Sunday, July 19, 2015

Defiance, Season 3, Episode 7: The Beauty of Our Weapons

Amanda is leading a trial for Datak who stands there in chains as she says how much she is shocked that Datak turned against the town. She hated him but he always fought for Defiance. The vote to convict him is unanimous. He is sentenced to death by hanging – Datak uses his closing statement to point out Stahma totally beat Amanda. I approve, Stahma worship should always be remembered.

Arms dealer and Berlin’s ex and general awful guy, Conrad Von Bach (a rich and powerful family) arrives in town, grossly ogling a shop keeper while learning about humans leaving Defiance before Rahm arrives. Berlin greets him and punches him for selling weapons to the VC – then asks if he has weapons for her. I do like Berlin.

He does, a whole load of very very very shiny weapons. Nolan does get pissy about the Von Bachs selling weapons to anyone but Conrad rather nicely points out that Nolan shouldn’t be throwing stones from the top of his shiny glass house. Conrad is not impressed – he sells weapons, it’s what he does and he isn’t interested in their judging him for that. But, surprisingly, he’s offering all the weapons for free… so long as Berlin buys him a drink (Nolan: “do it.” Amanda “drinks are on the house.” I think they just both signed off on pimping out Berlin).

They have that drink and it seems Conrad is in major trouble with his family for giving up weapons but he declares he had to do it for the sake of impressing Berlin. Berlin isn’t that impressed because of their bad history – though it turns out they both thought the other had callously dumped them because of Conrad’s mother’s meddling. They talk some more, touching on Berlin’s relationship with Tommy – which seems like a belated “hey Berlin is totally going to have sex with this guy so let’s at least give a nod to the idea she is actually grieving” they then go upstairs and, I assume, have sex

Nolan talks to Irisa and manages to do everything terribly, offending and patronising Irissa repeatedly.

The next day they gather their recruits and we’re introduced to the Irathient sniper known as Zero because why not. They don’t have a huge number of people. And Zero’s dad, Indar, demands to know where Irisa is. He has good reason – most of the kids willing to fight have read the book about her and she’d be a very inspirational presence to them. He also sees himself putting his kid at risk – but Nolan keeping his daughter safe. He also, reasonably, points out that the Votans don’t necessarily have a dog in this fight – the Votanis Collective is against humans, not them. With Irisa not there, more of the volunteers leave

Which means Nolan has to go to Irisa and ask her to join the militia. She asks about the horror of the world but that’s a question no-one can answer. She also asks Nolan if he’s scared – he says he is, scared and tired. She hugs him and declares her love.

Alak visits his father in prison and finally addresses why his parents betrayed the town – but to say that they made the wrong choice, why he would much rather have died than have them risk the town and his half-human baby. Ultimately, how he doesn’t want to live if his life comes with that cost. Datak makes an elaborate apology of regret – but asks one thing, to die at the hands of his own people on a shaming rack (a far more elaborate and torturous death than hanging) – something he considers necessary to remove the shame from his soul

Amanda visits to ask what Datak is up to – but he sticks to his claim that it’s necessary for Castithan culture. She grants his request.

Back to Conrad and Berlin – he wants Berlin to come with him when he leaves. He points out everything that bound her to Defiance is gone – E-Rep is gone, Tommy is gone.

She goes to Amanda’s office and they talk about his offer. Well Berlin lays it out and Amanda throws a lot of scorn on the whole idea (which comes off really dubious considering how little Amanda even knows about Berlin and Conrad’s relationship – it feels very self-serving). With lots of Amanda’s throwing roadblocks Berlin stops her and points out what she needs: not help figuring it out, but Amanda’s support. Berlin talks about her fear based on her childhood experiences (Amanda instantly chimes in with her own tragic childhood before Berlin shouts at her to just listen), of constant fear until she finally joined the Earth Republic. And now, without it, she is back to where she was.

Amanda protests that she is Berlin’s family and will look after her – but Berlin, rightly, says it takes more than good intentions and she doesn’t think Amanda can keep them safe. Berlin leaves and Amanda calls her a coward.

Berlin hands in her star to Nolan (because he took over her job despite being a terrible choice in comparison because REASONS) and he is coldly formal discharging her. As she leaves, Irisa come sin and joins. And in doing so the ranks of the militia grow again. But Irisa is tortured by hallucinations of Tommy. This is not inspiring for the militia.

Nolan, however, excellently turns it round and points out the whole point of soldiers and guards and fighters is to defend the weak. It is their job to stand and fight to protect those who can’t or won’t (snipe at Berlin there). It’s not fair, but it is right. At the same time he passionately declares that Irisa is not weak – and she will defend Defiance when she is ready and on her side. It’s a pretty epic speech.

