We begin with an Arcfall – debris from the arcs the Votans arrived on falls through the atmosphere and rains down on Earth. On the ground, Sukar and his Spirit Riders drive to try and get out of the “razor rain” but one of the bikers is hit by debris. Sukar stops and runs to help him, pulling the shard of metal from the fallen Irath – and is hit in the neck by shrapnel himself. His people drag him to shelter and he looks up and sees Irisa. He tells her “what we must do is for the good of all.” Before he passes out – and a large bat winged creature flies pass.
Irisa wakes up.
At the top of the arch Alak is broadcasting his radio show with Christie but they’re interrupted by Amanda complaining about him not playing her record – and threatening to fire him if he doesn’t play Shiny Happy People. Oh dear Amanda, I didn’t think much of you before but I assumed you had some limits. And Christie wants to talk about a Castithan ritual Alak’s mother brought up – where after a wedding the whole family has a bath together. (Bathing seems to be important in Castithan culture and collective nudity not taboo). Christie is all kind of weirded out by it and not very reassured by Alak’s assurance she’ll have beads to wear.
And at the police station Nolan arrives in time to see Irisa packing and leaving to go save Sukar. She says she has a vision and leaves. Nolan mopes around for a couple of seconds before Irisa asks if he’s coming (awww, she forgives him)
At the McCawley household, Quentin is all mopey because he murdered someone. And Nicky arrives – that’s former-mayor-secretly-evil Nicky, claiming her car broke down and she needs shelter from the storm (but really because she’s after the shiny thing Quentin has that Luke once had). She babbles on about her man “Birch” and the biiiig family he has – that would be the man Quentin murdered, eventually making him run off, possibly to be sick.
At Need Want, Stahma Tarr arrives to see Kenya – not to collect her husband’s protection money, but to hire Kenya to teach Alak how to have sex with a human woman. Kenya looks bemused as Stahma describes how hard it can be (“it took centuries for your own scientists centuries to discover the G-spot”) and adds that she wants Christie to tell her father how wonderful it was. At which point Kenya cracks up at the idea of any human girl – especially Christie – talking about wedding night sex with their father. But Stahma takes offence at Kenya’s laughing at her – she recites a Castithan saying “seeming is being” by treating Stahma like a fool, it makes Stahma a fool. Kenya hurries after her and apologises and offers (well sorta demands) to buy Stahma a drink. Kenya’s extremely good at charming people.
In the Badlands, Nolan and Irisa find the Spirit Riders but after some posturing with guns, one of them recognises Irisa – and tells her that Sukar is dead. They offer to let Irisa attend the funeral – but not Nolan. But Irisa notices a shard of metal on the floor and realises the storm is Razor Rain – everyone in Defiance thinks it’s just a normal storm. Nolan realises he has to warn the town but Irisa wants to stay for Sukar’s “Sinking Ritual”.
At the Sinking Ritual there’s music, holy words and Sukar’s belongings are dropped into acid, before his body is lowered in – expected to be stripped down to its bones, the “three elements of the body”. Someone’s put a lot of work into designing the Irathient culture.
Sukar ruins the whole thing by sitting up in his acid bath – which has burned off his clothes but left his skin untouched. He roars and tells the crowd that “through this body flows the path to Irzu” an Irathient god. The gathered Irathient kneel, except for Irisa.
Back in the arch, Alak and Christie are still arguing about the bathing ritual, human modesty and who has to tell Stahma no. Their argument is interrupted – again – but a call, this time from Nolan who uses Alak’s radio broadcast to spread a warning about the Razor Rain. Amanda gets to work organising the town
At the Irathient camp not everyone’s accepting that Sukar is divinely inspired, some calling it a curse others questioning what is possible on the new planet. Sukar himself tells Irisa that they’re both on Irzu’s path and she needs to follow him; but she delays so he says he’ll go alone She follows asking where he’s going – and he says Defiance. Irisa follows
In defiance, the storm arrives, spreading a fair amount of destruction – and Nicky continues to pursue the avoidant Quentin. Quentin leaves again and Rafe is suspicious – not trusting Nicky. Nicky comes clean (sort of) and tells Rafe she’s looking for Birch who she sent to break into Rafe’s house to look for evidence that Luke was connected to the Volge attack. She adds that she thinks Rafe walked in on Birch and killed him. Then she tries to pass it off as a joke
Quentin examines the artefact while his hallucinations of Luke encourage him to kill Nicky. And Rafe comes in demanding answers. Quentin tells Rafe what happened, though eh claims he destroyed the artefact. Rafe is convinced Nicky has no proof – and Rafe has no sympathy for someone who broke into their home and tells him he’s proud of Quentin for defending their home and their family.
