BAMFiles: Defiance’s Doc Yewll

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Season two of the SyFy channel’s Defiance ended recently, cutting off, for the moment at least, my supply of inter-species relations and wacky science fictional hijinks.

At some point I’ll probably talk about Defiance more generally (several main characters are casually queer! Actors of colour are actually playing humans and not aliens!) but for the moment, I’ll stick to telling you all about my very favourite character. It’s not as easy a decision as it sounds; between the tough-as-nails town mayor, her sister the brothel owner, the scheming gangster’s wife, or an adoptive daughter who’s frighteningly good with knives, there’s no shortage of really great female characters to choose from. But I’m going to have to give this one to Doctor Meh Yewll, the Indogene physician with all the secrets.

First off, some backstory. In 2017, giant ships full of refugee aliens arrive in Earth’s atmosphere. They’re fleeing a dying galaxy, and thought they were headed toward a vacant planet. Earth begrudgingly makes room for the new arrivals, but tensions—obviously—end up running high. A violent war breaks out worldwide, with casualties on both sides and weaponry used that permanently changes Earth’s ecosystems. The show takes place years later, when communities are being created, superpowers are forming, and human-alien relations are being tentatively built. Among all this chaos is Meh Yewll, an ex-military doctor of the hyperintelligent Indogene race, who must deal with the guilt and secrets left over from her gleefully-doing-military-experiments-on-humans past.

I love me some sardonic wit, and sympathetic characters with a checkered past are always good fun, so of course Yewll is going to appeal to me. Despite her limited screen time, she’s a wonderful antihero. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but Yewll’s consistent disdain for everyone around her is extraordinarily entertaining. Just because she’s the first person people are going to call anytime there’s a medical or technical emergency, doesn’t mean she’ll help without a sigh and a cutting retort. (It barely needs mentioning that Tumblr goes absolutely batshit crazy over her one-liners.)

Also, she’s queer! And isn’t that just the biggest lady-loving cherry on the scaly white sundae. (That metaphor got away from me, I apologize.) Doc Yewll’s only on-screen relationship is with a woman (or whatever Indogene females are called), and though it’s probably not a super healthy pairing (spoilers, sorry), it’s still great to see these very casual relationships that have nothing much to do with the plot but are important nonetheless play out.

Doc Yewll is a survivor, a reluctant hero, and a haunted villain, and I can’t wait for season three.

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