Saturday, August 30, 2014

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 13: I Almost Prayed

Datak jauntily returns to the Tar household (and greets their new handmaiden) to find Stahma arguing with Pilar. Pilar is outraged at the idea of Stahma raising her family, Stahma rather thinks that Pilar lost the right to decide who raises the family after she abandoned them. Datak breezes in suggesting dire consequences for insulting Stahma under her own roof – and backs down when Stahma says no offence was taken (I could grow to love this dynamic). Pilar insults the Tars bringing up their past poverty and humble beginnings, basically setting herself up for me cheering when Stahma stands triumphant over her defeated body.

In town, the E-Rep is harassing everyone – which seems to be just standard procedure rather than a reaction to New York. Pilar tries to convince Christie and Alak to leave Defiance – it’s not a free city any more and E-Rep will never treat their mixed-species child as equal. Christie isn’t a big fan of the Votanis collective, but Pilar points out there are 7 different Votan races who manage to get along (except, not without inequality – look at how the Sensoth, Irathient and Liberata are treated by the Castithan). She want to take them to a “harmony collective”. Christie is enthusiastic, Alak suspicious (so am I when Pilar reveals it’s a “research facility” with classified tech. And how does she know about it anyway, she’s been in a virtual slave camp for the last few years?). They do things like use technology to bring back extinct species apparently – like horses. When they leave (Alak learning his dad has moved back in) Quentin rather astutely guesses his mother is lying through her back teeth.

Alak and Christie go home to find Datak in place and Christie is outraged and disgusted that Datak is back – she leaves, saying he will never know the child in Casti, after he decides to bring up her “dropping a whore off the arch”. Alak follows Christie and Stahma upbraids Datak for making it difficult.

They go to Pilar, planning to go to the camp she thought about, but Irisa’s woo-woo causes light in the skies. While Alak is worried about travelling through a possible Arcfall, Pilar keeps pushing which both Christie and Alak find suspicious – so Quentin knocks Alak unconscious and Pilar pulls a gun on Christie, kidnapping them both.

At the Need Want, Amanda talks about receiving no word from New York – which they hope is a glitch. Berlin is there and a complete wreck over Tommy’s death – which she tells to Amanda. Which is also when they both get news that New York is gone. Annoying Ambassador Mercado rushes into town – he was on his way back to New York when he got the news and wants to set up a command post in Defiance.

Nolan and Mercado return to town then and Nolan tries to convince Niles that Irisa is the one who used the Kaziri and it’s not a Votanis Collective weapon – E-Rep thinks they’re at war. He’s not very believable (and Mordechai isn’t all that believable as a saviour). But Mercado speaks up – Belize City has also been destroyed, a Votanis Collective city. He believes Irisa is the cause but doesn’t understand why Irisa was made a deputy when she was on a “watch list”. Amanda speaks up in defence, Niles says it was for the good of the town and Mercado unpleasantly snarks about Niles “paying for sex like a normal person” presumably rather than falling for Amanda’s wiles. Mercado kicks Niles out (the two don’t get on anyway).

Yewl walks into town and gives herself up so she can talk to the commander. She knows how to kill it. This earns her a pardon for being a war criminal. She took something form the ship which will allow her to introduce a virus that will destroy the brain computer stuff controlling Irisa and all the minions and ending the terraforming. It will also kill Irisa. Nolan is ferociously against this, of course, and wants to go with using Mordechai to split up the keys, but even Amanda has to agree to Yewl’s plan. She also adds that Nolan has to be locked up because he will fight them to save Irisa.

They don’t take it seriously enough and Nolan holds Mercado at gun point. Amanda is more aware and she holds Mordechai at knife point (I have to applaud). Nolan gives up and we have some Amanda/Nolan pathos.

In Yewl’s lab, Amanda keeps snarling at Yewl and she wants a chance to explain herself, especially since Niles is playing innocent about the whole fake!Kenya thing – except Yewl makes up another lie that excuses her somewhat but also keeps Niles in the clear. Of course, Yewl is clear that Niles now owes her.

Datak and Stahma watch the sky and reflect on their mutual evil (without a hint of regret) when the new handmaiden tells them about Alak and Christie’s kidnapping. Stahma thinks they need to get Rafe, since he knows Pilar

At Camp Reverie, the E-Rep soldiers are lining up the prisoners and killing them as Berlin arrives. She charges in in outrage – the sergeant there decided this was an appropriate response to the prisoners getting agitated over the purple lights. She relieves him of his command – and he hits her and adds her to the line up. Which is when the Tars arrive and the guards die, they casually collect Rafe while Stahma calmly puts a bullet in the wounded Sergeant’s brain. Berlin falls into rather stunned hysterical laughter

Nolan, meanwhile escapes by beating 4 E-Rep guards and even ignoring a taser blast.

Amanda has her rifle full of Yewl’s tech and aims at Irisa, surrounded by her woo-woo. But Nolan takes the shot first – shooting Amanda’s rifle and attracting Irisa’s attention. The terraformers move into place over Defiance.

Nolan and Niles fight briefly, Niles complains that Nolan pulls a gun and he wants a fair fight to which Nolan punches him unconscious (since Nolan just fought 4 E-Rep guards rather ridiculously I think he would have eaten Niles – also, as a soldier, Nolan doesn’t play games) and handcuffs Amanda to the car. He also elbows Yewl unconscious, which he seems to enjoy. This seems very unnecessary – and he couldn’t have had more cuffs?

