Defiance S2E13 Finale Review: I Almost Prayed
The second half finale hits big, but what it really has in spades is a bunch of snappy lines from everyone across the board. Oh, and we open with a level of destruction that is amazing for TV and par for the course for an online video game. See how having those two related kinda robs it of its punch?
So Irisa, rocks still swirling around her head, thoroughly destroys a definitely-not-CGI New York, leaving behind nothing but a very alien looking environment. The way New York is depicted in these shots seems to be at odds with how it was described earlier; certain areas of the city, especially from a street view, hardly look different than today. Lots of ordinary cars instead of “rollers”, and futuristic skyscrapers that they shouldn’t have the resources to construct. It also looks like it holds a hell of a lot more than 49,000 people, but it does appear to be centered in the middle of a wastelands valley. Doesn’t matter either way, really, as it’s gone now. Nolan is dragging Mordecai around, who really is not eager to save anyone or anything. Of course, he also doesn’t know what’s at stake here. Based on the sheer number of people who don’t seem to recognize him, I really wish they’d have spent more time developing his character. Having someone so important only show up in one episode (by far the least popular episode of the season, at least last I saw the ratings) has led to a lot of confusion. I hope he sticks around next season, if there is one, to make up for it.
Back in Defiance, Datak drags a bag over his shoulder as if he’s trying to play Santa, and in a pretty good mood. Until he gets home, that is, and finds Pilar arguing with Stahma. The Tarrs and Pilar rip each other apart, trying to see who gets dibs on Alak, Christie, and the baby. It’s pretty funny, actually, as their faux-affable tones toss completely undisguised insults back and forth. She eventually leaves, but not without a parting shot, to go meet up with Alak, Christie, and Quentin, who wander the streets of Defiance in the midst of the 2047 equivalent of a stop and frisk. Seems they don’t really know what’s happened to New York yet, and that’s making the E-Rep occupiers a bit nervous. Pilar tries to talk the happy couple into leaving town with her, with promises of everything from hybrid children galore to reviving extinct species, like horses, at a Votan commune a ways outside of town. Christie is clearly intrigued, but she also knows leaving is not a great idea. She was just starting to feel at home, after all. But she slips up and mentions Datak’s back home, which Alak just has to see for himself. So they leave, and Quentin calls her out on making the whole thing up. Seems Rafe was right about mama McCawley being a little crazy. So Alak runs home and starts fighting with an understandably pleased Datak, who casually jokes about Christie tossing Treasure Doll off the arch. Don’t worry, Datak–I thought it was hilarious.
Berlin, meanwhile, is at the Needwant, crying into her beer, or more likely something far stronger than beer. She’s pretty upset about Tommy, and quite clearly regretful of how she’s behaved over the last few episodes, to the point where even Amanda can’t do much to comfort her. And if there’s anyone in Defiance who knows a thing or two about grieving, it’s Amanda. Of course, her day’s about to get a lot worse, as the hailers go off to finally notify them of New York’s destruction. Now she has to report to duty drunk, to which Mercado, now apparently the highest ranking E-Rep survivor, suggests she gargle. Cause alcohol-based mouthwash will definitely help with that. They proceed to set up a command post in town, operating under the assumption that the Votanis Collective are responsible. At this point, it doesn’t even seem like Irisa needs to finish destroying the world; the war will probably take care of that for her. Nolan arrives with Mordecai and drags him into the command post, trying to convince someone to believe him that Irisa is the one responsible. News comes in soon enough, however, that the VC have lost contact with a major outpost as well, so Mercado is willing to listen.
This is right about the time that Doc Yewll finally wanders into town, quick to surrender because she has a plan–one she can trade for immunity. Not entirely selfless, that Doc. But once she has the paperwork to keep her out of jail, she quickly shares her plan: basically, just blow up the computer pieces inside Irisa, which may have the side effect of also blowing up Irisa. What a shame. Nolan obviously is not on board with that, but no one cares what he thinks when the fate of the planet is at stake. Even Amanda sides with the Doc, and recommends tossing Nolan in jail for the duration of the mission. He tries to whip out a Star Trek reference to keep out of jail, which really just ends in a hostage situation. That’s not very Federation of you, Nolan! It quickly gets turned around on him once again by none other than Amanda, who’s probably way past the breaking point by now and just barely holding it together. She’s got Mordecai hostage now, and since he’s necessary to the plan, Nolan has to give in. So now both Nolan and Mordecai can go to jail. I bet Mordecai’s real glad he came along now, huh?
