Defiance 210, “Bottom of the World”
[photos: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy]
At the top of the hour, Irisa breaks into an E-Rep garrison to steal a terrasphere. As she flees the scene of the crime, Nolan waylays her and gives the terrasphere back to the E-Rep. He strips her of her badge, disarms her of her knives, and handcuffs her, disappointed in her betrayal.
Next, Alak announces the impending visit of Earth Republic ambassador Olfin Tennety in Defiance…sort of. At least he tries to announce the arrival, except his DJ, Dierdre, is aggressively grinding on him while he’s on the mike. He tells her to stop, that he loves his wife, but that she can keep her job at the station. She wants a bribe of 5000 scrip to buy his way out of their relationship.
Earth Republic ambassador Olfin Tennety does indeed return to Defiance this episode (she was last seen towards the end of season 1) with two new husbands (Cyrus and Jermaine!) in tow (the last two having died or fled last season). She’s come to Defiance to inspect the gulanite mine, but not before verbally sparring with her nemesis Amanda. They take several potshots at each other before Pottinger defuses the situation by putting the ambassador in her place.
Then Pottinger, Amanda, Berlin, Ambassador Tennety, and Nolan (with Irisa in tow in handcuffs) head into the mine for a tour. While Pottinger is extolling the virtues and efficiency of his operation, there is a significant tremor and subsequent cave-in (yet another western staple), which kills Tennety while trapping Pottinger and Amanda deep underground. Nolan, Irisa, and Berlin are the only 3 to escape. Nolan enlists Rafe McCawley’s help in rescuing Pottinger and Amanda before they run out of air. Irisa escapes in the hubbub by dislocating her thumbs to escape the handcuffs.
Once freed from her handcuffs, Irisa appeals to Tommy to help her steal back the terrasphere, telling him she needs it to cure her condition. To drive the point home, she kisses him.
Turns out the mine collapse was caused by a weapon stolen from Rafe’s growing cache of arms, a seismic device called a Votan trembler…but it wasn’t put there by Rafe. Nolan and Berlin are lowered down a long lava tube to where they presume Pottinger and Amanda are trapped. For some reason, the production staff decided to film them rappelling almost on top of each other. What, they couldn’t go one-by-one?
As their air dwindles, Pottinger and Amanda talk about Sumerian burials, Harry Potter, Richard III, George III, and their relationship. They even kiss for the first time. Amanda is surprised before more forcefully kissing him back. As time passes, Pottinger even does a noble thing, telling Amanda to kill him so that there will be enough air for her to survive (specifically, she asks him to beat in his skull with a rock). Then he collapses from a lack of oxygen. Amanda chooses not to take him up on his offer.
At the Tarr house, Alak apologizes to Christie about how he treated her last episode at the Votan cross-dressing club. She makes him swear fidelity to her in Castithan and then they make whoopee. Later, Dierdre comes to the Tarr house to take Christie out for lunch. While Christie goes to grab her things, Alak physically confronts Dierdre about their earlier discussion. He tells her that she doesn’t love her and she says she isn’t “done fighting”. Then she and Christie leave, with Stahma witnessing the exchange from afar. She goes to enlist Datak’s help in removing Dierdre from the picture (Datak is busy hustling three card monte at the Needwant). Datak declines to help so Stahma resolves to “gut her” herself. Things don’t look good for ol’ Dierdre.
On the surface, Rafe takes Quentin back to his stash to suss out what happened. Once there, Quentin admits that he’s the one who planted the device as part of the “ransom” he paid to free his mother from the Votanic Collective. He then attacks Rafe, knocking him out.
And at the last possible second, Nolan and Berlin breakthrough to the trapped twosome and they are saved, none the worse for wear.
Once clear of the mine, Nolan heads to Rafe’s place, which is swarming with E-Rep soldiers. Quentin blames the bombing on his father and, to protect his son, Rafe corroborates his story. Nolan arrests him and he’s hauled off to Camp Reverie.
As one McCawley parent is hauled away, another enters the picture as we meet Pilar McCawley for the first time (played here by a very old-looking Linda Hamilton). She is Rafe McCawley’s estranged wife who has been a “guest”/prisoner of the Votanis Collective for some time. The VC make good on their promise to free her after Quentin’s assassination of Ambassador Tennety. Rafe abandoned her after she began physically hurting the children so it will be interesting to see how much crazy she brings to the table.
Even later, Tommy presents Irisa with the terrasphere and is promptly bushwhacked for his trouble. She then “saves” him (making him her first non-Votan victim). Irisa takes the terrasphere to site of the gathered “saved” outside of Defiance (she calls it “the pilgrimage”). The activated terrasphere kickstarts the Kaziri, the Ark ship buried underneath Defiance (and the cause of most of the trouble these last two seasons). The bulk of Irisa’s adherents are cocooned by the Kaziri (they are put in these translucent bubbles), which are then sucked back underground and stored in the ship, to be released after the upcoming Kaziri-orchestrated apocalypse. Once completed, Irisa says, “It’s beginning” and then we fade to black.
Another busy episode with lots of moving parts. As far was western conventions go, Defiance hits them from time to time, with their own spin on them (instead of a train robbery, we get a land coach robbery). This time around it’s the old mine cave-in trope. All we’re missing from the series is someone yelling, “There’s a snake in my boot!” and “Someone’s poisoned the waterhole!”
The cave-in sequence was sloppy. First we’re told that our trapped twosome only has 30 minutes of air. Then 20 minutes. And yet it’s quite obvious the efforts to save them take considerably longer than that (nor is there any way for our rescuers to know how much air they have left as they don’t even know where they are trapped, the size of their particular cave, etc.).
One of the challenges with this show is that characters reference things that are spoken of infrequently. For example, Irisa, while activating the terrasphere, references the “devouring mother”, which is what she was called by the cult that she and her parents belonged to as a child (and that was responsible for implant half of the Kelavar, the two part key that controls the Kaziri). It was mentioned last season…but not once this season, so to the casual viewer it likely makes no sense.
Alak’s break-up with Dierdre is as funny as it is awkward. “You’re a-a great person…with great taste in music.”
Pottinger again shows glimmers of humanity (which I’m sure he’ll shortchange by doing something abominable soon), offering to sacrifice himself for Amanda. Not going to lie, when the exchange started, I thought for sure he was going to kill her so he could survive. Color me surprised it didn’t shake out that way. Pottinger putting Tennety in her place is also a great bit of business.
And the song “Across the Storm Divide” makes a casual re-appearance after being notably absent since the season premiere.
Three episodes left in the season.
Woodchuck sez, “Check it out.”