That guy that pissed off Datak during the battle with the Volge is called to account: An ancient Castithan rite of public torture for deserters. It freaks out Irisa and Nolan, but Amanda explains that eight years ago, a public vaccination mandate ended in the revolt (and eventual extermination) of nearly the entire Defiance population of Irathients: Nicky, and now Amanda, have decided to turn a blind eye to some of the Votans' more barbaric traditions to avoid all-out war. Nolan begrudgingly gets it, but Irisa -- operating on some old emotional wounds that still haven't fully come to light -- waits until Dad's gone, storms the garret, and ends up getting herself stoned by the participating Casti for interfering. Deputy Tommy comes to her aid, and they save the guy -- for the rest of the day, anyway.
Stahma urges her husband to chill with the more intense Casti stuff in public, since the humans -- and, it's implied, high-caste Stahma herself -- find it all so distasteful. And when Rafe nags Christie into delaying the wedding, we finally see where Mama Tarr's coming from: Datak was Stahma's choice, a low-caste bruiser who eventually killed her arranged-marriage fiancé for her hand, and got her onto an Ark so they could start fresh -- without the weight of those traditions to which he's now so proudly clinging.
Working her way into Christie's head is a good pretext for explaining and complicating both of the Tarrs, and puts that layered spin on them that was lacking: His violent social-climbing/demagoguery is leftover insecurity from 5000 years ago, while Stahma was willing to slum it -- and leave her whole planet -- because she loves Datak's craziness so much. (Always trust Jaime Murray, I guess, is the moral of that story; she's always hypnotic to watch -- and did they tone down her makeup?)
Meanwhile, Mr. Birch and Nicky return for some deepening of their own, as ex-Mayor Riordan demonstrates great affection for Amanda, and for the people of Defiance that she keeps setting up to get murdered. Birch wakes the comatose Ben up for another round of sabotage, and he nearly succeeds in blowing up the ruins beneath Defiance, which would clear the city for whatever the Riordan gang has planned -- but Nolan and Rafe find him first and, after some really nice underground bonding time that makes Rafe a lot more loveable (and thus intriguing)... Ben rushes them, and ends up dying despite Rafe's momentary change of heart.
Datak's posse storms the jailhouse for their deserter, putting Tommy and Irisa on the defensive, but Amanda shows up at the last second and -- joined by Nolan and Rafe -- talks him out of full-on treason. Datak pulls a sudden heel-face turn that leaves Amanda feeling particularly creeped out, and the deserter returns to his family. Nolan beautifully assures Irisa that she did the right thing, and that they're staying in Defiance. (And that Amanda, due to her constant awesomeness, is probably someone Irisa should be more open to knowing, because that little girl needs a mom worse than Peter Pan and all the Lost Boys put together, and it shows.)
While Amanda holds a funeral for the 41 who fell to the Volge, a cover of Nirvana's "Come As You Are" begins to play, which would be the show's very-high-risk You Feel Me Move Of The Week. (I remain staunchly in favor of these little pseudo-anachronistic touches, no matter how much they freak everybody out.) Rafe discovers that "Kaziri" thing among his dead son's crap, while the deserter says goodbye to the family, and his dead body is deposited at the jailhouse's front door -- not exactly winning the populace any points with Irisa, but definitely sending a message to the human meddlers that the old ways don't go down so easy.
I loved it. A lot is said that makes the show's cultural mission explicitly clear -- "Their past is gone," Nicky explains to Amanda at one point, "It blew up with their planet" -- while still keeping several narrative balls rolling, and it was nice to see all the many layers under Rafe, and Stahma's, complex agendas. All in all, a promising second (third) outing, and one that situates and makes the show's legacy -- particularly its connection to spiritual ancestor Caprica, which it really resembled in tone this week -- a lot easier to process/manage. Now that we know who the major players are, and the central Votan races, it's a lot easier to focus in and parse the emotional stories on stage -- and, given the urgency and ambiguity of Nicky's plan for her final days, the stakes moving forward.
Next Week: I really have no idea, they play it pretty close to the vest. We might get some insight into Irisa's million problems and/or psychic powers (and/or wounds), but of course the promos are all about CGI hellbugs. Which I mean, not even in the Battlestar days was I the audience for Syfy's promos, so I just generally assume that whatever exciting thing they highlight in the ads will be the thing I don't care about.
Stahma for sure pulls some more weird shit, because that's how she rolls. Just thinking as a showrunner, I imagine it's the right week to learn about Indogenes, and let us know how often we can expect to see Kenya, which are two things that need to be established. And then based on the Nirvana epilogue -- did I mention that? -- I'd guess Rafe's discovery of the Kaziri will probably mean a social shift, which along with the rift between Amanda and Datak could actually change some of the town's power dynamics in real way.
Jeb Nolan and his daughter Irisa returned to the refugee city built on the ruins of his hometown, and got themselves all mixed up their politics. One murder and a high-cost skirmish later, Nolan has become the town's new Lawkeeper. The new Mayor, Amanda Rosewater, has no idea of the forces working from inside her office to clear out the town and find a mysterious artifact that could end the world, or save it -- while the first-generation problems between the various races stranded on what remains of Earth threaten to do the same.
24 HRS AGO
A Castithan named Elah Bandik fled the fight with the Volge, pissing off Datak Tarr and stirring up all kinds of caste-related drama in the wake of the battle. This episode is about the way various imported Votan traditions are incompatible, and how to reconcile those things with Defiance's mission of making a home for everybody.
The easy reading is that it's a simple Western transplant -- with "aliens" standing in for savage Red Injuns or various inscrutable Asians -- but the only reason it comes off that way is because the Mayor and Sheriff of the town (whose job it is to serve and steward that mission) happen to be gorgeous white people. If the show is "about" Amanda and Nolan, then yes: This is the White Man's Burden. But I think the show goes to great lengths to show that it's no more "about" those two characters than it is the ten other main characters on the show, making the only real person at issue Defiance herself.
So in the wake of this battle, with 41 dead from all races, Datak Tarr -- as the preeminent Casti magistrate in the town, and the show -- leads a posse to track down Elah Bandik and punish him. It's all tied up with Casti concepts of honor and caste, or "liro," and as we'll see Datak has several intertwined purposes here: One, to reinforce Casti culture within the larger Defiance community; two, to preserve that culture by isolating it; three, to reinforce his own power within that culture; four, to leverage this factionalization and tradition for his power within Defiance.
If the Castithans stay true, and stay on top as the strongest Votan race in Defiance, than leading and defining their traditions means he gets power in both. Datak described last week his understanding of this situation: The second-generation kids of Defiance have no reason and no context to stick to tradition, because their world is gone and Defiance belongs to the children, so he has to do various unpleasant things to keep the Casti spirit alive... Which spirit just happens to be itself about the subjugation of other races, their own women and children, the lower castes, and everything else that -- as we'll see -- was denied him back home.