Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Defiance, Season 1, Episode 9: I Just Wasn't Made for these Times (also labelled as episode 8***)

Nolan is on patrol with Tommy, outside of Defiance in a runner (and Tommy’s been reading Moby Dick and is quoting it – yeah that’d annoy me too). Nolan’s taking Tommy to his first ever Arcfall. As they head to it, they discuss whether Sukar was divinely inspired and if there’s anything between Tommy and Irisa. Is there? No really is there? Uh-huh, Tommy you’re not being believed. I’m never a fan of all these “rawr daddy/older brother will threaten boy who is with sister”, it’s so infantilising of grown women. Especially after Nolan isn’t exactly in Irisa’s good books at the moment (kudos to Tommy for not responding with “well, sir, I promise not to kill her heroic friend and mentor while he fights to save all our lives. How’s that?”).

Inside the large Arcfall they find the usual compliment of wreckage and dead bodies – but it oddly contains a lot of Earth technology as well, including something with an American flag on it. And uniforms from NASA, including a suit for a G. McClintock. They find human bodies in some of the life pods – and, in one of them – a living man. They hurriedly free him from the pod and he asks them if they’re Americans. Nolan says he was – checking his dogtags they see he is McClintock.

They drive him back to Defiance and he wakes up in the car, wanting to call his wife and asking where he is. Nolan tells them St. Louis – but there’s a lot more to tell. He gets edgy and worried by the Votans around him. Nolan gently takes him in hand and asks Commander Gordon McClintock what year it is - he thinks it’s still 2013. Before the Votans arrived.

In Amanda’s office, Connor the Earth Republic Rep, is back. They continue their antagonistic flirting and go out for dinner. He talks about their passion for Human and Votan coexistence but as far as she’s concerned she’s achieved that in Defiance – but he wants her to try it for the whole of E Rep. She laughs at the idea of working for the Evil Empire (he objects to being called an Empire which… yeah that shouldn’t be the objectionable word there). He tries to encourage her with all the good she could do then resorts to saying he missed her and calling her “Mandy”, apparently what he called her in a past relationship.

Which is when Irisa calls her to see the newly landed astronaut – and Amanda doesn’t bring Connor. Gordon is being examined by Dr. Yewll who has her usual wonderful bedside manner, poking his head around. Astonished, he touches Yewll’s scaled skin and gasps that it’s softer than it looks – she tells him he’s too young for her. Outside Amanda discusses it with Nolan – apparently Gordon is known, but he’s known to have died when the space station blew up. Of course the alternative is that the space station was a staged accident, the Votans destroyed it and kidnapped the humans on board to study them – which puts something of a lie to their “we come in peace” claim when they first arrived.

Amanda introduces herself and Yewll continues her investigation – including using an alien device to scan his eyes. The device flashes and as it does it causes flashbacks – to his wife, Grace, and to being on the Votan ship with teams of Indogene examining him. He violently pushes Yewll away in panic.

At Need Want, Datak gets angry with one of the prostitutes, Tirra, pushing her away onto the bed, because he hired Kenya and she sent a replacement. Kenya tells him she’s had to cut back her client list and that Tirra is skilled. Datak takes Tirra’s hand and insults how rough it is, squeezing her hand and hurting her – Kenya, gently but firmly insistent tells Datak to let her go – tells him, doesn’t ask. Datak leaves.

Gordon leaves the doctors and is mobbed by cheering crowds asking for autographs and interviews. Nolan and Amanda help him through the crowd to a runner, but Connor sees him and seizes on the opportunity – they could use his abduction as a way to attack and discredit the Votanis Collective (so much for his “co-existence” spiel). Amanda and Nolan tell him to back off.

They take him to Rafe McCawley’s house because his house is the closest to an old fashioned, pre-Arcfall house, to help him feel at home. Rafe welcomes him, like everyone else he sees Gordon as something of a hero; there was a book and a movie all about the disaster and it was iconic. To add insult to injury in the movie his role was played by Robert Patterson. It’s a happy friendly evening (including mocking Amanda for knowing about Twilight) but Gordon’s burying some angst – especially when he looks at the book of his story, complete with pictures of his wife.

He’s from Alabama and asks if he can go there to see his wife (who would be 60 now) Rafe agrees to help but they tell him they can’t fly anymore – radiation and debris in the atmosphere makes it suicidal. He asks about space travel – but that’s completely over as well.

At the Tarr household, Datak is bathing (and apparently fantasising) when Datak comes in shocked to see her bathing alone – apparently it’s taboo for a Castithan woman to bathe bye herself. He tells her what happened at the Need Want and how shocking he found it that Kenya “disrespected him” and how it made no sense. Stahma distracts him, kisses him and encourages him to bathe.

That night Gordon dreams about people speaking in alien languages – and then tries to strangle Amanda. Before he can hit her, he’s tackled by Rafe and Nolan. Dr. Yewll is called to treat Amanda (and to give her orders she better not refuse) and Gordon thanks Nolan and Rafe for stopping him. Rafe is still clinging to the hero worship and is sure that he would have stopped, but Nolan sends him to the lock up while he continues to apologise.

They take Amanda to the doctors and Connor barges in hearing what happened; Nolan stops him and pushing him outside until Yewll says it’s all fine. Connor splutters at Nolan for not keeping Amanda safe but he’s not impressed since he’s not convinced the Volge attack wasn’t ERep doing (and what about the ambassador who tried to slaughter them all? Why not bring that up?)

Nolan goes to see Irisa and ask how Nolan is – she says he’s in pain, he doesn’t belong there and he knows it. She can relate – Nolan tries another apology but Irisa won’t hear it, sorry won’t bring Sukar back to life. He asks if she feels she doesn’t belong and she asks where she has ever belonged – and says Sukar made her feel like a home. Nolan tries to say with him is her home but she doesn’t agree.

