Heartwarming / Defiance

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    Season One 
  • Nolan and Irisa singing together in the car as they ride to the Ark in the opening. It really goes a long way to show how close the pair are.
    • More so because it's the very first scene of the series so you have no idea if Irisa can even speak and understand English or what their relationship is suppose to be. Seeing that she's taken the time to learn a song he enjoys speaks volumes.
  • When Irisa is shot escaping from the Spirit Riders, the way Nolan carries her and tries to jostle her as little as possible is incredibly sweet.
  • Stahma skillfully distracting the children of a man her husband is chastising over being late for rent. Yes, it's blatantly manipulative and very much in her own best interests, but it shows that the Tarrs don't go out of their way to cause unnecessary pain.
  • Christie and Alak's relationship. Considering his parents' manipulative social-clinatures, the fact that he is so open and honest and genuinely in love with this human girl is remarkable, and seeing how happy they are together the audience can't help but smile.
    • On another level: Stahma and Datak frequently mention that all of their manipulation is so that their son never has to worry about the kind of brutality they live with. Seeing how Alak, even though he's very much a teenage rebel, is so easy and carefree with Christie, his parents are at least getting their wish—he really is living a life that doesn't deal in lies and deceit.
  • Nolan warning Tommy not to put handcuffs on Irisa becomes this in the next episode, where we learn that Irisa has a deathly terror of chains. She has thick scars on her wrists that look like they came from manacles, and she makes several references to being tortured by her parents... like hell Nolan is going to let her be put in chains, again, by people with guns that she doesn't know.
    • It was probably as much for Tommy's safety as it was for her. Chances are she might have killed Tommy if he tried it.
      • She would absolutely have killed Tommy; still, Nolan could have ordered her to stand down, and he didn't. There's cooperation, and then there's subjecting your daughter to a triggering experience, and he loves her.
  • Amanda and Kenya's first interaction. One of them is the mayor, the other is town madam, and as such you'd expect there to be some judgment or even hostility between them. But no, they clearly love, respect, and understand each other.

"Down In the Ground Where the Dead Men Go"
  • Even if she is trying to manipulate Christie, it is touching that Stahma convinces her to follow her own heart rather than allow her father to determine her future.
  • Rafe McCawley finally letting go of his rage and sparing Ben. It doesn't work, but still.

"The Devil in the Dark"
  • Rafe starting to get over his Fantastic Racism towards the Tarrs.
  • Rafe making a deal with the Spirit Riders to return stolen land then lease it from them, the first step in mending fences between the two groups.
  • Nolan holding Irisa's hand at the end to help her sleep.
  • The gradual development of the Spirit Riders' leader. It's clear he still hates the humans, and deep wanted to allow Rynn her vengeance, but he's nonetheless able to look past that and offer a hand to them.
  • Sukar's discussion with Rynn about his decision to lead the lawkeepers to her, and the following montage.
    Rynn: The Little Wolf has the sight. So what?
    Sukar: So the gods touched her, and she in turn showed me what has to happen next.
    Rynn: I'm going to prison! How can that be the correct path?
    Sukar: I don't know, precious daughter. Sadly, I lack the sight.

"A Well Respected Man"
  • Datak getting a seat on the town council is this, in a way. Though Stahma helped him con his way in, the look on his face shows that this is the kind of respect he wants, rather than the fear he usually works with.
  • Amanda telling Kenya what really happened with their mother, with Kenya remarking that Amanda could've told her anytime she was "fed up with her shtakko" to shut her up, and asks why she never did. Amanda replies "Because your my sister". Then the two of them embrace.
  • Rafe admitting to Quentin that Luke occupies a spot in his heart that no one could replace... right next to the ones for his wife, Christie, and Quentin.

"The Serpent's Egg"
  • Nolan's rescue of Irisa when she was a child.
  • Tommy had spent the entirety of Irisa's "interrogation" of the Castithan who once tortured her pleading with her to stop the madness and insisting she had gotten the wrong person. And all that after she had handcuffed him to a pole and made him watch in horror, thinking she'd gone mad. Of course, Tommy then learns not only that she was right, but also exactly what was done to her.
    "She was a child, you piece of shtakko!"
  • Tommy's awkward little confession of love at the sheriff's station later that day, when Irisa asks why he reacted as furiously as he did to learning she'd been tortured so an insane Castithan could create a 'Messiah'.
    "Because you're not the only one with nightmares. And because... Um..."
    • In the end he doesn't even have to say anything; Irisa knows and promptly shoves him against the wall and snogs him senseless.
  • Rynn makes her escape... and then comes back.
    "A man who risks his life for another cannot be left to die."
    • Amanda thanks her by immediately pardoning her past crimes and giving her the second roller.
    Nolan: Can you do that?
    Amanda: Well...I just did, so let's assume I can.
  • Alak arranging to get his hands on a bunch of old vinyl records, so he could play them on his radio show for Christie. He catches her attention out of an observation window on top of the Arch, and they blow each other a kiss. It's ridiculously sweet and, for once, a completely happy gesture that their parents aren't around to criticize or influence.

