After mankind and numerous alien races, collectively called the Votans, settled their decades-old war and called a truce, the town of Defiance was conceived. Built on the ruins of St. Louis, the community allowed both human and extraterrestrial parties to live together and forge a home. It's been an uphill battle with key residents vying for political control and cultural recognition, while others have struggled to maintain peace and order. Then, the "Defiance" Season 1 finale "Everything is Broken" sent the characters scrambling in different directions.
Lawkeeper Nolan (Grant Bowler) died and was revived. Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) sacrificed herself to a higher power. Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) lost the election. Castithanian Datak (Tony Curran) was arrested for murder. And Stahma (Jaime Murray) poisoned Kenya (Mia Kirshner).
When Season 2 returns on June 19th, several months have passed and everything broken still needs to be fixed.
"It was really intense to read the season finale script," says Benz, sitting in her trailer. "What's so great about a genre show is you can basically blow up the characters at the end of the season, reset the show and start in a different place for the next season. That's what we did on 'Defiance.' All the characters start in a different place after the finale."
During a visit to the Toronto set of "Defiance," Bowler, Benz, Curran and new cast member James Murray spoke to HuffPost Canada TV about their characters' current circumstances, strange alliances and alien threats.
Search And Rescue
On a warm September afternoon, Bowler and Benz are busy filming a dreamlike sequence between Amanda and Nolan. No, it's not that kind of dream, but the details of the scene and what it all means remains a secret for now. However, Nolan's appearance has changed, and not just for this segment. He's swapped his weathered leather jacket and trademark worn-torn clothes for a dark green wardrobe this year.
"It's a much darker palette," agrees Bowler. "And Nolan is a bit scruffier and a bit rougher. That's definitely mirrored all the way through the show. It's an edgier world than it was last season."
Nolan has every right to be gloomy and angry. Early in the second season, the Earth's Republic strips him of his lawkeeping duties. More importantly, Nolan's adopted daughter, Irisa, is still missing and finding her has become his top priority.
"Nolan starts off the season looking for Irisa," confirms Bowler. "He's a different guy when he's looking for her. There's no nice guy at the beginning of the season. She is her saving grace. Without her, there's nothing happy or forgiving in him."
Mayor On The Rocks
In many ways, Amanda was the voice of "Defiance." She allowed the audience to come into the town and understand what it stood for.
"Amanda was the idealist in Season 1 who didn't have a dark side," says Benz. "She really does believe Defiance can, and has to, exist. She was a good mayor, but unfortunately there are so many evil people against her. Everybody has their own agendas, and idealism has gotten in her way."
Arguably, Amanda has the most difficulty adapting to her present situation. In her sister Kenya's absence, she takes over the bar/brothel The NeedWant and turns it into an even more successful business. But Amanda is dealing with a lot of pressure and loss, which sends her down a destructive path.
"In Season 2, we see Amanda start in a much darker place," Benz explains. "At the end of Season 1, she lost her job. Amanda's ex-husband was killed and her sister disappeared. That's all she knows. Amanda has to redefine herself in the town of Defiance and how she fits in. She has a lot of time on her hands and obviously she has a bit of a drinking problem."
All of Datak's plotting and manipulating finally paid off. The schemer was elected mayor ... for a hot two minutes. After the Earth Rep blocked off the gulanite mines without Datak's permission, he killed Colonel Marsh in a fit of anger. Such actions have consequences and Datak finds himself in prison at the beginning of Season 2.
"Datak's goal is to learn from his mistakes and move on from what he did," reports Curran. "He's down at the bottom again. He's further down than when he first came to Earth, so he not only has to climb back to where he was, but he also has to try to get back to Defiance and his family. It's an even bigger effort for him.
"Being with Stahma, she obviously pulled a lot of strings at times and put ideas in his head," adds Curran. "They balanced each other out. His hot-headed behaviour got him to where he is. If he didn't learn from that, he could be in that prison forever."
Datak isn't the only one who winds up in the slammer. Doc Yewll (Trenna Keating) also finds herself doing time, and although there's no love lost between her and Datak, this odd couple surprisingly clicks.
"He's such a primal, grounded creature," says Curran. "Yewll has a little more intellectuality about her. To survive in prison, they may have to befriend each other. It's a very unlikely pairing, but it could be the start of a wonderful friendship.
"There's a scene where I lose it with Alak (Jesse Rath) because I find the wife has not been trying to get me out if prison," continues Curran. "She's intentionally keeping me there because business is better without Datak. So, I lose it and think everybody is against me. Doc Yewll comes up to me and [makes weak comforting gestures]. That's the amount of her emotional compassion."
"For me, the most interesting threats come from inside," reports executive producer Kevin Murphy in a separate phone conversation. "The Tarr family is all internal conflict, but they are the most fabulous family and one of my favourite parts of the show. While Stahma and Datak have their own acrimony, the first thing that happens is the battle for the hearts and minds of the children. Alak gets pushed to the forefront as a result of this. And because Stahma lives in a patriarchal society, it becomes essential for her to hold on to power. She needs to present her son as the figurehead of the family, to be taken seriously by the Castathanian infrastructure. That means if Alak is taken out of the picture, Datak wins."
With Datak incarcerated, the Earth Republic assigns a new mayor. Welcome Niles Pottinger, a magnetic, power-hungry individual with a soft spot for Amanda and an unknown agenda.
"Pottinger is a high-ranking officer in the Earth's Republic, who in the interim between seasons, finds himself as a provisional Mayor of Defiance," says Murray. "He's very good and charming. He's good at his job. I think he genuinely believes in being a good mayor. I'm not sure whether his methods are particularly ethically respected. He's a pragmatist, so very realistic and cut and dry. If something doesn't work, he eliminates it from the picture.
"He can be charming on the outside, but very quickly, it's obvious he has a screw loose and he's not to be trusted," he continues. "Pottinger goes to great lengths to get what he wants. I don't know if viewers will love to hate me, love to love me, hate to love me or hate to hate me. Any of the above is fine, as long as it's one or the other, as long as we get some reaction. I think he's a nasty human that has come in to kick some alien ass."
Last season, "Defiance" featured jumping, chasing, brawling, explosions and gun-slinging. Bowler may joke he couldn't do any more of that stuff than he is now, but Murphy promises the action has been cranked up another notch.
"For example, we're going to widen our net in terms of the aliens that we meet," explains Murphy. "We mentioned there were several races of Votans. The one race that we've met was the Gulanee. These are creatures that are comprised of energy and we're going to do an episode where we meet our first Gulanee on-camera. It's going to be a great knock-down, drag-out action episode. It's also going to be in an area we haven't seen before."
"I'm really happy the alien cultural clash continues, too," concludes Bowler. "Just like the rest of the show, this season seems to be exploring some themes by exploding them. There's a whole bunch of traditions from different Votan species that get challenged. Their hierarchy of power gets challenged, which should be interesting."
"Defiance" Season 2 premieres on Thursday, June 19 at 10 p.m. ET on Showcase in Canada, and on SyFy at 9 p.m. ET in the U.S.