Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Defiance, Season 1, Episode 5: A Well Respected Man


2 Castithan are driving down the street, going about their illegal business when they’re stopped and searched by Nolan, Irisa and Tommy. Nolan finds guns and lots of money – he tells them he’s coming after Datak, their employer, because of the body he left on their doorstep. And he’ll use the confiscated money to do it.

On the town council, Rafe is arguing for a Maglev connection that will bring a lot of money into the town. Amanda says no because they’ll have to borrow money from the Earth Republic and they’ll move in when they get their foot in the door (Rafe is fine to “massage that foot with scented oils”). The other councillors all nod and agree while Rafe pats Amanda on the head for being too young and silly and better to let the older ones take care of it. The patronising is interrupted by Datak barging his way into the office

He tells the council that the arms deal with the Votanis collective was off; something that shocks and angers the council. The Votanis collective assumed a level of discretion since it would make them look bad to be selling weapons to an unaffiliated town like Defiance – and Nolan just intercepted that shipment. No more shipments and the deposit is forfeit.

Amanda doesn’t know a thing about the arms deal and asks Rafe about it – he tells her that the council made the deal with Datak for heavy ordinance after the Stasis Net went down. She’s angry that he didn’t tell her he says she didn’t need to know, she’s the appointed mayor, not elected and the election is coming up. Rafe tells her to talk to Nolan if she wants to keep the “chair she inherited”.

As the mayor is walking through the streets a woman accosts her and demands she listen. She accuses Amanda’s sister, Kenya, of destroying her family. Her husband goes to Need Want to sleep with Kenya – or one of her staff – and the woman blames Kenya, referring to her as a disgusting pig and a slut. Amanda slaps her. And tells her that Kenya is a business woman and if her husband is cheating on her that’s his fault, not Kenya’s. Finally Amanda has done something I like. The woman spitefully says their mother must be so proud of them.

We get a flashback to when Kenya and Amanda were children, Amanda looking after her sister and giving her a necklace from their mother, an amulet of St. Finnegan, patron saint of lost children, while their mother scavenged on the battle fields of the Pale War, dying in one of the explosions.

Nolan is playing with Kenya in his own paid meet up and she tells him to keep his money. She wants him to come and see her and doesn’t want it to be financial. He asks if that means they’re… but she says no, no labels.

Amanda tracks down Nolan to her sister’s room (which has an amusing little “what are you doing here” before taking it back because she knows what he’s doing there. And him poking her for staring at his bare chest). She tells him about the deal he ruined and he asks how it’s his fault if she kept him uninformed. Kenya comes out and objects to Amanda shouting at her friend and Amanda counters “customer not friend”. Kenya calls her out on her judging her and Amanda stalks off saying that Kenya doesn’t have any judgement

Kenya chases her and asks what it’s about and Amanda criticises her for sleeping with married men. She tells her about the “would your mother be proud” line and says that she was the one who raised Kenya and she wanted better for her than this, judging her as a prostitute. Kenya isn’t having any of it and says she raised herself when their mother died.

Amanda leaves in a huff and another client grabs Kenya and tells her that one of her workers stole from her. Kenya tries to talk to Tira, the prostitute, but she runs and Kenya chases her outside. She follows her to the giant bio-man who works for Datak, trying to buy drugs. Kenya pulls her away and takes the money back and tells the bio-man she’ll set Nolan on him if he tries to sell anything to her people. As they move away, the van behind the bio-man opens and it’s full of people, tied and gagged, the bio-man forces them back in and closes the door as Kenya and Tira run. But Tira trips and twists her ankle, letting the bio-man catch them. As he does, Kenya loses her necklace.

In the mines, Quentin is angry that a mine is being blocked off –it was Luke (his dead brother)’s vein and he wanted to take it over. But Rafe said no, it’s too dangerous for him. Quentin takes it as proof that his father doesn’t trust him – unlike Luke; and clearly has some resentment about his siblings being more favoured.

At Need Want Nolan is told by the bartender that Kenya is missing; he heads off into the street accompanied by Amanda. They track her “hailer” (phone) to a kid that picked it up and see he has her necklace. The kid tells them the bio-man took her, he comes every night to take people to make Blue Devil.

Nolan tells her what the Blue Devil is – adreno, used during the war to enhance physical ability, a bad drug. There’s a formula to make it using actual human adrenal fluids which were extracted during the war from prisoners after scaring them to death.

The bio man, Ulysses, drives his ice-cream van to a location out of town where he delivers the people to Nico who is furious when he sees Kenya – his job was to collect junkies, people “no-one would miss”. Nico has to think – he injects himself with a drug and makes a plan – they process the last bunch, sell their product, take the money and run. He tells Nico to prepare Tira and Kenya for the maze.

They wake up in, well a maze of corridors and loud noises - and strange metal giants walking around overheard. They run and hide in the maze – pursued by Volge

Nolan and Amanda storm Datak house, Nolan manhandling Datak and demanding to know where Kenya is and Datak insisting that just because he associates with Ulysses doesn’t mean he’s responsible for him. And if he wanted to kidnap Kenya to get back at Nolan he’d be more clear about it – hubris and all. Amanda begs Datak to help, adding that Ulysses being seen up to no good would reflect badly on Datak. She begs him and he angrily rants about how he is treated by her and how little respect he is shown – which is why he will not help her.