"Brothers in Arms"
  • Nolan is willing to let Eddie collect the bounty on his head (Varus Soleptor put it at 250K) on the sole condition that Eddie tell Varus that Irisa is dead.
  • Nolan realizes the truth in Eddie's furious accusation that he forgot his friend's involvement in saving a young Irisa's life, and sets about remedying it.
    Irisa: You want me to drink this?
    Nolan: We're gonna have a toast, and talk about your uncle.
    Irisa: I don't have an uncle.
    Nolan: Yeah, you do.

"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times"
  • Rafe having a Not So Different bonding moment with Gordon. Who comes down to the mines to kill himself because he's an Indogene sleeper agent. And he manages to convince him to not go though with it.
    Gordon: Thanks for trying.
    • And later, Gordon reuniting with his wife. Who was still wearing her wedding ring after all the years he was gone.

"And The Bride Wore Black"
  • This episode is full of these kinds of moments.
  • The flashback were Rafe saved Datak, simply because he doesn't like unfair fights.
  • Christie deciding to wear the antique eye shield Stahma gave her as the "something borrowed."
    • Even though Christie has agreed, Stahma doesn't want her daughter-in-law to be forced to do anything, so she comes up with a compromise, and personally creates an old-Earth bridal veil.
    Christie: You didn't need to do that.
    Stahma: I wanted to.
  • Rafe, instead of letting the wedding be canceled and preventing his daughter from marrying a Castithan, threatens Datak to let the wedding happen as scheduled. The reason why: Simply because his daughter, Christie, loves Alak and Alak loves Christie.
  • Rafe overcoming at least some of his alien racism, and altering his will to give the mines to the Irathients. Keep in mind, he did not give Christie the mines in his will to save his own hide, but he could have just as easily given it to the human population of Defiance instead.

    Season Two 
"In My Secret Life"
  • Nolan and Amanda finally, finally resolve their long-standing UST. Which is immediately subject to Mood Whiplash when we're shown that Pottinger is watching the whole thing with his hidden camera. Bleagh.
  • Nolan and Irisa's reunion. Admit it; everyone's heart melted.

"The Cord and the Ax"
  • Bertie's delight at learning that Christie's pregnant. As much as she might resent working for the McCawleys, she still considers them family. And apparently, she thinks of Christie as her daughter, because she declares that she intends to be the best grandmother ever.
    • More so with when it turns out she's not dead, Rafe of all people gives her a hug and is ready to tear Nolan a new one when he is aggressively questioning what is going on.
    • There's also Irisa actually hugging Bertie in relief when she discovers that she's still alive.
  • Irisa and Sukar's reunion.
  • Stahma and Amanda, bonding over the fact that they both miss Kenya deeply. Borders on Tearjerker because Stahma murdered Kenya the year previously to protect her marriage.

"Beasts of Burden"
  • In a Villainous Friendship moment, Pottinger's Bioman lackey Churchill offers to help hunt down the raiders who attacked him because he wants to "hurt the people who hurt you."
  • As much as she dislikes Pottinger, Amanda still tries to console him after realizing how badly he's been shaken by his encounter with the raiders.
  • Yewll assuring Nolan that she didn't tell the E-Rep anything about Irisa, even under threat of torture or as a chance to get out of prison.

"Putting The Damage On"
  • Doc Yewll not removing the memory device from herself, so the illusion of Lev won't vanish.
    • And yet at the same time, choosing the people of Defiance (and a possibility of redemption) over Lev and her promise of peace and rest. Doc, you're right. Defiance needs you.
  • Much as it hurts to see Tommy and Irisa fight, her devotion to Nolan is as heartwarming as ever.
    Tommy: Yeah, you go ahead and defend Nolan.
    Irisa: To my death.
  • In a strange way, the poem Doc wrote for Lev when they were younger. It goes to show that she wasn't always the dry, detached Doc we know and love; while her core personality may not have changed too much, there was a time before the War broke her when she was just a young woman in love.

"This Woman's Work"
  • Pottinger telling the story of how he met Churchill. He was ordered to leave him behind to die after a battle, due to his purpose being served. Instead, he built a stretcher and took him with him.

"If You Could See Her Through My Eyes"
  • Stahma and Datak putting their hatred for each other aside so they can catch their housemaid's killer. They even enact a Casti funeral rite together.

"Slouching Towards Bethlehem"
  • Doc Yewll offering to help Amanda through her drug addiction when she catches her stealing tranquilizers. Even though that's not what Amanda is there for.
  • The Votanis Collective agent, shot in the back by Datak to keep him from talking, uses his last words to tell Nolan where the dirty bomb in New York is hidden.
  • The reunion of Amanda and Kenya.