Amanda is watching over Doc at the latter’s office, questioning why the hell she’d make a fake Kenya. Pottinger, being present and all, does not want this to go on, but Doc is more than happy to discuss it. She then proceeds to spin a fabulous lie about being a VC double agent, hired by Pottinger in exchange for release. Someone in the VC is responsible for building Kenya, definitely not Pottinger, and Pottinger is appalled to learn it. And Doc didn’t tell him, see, because he definitely would have ruined the whole spy plan to spare Amanda’s feelings. So wow, he really comes out looking good in her version of events. Doc definitely knows how to keep herself in everyone’s good graces.
Nolan, about to be tossed in jail, takes out all the guards, one of whom somehow has a taser (I can never get over what they still have and what they’ve never heard of. Really? Tasers?) that he’s able to overpower through sheer parental force of will and also being the protagonist. Irisa spins more rocks in the air, and terraforming devices begin to descend on Defiance, too. Uh oh.
And now we’re back to Alak, Christie, Pilar, and Quentin, who have also brought along the new servant girl from last week. Because those two things are of equal importance, right? Anyway, it seems like they’ve decided, upon seeing Datak back home, to take a day trip to this imaginary compound, until they see the lights in the sky. The apocalypse does have a tendency to cancel vacation plans, but Pilar is adamant they continue. So Quentin knocks out Alak, tosses him in the trunk, and Pilar points a gun at her daughter and forces them to leave town, because there hasn’t been enough hostage taking yet this episode. The new servant girl is having a really rough first week, watching all this.
For some reason Amanda is the one given Doc’s weapon and told to snipe Irisa, even though she really doesn’t have the skills for that. It doesn’t matter, because Nolan shoots the gun out of her hands with his stunning accuracy. This catches Irisa’s attention however, and all the rocks drop to the ground. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t happen to the Ark fragments. Nolan runs over, and Pottinger takes aim until Amanda begs him not to kill him. So he punches him instead, but Nolan gets back up, cuffs Amanda to the car and starts waving his gun around again. Pottinger calls Nolan a bully (which he is) and suggests they fight hand-to-hand, but no one has time for that, so Nolan just punches him back and knocks him out, and then knocks Yewll out. Mordecai, meanwhile, has been doing what they planned to do, and approaches Irisa. She tells him to keep away, but Nolan sneaks up and holds her until they can get the device out. Back to her old self, she’s pretty upset, but the machines are still getting ready to destroy Defiance, so they gotta deal with that first.
Datak and Stahma admire the beautiful oblivion that’s gathering above them, and figure that divine punishment is probably better than they deserve, so it’s all okay. That’s right about the time that the new servant girl finally finds them, and tells them what’s happened to Alak and Christie. So now it’s time to spring Rafe from jail and go on out for a good old fashioned Tarr-McCawley family reunion. But out at Camp Reverie, the prisoners are understandably panicked by the skies and the guards have decided the best way to handle this is with an execution line, Nazi-style. As if the E-Rep uniforms weren’t evocative enough of Nazis already. Berlin, who arrives in time to witness a whole row of prisoners taken out, is horrified and tries to take charge, but the prison guards don’t respect her authority and toss her in line, too. Man, Berlin, this is just not your month. Naturally, at the last second, the Tarrs arrive and kill the soldiers, saving both Berlin and Rafe. Who’d have expected Datak would ever get a Big Damn Heroes moment?
Inside the Kaziri, Irisa, Mordecai, and Nolan search for the Arkbrain, and find Sukar in a little bubble thing on the way. Apparently all of Irisa’s victims are here in bubbles, waiting for the new world. Irzu appears right about now, and tries to pull a last minute trap on the pair of Irathients. In Irisa’s vision, Irzu appears as Tommy, trying to talk her into destroying the world. It makes for a halfway decent real goodbye for Tommy, and it draws a firm parallel between him and Nolan: Irisa accepted Irzu’s deal in the first season finale to save Nolan, and both of them have suffered for it ever since. She instead chose to kill Tommy herself, apparently to try to avert that same fate again, and rejects this new deal that Irzu offers to revive him in the new world. Mordecai apparently faces a similar temptation with his parents, but we don’t see it and with as little screen time as he’s gotten, it wouldn’t make sense to show it. But apparently both having avoided the final temptation, they’re able to shut down the Kaziri, and destroy fake Irzu for good. As the ship collapses around them, Irisa and Nolan retreat into the little bubbles, left in stasis underground along with Sukar and the others. It’s not clear to me if Mordecai managed to escape on his own, but I hope so.
All in all, I think that makes a decent ending, and if it ends up being the series finale, it will probably be okay. The Tarr-McCawley stuff isn’t exactly unimportant or uninteresting, but it does stand a little at odds with the rest of the episode and since that’s most of what is left hanging, I think that will be seen as the weak point if this does end up being the conclusion of the series. If the show does get another season, I’d be okay with leaving Irisa and Nolan underground for a while. I’m planning a season 2 retrospective for next week, so I’ll get in depth on my thoughts of the season as a whole then.