As written by Michael Taylor -- my personal favorite Battlestar writer, bar none -- the story is a fairly straightforward, but poetic affair: Several daughters and their several fathers come to new conclusions about themselves, their relationships, and their places within the community of Defiance. Of course, that's exactly the kind of Jossy shit that I love and got Caprica broken-and-then-fixed by our beloved Kevin Murphy, so there's also a great murder plot and lots of neat CGI monsters, but this is my recap, so: Daddies and daughters. Gileses and Buffyses.
First up we got Irisa's pet Spirit Riders from the pilot, who are all of a sudden people: Sukar and Rynn, who turn out to be an adoptive father/daughter pair in a similar -- but still Irath -- situation as Nolan and Irisa. The Spirit Riders' uneasy return to Defiance is marked by a fair amount of racist tension, but as Sukar makes clear to Amanda in a closed-door meeting, it's a tension that goes both ways: After that whole massacre we heard about last week, the Irath are just as likely to go crazy on the other people in Defiance as the other way around, and for fairly good reasons, all told.
Meanwhile, Christie has pretty much defected to the Tarrs, after her father's ongoing emotional shutdown, and there's a very awkward dinner in which Datak hates whatever she's prepared as an act of goodwill, and Stahma's scrambling to both comfort her future daughter-in-law and, of course, remind her intense husband of the end goal. In the end, they decide the best way to the McCawley mines is to reconcile Christie with her father before the wedding -- and then terror strikes, as a bunch of hellbugs attack Christie and the Tarrs for reasons I'm not sure were made explicit in the hour, but we can guess. (Also, nobody's willing to address that Alak -- whose hair is, you were correct, dyed -- pussed out immediately, while Christie was willing to take the bugs on, until the second Datak went excellently ham on them. The whole two-family dynamic, choreographed as always by Stahma, couldn't have more or lovelier twisty-turny details every week.)
The eventual collaboration between (once again adorable) Rafe and (always adorable) Nolan turns up half the solution to the mystery, which is that all the attackees have had Hellbug fight pheromone purposely put on their shit, but Irisa's psychic stuff completes it (and is in fact the majority of the point this week): Seems Nolan's been treating her visions as post-traumatic episodes from her childhood for awhile now, being a short-sighted if marvelous human, to the point where she's stopped talking about them -- even though they've gotten worse since Defiance.
So once Kenya's interrupted mid-S&M session by her client's chest exploding with hellbugs, and the teaser's retrosexual jogging guy is dead, only Irisa's random dream-memories -- which involve Sukar and Rynn, who respectively admire and despise her weird psychic gifts -- can close the loop. Nolan's forced to watch as his daughter takes part in a blood-and-hookah ritual with Sukar that unlocks her powers and makes him a very jealous daddy indeed.
As it turns out, Rynn was taking vengeance on the two dead guys for their part in her parents' murder: During that period of shitting on the Irath and getting them out of town we inferred from last week, the two dudes tried to get ahold of their property for its proximity to the rich gulanite mines, and eventually murdered them in front of her. So she's been half-repressing those memories, until this Volge attack situation brought her back into Defiance.
One tomb-raiding spelunk into the mines -- with Tommy and Sukar -- later, they've got Rynn in custody, her Hellbug nest obliterated, and a strange new status quo upstairs: As an apology for the Votan-rending situation caused by her predecessor, Amanda cedes the "West Valley" area to the Irath in recompense, and a new alliance is signed that will probably have major repercussions, but at least hews closer to the charter than the town ever has.
And while Nolan realizes how ignorant and awful he was not to appreciate Irisa's god-given talents, his attempts to reconnect are blocked by her natural affiliation with Sukar, who has an opening in the adopted-daughter department. Even Kenya's wise counsel doesn't save it, quite, but -- even as Christie and Alak are welcoming Rafe into the Hollows, bit by bit -- it's still Nolan that nurses Irisa through her night terrors as the episode ends. To -- you feel me? -- a lovely acoustic cover of 1970's "O-o-h Child."
So yeah, three father/daughter pairs -- four, if you count the Hellbug "Matron" as a parent -- going through some radical reevaluations, all arising from past horrors, all centered around the bloody roots and green leaves of Defiance, all coming into new configurations as the hour closes. But Rafe still has the Kaziri, which nobody even knows about or what it is, and Stahma is still playing the long game; Sukar can't stick around forever to trouble the central Nolan/Irisa relationship, even with all those muscles, because the Spirit Riders are a time bomb; Tommy continues to serve pretty kindly as intense Irisa's foil; and Nolan and Amanda have put the lid on yet another impending race riot.
I loved it, not least for its poetic transitions and willingness to wrap past and future around one another -- both Taylor trademarks -- and for the performances -- Irisa's never-snotty sarcasm and never-hysterical desperation are becoming series touchstones -- but also for the continual service to the story: I might not tune in for the bug-fighting scenes, but I sure am grateful they're there, and manage to work in the emotional punch that kind of thing requires. And a six-way fight between fathers and daughters (who are living weapons) that ends up killing an entire nest of living weapons by turning the children on the parents...
Next Week: Rafe's got secrets, not least including the Kaziri; Nolan figures out that Stahma's the one to watch; somebody's Bio-Man is kidnapping girls for unknown, yet likely horrible purpose.
Irisa, pissed that her dad was throwing in his lot with the people of Defiance, ran off -- but eventually showed back up in the nick of time with an army of Irathient Spirit Riders, and defeated the Volge. At the time, it seemed she was just prejudiced against the idea of cities, but as we've come to know more about Defiance's relationship with their Irath expatriates, the situation's become more complex: Religious issues eight years back caused a massacre and emigration of the Irath population, which benefitted the citizens (most of them, lol) in its wake, but did nothing to ease the tension with Irath in the region.
The dream of Defiance is that of all races coming together to form a new super-race where nobody's a minority because everybody is. And the price of that dream is, for now, the Irath. What is to all appearances a beautiful, rich -- and notably spiritual -- culture has been turned in the wake of Arkfall into roving grody bands of Mad Max raiders that everyone fears and still nobody respects.
And while Irisa may have legitimate claims against her people, she's the one teen character -- versus Alak and the McCawleys -- actually moving in the opposite direction: While they are engaged in the project of synthesizing their heritage, moving toward the dream of Defiance, her journey has to be in some ways about reintegrating her own Irath heritage. No matter how unattractive it seems, or what anybody thinks of them, or even the ways in which her human father has unthinkingly made that harder.
There's a reason that when Irisa ran, she ran to the Irath -- specifically, to the very same Spirit Rider group that had mugged her of her future days before -- and this episode goes far explaining why.
(And, while we're doing Previouslies, I should also acknowledge that I previously guessed her burgeoning psychic powers caused the original bad situation from which Nolan rescued her, whatever it was, because Slytherins always fall to omens and dark dreams. But the truth is a lot stranger, and awesomer, more balanced, and ultimately harder than that. As are the Irath.)
Dalton Taggart retrieves his kicks from a cache in an abandoned jeep, turns on some classical music in the old earbuds, and goes running. This is lovely because of the diagetic/non-diagetic thing happening, where his subjective music becomes ours, and thus whatever violence is going on is scored by this in the silence, but also because it makes him seem like a pretty neat guy: Holding on to his morning jog, whatever else happens.