This week’s episode puts Berlin in the spotlight for once. Plus Datak shows his more honorable side and Stahma cowers in the corner. It’s like we’ve entered the world of Mirror-Defiance or something! Well, except for Nolan, but I guess he’s one of those things that’s the same in all universes.
The episode starts off with Datak receiving the death penalty for betraying the town, but it rings a little hollow since we all know there’s no way they’d kill off the Tarrs. Datak is still very much himself in the face of the judgment, but there has been one thing constant throughout this: he legitimately regrets his actions. As such, he’s volunteered that his method of execution be the shaming rack–you know, from last season. The thing that sells it is that he never goes back on it, never tries to plead for his life or pull any of his usual tricks. His chosen method is one that involves accepting judgment from every person in the town. And even that could easily have gone wrong had it been delivered poorly; it could just as easily seem spiteful, as if he’s trying to make every last citizen personally face him before they kill him. But nope, it works great, all thanks to Tony Curran. Is it any wonder Datak and Stahma are the most popular characters on the show?
But the main thrust of the episode has to do with Berlin and her former lover, who apparently sold weapons to Rahm Tak earlier in the season. While I do love to get more of Berlin, she’s played against this rather boring new character that keeps it from really reaching the heights it could otherwise. He’s an heir to Von Bach, which is a company that plays a very large role in the game and is all but irrelevant to the show. Perhaps his bits are more interesting to MMO players, but without it he’s pretty one-dimensional. He gives Defiance a bunch of weapons for free to hang out with Berlin–but you know what probably would’ve impressed her more? NOT SELLING WEAPONS TO THE ENEMY FIRST. He already plainly states that he doesn’t care about his reputation within his family or maintaining any connections to them, so it’s not like he needed to stay in their good graces. It seems very simple: tell the family company that you’re going to the area to sell weapons to Rahm Tak… and then don’t, and give Defiance twice as many instead. Maybe he wanted to make sure they needed the weapons desperately enough that Berlin couldn’t possibly say no? The only problem with that is, well, they were already at that point. So as usual the minor character’s motivations are completely indecipherable and his actions are primarily in service to the plot. Hooray.
But beyond that, it’s a rather pedestrian sort of cliche love story, where the parents offer money to keep them apart and when that fails resort to deception, leading to the lovers becoming estranged for some years until finally reuniting. Sound familiar? Probably because it’s the single most common love story ever, having been used on everything up to and including Family Guy. What’s more interesting is the position this puts her in relative to Amanda, sticking a wedge between two characters who’ve been pretty buddy-buddy ever since their investigation together last season.
There’s also Nolan trying to train their militia, which doesn’t go particularly well, and of course the Omec weirdness getting weirder. We still don’t really know what their game is, aside from trying to take the planet for themselves. Kindzi manages to spook Stahma in a way that is basically unprecedented. I’m guessing all those myths and legends from her younger days are having more of an effect on her than she anticipated, to the point where she may well have just gotten out of the frying pan and into the fire by fleeing to T’evgin. I’m still eying this whole plot cautiously because it can easily go off the rails into Casti Cosplay territory, but it hasn’t quite yet. Since the episode ends with Stahma being force-fed some kind of device and then appearing on the Omec ship, though… it could be right around the corner.
With Rahm Tak’s army on the way, Datak may have his means of cheating death appear. All in all, it’s a slightly above average (B- territory here)
episode, but Von Bach is a little dull to people not familiar with the game, and Stahma’s uncharacteristic fear is going to need some strong justification in the coming episodes. Who knows? Maybe that’s how they’ll save the town: march the Omec out there until the VC army wets its pants and leaves. I guess we’ll find out next week in “My Name Is Datak Tarr and I Have Come to Kill You.” Spoilers in the title!