Defiance 209, “Painting from Memory”
[photos: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy]
So, obviously after the events of last episode, the big hubbub this episode is the return of Kenya Rosewater to Defiance after disappearing for the better part of a year. This causes different levels of anxiety amongst the various residents for different reasons.
Amanda is thrilled to have her sister back, obviously, but she’s the only one that welcomes her back without trepidation. Kenya pieces together her capture and interrogation by the masked man from last episode. He’s obviously male, but we still have no clue who he is. She figures she was only captured for 2 or 3 weeks by the masked man, so where was she in the intervening remaining months? The last thing she remembers is last mayoral election. Everything else in between is lost in amnesia.
Nolan gets to share the news that, in her absence, he shagged her sister on multiple occasions. Kenya takes it surprisingly well. However, she begins to have flashbacks of being stuck in a large water tank, surrounded by individuals who appear to be part of the Votanis Collective. She also remembers the VC executing two other humans, one of whom had a very distinctive tattoo, meaning that she was initially being held by members of E-Rep special forces.
Niles Pottinger returns to Defiance this episode, as well, and immediately meets with Doc Yewll about the return of Kenya. The E-Rep facility Kenya was held at was under his control and Doc Yewll is up to her eyeballs in what’s going on. To protect them both, Yewll offers to chemically lobotomize Kenya before she can remember more. Meanwhile, Kenya continues to remember, including episodes from her and Amanda’s first days in Defiance. Kenya also offers to make Amanda a partner in the Need-Want, but Amanda declines. Shortly thereafter, Doc Yewll joins them to speed along the chemical lobotomy, presumably.
The process starts and before Doc can complete the lobotomy, Kenya has additional visions of her captivity, specifically one where she witnesses Doc Yewll unmasking herself outside the water tank she was held in. The process is interrupted before Kenya can be lobotomized. Nolan keeps pushing Kenya to remember, but notices there are suspicious holes in her memory (specifically, she remembers anything that Amanda would know, but not things where Amanda wasn’t present). Kenya tries to seduce him until Nolan notices the scars on her back that she previously received from her ex-husband…are gone.
Concurrently, Stahma Tarr is obviously the most shaken by her return as Stahma MURDERED her during last season’s finale, using her old standby: poison (Stahma would be so predictable in the game of “Clue”). Luckily for her, she learns very quickly that Kenya doesn’t remember her betrayal. In fact, Kenya remembers vaguely their attraction to one another. Of course, if Kenya’s memory comes back, that can all go completely to Hell in a handbasket awfully fast. The only problem is…Stahma buried a body.
She enlists Datak’s help and heads out to dig her up. After many hours of fruitless digging and Castithan profanity, Datak uncovers a human skull where Stahma said she buried Kenya’s body. And if indeed this is really Kenya’s skull, who the heck is running around Defiance looking like Kenya? And rather than return with the skull, Datak reburies the remains. Stahma confronts Amanda, warning her that Kenya is dead and that an impostor has taken her place. Amanda takes this news about as well as can be expected.
Kenya then gets a significant memory that shows Pottinger and Yewll talking outside the water tank about how the “host” in the tank is in an Indogene being imprinted with Amanda’s memories (I’m assuming these were harvested previously by the EGO chip that Pottinger had implanted in Amanda several episodes ago). “Kenya”, faced with this revelation, then peels off part of her scalp to reveal Indogene skin underneath. She goes to confront Yewll, who admits what happened. The fake Kenya is a VC spy that Pottinger kidnapped from Camp Reverie. Because the VC interrupted the implantation procedure, her memories became a jumbled mess. Pottinger shows up to eliminate the problem. His goal was to be the hero – return Amanda’s sister to her, ingratiating himself with the senior Rosewater, so that when the fake Kenya expired in several months due to the implantation procedure, she would find solace in his arms. That’s an awfully elaborate plan to get the booty. He shoots “Kenya” in the shoulder, but she is able to flee the scene. She gets to the Need-Want to grab her things and Amanda tries to get her to stay, but “Kenya” breaks her arm and leaves.
Pottinger throws Yewll under the bus to Amanda and Nolan, neglecting to mention his part in any of the plot. Amanda hosts a memorial service for Kenya at the Need-Want. “Kenya” is seen on a land bus, somewhere near what’s left of San Francisco. Yewll turns to Datak for help and he, with Rafe’s help, spirits her away to old St. Louis outside of Defiance (the location is quite obviously a decrepit version of the St. Louis Union Station).
Rafe McCawley has a small aside this week, as his surviving son, Quentin, returns to Defiance, marking his first appearance this season. He’s been gone since the end of last season, tracking down the whereabouts of his mother (she is/was bipolar and put the children in physical danger, so Rafe separated from her, taking custody of their children). He found her in Mendocino, another city somewhere in the western United States (she’s apparently part of some kind of Votan cult/monastery).
Meanwhile, seemingly unconnected to Kenya’s return, Irisa gathers more and more of the Irzu’s “saved” on the outskirts of town for an as-yet undefined purpose.
And before the curtain drops, the masked kidnapper from last episode stands revealed as Quentin McCawley, who burns the mask he wore.
A cover version of the 4 Non-Blondes’ song, “What’s Going On” is used this episode and appropriately underscores the general what-the-heck-is-going-on vibe from this episode. So we’ve got a fake Kenya, modified like Nicky Riordan from last season to resemble a human, just so Niles Pottinger can end up with Amanda? Okay, the problem I have with that, in addition to it being awfully elaborate for the end result – the two of them were getting closer anyway, so why would he need to expedite the process artificially? Operating the Need-Want wasn’t preventing Amanda from hooking up with Nolan, so why, given enough time, would it not bear the same result for Niles (I mean, other than he’s a giant creep and a half)?
One of the new big questions is what is Quentin McCawley doing in bed with the Votanis Collective (particularly since he’s not Votan) and just how in bed he is. Last season, Quentin was instrumental in derailing the plans of Nicky Riordan, including murdering her henchman with his bare hands.
We get another busy episode with a lot going on, just like last week. This week’s and last week’s episodes are arguably the two strongest in the series thus far. Starting next episode, Defiance is going to air two episodes back-to-back through the season finale.
No word yet on whether Defiance has been renewed for a third season, though the showrunner Kevin Murphy says he’s optimistic and that they’ve mapped out two additional seasons. The ratings have been lower for season 2 than season 1 by 25%. The average rating for season 2 is 1.58 versus 2.03 for season 1. That seems to be higher than Syfy’s usual cancellation threshold, but the show’s survival is still up in the air.
Woodchuck sez, “Check it out.”