Gordon has another episode, slamming himself against the floor and walls. Nolan and Irisa help hold him down and slap him until he clams down – and notice that Gordon bleeds silver, which is a trifle odd. From there he goes to Yewll and holds her in a headlock – as a doctor she must have noticed that he bled silver like an Indogene. He accuses her of knowing he was dangerous – and that she put Amanda at risk

Everyone more calm, Irisa, Nolan, Tommy, Irisa, Gordon and Connor interview Yewll who confirms that the Votans investigated Earth before announcing themselves. A rogue programme where Indogene volunteers would be surgically altered and infiltrate and, when possible, kill, especially at the highest level. And Gordon is a prototype because they never got the damn things to work right.  Gordon doesn’t buy it and repeats several memories he has – Yewll asks if he remembers smells or tastes. He doesn’t – they’re much harder to imprint; and extracting memories destroys the original brain so the real Gordon McClintock is dead. Amanda asks Yewll why she lied and Yewll said she feared the Earth Republic using it as a weapon against them. Connor agrees that he will – and Gordon loses it, attacks everyone, knocking everyone back, taking Irisa’s knife, grabbing a gun and leaving – after Nolan tells Tommy not to shoot him.

At the Need Want, Stahma and Kenya have just slept together and Stahma asks Kenya why she refused Datak. Kenya says it’s because she knows Datak being with other women hurts Stahma so she doesn’t want to be part of it – which amuses Stahma; she says Kenya’s sweet but also foolish since she’s made Datak suspicious and being a cuckold is immensely shaming for Castithan men. Kenya tries to sympathise with Stahma’s bad marriage  (Stahma denies it’s bad and insists that she loves her husband) and how controlling Datak is. Stahma pays Kenya and tells her she wants to keep coming back – but Kenya needs to be smarter, she needs to “play the game” better.

Rafe gets a report that there is a breach in the mine near one of the lakes. Rafe tells them to block it off and leave. He goes there himself to find Gordon, with his gun, looking out over the lake. He sits and talks with Gordon, drawing him out. Gordon says he’s just a weapon; Rafe says Indogenes never change, they’re too emotionless, but humans change and rage against their fates all the time. He Rafe tells Gordon what he has lost – but he hasn’t thrown himself off the cliff, because he’s not a coward, because he loves life – and says it’s life and memories that makes a person, not your vessel. And that he may have a chance with his wife – if she loved him she’d take him any way she could. Gordon asks what if he isn’t as strong as Rafe and Rafe tells him if that’s the case, then jump.

Gordon gives Rafe the gun.

The next day in Amanda’s office she talks to Connor and confirms that Gordon jumped. After grieving for Gordon, she tells Connor she’s staying in Defiance. He lays it out on the line, the Earth Republic wants into Defiance because it’s on a motherload of Gulanite, a precious resource and source of energy. And it turns out that evil ambassador Orfin has convinced her boss that Amanda is the only thing stopping the Earth Republic moving in. Connor wants her to move to New York so he can protect her. Her refusal drags up the relationship baggage between them and her leaving him before.

Nolan sees Rafe and gets his gun back. Nolan suggests recovering Gordon’s body but Rafe says it went too deep. Nolan points out that that makes Rafe the last person to see Gordon alive – or even that Gordon is even dead. Rafe replies, in perfect deadpan, that that’s true.

We cut to Gordon going to see an older woman in her 60s. They hug.

Nolan goes to Yewll and demands to know what she did during the Pale Wars. Yewll said it was a war, you try to win those – as Nolan should know who butchered enough of her people. They’re interrupted by a woman coming into the clinic and collapsing, bleeding from her nose. Yewll runs to her, ordering everyone to get on their gloves and masks, and tells Nolan they have a plague.

This was an episode with a lot of meat that I hope is further developed. For the sake of the fragile peace between the Votans and the humans, how much of the crimes of either side during the Pale Wars can be dragged into the light? How much will it damage the fragile peace? For that matter, as we’ve seen before, how much are the major forces, the Earth Republic and Votanis collective, actually invested in peace or gearing up for another war? How do you balance finding out what weapons are out there and even bringing war criminals to justice against shattering the peace or risking their expertise being again put into effect. For that matter, after the war is working as a doctor doing enough to redeem Yewll – and can Defiance manage without her dedicated expertise? That same expertise with WMD that saved them from the Volge before.

It’s a really big, knotty conundrum that really needs burying into.

Then there’s Irisa – constantly struggling as an Irathient while Nolan continually tries to put her in a human box and making no real allowances or even imagining that she’s more than just a different looking human; the disconnect she has between her own culture, traditions and beliefs and what Sukar represented to her as a way to reclaim both those traditions and her own people and sense of belonging. It’s clear Nolan cares for her as a daughter – but he isn’t seeing Irisa the Irathient.

And that’s before we get to the nature of personhood with Gordon or the intrigue with keeping the Earth Republic out

Stahma and Kenya look interesting in development in that Kenya, in refusing Datak for what she imagines Stahma wants is implying some genuine desire on her part (though she still takes money unlike with Nolan – but she could take both Stahma’s and Datak’s money). But is it desire and affection for Stahma or pity for what she sees as an abused and controlled wife? The money leaves much in doubt on Kenya’s side if not Stahma’s. Of course, it also has to be a secret relationship under the shadow of Datak’s anger which could get very unpleasant very quickly.

See, Defiance? You don’t need woo-woo devices and hallucination brothers!

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

***When Defiance was released, episode 1 and 2 ran back to back - you can see this on IMBD's episode numberings. Other sites called that one long episode. So sometimes you will see this episode noted as episode 9 and sometimes as 8)