Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Defiance Season 1, Episode 6: The Serpent's Egg

Alak Tarr runs his own little radio programme from the top of the old St. Louis arch which means he’s ideally placed to spot the Landcoach arriving – a big truck full of supplies and goods that apparently only arrives every 2 weeks.

Now you know why the council in Defiance wants to install a maglev. Also on the landcoach, Nolan is going to escort Rynn to the prison in Las Vegas. Nolan’s also carrying a big case full of tax receipts from the town, linked to the paying for a dedicated rail link. And Amanda is less than thrilled to see that Olfin Tennety, Earth Republic Ambassador and person she has been trying to avoid, has also arrived on the Landcoach.

Olfin introduces her 2 husbands, Casper and Ziggy, and lightly chides Amanda for ignoring her letters – Amanda counters she hasn’t ignored them, she’s just not interested in the offer. We learn that Amanda used to work for the Earth Republic in their HQ – in New York. One of Olfin’s husbands is bemused she’d leave New York to the backwater of Defiance. Olfin makes another push to fund their railroad but Amanda says they’ve paid for it themselves (Olfin notices the case). Olfin changes tack and warns Amanda that, sooner or later, the Votanis collective will come to Defiance and they won’t be offering cash to get Defiance to join.

Everyone boards the coach – and in the loading, Rynn manages to secretly steal a pen from the conductor. Irisa tries to make nice to Rynn but she’s not receptive – she hugs Nolan goodbye instead.

As she leaves the Landcoach, one of the new arrivals, a Castithan, catches her eye and she has an odd – well, could be vision could be flashback. Tommy asks her about it but she dismisses him, telling him she thought he was someone she once knew. But she staggers into an alley and has to hold onto the wall to keep from collapsing

On the Landcoach, in addition to Olfin and her 2 annoying husbands, 1 of which complains about how Rynn smells, they’re also joined by Rev. Preston who introduces himself with a Bible quote. I’ve been stuck on long bus journeys like this, the urge to ace murder grows the longer it lasts. He offers Amanda a Bible, she prefers Scotch (y’know she may redeem herself yet).

Nolan snarks a little about Olfin’s relationship but Amanda asks whether he’s against polygamy or if he’s just against men being in a subservient role to women, since Olfin is clearly in charge in her relationship. Nolan backs down and instead changes the topic to be one on threesomes – but adds that relationships are hard work with one person. Amanda has considered group marriage – she doesn’t buy the idea of one true love and people have different sides to themselves, multiple partners could each bring out a different side and allow her to be all she can be. Nolan decides that she has been in love and has been burned which is why she’s now not a big believer in it.

Back in Defiance, at Need Want, the new Castithan is being watched by Irisa and he turns down the attentions of Tirra, one of the workers because he’s a happily married man with a family in New York. Outside of Need Want Irisa kicks the man in the balls then smacks him across the face with a cosh.

He wakes up in a dark, ruined room, taped up and gagged. Irisa calls him Daigo. He denies he’s Daigo, says she has the wrong man but she says she recognises his smell. She accuses him of torturing her (with memory flashbacks of a snake) and he’s going to confess and tell her why or he’s going to die.

On the landcoach, with everyone asleep, Rynn uses the pen she stole to open the chains. She gets up and reaches for where we saw Nolan put his gun in the overhead compartment – and Nolans points a gun at the back of her head. He takes the pen and chains her up again – just in time for an explosion to hit the drivers compartment of the coach.

Nolan runs to the driver – but he’s dead. In the confusion, Rynn grabs a paperclip and Amanda sees vehicles approaching. Nolan says the blast came from inside the compartment not outside – the Reverend is in on it and holds a gun on Nolan. On the plus side you don’t have to listen to him evangelise the whole journey now.

In Defiance Irisa goes through the man’s box – full of gems and jewellery, his job is as a jewel merchant. She finds an amulet he claims he found in an outdoor market but she says he taught to her: a symbol of the Devouring Mother, possessor of both womb and grave. She accuses him of lying and hits him

On the landcoach, the robbers open the case and find the money Defiance has raised for the rails. But their informant also says the ambassador has a lot of money. Olfin denies it – so they turn their guns on her husbands – after groping one, they kill Casper. The other husband drops next to him, shocked and horrified. She pulls a chip from his sleeve, it’s a money chip and an Earth Republic bank will cash it for its value. Ziggy is furious that they had that much money and neither of them knew about it – and that she let Casper die for it. While he’s acting up, Nolan moves – stabbing one of the guards and shooting the Reverend. In the firefight, Ziggy is shot, a bullet is punched in the water barrel and Olfin is captured by the bandits before Amanda closes the doors.

Nolan notes they can only live for 3 days without water and the bandits tie Olfin up in the sun to force them to give up the money

In Defiance, Tommy sees Irisa go into an abandoned building carrying a huge sack and follows her into the building – the Castithan takes the chance to scream for help. Tommy rushes to release the man – and she pulls a gun on him. She ties Tommy up and her story comes out – that the Castithan told her parents their daughter was special and he needed to prepare her for her destiny. She was tortured in a cult situation while her parents watched. He protests again that it wasn’t him and he has his own daughter and would never consider doing such a thing.

