Nolan loves the terrible book written about Irisa and takes great pleasure reading it aloud to Irisa as she tries to snatch it back (something every father everywhere would do, it is known).
Alas their fun time is interrupted by Berlin bursting in and saying there’s a VC vehicle headed to town. They assemble their militia to intercept… Stahma and Datak – Datak needs medical help
Doctor Yewl patches them up while Datak tells his story (faked) and Amanda and Stahma exchange intense eye contact (since she knows about Kenya’s death at Stahma’s hands). Nolan also thanks Yewl which she refuses to accept, after last week she’s clearly having nothing to do with Nolan.
Datak tells them about the dead McCawlies while Stahma expertly imitates tears. Nolan storms off to load up with All The Guns so he can charge out and attack the VC camp that Datak described. Amanda inserts some sense – she needs him to scout the camp not get himself killed trying to bring it down single handedly.
He also briefly tries to address Irisa’s trauma – and whether he can count on her in a fight. She won’t talk about it.
They drive out and are ambushed – Nolan kills several and is nearly shot – only saved by Pilar. Irissa, notably, does nothing. She leads them to her cabin. She claims she found the baby after a VC massacre and they offer to bring her to Defiance. I think Irisa is suspicious. I think Nolan is suspicious
And when she offers to drive the next day, Nolan is quick to refuse even if she does know the way. So she pulls a gun on them – the gun Nolan gave them. Nolan and Irisa’s lack-of-surprise faces are classic. Of course the gun he gave her doesn’t fire. Of course they know who she is. She argues desperately against being captured and fights desperately to hold the baby. When Nolan draws a gun on her Irisa, horrified, begs Nolan not to kill her. He’s somewhat bemused – he never planned to
He planned to leave Pilar cuffed and the baby and come back and collect them when they’ve finished, though Irisa insists on being the baby (having a hilarious argument over it as Irisa repeatedly points out it’s a baby and you don’t leave babies behind).
They spy on the VC camp, see the men, the vehicles – and the Volge Rahm has also recruited. And a net cutter – artillery that will cut through a stasis net that protects Defiance. Irisa votes to warn Amanda, Nolan decides to blow up the artillery piece. So Irisa will cover him while he sneaks into the camp. Irisa demands the roles be switched because humans are more noticeable – but Nolan realises the real reason is how squeamish Irisa is about killing. Of course she avoids this discussion.
All is going well – until Pilar manages to wiggle free and attack Nolan, the gun going off alerts the camp. Irisa is caught. Nolan holds Pilar at gun point, she says he won’t shoot the baby’s grandmother right in front of him. “Kids are surprisingly resilient” and he shoots her.
If they’re going to kill off the entire McCauley clan so awfully, they least they could do is take out this distraction as well.
Now Rahm has Irisa at knife point and demands Nolan show himself. While he’s pontificating, Nolan shoots several guards and Irisa breaks free and gets a knife at Rahm’s throat – of course, she can’t kill him. She hits him instead and runs to blow up the artillery – which they do and make their escape.
The Tarrs return home, though it’s not that thrilling to Stahma. They catch the maid enjoying their bath which they both find amusing and are indulgent (I would have expected some wrath from Datak a couple of seasons ago). Datak and Stahma do argue when she’s gone though after Datak tells her Alakk is alive – he trusts Andina, Stahma is more wary. He argues again for his natural superiority and how he totally doesn’t need her input. Then he asks for help to get in the tub after just showing he doesn’t need her – she elects to bathe alone.
That night they install a device Rahm required of them so they can send messages to Rahm about Nolan arriving – Datak repeatedly micromanaging Stahma much to her irritation.
Rahm gets the message and questions Alakk about Nolan with beatings if he tries to lie. Rahm has heard of Nolan who has a reputation from the Pale Wars – the “Butcher of Yosemite” and Rahm was at that battlefield.
In Defiance Datak breaks into a warehouse to get some weapons. Berlin shows up to explain why they don’t belong to him. He tries various levels of condescension, bargaining and finally just trying to leave. She arrests him.
With Datak in gaol it’s now time for Amanda to visit with desperate chilling undertones. Time to have the confrontation about Kenya who they murdered leaving Amanda with the choice – punishing them for Kenya or moving past it for the sake of Defiance. She is willing to do that if Datak will do everything for Defiance, organise the criminal element and generally work to the common good. Datak swears in Castithan – but Amanda insists on English. A definite power ploy. Datak is released – but he doesn’t get the guns. But nor did he expect to, he has planted a nasty insect thing in the armoury.
Stahma goes to find T’evgin (who is exploring and being stared at by everyone) – and she even speaks Omec. Because she’s Stahma and awesome. She makes a cutting little comment about how Castithan slaves were expected to recite Omec poetry which pushes T’gevin to denounce the bad old days. She’s flirty and sexual but keeps mentioning that bad old history as well which is mixed signals confusing and probably an indication that Stahma will play him like a fiddle (my hope anyway – otherwise her sexy references to Castithan women being kidnapped by Omec is just beyond gross).
Having being introduced they go to the Need Want and T’evgin reveals that the Votanis Collective used shapeshifting Indogenes on a suicide mission to sabotage the Omec arcs – since the rest of the Votans hate and fear the Omec and didn’t want them conquering Earth from them. He claims (lies) he and his daughter are the only survivors. He just wants to save his people not declare war on the Votans: Staham draws on her own experiences and how she loathes the humans before she fell in love with one and now comes to respect and like them. With more flirty touching to make it clear the possibility exists between her and Omec too.
Irisa and Nolan return to Defiance – and take the baby to Stahma and Datak to their overwhelming joy. Irisa is leery about giving the baby to the Tarrs and they both suggest that Pilar isn’t dead before hitting the issue – Irisa didn’t kill Rahm. Nolan reams her for being unreliable in the middle of a war.
In the armoury all the guns are destroyed. But that’s not enough for Rahm – he sends new instructions to Datak and Stahma, to blow up the arch.
Stahma, Datak and their culture remains fascinating. Datak has always been more of a traditionalist precisely because he has clawed his way to the top from the bottom – the system that kept him down is now propping him up and he’s very invested in it. Stahma is always more of a pragmatist – while Datak is happy to trust Andina because she’s sworn to them, she knows that you can’t give trust so easily just because of customs. We’re getting more insight from Rahm as well – his clear focus on the “liro” or Castithan caste. It’s some interesting word building
We’ve also seen an excellent progression in their relationship – while once Stahma would have been all smiles and manipulation now she is overt in her authority. When Datak annoys her she is clear, she doesn’t bite her tongue, she doesn’t hide her annoyance.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Amanda (though I don’t dislike her), but this episode really showed why she is the leader. By both emphasising what Kenya’s death meant to her (so not downplaying it or dismissing it) but at the same time willing to let the murderers go unpunished we see that she is truly, scarily dedicated to the town. It was a hard balance to strike since they had
Stahma and T’evgin – you can almost see her weaving webs around him. It’s a reminder that, while she has ceased to manipulate her husband because she doesn’t need to, she’s still a master at this,
Irisa – I’m torn. On the one hand I am glad to see she is torn and hurting after what happened last season – because someone shouldn’t be able to walk away from something so horrendous without it hurting. Lack of emotional turmoil would be unrealistic and dismissive. And Irisa does emotional turmoil extremely well, it’s well portrayed, it’s well acted. But for three seasons now Irisa has been torn and tormented over something – weird metal things inside her, being possessed by the ship, being sought out by a death cult. I want her to eventually not be the tormented one.