult it was to keep decent records for his company over the last 12 years without a computer.  Let’s think about that for a moment shall we?  First off people kept very good records for companies, governments, churches for hundreds of years before we ever had computers.  So what that statement basically says is “I’m not very well organized”.  Then I have to wonder, there are alien races all over the place, which had the capability to build space ships to traverse interstellar space for 5,000 years.  Some of the alien races like the Indogenes have cybernetic implants, and the Volge are robots, and yet no one can build a comuter?  Defiance has a force field that protects it from enemies entering over the bridge outside the city.  They can build a Force Field, but not a desktop computer?  In the Pilot movie a handful of Indogenes build an advanced energy weapons system to protect Defiance in just a few hours, but we can’t get DOS to run?  I just found this incredibly short cited on the writers part.


Other than that one little thing I enjoyed Defiance and look forward to seeing the new episodes when they air.