Saturday, July 5, 2014

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 3: The Cord and the Axe

At the radio station at the top of the arch, Alak has hired a new DJ, an ex-sex-worker from the Need Want. She tries to have sex with Alak (that was very much how Datak worked) but Alak backs off – he’s married and he’s not his father. Until she reveals she was his dad’s customer and how rough she likes things – he kisses her until she brings up Skeever (because bringing up guys who have been brutally beaten seems to have been hot sex talk for Datak?) He pushes her away, snarling angrily about how she needs to shut up about it – and she continues to talk about how violence turns her on. He threatens her if she talks about it again, which she also acts like it’s a turn on.

Those are some terrible crossed communication wires there.

Family dinner time! With Rafe cooking for Christie, Stahma and Alak (aka the most awkward family dinner of all times). The potential awkwardness opens with Stahma and Alak smelling that Christie is pregnant (well, that ruined Christie’s surprise) with lots of joy not just from the family but also Rafe’s Liberata servant.

That super joyful servant is in the market – and Irisa follows her, looking very predatory. She stops and her invisible friend/god/hallucination Irzu shows up to demand Irisa keeps following the Liberata. Instead Irisa chains herself up. Irzu isn’t to be thwarted – Irisa has a hallucination of an extremely odd place with big throbbing alien sacs of nasty – and when she wakes up she’s straddling the Liberata’s corpse.

Back at Rafe’s house and he takes the time to have a fatherly conversation with Alak about how Alak’s going to be a daddy with responsibilities and how Alak’s mother nearly got blown up because of the whole drug dealing shenanigans which is probably not a great environment for a new baby. Rafe follows it up with some threats because that’s how everyone communicates on this show.

That night, Irisa buries the body of the Liberata and comes home at 7:00am – to find Nolan has waited up for her and wants answers. Irisa tells him outright that she’s not talking about it, he doesn’t like it, he can leave. Their argument is interrupted by Rafe arriving with news that his Liberata servant, Bertie, has disappeared. Rafe is worried that someone hurt Bertie to get to him

So Nolan goes to question Niles. Niles declares the whole thing beneath him but lets Irisa (who has the guilts) check his CCTV system with Berlin. Who is very nervous and tries to make nice with Irisa after the whole arrest thing, especially since Tommy (her current boyfriend) is Irisa’s sorta-ex. Irisa is silent and doesn’t help the conversation along at all.

As Berlin follows Bertie on the CCTV, Irisa moves behind her with a knife, Irzu appearing in her reflection… when the whole system and all the computers explodes in a shard of sparks. Irisa runs from the room.

Niles and Nolan take a walk so, basically, Niles can say he’s after Amanda and wants to see if he’s going to be competing with Nolan. Nolan snarks at how utterly childish the conversation is.

At Camp Reverie, Datak gets some pain killers for Yewl and confesses his worries – he’s begun to suspect that maybe, just maybe, Stahma isn’t working for his best interests – if nothing else then because she’s far too smart and confident not to have been more effective than she has been.

Mayor Niles uses Yewl’s severed finger to open the safe in her office and finds a book of notes.

Alak visits Datak to tell him about Christie being pregnant and how he wants to quit the family business. Datak won’t hear it – a Tarr must lead. When Alak protests that profits are up, Datak wants o know more – trying to gain an admission that Stahma has taken over. Alak pretty much admits it – but adds that they’re not on Casti, profits are up and his men are following Stahma, it’s all good. Datak not so much, he rants on several threats of what he will do to Stahma; Alak strikes back that this whole problem is Datak’s fault and his inability to control himself.

He leaves his father with a wish for him to rot and returns home to his mother. She gives him his father’s knife the only thing he brought from Casti (less than he could bring – but it’s symbolic that his sole purpose in life was to protect what is his); now Alak gets it because he has his own wife and child to protect. Alak points out that Datak will want it when he returns – but Stahma says the obvious truth: neither of them can let Datak return.

Nolan foes to the Need/Want for a parenting pep-talk with Amanda before heading to Irisa’s home and decides to do the parental thing and read Irisa’s diary. Tommy arrives to call Nolan out on his gross invasion of privacy and his bullying ways that thinks he can go anywhere and do anything when Nolan finds Bertie’s blood on her gloves – and cries because he doesn’t know what Irisa is doing but he taught her to fight, he taught her to kill.

Back at the camp, Niles makes an offer to Yewl – her finger back and probation, letting her return to Defiance (Indogene, with their extensive use of cybernetics, shouldn’t find re-attaching a finger unduly difficult). The catch is she reports to him and she does whatever it is she says she can in her notebooks. She insists on a trusted assistant – Datak. Who she informs has one job now, keeping Yewl alive.

At the Need/Want, Amanda takes her drug  - but becomes desperate when she runs out. Her frenzied hunt for more is interrupted by a scream. She goes out to see one of her sex-workers being beaten by a client. She takes his arm and tries to calm him down, offering free drink – which nearly works until the sex-worker continues to mock him and he attacks again. Amanda beats him to the floor and repeatedly kicks him until Nolan stops her.

She returns to her room, visibly struggling. From there she goes to see Niles to talk about the Adreno (the drug) she saw in Niles’s bag and wanted to make it clear that she wasn’t judging him for it. She tells him she also uses it, on occasion – he offers to share with her.

