Defiance 203, “The Cord and the Ax”
[Photos: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy]
We finally get some good news in Defiance as Alak Tarr and his wife Christie are expecting their first child. There is much rejoicing in the McCawley household, until their Liberata housekeeper Bertie goes missing. That’s because the murderous tendencies Irisa has been displaying all season have finally come to a head as she kills not one but two individuals this episode. Bertie just happens to be victim #1 when Irisa falls under the influence of the goddess Irzu.
Lawkeeper Joshua Nolan is brought in to find Bertie. He sends Irisa to Berlin to review E-Rep security footage to find clues. However, he feels she’s acting odd and decides to search her belongings, finding Liberata blood on Irisa’s gloves. Meanwhile, Irzu destroys the camera set-up, preventing Berlin from seeing the footage Irisa murdering Bertie in an alley.
Irisa flees Defiance, seeking help from her Irathient spiritual mentor, Sukar, but he also falls prey to the Irzu-influenced Irisa (this would be his second “death” in the series so far). Irisa then runs into the woods to kill herself with Sukar’s rifle. Irzu intervenes after Irisa gravely wounds herself with the weapon, healing Irisa while telling her that she didn’t kill those people as everyone Irisa has killed this season, including the Castithan from Angel Arc in episode 1, is shown alive and well “under the protection” of Irzu, whatever that means. A now-alive Bertie finds Irisa in the woods, but has no memory of Irisa’s attack. They head back to Defiance together. Nolan finds them on their way back, but they refuse to acknowledge anything out of the ordinary.
Meanwhile, now that the Tarrs’ “Blue Devil” business has been turned over to the new mayor, Pottinger, Amanda Rosewater finds herself going through withdrawal symptoms. After brutally beating an abusive patron at the Need/Want, she goes to Pottinger to get more “Blue Devil”.
But this week, the Tarr household is the stormiest of all. First, Alak, the new father-to-be, visits his father Datak at the prison camp to get his blessing to leave the family’s criminal empire to focus on more benign, artistic pursuits. Datak, never the least paranoid of people to begin with, denies Alak his blessing, fearing (correctly) that his wife Stahma is consolidating her power and deliberately working to keep Datak in prison.
But all is not gloomy for Datak. Pottinger returns to the prison camp after torturing Doc Yewll last episode. He wants her help deciphering the diary he found in her lab and, as a peace offering, returns her finger he severed and promises to remove her from the prison camp. She makes it conditional that she get an assistant to help her work and selects Datak for that role, returning both Yewll and Datak back to Defiance.
Datak’s arrival back home surprises Stahma and Alak as they enjoy the ol’ family bath together. He then attacks Stahma, attempting to drown her as Alak unsuccessfully fights back. Datak retains the upper hand, incapacitates Alak, but releases Stahma before he kills her as the Tarr family dynamic goes into a spin.
There is much to like this week in what is arguably one of the more violent episodes of the series, with two murders and two vicious beatings to round it all out. Defiance is becoming a dark little corner of the world on a personal level for some of the characters, including Amanda, Irisa, and the Tarrs. It is also nice to finally get some small modicum of closure on any of the various plot threads.
Datak’s return is handled very well and is easily the most violent set piece of the series to date. It also happens to be one of the more beautifully symbolic, as the filthy, dirt-covered Datak turns the normally milky-white waters of the family bath into a slurry of mud as he takes his revenge against the conspiring members of his family.
Irisa’s struggles with Irzu become at least a degree clearer (while still leaving a lot unanswered) as she is revealed to not be the murderous monster she feared she was becoming. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here and what exactly Irzu needs her to do and what Irzu’s “protection” means.
It was also nice to get a Liberata front and center. They are one of the six Votan races, but they are mostly relegated to window dressing and given nothing more than cursory face time. It’s nice to have some focus on Bertie the Liberata this episode as a contrast to the usual Castithan- and Irathien-heavy drama.
This episode feels like things are finally picking up momentum this season.
Woodchuck sez, “Check it out.”