Stahma has fled to T’evgin for help – he treats her wounds but also tells her Datak is due to hang. She is visibly shaken. Kindzi insults Stahma and tells T’evgin to get rid of her and Stahma snaps back at the idea she’s a “whore” (not because, it seems, sex shaming but because of her upper-class place – being a sex worker would deny her caste). Stahma leaves while Kindzi, actually reasonably, points out T’evgin is threatening their purpose by harbouring a spy.

Without T’evgin, Kindzi drags Stahma away to “clean” her, using it as an excuse to terrify and torment her while talking about how Castithan were cruelly used and abused by Omec slave masters. Stahma tries to run – but Kindzi is much much faster. And more dangerous – until T’evgin throws Kindzi across the room and forces her to apologise. Stahma, cowering and terrified, still responds with grace.

But she is now afraid to be left alone with Kindzi – though T’evgin is sure Kindzi will behave. He’s wrong – and she forces Stahma to swallow some technology – which shows her space from the Omec ship.

Back to Datak and Yewl checks him over to declare him “healthy enough to execute” (Yewl always has a way with words and sporking the ridiculous). He also asks why Yewl voted to convict him – she says she will miss him but says that she has to live in the town after he’s gone.

Datak is taken to the Shaming Rack. Again we have the Casti ritual (“seeming is being” always the crime I appearing to be a thing, even if you are not). He attempts to make his own rousing speech for Defiance, but it falls flat. The rocks are placed, stretching his limbs and Alak brings his son to see – to see that his father had flaws but was not without honour

And over to Rahm’s army his skin-changing Irathient again puts on his painful human disguise. They’re also planning on tunnelling under Defiance. They  break into a basement in Defiance.

I actually liked Indar – his objections were reasonable. He was presented as a decent person who had reasonable (if, occasionally, wrong) objections. It is easy to create shows and books where anyone whodisagrees with the protagonist is terribad wrong – and nice to see a more nuanced approach

It also, I think, hits at another side of Irisa’s development. Yes Nolan tried to make her a clone of him and yes Irisa was right to reject that and point out that killing isn’t easy to her. It was an excellent moment of her development and their relationship – to have Irisa assert her difference from Nolan, as an alien, as a different person and as someone who doesn’t feel the same as Nolan does. This is the flip side – a whole load of people in Defiance also don’t want to fight or kill and a lot of them have problems with it – but the need to protect themselves and their town. “Not wanting to” or “it will hurt me to do it” doesn’t translate into not HAVING to do it. Similarly to Irisa’s failure to kill Rahm – her morals, emotions and mental well being don’t change the fact that it was a decision that is going to come back and hurt them. Her moral and character growth is exceptional but, equally, we don’t all have the luxury of peace of mind and acting in accordance to our morality and inclinations. Staying and not fighting is not an option. Of course we also have to acknowledge – which the show failed to do – that Irisa didn’t get the option Berlin did. She cannot leave unless Nolan does, she doesn’t have an out here and I think her unwillingness to fight needed to be placed more overtly next to being trapped in Defiance (both as a reason why she MUST and can’t opt out but also acknowledging she doesn’t have the option to leave and preserve her values).

Which also comes back to Datak and Stahma – everything about their morality and character is about protecting their family unit (even if abuse within it exists even if they fight within it), it’s protecting them from outsiders it’s upholding and empowering the family. This is a large part of what they do and what defines them. But, again, we have a situation where the right decision was not to follow that morality and that character.

And on to Berlin and Amanda – another amazing scene. Amanda’s dedication to Defiance has never been in question (from her willingness to forgive the Tarrs if nothing else) and here we see her pushing that, perhaps too far. She invokes family to try and force Berlin to say- but Berlin has to yell just to get Amanda to listen to her. Amanda is going to do whatever she can for the good of Defiance- but that doesn’t always make her a nice person. We see this again when, even believing Conrad had broken Berlin's heart, she's quick to push them together for free weapons. Berlin also has a valid point and it’s an interesting one that rarely comes up on shows like this: what does Berlin owe Defiance? What ties does she have to that town?

Of course, the flip side is that Nolan and Amanda have every right not to be happy with someone fleeing to save their own skin and have no reason why they should listen to her excuses and justification – another elements that is nicely done.

Kindzi and Stahma – I still don’t get why a society that is built on multiple partners being common place would have so much slut shaming? Why would they even have a word for “whore” (not “sex-worker” but “whore” which is an insult and carries a lot of implied derogatory elements). Kindzi hating Stahma because she puts their mission at risk makes sense. Hating her for having sex with T’evgin does not. I do like Stahma’s counter from a world building point of view – she isn’t appose to sex or courtesans or prostitutes – but she does object to the idea she is beneath her class. It’s classist and shows Castithan prejudices rather than exporting human ones.