Irisa goes outside Defiance and finds Sukar, alive, well and uninjured. After a hearty greeting she tells him her problems and he talks how his people avoided him when he woke from his coma, they called him “the devil awoken.” He starts to talk about it all being Irzu’s plan but she stops him – she doesn’t want this. He tries to throw the whole Chosen One gig at her but she’s not happy being Irzu’s little serial killer. Which is when Irzu wakes up – Irisa again has images of being on board a giant space ship heading to Earth and when she comes to she’s straddling Sukar and a giant tentacle stretches from her mouth into Sukar’s, something travels from her into him. She stands up, Sukar is dead.

Again. Don’t worry Irisa, this guy doesn’t stay dead.

Irisa takes Sukar’s gun and puts it to her head. Irzu appears and tries to woo-woo her out of it, it doesn’t work. She claims that everyone Irisa kills is now “saved” which Irisa doesn’t buy – Irzu resorts to yelling at Irisa and Irisa pulls the trigger.

Zoom to Irisa on the spaceship approaching Earth, an Arc. There 2 Irathients are arguing. The female protests that “they’ve barely crossed their own oceans” and that Irzu was designed to terraform a barren world – which this clearly isn’t. The male Irathients thinks of the rest of the fleet – apparently due to arrive in 3,000 years (giving the people on the world chance to advance), and the impossibility of living among aliens. She reminds him Irzu values all life and says they have to seize the ship

Whoa a lot of cryptic there. And damn that was a powerful set of scenes

Irisa wakes up, horribly wounded and in terrible pain, with Irzu being all soothing and comforting. Irisa’s wound is painfully healing. When she’s healed she’s found by… Bertie. A live and well Bertie. Ok, I'm lost but, again, praise to the powerful scenes!

They’re found walking back to Defiance by Rafe, Nolan and someone whose name I don’t remember. Bertie remembers nothing except waking up in the woods. Nolan doesn’t buy it, he accuses them both of lying and that Irisa did something to Bertie. Rafe has no time for such nonsense and takes Bertie home.

Irisa and Nolan go home and Irisa tells him she would tell him the truth if she could.

At the Need/Want, Stahma brings Amanda some tea to alleviate withdrawal. When Amanda says she’s not in withdrawal, Stahma praises her resourcefulness (of getting a new supply) and her skills with the Need/Want. They talk about Kenya, Amanda missing her and Stahma hoping that Kenya will return. Uh-hyh

In the woods Sukar seems to be up and about again – no I have no clue what’s going on. And we’re into the musical filler montage Defiance feels the need to end each episode with. Which includes Nolan going to see Amanda for the night. And Irisa’s other victims waking up and attacking people – and passing over the same strange tentacle thing from their mouths.

Datak goes home, heading to the bathroom where Alak and Stahma are. He joins them, his filthy body muddying the clean water (BEHOLD SYMBOLISM!) and declares “the master has returned”. Stahma pretends to be happy about that. He  tries to drown Stahma. Alak attacks Datak and all three of them end up panting on different parts of the pool. 

Ok I’m not a fan of Irisa/Nolan. Yes something is going on in Irisa’s life. She doesn’t want to talk to Nolan about it. She doesn’t want to tell him where she’s been. Yes that distresses him, he’s her father, he cares about her – but she’s not a child, while her age is in doubt that much is certainly clear. She isn’t a child and she’s capable. Nolan’s parenthood doesn’t mean Irisa loses the right to privacy and her own life. Especially when we consider last season when, one of the things the show did well, it was clear that Nolan had little understanding of Irathient culture and repeatedly treated and thought of Irisa as human. In light of that, it is understandable why there are things Irisa wouldn’t want to talk about with Nolan – even beyond what any adult wouldn’t want to discuss with their parents.

And, no, this isn’t a matter of the police searching a home. At the time of Nolan’s search he had zero reason to believe Irisa was a suspect. He went there after getting a parenting pep talk from Amanda about not giving up. This wasn’t a police man investigating a crime. It was a father deciding his worry invalidates his adult daughter’s privacy.

The problem on top of that is that while Tommy calls it out, the fact that Irisa IS hiding something as major as a killing spree means that Nolan will be presented as being RIGHT to snoop. That is a storytelling conceit, that the writers can throw in a justification for dubious actions because they control the world – it doesn’t hold water when we narrow the lens to what Nolan knows, when he knows it (it’s akin to crime shows having police break the law but it always ends up being for the greater good – there’s an infallibility the writers can bring that real life doesn’t have).

I’m also not a big fan of how the portrayal of sex workers has shifted. When Kenya ran the Need/Want, I can’t see her trying to placate a man who abused one of her workers. Then we have the physically abuse sex worker still laughing at the guy who just attacked her like it was all a joke – and the ex-sex worker with Alak who seems completely unable to pick up the slightest hint of Alak’s feelings and kept pushing long past his no. I could understand it if it were presented that, knowing his father, she only knew one way to deal with him especially as the heir of Datak’s criminal empire – but it’s clumsy and failed to portray that nuance

While I am much more interested in the big stories of Defiance politics –I have to admit that this new insight into Irzu makes me more interested in Irisa. This has suddenly got a whole lot more fascinating than "random woo-woo"

I really hate that Datak is out so soon – I wanted to see Stahma flourish more until him being released would face the full strength of her organisation – now we get to see his vile abusive arse. At least Alak sides against his dad

I also can't see why Yewl would do it. Alright there's not a lot of people she can trust - but Datak isn't exactly trustworthy either!