On the eve of a major mayoral debate, a very fake-acting Stahma tells Kenya that Datak plans an assassination to avoid any unseemly loss of face. Meanwhile, Datak pulls some ancestral ritual crap out of his ass to get Alak on board the plan, which eventually means offering his best friend (best man?) the chance to join the Tarr crew if he takes part.
Of course, it turns out that it's just a paintball gun, but the Tarrs get their man: On high alert, Nolan takes out the kid, giving Tarr the opening to read out his closed EMC records -- including several high-casualty massacres and some damaging court-martial testimony, in his own words -- and taint his Lawkeepership and relationship with Mayor Rosewater permanently.
Nolan is set to go, while Amanda is all about standing her ground, of course, but ultimately they both know that those military records could only have come from the Earth Republic, which means Datak has already sold out to them. As, in fact, he has, including the McCawley Mines, for a hefty profit and (fake) promises of power in the E-Rep.
As Kenya goes after Stahma for using her, causing a very ugly scene at the Hollows house that leaves their relationship in tatters and Kenya's life in danger, Doc Yewll tries in vain to destroy the Golden Knot -- but every time she experiments on it, it causes Irisa incredible pain and weird time-traveling visions. Hoping to get out of town before the situation blows, Irisa and Nolan say goodbye to all their friends and lovers, and take a moment to beat the everloving shit out of Datak Tarr, which was lovely. (For his part, Rafe has some miners beat up Alak as well, but that's not half as fun.)
Before they can leave Amanda to her futile defiance, though, Yewll finally pieces the Kaziri/Irisa/Alekta puzzle together: The Silver Knot (as seen in the cave paintings) was actually placed inside Irisa's body (they unlock in a neat way) during her original trial at the hands of Thesho Zajino, and so her operation to take it out means both Knots are going haywire when Irisa finally comes back to consciousness, knocks Yewll out, and heads for the woods.
Dropping to her knees while a Cyndi Lauper cover plays, it seems she'll never make it to where she's going; probably she won't, as the episode ends on Rynn -- having had her own visions of Nolan "killing" the still-comatose Sukar -- as she prepares to kill a barely conscious Irisa in revenge. Two dads, two adopted daughters, and about ten different war-torn killers trying to redeem themselves in various ways, almost none of them aware of what's just underfoot.
So a lot happened! A lot of point-of-no-return things, from the entire town turning on Nolan after only four months, to Irisa finally putting down roots in the form of her adorable relationship with Tommy, to Stahma making her stand with Datak apparently once and for all, and the E-Rep having finally established a foothold they don't seem likely to give up under any circumstances. And while next week's finale will most likely see an end to the Kaziri stuff, one wonders how Yewll's own late-developed "creator/destroyer" mythology will play into things, here at the possible Next Apocalypse...
Irisa Nyira Nolan's parents fell into a cargo cult when she was a child, and she was declared a messiah. Before the ritual was quite complete, Joshua Nolan's squad raided the camp and killed everyone and he adopted her. Since then, strange clairvoyant visions and night terrors have driven a wedge between them, becoming a symbol of their Irathient/Human disconnect. Upon arriving in Defiance, Irisa reconnected with her heritage through a relationship with Sukar, the leader of a group of Irath Spirit Riders.
This is, until Nolan shot him, sending him into a coma from which he'll probably never wake, their shared experience of saving Defiance reified her messianic stuff, but this time it was through the lens of the Irath Goddess of destiny, Irzu. Nolan and Irisa have been working their way back to each other ever since that awful day as she tries to mediate her spirituality while also begrudgingly coming to love the town and her place in it.
The spiritual stuff has a third component: The Golden Knot, an ancient artifact that may be key to wiping either all human or Votan life from Earth, but also seems connected to Irisa (through prophecy and, this week, empirical evidence). We've since learned that Nicky Riordan's dangerous season-long schemes to recover the artifact arose not from human-first bias but in fact from her status as an Indogene sleeper agent, meaning she intended to complete the mission of the original Arks: To make the Earth safe and clean for Votan life.
Her various compatriots in this plan have all died, leaving only the deserter Meh Yewll, who last week murdered Nicky once the trap seemed too ready to spring. Everybody's pretending Defiance is valuable because of Rafe's gulanite resources, but the truth is that half the power-players manipulating Jeb and Amanda are fully aware of the Kaziri and what it represents. The ex-Mayor's death occurred only days before the official election to name her replacement, bringing Datak Tarr to the table as a viable opponent for interim Mayor Amanda Rosewater. Tarr's wife Stahma Tarr has entered into a romantic relationship with Rosewater's sister Kenya, a situation that could easily lead to both their deaths.
Amanda always strongly opposed the Earth Republic's imperialist interest in Defiance: Along with her own painful history with the organization, she also shared with Nicky a true horror at their tactics and the mechanized "company town" results of their acquisitions. What she didn't know is that Nicky opposed the E-Rep politically as well, as the strongest bloc of post-apocalyptic human interest. But for those Votans caught between the giants of E-Rep and Votanis Collective, the question seems both more and less complicated: Past idealism, past defiance, past hope, the only question is which master to serve.