Mordechai chases after Irisa, she tries to avoid him but Nolan tackles her. Mixed with a flashback of the original space Irisa and Mordechai, half of the key transfers into him. Irisa returns to herself – and her first realisation is that she killed Tommy. Nolan tries to talk her down (Nolan, Your New Zealand accent is coming through something fierce there). She begs him for his gun so she can commit suicide – Nolan points to the lights in the sky, the Terraformers are still there; they still need Irisa and Mordechai, she can commit suicide later

They head into the ship, but Irisa is still followed by hallucination Irzu – who then puts Irisa in a hallucination with Tommy claiming he can be brought back to life if she goes through with the whole destroy the world thing. Of course, Nolan gets through to her and she says no and returns to reality – along with Mordechai who had his own visions.

They go to the centre of the ship and connect to it through the keys – Irisa turns off hallucination Irzu, the arcbrain, and Mordechai shoots the terraformers into orbit, creating a wonderful light show, saving Defiance – and destroying many of the arcs still orbiting Earth – maybe even all of the,.

This ship’s computer was a load bearing boss. Nolan and Amanda are trapped inside (I think Mordechai escaped?). Nolan picks her up but can see no way out, instead he holds Irisa and tells her he loves her

In the woods, Amanda and Niles realise Nolan succeeded and celebrate – and kiss. Back in town they finally sleep together. Partying and celebrating is something all of Defiance does – hey the light show is as good a reason as any.

Closing montage time, Yewl is back in her lab, Christie is still kidnapped – followed by the Tarrs. Berlin’s in the Need Want with ALL THE TRAUMAS. She has the whole bar raise a toast to Tommy. Marcado reports that Old St. Louis, the whole buried city is gone – and there’s no word from Nolan. Cut to Nolan and Irisa in one of the pods very deep underground.

The season ended on a lot of cliffhangers – I can understand a few – but none of these appealed – Irisa and Nolan are not going to be missing for long. Pilar has the Tarrs after her so we know just how well her story will end – they’re too predictable to be cliffhangers

I can understand Christie’s outrage with Datak, I can understand her disgust, I can understand her not wanting anything to do with him… but at the same time the things she’s furious and disgusted about are things he did to others (the burning of Alak and the attempted drowning of Stahma). Now we have his victims actually trying to bring Christie round – she’s not even outraged on her behalf because she’s putting them in a position to try and get her to forgive abuses done to them. The dynamic is… awkward to say the least.

I’m really glad to see Irisa’s plot line picked up into something truly epic in the last two seasons – it was beyond necessary and very past time. Most of the season her storyline has been dull and out of place and has been overwhelmed by more interesting storyline (Stahma) and overshadowed over excellent potential storylines (Rafe, Amanda and trying to get the E-Rep out of Defiance – which completely fizzled out after a few episodes).

I kind of hate Niles’s story – the whole season we’ve had his overwhelming motive being to get into Amanda’s bed by any means necessary: putting hidden cameras in her room, exploiting her drug addiction, the whole fake!Kenya fiasco – and he still ends up with Amanda with Yewl still keeping his secrets. There needs to be some severe addressing of this next season.

Stahma’s storyline has been a fascinating one, her growth, her strength, her taking control and being stupendously awesome every step of the way, even facing shocks like Kenya’s return and the kidnapping – she has rallied and been excellent. I’m leery of Datak and Stahma getting together again, except it seems pretty clear that the reconciliation is on her terms, by her rules and at her direction; it remains something to be seen.

In contrast, Christie’s storyline has been a hot mess and I have no idea where it will end now. Her quest to learn all things Casti lead her to stomp on some truly awful tropes with “casti-face” only made worse by the writers deciding to use a WOC to pursue this plot. I have no clue where it goes from here.

It’s been an excellent season, but it could have been better, I think it’s the side characters and side plot lines that have made it so.

In terms of POC, we don’t have a great season. Tommy continued being constantly abused and belittled, side lined and used until his final death – only then was there some desperate attempt to dump some characterisation on this token to make his death more meaningful. It was typical and it was terrible.

The McCawlies have also been rather sidelined. Rafe’s initial struggles with the mines that had so much potential in the first few episodes quickly went nowhere and he spent much of the rest of the season somewhat confused and in the background – he was apparently plotting something but who knows what. Pilar and Quentin are belated additions and seem to be there to be mangled by the Tarrs in cruel and interesting way. Christie has been playing out Castithan racial parallel plots in an incredibly badly done and cringeworthy fashion – somewhere along the line she grew a streak of ruthlessness that may be more interesting in the future. Other than that we have some bit parts like the Irathient Votanis spy who was killed.

We do have a lot of lesbian and bisexual women this season but I can’t say I’m overjoyed with any of them. I was excited but my wariness continues: last episode Amanda tried to make it clear that whatever love between Stahma and Kenya was completely one sided (which added to the doubts I already had in the first season) and that’s on top of Kenya’s murder.  Stahma, despite a brief moment saying how much she loved Kenya, is now back with Datak and likely to stay that way. Yewl came with her wife already pre-tragically dead just in case we had a brief hope of an actual happy same-sex relationship – and then pulled the plug on the hallucination when it was hacked.

Skevur joins Churchill in being the only side-mentioned gay men on the show who were then murdered.

Same-sex relationship are brief, problematic and tragic and never going to come close to being as intimate, prominent or as long lasting as the opposite-sex relationships – and they also involve a whole lot of violent death.

We do have a number of women on the show – some of them are dubious to say the least – like Deidre (there’s also been a lot of sex-worker shaming this season) but others like Yewl, Amanda and, of course, Stahma have shown different levels of awesomeness and power, sometimes manipulated, certainly, but their competence is rarely in question even if their agency may be compromised by the E-Rep occupation.