DEFIANCE: Relationships are Hard. They’re Even Harder When You’re Crazy

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Defiance 212: “All Things Must Pass”

[photos: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy]

At this point it’s clear that, while the Tarrs are estranged, they appear to be having more sex now than ever. And thus we find them, post-coitus, as Stahma broaches the subject of reconciliation…with conditions, including making her a full partner in their joint enterprises and having Datak relegate control of some aspects of the business. She also tells him that he may never lay a hand again on their son. Datak, being the raging narcissist he is and seeing easily through Stahma’s seduction, refuses and throws her out. But before either of them can sulk too much, they are both kidnapped by parties unknown.

They come to, chained together in what appears to an abandoned silo of some kind. As their captors aren’t present, they take the time to argue and shout at each other, casting blame and aspersions as they have the first real sit-down talk between the two since their estrangement (their previous conversations have been born more out of necessity rather than any real desire to air grievances). It’s good for them, therapeutic even, with both admitting faults and failures.

Defiance - Season 2

Meanwhile, Nolan continues dragging the wounded Tommy back the 30 some odd kilometers to Defiance, with Tommy flitting in and out of consciousness and a gentle snow falling down. Tommy hallucinates on the way and we get some glimpses into Tommy’s past, including earlier interactions with Nolan and Irisa, including one where he helps Nolan leave Defiance after the events of last season’s finale to go find Irisa (so an inter-season filler, if you will). We also find out that he proposed to Irisa as well (she refused because she’s cray-cray). Tommy also shares Irisa’s diary with Nolan and he recognizes her drawings of Cai.

Speaking of Cai, he has a flashback of Ashi and Reimlu, the previous incarnations of Irisa and Cai from 3000 years ago, who seize control of the Kaziri, capturing both parts of the Kelavar (the two part key to the ship, both parts of which now reside inside Irisa).  Each of them will take part of the key and as long as they remain separate, Kaziri can never come back online.  They eject the other Votan who are in stasis, presumably to their deaths and are themselves ejected in cocoons similar to those seen earlier this season during the pilgrimage. The Kaziri then crash-lands into the earth, buried somewhere in the neighborhood of what will one day be St. Louis and then Defiance, circa 831 BC (why  that year, no idea).

Back on the travois, Tommy is continuing to bleed out.  To staunch the flow of blood, Nolan cauterizes Tommy’s wound with a heated knife.  But it’s a too little, too late and Tommy doesn’t survive the trip back to Defiance.  And Nolan, a man whose most prevalent emotional response is yelling, breaks down crying at his death.  Once back to Defiance, Nolan grabs Cai to help him stop Irisa.

Outside of Defiance, Doc Yewll seems to be going a little stir crazy, holed up by herself in the decrepit St. Louis Union Station.  Lev makes a re-appearance, as Yewll never removed her EGO chip and is starved for company.  Unfortunately, her food supplies have been compromised so she has to navigate the tunnels back out of Union Station to the surface to get more food.

Defiance - Season 2

As she tries to find her way out, she apparently moves under the pilgrimage site and sees all kinds of holes drilled in the roof of the cavern (from where the cocooned “saved” were brought back down through the ground).  Then she discovers Kaziri in all her buried glory.  Yewll resolves to stop Irisa after Kaziri hacks her EGO chip. To prevent Kaziri from hampering her any further, she carves out her EGO chip, so no more Lev.

Pilar McCawley goes to visit Rafe at Camp Reverie. Their reunion is bittersweet, both of them overcome with emotion, so regardless of whomever they were and whoever they’ve become, they still feel something for each other. Pilar then goes with Quentin to meet Christie. They hug and go to a local café to catch up.

Meanwhile, Amanda and Niles Pottinger are having a dinner date. He cooks for her, mentioning it was a habit he picked up in Prague. They talk about traveling and he gives her a rose. Then he tells her that he has a surprise for. The surprise is…he has captured the killers of her sister Kenya and has them corralled so she can execute them herself to gain justice for her sister’s murder.

