Worried you can't catch up with the new "Defiance" series because there are too many characters? Concerned that even though you *have* watched the pilot, you still can't remember who everyone is or what's going on? We're here to help with this quick guide to the "Defiance" universe and characters.
How scary would it be seeing this enormous ship turn up in your atmosphere, never mind a whole fleet of them? About three decades ago, Earth got a lot of unexpected visitors. These space ships were arks containing alien races from another solar system, refugees from their now-exploded planets. At first humans and aliens tried to coexist peacefully, but various tensions increased and led to years of war.
The arks in orbit mysteriously exploded, and the destroyed ships began to fall through the atmosphere. This is referred to as "Arkfall". The spaceships tumble to earth and the impact destroys huge sections of land. In addition, the terraforming devices carried on the ships activated in some cases, restructuring the earth's surface in alien ways and devastating existing cities and landmarks.
Irisa is strong, smart, wily, and has a lot of anger issues. She and her dad travel constantly, scavenging the ships that fall to earth for items they can sell or trade. They hope to eventually reach the sunny beaches of...Antarctica. (We told you those terraforming machines messed things up.)
Riding around between civilizations and scavenging tends to land them in trouble. A lot. With other scavengers...
...and with scary creatures that go bump in the night.
This is Nolan by the way. He's a Han Solo type, handsome and kind of scruffy and swashbuckling. A war veteran, he's as tough as they come, but he is also fiercely protective of Irisa and has a soft spot for Doing the Right Thing.
But back to that trouble stuff. In the pilot episode, Irisa gets seriously injured and the two get surrounded by scary creatures in the forest. Luckily some folks from the nearby town of Defiance arrive to help them out. But they're not all that trusting of the strangers at first. Nolan ends up handcuffed to a hospital bed.
Which turns out to be not so much a problem for the crafty war vet.
Nolan meets the town's Lawkeeper, Clancy (Peter MacNeill). The two share a brief military history, and we find out that Nolan was part of the regiment that finally laid down arms in an act of "defiance" against their superiors--which led to the end of the alien wars.
This is Tommy LaSalle (Dewshane Williams), Clancy's deputy. Clancy took in Tommy when he was a kid and gave him a more positive direction in life, much the same way Nolan has looked after Irisa.
We also meet Doc Yewll (Trenna Keating), an Indogene with exceptional intelligence and wit, but Spock-like bedside manner.
Meanwhile, the town built on the ruins of St. Louis is celebrating that day of peace that inspired the town's new name, "Defiance". Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) tries to inspire the gathered crowd, but is understandably nervous, given she's only had the job of town leader for three weeks.
She's got a lot to live up to, with favorite-of-the-people former-mayor Nicky Riordan (Fionnula Flanagan) sitting close by to remind her of that.
Mayor Amanda introduces us to two powerful families in Defiance, and right away we get the impression they are in big competition to be the most powerful. One one side we have Datak Tarr (Tony Curran), a Castithan longing for ultimate respect from the people while he exerts control over much of the criminal enterprises in town.
His lovely wife Stahma Tarr (Jaime Murray) dotes on her ruthless husband, but her gentle and subserviant demeanor are carefully constructed masks to hide her devious, manipulative ways.
Their son Alak Tarr (Jesse Rath) is going through a rebellious phase with his family. You can tell by this goth hair.
On the other side is wealthy mine owner, Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene). He is fiercely proud and is not all that fond of aliens in general, let alone the shady Tarrs.
He loves, but is extremely hard on, all of his children: Luke, Quentin, and Christie.
The Tarrs do a lot of scheming while walking in town, talking in restaurants, and taking baths at home. They take a lot of sexy baths. They do not appear to have any hang-ups about sex or nudity...or violence.
Nolan finally meets the mayor. He thinks she's purty.
She's feisty, too. She tells him he can't have his gun until he leaves Defiance. And she also suggests he go work in the local brothel if he's looking for some easy money. He likes her even more now.
Nolan checks out that brothel, of course. There he meets the Madam, Kenya (Mia Kirshner). She's sassy and seductive.
Yep. He likes her, too.
Nearby, dancing the night away, we discover our Romeo and Juliet. Turns out Christie McCawley and Alak Tarr are young, rebellious kids in love. This leads to some conflict with Christie's big brother Luke, who later winds up dead. But Alak had nothing to do with that.
It was this guy. Who's he? Oh, just an Indogene named Ben Daris (Douglas Nyback), who happened to be working for the mayor. He sabotages the town's protective stasis net, which will allow an invading Volge army to infiltrate and likely completely eradicate Defiance.
The town rallies together, and even Madam Kenya gives Mayor Amanda a pep talk. Oh, did we mention the two of them are sisters?
Yep, he was surprised, too. This may have aided his decision to get the heck out of town. But also, the Volge.
Remember that whole Do the Right Thing thing? Yeah, Nolan takes one look at the invading army and he just can't do it. He can't let them get slaughtered, when he has the power to help. See, they scavenged a handy alien power source from one of the arks that fell to earth.
Only problem is that it's a one-time-use sort of thing in this case. If they give it to Defiance, there goes the money for their passage to Antarctica. Irisa is peeved and takes off for greener pastures. Nolan goes back to help Defiance.
So, apparently the Indogenes have super brains that can do amazing stuff. In this case, Doc Yewll has the ability to make that scavenged spaceship power source go BOOM in a big way.
Tommy and the townspeople just have to fight the Volge off until she can make things go boom. Sounds easy, right?
Did we mention the Volge are super-big and super-scary and kinda look like a Mad Max version of Voltron robots and Transformers?
Nolan does his hero thing with a blaster.
Irisa comes back with some more Irathients as back-up, and ends up on the ground facing this guy.
She seriously questions her decision to come back to help Dad out. Luckily Tommy has a bit of a crush on her and blasts some Volge butt and saves her.
Oh, and Doc makes the Volge go BOOM!
Nolan and Irisa are reunited. They fight a lot, but they're still family.
Back in town, Nolan gets asked if he'll take over for killed-in-McCawley-Tarr-argument-crossfire lawkeeper Clancy.
He considers it carefully.
For about two minutes, because seriously, there's no way he's saying no to a beautiful and wounded Mayor Amanda, who's tantalizingly showing some side boob.
Fighting the battle brings Romeo and Juliet, aka Alak and Christie, closer together. They want to get married. His parents decide to go along with it, because they hope to manipulate her into giving them control of the lucrative mine operation...after her father and brother perish in a Tarr-engineered "accident".
Irisa writes about their new home in her journal. Yes, like any other teenage girl or vampire, Irisa the Irathient keeps a diary.
The end of the pilot gives us a glimpse of Mr. Birch, a mysterious man who is apparently behind the attempt to destroy Defiance. But who is his powerful accomplice?
Oh, it's just the former mayor. You can't help being creeped out by a woman who says things like "One day the survivors will thank me."
So, have you got all that? If not, feel free to come back here as you watch the series and use these screencaps as a guide.
Watch "Defiance" on the SyFy Channel, Monday nights at 9/8c.
--> ~ PHOTOS: "Defiance" pilot screencaps, SyFy Channel, 2013, fair use.