Tommy tries to calm Irisa down, asking how she knows. She says he wore a mask but she remembers his smell and shows him the amulet she found. Tommy points out how ridiculous it is that she’s making this identification based on so little. She points to his eye twitch as well and the Castithan closes his eyes and challenges her to tell him what colour they are. She guesses wrongly. She won’t accept it and has the snake bite him anyway.

Back at the Landcoach, night falls and Olfin screams for help, the wildlife getting closer to her. Nolan notes that they’re being pressed because Preston took a bullet in the leg, he needs a doctor so needs to resolve the stand off quickly. Nolan looks out over the terrain and predicts where Preston will be and where his Castithan guard will be ready with the ambush. He gives Amanda a rifle and tells her to shoot the Castithan, he empties out the money from the case so she can still bargain even if he gets shot.

As soon as Amanda and Nolan are out of the vehicle, Rynn uses the paperclip to unfasten her chains (wow these chains are awful – it takes her less than a second to open them. I’d be impressed if you could open them that fast with a key). She runs out while Ziggy keeps quiet. Nolan walks up to the limping fake priest and frees Olfin. At which point Preston realises he’s been tricked –just as Amanda shoots the Castithan. Nolan’s much quicker on the draw than Preston and shoots him several times in the chest. As he dies, Nolan asks who set it up but he won’t talk.

They make camp – they haven’t found Rynn but Nolan has the keys to their vehicle so wherever she’s going she’s going on foot. Preston also had plenty of water. But it’s not a peaceful ending – because Olfin pulls a gun on Amanda and Nolan. It was all part of their plan, Preston steals the money leaving Defiance with no hope of establishing the rail link without Earth Republic money. Nolan and Amanda were intended to live – but Ziggy realises neither he nor Cesar were meant to live.

She staggers down with a chain around her neck – thrown by Rynn.

Back in Defiance, Tommy begs Irisa to get the Castithan to Yewl’s before he dies from the poison. They will get justice for her and track the actual culprits. Which is when the Castithan speaks up “he was afraid but the snake brings clarity”. He says everything Irisa said was true, though for years he has been running from it. He talks about it being ordained for them to meet again and all the torture was to test and prepare her, to have her embrace her true nature. She is the one in the prophecy of the sacred texts – since she survived. Making her Alacta, the chosen one: creator destroyer, devouring mother. All that was needed to completer the ceremony was for her to “kill the supplicant” kill a volunteer sacrifice – which was when Nolan and his military unit intervened, killing the cultists and saving her.

And now the Castithan thinks he has a chance at redemption – by being her sacrifice. He urges her to kill him – and she refuses and releases Tommy. Released tommy attacks the Castithan knocking him down and kicking him for torturing a child until Irisa stops him. He wants to die – so she wants him taken to Yewl.

Back at the landcoach, Rynn says she’s taking their rifle and a roller. She helped because in the wilderness they have their own laws – and a man who risked his life for another can’t be left to die. Ziggy goes with her to get a lift to the next town. Then it’s a decision of what to do with Olfin. Nolan suggests that she died heroicly defending her 2 beloved husbands – but they have laws and they take her back to Defiance to be prosecuted.

When the next Landcoach comes through Defiance, she is transported to Vegas prison. Except once on the coach she’s uncuffed and the guard defers to her. Olfin makes it clear she wants every scrap of dirt they can dig up about Amanda.

The Daigo is still wandering around the town, albeit injured. Tommy doesn’t understand why she let him go and she says he wanted to create a messiah, instead he’s selling rocks – that’s punishment. In the Lawkeepers office, Irisa is disturbed, the head of the Spirit Riders, Sukar believed she had a gift. And now so does Daigo – but he thought it was destructive. She’s worried that he’s right but Tommy points out she proved him wrong. She asks why Tommy would have killed him and he says she’s not the only one with nightmares… and because he likes her. Passionate kissing in the Law keepers office follows. And more as Alak puts a new song (well and old song) on the radio, we see everyone all happy – and Tommy and Irisa having sex on the Law keeper office floor.


They started with such a good conversation of polygamy and Nolan being uncomfortable about a woman being the head of a relationship – but then link it to not believing in love and Amanda having her heart broken. Which implies that polygamous relationships don’t involve love. Especially when you consider how the relationship ended. What could have been a great comment on the difference of this new society and challenging assumptions about monogamy and patriarchal based relationships instead ended up almost a cautionary tale.

I’m not fond of the whole Irisa is a chosen one tale. It feels to me like something you’d introduce in season 3. In season 1 we have this brand new world and brand new alien cultures to explore. We have the difficulty in bringing all the groups together, we have the difficult decisions to make between independence (and lack of amenities) or joining the Earth Republic or Votanis Collective for more resources – but less autonomy. We have simply surviving in a world with hellbugs and raiders and mutant soldiers and arcfalls and volge and who knows what else.

So why drop a load of woo-woo with Irisa and magic cave paintings?

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