He takes Amanda to her “surprise”, which is the Tarrs bound inside the old silo. Pottinger gives her a gun so she can take her revenge, but Amanda refuses because she doesn’t like that she wants to execute them and murdering them in cold blood will just create a vacuum in the criminal power structure of Defiance. Amanda now knows, though, that Stahma poisoned Kenya. We also get a sincere emotional moment from Datak about his feelings for Stahma as he pleads for her life. They then reconcile, which unfortunately doesn’t bode well for some of their head underlings, whom he paralyzes with poison and buries in a hole underneath their office.

Defiance - Season 2

At the close, Irisa has now been subsumed by Kaziri. She manifests her powers to create an informal map of the conglomeration of Ark debris in orbit above the Earth. She activates several large sections of Arkship that send dozens of terraforming units swooping down on New York City. They dispense their payload in the air above the city, and once the floating modules align, they begin to fire, burning everything in their path, Kaziri’s 3000-year-old command directive coming back online…

Okay, here’s my beef about Defiance: it is not friendly to the casual viewer. Certain parts of the over-arching narrative are left out, so for anyone to truly understand what’s going on, they have to watch the show, play the video game, and read the fan Wikipedia.  Take Kaziri, Ashi and Reimlu, for example: why did Ashi and Reimlu take control of the ship?  Because their ship was the precursor to the rest of the Votan fleet, sent ahead by thousands of years to terraform the planet.  Once arriving, they saw that the planet was already inhabited and they chose to sacrifice their ship to save the lives of humanity because all life is sacred to Irzu. But you don’t get that at all from the TV show.  I watch these episodes 2-3 times just to write these recaps, and I’m not seeing this stuff and I’m deliberately looking for it.

There are other instances as well.  For example, last season a minor character made reference to Doc Yewll’s involvement in the “Biodyne Project”, a Votan project to assess human weaknesses for exploitation during the Pale Wars…but that’s not background info you get from the show. She references obliquely later her involvement in the torture of humans…but that still doesn’t give the audience a fuller picture that it was tied to the Biodyne Project or what the project was for (or why she left).

Enjoying a TV show shouldn’t be mandatory extra work. Sure, it should have extra bits available, like people poring over obscure minutiae of Lost because they tie together with other things in the narrative (or don’t) and add to the enjoyment of the show.  Except in Lost, all the minutiae…WERE IN THE SHOW, not on a fan Wikipedia page.

Well-organized shows have a video game that is complimentary without being critical to understanding and enjoying. Here we have a video game that is more crucial to understanding the world of Defiance than the TV show.  That is ass-backwards and, if it’s not corrected, I guarantee you will contribute to the demise of the show.

It’s a real shame that Hallmark doesn’t exist in the future world of Defiance because that diehard romantic Niles Pottinger would be a shoo-in. When everything is going right, he continues to jack things up.  “Oh, she’s starting to like me…I think I’ll clone her dead sister!  Oh, hey, we kissed during that cave-in, a couple times even…I should hunt down the people that killed her sister to she can execute them herself!” Niles Pottinger apparently likes pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and summary executions.

Tommy had been treated mostly as a sullen doorknob for most of this season, a whipping boy (and it doesn’t make a ton of sense either; Tommy was adversarial with Nolan when Nolan returned with Irisa from Angelarc…except Tommy helped Nolan start on his trip to find her, so what happened to turn him against them? Getting a new girlfriend in Berlin? That makes no sense). And we finally get the best glimpse into his character for the entire series…and then he dies, our first major character death of the season (which is odd, considering that people are murdered in every episode in some form or fashion).  If anything, this episode shows how shabbily Tommy was treated by others and how he didn’t abandon them as much as they abandoned him.

Yewll continues to own every scene she’s in.  Her banter with Lev is fun (Yewll: “Do you know what I miss the most about Defiance?”; Lev:  “The hot lady mayor?”; Yewll:   “You have the weirdest taste!”)

One episode left before Season Two draws to a close!

Woodchuck sez, “Check it out.”

[Defiance web site at Syfy]     [Previous Recap – “Doll Parts”]

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One thought on “DEFIANCE: Relationships are Hard. They’re Even Harder When You’re Crazy

  • September 8, 2014 at 10:04 am
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    You are absolutely right about needing the full TV & game experience to get some of Defiance. And don’t forget the app SyFy Sync, which clarifies many details that creep into the show from the game as you watch TV. It’s so distracting to have to track all that just to follow the plot.

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