"Painted from Memory"
  • Amanda comforts Kenya just as she did when they were kids.
  • Unsure of her identity, possibly dying, and on the run, the Kenya\Indogene spy who has no memory of who she was or her past life is shown on a land coach headed to a San Francisco. Held in her hands like a good luck charm is a picture of Amanda and Kenya together, showing that even if the memories are not hers, the love and warmth associated with the memories are something she draws comfort from.

"Bottom of the World"
  • When Tennety tries to be petty and order Amanda around, Pottinger doesn't let it stand and quickly puts Tennety in her place. Tennety was forced to keep to petty insults after that, all of which Amanda could easily turn on her.

"Doll Parts"
  • Seeing Amanda and Deidre's interactions prior to Deidre's murder. We see that Amanda acted as a substitute maternal figure to the troubled girl.
  • Nolan and Tommy repairing their friendship when they work together to rescue Irisa. Nolan sorta, kinda, apologizes to Tommy for giving him the cold shoulder and taking his job. He also admints that he respects Tommy, and would be honored to have him back as his Deputy. Tommy looks genuinely touched by Nolan's praise.

"All Things Must Pass"
  • Datak and Stahma reconciling, with Datak making it clear that despite everything, he does love her, and can't imagine living without her.
    • And before that, when they first wake up in the silo Datak's first action when he realizes Stahma's there is to ask if she's alright. Keep in mind the last time they were together, he was yelling at her and insulting her.

"I Almost Prayed"
  • Faced with almost certain doom, Nolan holds his adopted daughter close to him, and tell her he loves her. Despite everything that's happened, everything they've both done to each other, he loves her to his last breath.

    Season Three 
"The World We Seize"/"The Last Unicorns"
  • Also a Tearjerker given the circumstances, but Datak proves how much he's come to respect Rafe, stating that he deserved better than being gunned down like a dog, and telling Stahma that the McCawleys were "our humans".

"Where The Apples Fell"
  • Despite the fact that Alak sold him and Stahma out as spies, Datak shows he genuinely cares for Alak. He insists on letting Luke stay with Alak even though Stahma argues otherwise, saying a son should be with his father, and is distressed when Nolan threatens to kill Alak to get him to talk (it was an act the two cooked up).
  • Datak suggesting he and Stahma could live a simple life as fishermen. For someone so concerned with wealth and power, it's sweet that he'd give it up as long as he was with her.
  • And yet another Datak moment. When it's clear he won't be able to rendezvous with Stahma since Nolan is a step ahead, he gives himself up so Stahma can get away.
  • Finally, in a shared moment between Datak and Nolan, Nolan makes a simple meal for Datak while he's in prison. While Nolan doesn't approve of what Datak did, he at least understands why.

"The Beauty of Our Weapons"
  • Nolan defending Irisa in front of the town and in doing so, making a Rousing Speech that motivates the town militia.
  • Alak describing his father as a flawed but honorable man to Luke, having brought Luke to the shaming rack so Datak could see him one last time before his death.

"My Name Is Datak Tarr and I Have Come to Kill You"
  • T'evgin implying that he has given up his original goal of awakening the other Omec and conquering the world, due to having lived among the population and seeing their honorable qualities.
  • The flashbacks of Datak's childhood are pretty horrible, until the final one. For all his father put him through, he was allowed to go alone on the mass Votan exodus, even though he got two seats. When Datak tries to insist that his father join him and survive, his father simply smiles, tells him that he is proud of him, and gives him his prized blade.
  • After being freed from the shaming rack and told about his Suicide Mission to take out Rahm Tak's army, Datak goes to Yewll's hospital and sees Alak recovering from Bebe's gunshot. He was hesitant before, but that's all it takes for the formerly self-serving criminal to accept the mission that will almost certainly kill him.
    • And even though he does not end up giving his life, he still shows how willing he is to sacrifice for Defiance by chopping off his good arm with his blade to lower Rahm Tak's guard until the stasis net explosion.

"When Twilight Dims the Sky Above"
  • Vice-Chancellor Silora Voske genuinely desires peace and she even manages to be cordial with T'evgin. And she brings coffee, which Amanda appreciates immensely.
  • T'evgin and Datak share a brief moment after Kindzi becomes a threat again:
    T'evgin: You must protect Stahma.
    Datak: To the death.
  • Amanda's reveal that, despite what he'd just done, Nolan still has enough friends in Defiance that she was able to raise enough money for Nolan and Irisa to escape and disappear.

"The Awakening"
  • Nolan snapping Amanda out of her Heroic B.S.O.D. with a passionate pep talk, reminding her that she's the one who holds everything together, and that he has faith in her.
    Nolan: When I came back, I prayed that you were behind that desk, because I knew, I knew, that if you were in charge, Defiance had a pulse.

"Upon The March We Fittest Die"
  • Nolan and Yewll showing off their character growth by sacrificing whatever chance of livelihood they have left to take the Omec ship away from Earth and try to redeem its sleeping inhabitants.
  • Irisa bonding with Alak's son Luke and entertaining the child so Alak isn't distracted.