Defiance S2E3 Review: The Cord and the Ax

high school crapIn spite of the minor inconvenience of a hurricane, I was able to catch this week’s Defiance live, and I’m glad I did. We have what might be the best episode of Defiance yet, with some pieces of the puzzle finally falling into place and the reappearance of a fan favorite from season 1. Read on for more.

After a brief scene of some girl hitting on Alak, this week starts us off with the discovery that Christie is pregnant with the apparently half-Castithan baby. I’m willing to let the biology slide on this sort of thing because I completely understand why they wouldn’t want to deal with it. Most people wouldn’t understand why it’s a problem and there’s really nothing to add, from a writer’s perspective, by introducing it. So we’ll let it go. As Rafe tells his Liberata servant Bertie the good news over the phone, Irisa struggles with the murderous impulses of the hallucinatory Irzu again. This time she’s actually putting up a fight, going so far as to chain herself to a post to ensure that she can’t kill again, the first real indication that any of this was getting to her (brief hallucinations in the car aside). Handcuffs are no match for Irathient gods, however, and Irisa finds herself having killed once more.

It’s a great way to start off the episode, with the tension intense and immediate. Rafe gives Alak the old intimidating dad routine again, stopping just short of actually cleaning a shotgun in front of him. And after what he went through last week, Alak is just about ready to go along with this and tell Datak he’s done. We soon find out why Pottinger was so quick to chop off the poor Doc’s finger last week as he uses her severed appendage to gain access to the safe in her office. Tricky.

Pictured: "Teenage girl stuff" #JustGirlyThings

Pictured: “Teenage girl stuff” #JustGirlyThings

Irisa drags the body through the forest in the dark and digs like crazy to bury it. Nolan wonders aloud where she is, to which Rafe suggests she’s just off doing “teenage girl stuff.” She eventually wanders back after sunrise, to Nolan’s understandable fury, but refuses to explain herself. When the news arrives of Bertie’s disappearance, they start putting together a search party to look for her, setting Irisa on edge. With work to do, Nolan sets his problems with Irisa aside (professionalism!) and they go to confront Pottinger, whom Rafe thinks may have killed her to get back at him. Pottinger agrees to let them look over the surveillance footage, but only if Irisa is the one to do it. She’s left talking to Berlin, which definitely does not help to calm her down in spite of the olive branch. Nolan goes with Pottinger, who wants to chat. Having watched Nolan and Amanda sleep together with his creepy little cameras, he decides to bait him by asking whether he has a problem with his interest in Amanda. Nolan calls him out on his high school level bullshit and continues on his way. Irisa prepares to kill Berlin to keep the surveillance footage from being seen, until Irzu pulls off some kind of EMP and shorts the system.

Alak pays a visit to Datak in jail, trying to seek permission to get out of the family business. No such luck, however, as Datak’s starting to put the pieces together. He sees that Alak isn’t the one in charge, and that means there’s only one other person who could be–Stahma. Stahma, who has been telling him she’d get him out, is now running things, and wants to keep it that way. That’s why he’s not being released. Datak starts to flip out, so Alak heads home, thinking it all baseless. When he arrives, and Stahma offers him Datak’s energy knife as an heirloom, she admits that she really doesn’t want to see Datak released.

"Does this look like the face of a man who's out of control?"

“Does this look like the face of a man who’s out of control?”

Nolan talks to Amanda briefly, then realizes Irisa’s disappeared again. Frustrated, he goes to dig through her things, trying to find some clue while Tommy berates him on the invasion of privacy. Of course, that would have a little more impact coming from someone who hadn’t spent the last nine months working for Mr. Creepcams. And that’s when Nolan finds her bloody wrist cuffs.

Back in the prison, Pottinger gives Doc Yewll her finger back as a “peace offering”. It’s the little things that make all the difference, you know. After dryly pointing out that she won’t be able to reattach a finger inside a filthy gulag, he offers her office back–but only if she’ll fulfill the project they’d been working on before being tossed in prison. Understandably fed up with everything, she agrees, with one condition: that Datak be freed as well, to serve as her bodyguard. Interesting tactic, seeing as she witnessed Datak’s conversation earlier. I’m not sure why Pottinger agreed to this, knowing how dangerous Datak can be and how he now has plenty of reason to turn that towards the E-Rep, but I get the feeling it’s all part of his plan.

Irisa, out in the forest, runs into a shirtless Sukar. Sukar was a popular character from season 1, the de facto leader of the Spirit Riders who also became a vessel of Irzu late that season. It’s good to see him back, even if that means he’s been dead and revived several times by now. She tries to explain what’s going on to him and why she’s out here, but he seems to think this is a good thing. As Irzu pushes Irisa into killing him now, she struggles against it while Sukar urges her not to. A spaceship approaching Earth flashes on screen. Some kind of weird cable thing comes out of Irisa’s mouth and enters his, leaving him (apparently) dead again.

Sukar has a frequent flier card with the Irathient afterlife, you see.

Sukar has a frequent flier card with the Irathient afterlife, you see.

Irisa takes off with Sukar’s rifle, begging Irzu to explain why she has to kill all these people. Irzu insists that it’s not killing; it’s saving. That’s less than satisfying for everyone, however, and once it becomes clear that this isn’t going to end any time soon, she places the barrel of the gun under her chin. Irzu tries whatever she can to stop her, but it’s not enough. BAM. Gotta give the girl props for having the courage to do that, even if it is a bit late in the game.

There’s another flash, and we see a familiar Irathient girl aboard a spaceship of some kind, protesting the use of a terraforming device on Earth. Irisa wakes up, still alive. Nanobots slowly heal her wounds, leaving a long and painful recovery time. Once she’s finally healed, Bertie–surprise!–walks up and helps her to her feet. Irisa can’t believe it, but doesn’t hint as to why. They wander until morning, when they’re found by Rafe and Nolan. Nolan doesn’t just let the bloody glove thing go, and demands an answer. Irisa still can’t bring herself to tell him, and with everyone else just happy to go home, he reluctantly holds back. As the episode ends, Sukar wakes up, seemingly fine, and we see Irisa’s Castithan victim from episode 1 attack a child, doing the same cable thing. Datak returns home, leading to the Tarr family literally at each other’s necks in the bath. End of episode.

As you can tell by the sheer length of this, a lot happened this episode, and it was all the better for it. I skipped over several scenes, too, mostly those dealing with Amanda, because it was getting too big. Datak and Doc Yewll’s release, Irisa’s conscience catching up with her, and the Tarr family coming apart at the seams make for a great mix of plots. Everyone got a chance to shine, and every character’s arc was moved forward in some way. We also, at long last, got some clues as to what exactly is going on with Irisa, the E-Rep, and the ship underground, thus moving the central plot along, too. Interesting to note is that this episode was the first credit on this show for a new writer, Allison Miller, and while I certainly won’t be too quick to pass all the glory to her, it’s probably not a coincidence. This is an excellent example of what Defiance should have been doing all along–and with luck, we’ll continue this streak in the weeks to come.

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