Only a few weeks into its premiere season, “Defiance” was given the greenlight for Season 2. So, if you were on the fence about whether or not you wanted to add a new Syfy show to your must-see TV, now would be a great time to get on the bandwagon.
XFINITY is making the first six episodes available for a mini-binge and it is a great way to get caught up. It is also the perfect opportunity for fans who want to revisit every minute of the post-apocalyptic show to spend more time in Defiance.
For the uninitiated, “Defiance” is set sometime in the future on a radically transformed planet Earth. An alien invasion and the resulting war has transformed the landscape. But an uneasy truce was called, and the humans and the seven alien races, known as Votans, are learning to live together in what was formerly St. Louis, MO, but is now known as Defiance.
The series stars Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Graham Greene and Mia Kirshner.
XfinityTV.com had the opportunity to speak with Curran and Murray, who respectively play Datak and Stahma Tarr, members of the Castithan race, who look human but have much paler skin, hair and lighter eyes, to get the inside scoop on playing an alien.
“In my quest to play an alien, it gave me a fresh look at what it means to be human,” Murray says. “You have to choose things which are human enough but different enough that people can think she’s an alien but not be completely turned off by her, so they can invest in the drama of her family.
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The Castithan society has a strict caste system, which makes it surprising that Datak and Stahma are married, in that she comes from a high level in their society, while he was at the low end, almost an untouchable. If they were on their home planet, it never would have happened. But in the new world, the qualities that would have made Datak undesirable, make him a survivor.
In addition, Castithan society is patriarchal, so the females are expected to be submissive to the males, which makes the relationship between Datak and Stahma even more interesting because she is the more educated of the two, so in trying to get him to do what she thinks is necessary, she needs to convince him her ideas are his.
“She has to be very cunning and shrewd and go sideways about how she communicates ideas to him and suggests ways of dealing with situations to him,” Murray says. “I think that he is sometimes at the whim of his emotions more than Stahma. Stahma is very controlled and so sometimes she’s counseling him to be more patient, to take more time, to think of the long term and [she has to] try to do it without injuring his pride.”
“They’re trying to reinvent themselves,” Curran adds. “Stahma wouldn’t have had as much power [on their home planet] as she has now, and she’s able to in a very subtle manner give him the feeling that he’s holding all the cards, or he’s got the ideas. She doesn’t want to upset him because he’s such a volatile character.”
The difference in their characters’ status also was taken into consideration when the actors were deciding whether or not to speak English with the same accent. One consideration was the fact that Stahma being upper crust means she would have started out with a different accent than Datak in their native tongue.
“The Tarrs have been on planet earth since 2013. It’s now 33 years later. So we have integrated into it,” Curran points out. “We talked about how we would sound when we were speaking English, and we were going to try some interesting accents. But then we decided … we would have tried to integrate into the society as much as possible. So we would have sounded like the American people around us.”
Even so, Stahma speaks slowly and deliberately, as if she is still unfamiliar with the language, which is very possible because as a female Castithan, she doesn’t get out much, so the language is much more second nature to her husband.
The one thing both Tarrs have in common is the desire to rise in status in Defiance. For Stahma, she feels it is her due; for Datak, it is his desire to overcome his beginnings.
“She’s almost vampiric in her avaricious, materialistic, social-climbing aspiration but she never needs to take credit,” Murray says. “She never needs to be seen as the victor and she never needs to be right, whereas he needs all those things really badly. And she plays on those in order to achieve her means.”
The struggle of the Castithans to be accepted by humans — and other Votan races — in “Defiance” helps set this show apart from others in the sci-fi genre because it reflects so much of what is happening today by examining how societies need to evolve and how, when people become entrenched in their ways, problems develop.
“I think that people are going to find — especially for a science fiction show that you might not think has depth or clout — you’re going to find some very human stories — no pun intended — about people being alienated within the societies they come from. This show is holding a mirror up to society,” Curran says.
“Defiance” airs Monday nights at 9/8c on Syfy.