Sukar arrives in Defiance and leads Irisa to a junk store, breaking in and instructing her to gather as much cable as possible. The store owner arrives and shoots Sukar – but the wound heals instantly and he throws a knife into the man’s shoulder in response. Irisa stops him shooting anyone. He grabs her communicator and breaks it, dragging her out of the store – he tells her it’s a test of faith she tells him she’s only there to stop him hurting anyone. While sheltering from the storm he asks how she can question their holy mission given the whole resurrection thing and whether she’s brave enough to accept she is chosen, she is special.
In Need Want, Kenya talks with Stahma making it clear that there’s no way Christie wants her fiancé with a prostitute. Kenya draws her out and points out everything Stahma says and does is for Datak and Alak – she confesses she feels like she’s in service to them. The last time she did something for herself was on the homeworld where she was a spoken word artist before her father disapproved. Kenya encourages her to do something for herself, offers to dance with her and pours another drink.
In the aftermath of the storm, Amanda and Nolan patrol for anyone left outside and find an injured Tommy who collapses, they rush him off to Dr. Yewll. In her clinic they find the place in disarray and Dr. Yewll hurriedly self-medicating. Sukar attacked the clinic, tore up her equipment, injured Yewll and left. She doesn’t pause on it and moves straight to treating Tommy
At the McCawley house, Nicky confronts Rafe with a small bloodstain on a pillow (“someone had a nose bleed. Picked a spot. Cut themselves. Injured themselves in the mine” Come on it was hardly a large stain!) and Rafe decides the jig is up so tells her he killed Birch because he doesn’t appreciate trespassers. She doesn’t believe him and speaks up to Quentin about his mother – and Rafe grabs her by the throat and threatens to bury her if she ever return.
Up in the arch, Alak tells Christie he will talk to his parents about the bathing ritual and leave her out of it. Which is when Sukar and Irisa burst in an kick them out. These 2 just keep getting interrupted. In the hospital, Yewll reveals that Sukar took an Arcbrain interface – something she uses to talk to her medical equipment. It’s not powerful enough to reach the Arc debris in space though. But then they notice the radio has gone silent – and with the boost provided by the transmitter and the antenna, it could reach up to the Arcfall debris. Yewll does some scanning and finds there’s a ship at the end of the Razor Rain storm and Sukar is communicating with its propulsion system – and it’s on a direct course to land on and destroy Defiance.
Nolan goes to the Arch. Nolan tells Irisa what Sukar’s doing, she asks Sukar and he says he doesn’t know, he’s just following Irzu – and if Irzu wants to destroy Defiance, so be it. Nolan shoots Sukar – who heals and knocks Nolan’s gun out of his hand. They fight while Irisa looks on, unsure what to do. At Sukar’s insistence, she ties up Nolan, telling him she doesn’t believe Sukar is trying to kill them. Nolan grabs a gun and shoots Sukar multiple times, he wavers – and falls out of the arch. Before he falls he tells Irisa “it flows through both of us”.
Irisa sobbing, moves towards the console. Nolan asks what she’s doing, pulling up his gun. She tells him to shoot her if he has to – Sukar had faith and so does she. She flicks the switch. Falling towards the town, the ship’s engines flare to life – and direct it away from the town, saving Defiance. Sukar saved Defiance –as Irisa says to Nolan who killed him. Nolan apologises which is so utterly inadequate I don’t even have words for it.
To the doctors where Sukar is being treated by Dr. Yewll who tells Irisa, with classic bedside manner “he’s in a coma and he’s not coming out of it.” And the reason why Sukar was super healing and hearing things is that he was filled with Nanites – the fragment that impaled him was a piece of Arcbrain – which knew that the town was in danger and its primary mandate was to preserve Votan life. Once the town was saved, they became dormant. Yewll adds (again with her awesome bedside manner) that Sukar is effective dead and Irisa has to accept that. Irisa demands an explanation for her visions and Yewll dismisses them and the Irathient religion (Indogene are atheist and Yewll isn’t the most diplomatic of people)
Nolan tries to diplomatically suggest turning off Sukar’s life support and Irisa threatens to cut him if he tries.
And elsewhere, Kenya and Stahma are in bed together – Stahma saying how good it is to have something for her, a secret for herself. But Stahma warns her that if Datak ever finds out he would kill them both without hesitation.
The Irathient Spirit Riders collect Sukar’s body and promise to take good care of him.
I like the world building of Defiance. There’s a lot of work gone into building the culture, history and language of the different Votan races which really shows when it comes to making them all seem so real and the story holding together. There’s an effort made to try and make these aliens more than just humans in make up.
And we have a much more solid hint of a same-sex couple that I love – less so that it’s between a prostitute and a woman cheating on her husband under threat of death. There’s no love seen – and I worry how this is going to pan out with Stahma’s ominous threat. I worry I do.
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