As Amanda cries outside, Stahma comes to see her and says how much she admires Kenya. She knows her because her husband is a client (Castithans are sexually liberal), she likes that Kenya calls her workers “night porters”, she thinks it shows respect and Kenya even hugs Stahma and tells her that her husband is wonderful and thanks her for sharing him. Kenya’s good at the PR. She praises Kenya’s gift for knowing exactly what people need. She tells Amanda all Datak wants is respect – respect he is owed – and look, an empty seat on the town council. It’s at this point that Amanda should realise that Stahma is 10 times more dangerous than her husband.

The next day, Datak helps Nolan and asks what deal has been made, since he knows Datak won’t help him out of decency. Datak gives him some really good advice about Law keeping – it’s not just about force, it’s about building relationships, connect with the community, show that you care for people and get to know them. He needs to know the community he’s policing – as Datak shows with his knowledge of everyone’s secrets around him. And knowledge here leads to a Castithan man – because Ulysses likes Castithans. After Nolan exposes Datak’s attempt to be a hero, the Castithan tells him where he helped Ulysses set up his camp.

At Rafe’s Quentin is stomping out in a huff when Rafe speaks up about how he loves Luke and Quentin isn’t Luke – but that he also loves his wife, Christie and Quentin – Quentin as he is with the skills and capabilities he has. He shut off the shaft because it wasn’t about Qunetin, but because Luke found things down there – and he shows Quentin the odd starfish object he found in Luke’s room. He doesn’t know what it is, but he thinks it’s why Luke was killed. Whose betting it’s what the ex-mayor wants?

In the maze, Kenya tries to comfort Tira and encourage her to be brave – she tells her to hold on to her necklace, the one Amanda gave her when she was scared. But then she remembers losing it, so how could she still have it? She realises it’s not real and wakes up laid on a table with a metal band around her head. She frees herself, pulling the extraction needles out of her neck, while Nico is distracted taking another hit of drugs. She smacks him over the head with a glass bottle, a shard of the glass cutting into his neck.

Kenya releases Tira and Ulysses arrives, roaring about them killing Nico – and being shot repeatedly by Amanda, Irisa and Nolan.

The next day at Need, Want, Kenya sees Tira and tries to give her her necklace, telling her what Amanda told her – it’s St. Finnegan, patron saint of lost children. Tira says no, it’s St. Christopher, there is no St. Finnegan – she grew up with nuns, she knows.

From there Kenya goes to see Amanda to ask about her childhood theological ineptitude. She asks how their mother really died and Amanda has a flashback, to her and her mother scavenging and snarking, looting bodies including one of a soldier with the name Finnegan on his uniform, where she got the necklace. Then a mortar goes off near them and her mother tries to take her to the river. Amanda won’t, it would mean leaving Kenya behind and hoping she will find her way. Amanda refuses to go – and their mother turns and runs, telling her she knows where she’ll be. Amanda runs back to Kenya and pulls her out of the line of fire. When Kenya refuses to go anywhere without their mother, Amanda tells her she’s dead. To comfort Kenya Amanda says their mother gave her the necklace to give to Kenya.

To the present and sisterly realising that the mother she’d put on a pedestal wasn’t the hero she imagined. And Kenya is surprised that in all the years of arguments between them, Amanda never exploited this to silence her – wow, is this supposed to be a statement about how noble Amanda is? Because the fact her own sister is surprised she didn’t exploit the abandonment by their mother in a war zone speaks volumes.

In the mine, Rafe leads Quentin down the tunnels and the shaft he had locked off, leading to, eventually, cave paintings. One of which shows the gold object Luke found, which apparently has a silver twin

And at the town council, Amanda introduces the new councillor – Datak. And he takes great pleasure in shutting Nolan out the room. With Stahma in the waiting room – with Nolan finally realising he’s been watching the wrong member of the Tarr family.

I think we’re supposed to see Amanda has badly treated here – and certainly Rafe’s conversations with her are grossly patronising and wrong. Yet, there is a point that she is appointed, not elected, and that she has made some big decisions and policy changes on the basis of no electoral mandate. And it’s not like she has done anything to earn anyone’s respect. The patronising is wrong and she is due more respect than she’s getting, but nor can she expect respect she hasn’t earned. Flip side is that the council members themselves don’t seem to have much more legitimacy

What I did love was her slapping the woman for slut shaming her sister – it was powerful and affirming; but then she goes to Need Want and judges Kenya which really takes so much from it. “How dare you slut-shame my sister! How dare you! That’s my job!” I’m really coming to dislike Amanda

And as for Datak – every word of what he said to Amanda is true. She wants him to find her sister? What did she do when his son was held at gun point and nearly murdered?

And this would be the show’s first hints that GBLT people exist, if we can Ulysses the artificial bio-man fancying Castithans and the nameless female client at Need Want.

And the cave paintings. As I understand the Defiance time line, the Volatinis ships arrived less than 40 years ago (actually within Nolan’s lifetime or not much longer – certainly within Rafe’s). Before that the only ancient cave writings under St. Louis would be Native American – and there’s no way that artefact is Native American. So are they saying that the Arcfall and the terraforming caused cave paintings? Or that someone since Arcfall decided to daub some graffiti at the bottom of a mine and leave the shiny thing behind? And if the latter, why would Rafe do more than think “hey this is freaky?”or "damn kids messing around in the mine!"

There better be a good explanation for this, because that's a pretty clumsy way to include an overused trope

With the season finale of Defiance approaching, I know there's many people trying to catch up. You can watch Defiance online here to catch any episodes you may have missed