Check out this week’s TV Recap for Defiance, SYFY’s newest Sc-Fi show! We get to see some of old St Louis, and delve deeper into Castithan culture. Violet recaps this one, while Josh adds his comments in blue. Come check it out after the jump!
The episode opens with a man of the Castithan race (the race that is pale and white-haired) running through the woods. We see flashbacks to the Battle of the Volge 24 hours earlier, during which the man is fighting, but then gets scared and runs off, as Datak Tarr, the Castithan leader, calls him a coward. A group of people catches up to the man in the woods.
The next day, we see the Castithan man, whose name is Elah Bandik, has been strung up in the city for his cowardice. A crowd of people are watching, mostly Castithan, while Castithan leaders are singing and holding a “cleansing ceremony” for the man. Jeb Nolan, the brand new Lawkeeper of Defiance, intervenes, but the man doesn’t want to be cut down, and explains that he has no choice, that he must do this for his family. Amanda, the Mayor, shows up but does not put a stop to it because they have an understanding that dates back to her predecessor. The scene seems to really upset Irisa, and Tommy, the Junior Lawkeeper, puts his hand on her shoulder — only to have Irisa reflexively begin to attack him.
An interesting situation to throw the Lawkeeper into right away: Religious views and what their view of morality is when it comes to beliefs. I am sure most people would side with the Lawkeeper here, as no one wants to see anyone tortured, even in the name of religion and salvation. A good way to get the audience endeared to Nolan though. I was surprised that the mayor would initially allow the ritual to continue.
Nolan wants Amanda to do something about this, but she explains that she can’t go against the religions of the races, and tells him about how mandatory vaccines were written into the charter and town officials went door to door to force vaccines on Irathient children, an action which caused an Irathient uprising and a lot of bloodshed. As a result, the town decided to let the eight alien races honor their traditional values. Nolan counters, telling her, “Look at that and tell me that it’s right,” to which Amanda replies that it’s necessary.
It clear that Amanda doesn’t like what is going on, but doesn’t feel there is a way out. Interestingly enough, we learn there is a town charter which has been fairly ignored for several years, Amanda reveals, and from the sounds of it, she wants to get back to it.
Mr. Birch, the bad guy we saw talking to the former mayor at the end of the last episode, sneaks into the infirmary and wakes up Ben (the Indogene race villain who knocked out the stasis net in the pilot) by injecting something into his forehead. He threatens Ben’s family if he does not cooperate or if he fails a second time. He asks if Ben remembers the “old” plan, which has something to do with the mines, and Ben questions wouldn’t that destroy the very thing they are looking for, but Mr. Birch says it’s a risk they’ll have to take. Ben protests, but Mr. Birch says that Ben signed up for whatever it takes.
A needle directly to the brain has to suck. I am curious to know exactly how Ben got caught up with this guy in the first place. I kind of feel sorry for him. He seems almost like a young kid who got mixed up in the wrong crowd, and it isn’t going to end well.
Rafe McCawley is upset about his daughter, Christie, agreeing to marry Alak, Datak’s son, and tells her that he wants her to call off the wedding and come home. She starts to leave, as Rafe tells her if she walks out that door again there’s no coming back, but she ignores him and leaves anyway. Quentin defends his sister to Rafe, and Rafe says that their brother Luke was a good man, but Quentin asks why Luke was meeting alone in the woods with Ben if he was a good man. Just then, Rafe gets a phone call that there has been an explosion at the mines.
The Romeo and Juliet plot continues. The show seems to be setting up the McCawleys as the good family however, despite the sometimes trigger-happy father. The Tarrs however seem to have hidden agendas, and the wife especially seems conniving.
Nolan and Amanda show up at the mines, where Rafe reports that Ben attacked the guards and went underground. We then learn that the mine shaft leads down to “Old St. Louis,” and that some sections of the old city are still intact underground due to the terraforming folding over it. The quickest way to get down there is to go through an unmapped Wrath’s Nest of tunnels. Rafe volunteers to go, saying he remembers the way down, and Nolan insists on going with him to make sure he doesn’t kill Ben as payback for murdering Luke. Nolan tells Irisa to stay behind and help Tommy figure out who set Ben free, and warns her to stay far away from Elah Bandik. Obviously, that is not going to happen…
I am curious to know why St. Louis has the sort of two layerness to it, and if there is any significance to it. I was excited to see what old St. Louis was going to look like, but unfortunately we don’t get many good scenes of it.
Datak and his wife, Stahma, are in the blinding bright white bathing room discussing the Elah Bandik situation and the Castithan caste system. Stahma points out how this is a new world and maybe they should get rid of the caste system, reminding him how he used to be at the bottom, so he of all people would understand how it feels to be there. But Datak disagrees, saying that now that he is at the top of the caste system, he wants to keep it preserved. Their son Alak comes in complaining about Rafe McCawley putting doubts into Christy’s mind, and how they might have to call off the wedding. Stahma comforts him and tells him she’ll take care of everything.
Another scene showing the subterfuge Datak and Stahma are using. As a side note, it is kind of creepy how the mostly naked mother hugs her son. I suppose you can chalk it up to different family cultural norms…
Meanwhile, heading through the underground tunnels, Nolan sees the novel War of the Worlds on the ground and picks it up. Then the group reaches Old St. Louis.
Back at Amanda’s office, the former mayor has come to pay her a visit before she gets out of town. Amanda speaks to her about how she wants the Castithan display in the streets to stop, but the old mayor disagrees, pointing out that it’s all that the alien races have left. Amanda tells her that she wants Defiance to evolve into something more than each individual race, to which the mayor replies she is going to miss her. The mayor takes her bags and gets into a car with Mr. Birch, who comments that she got too close to these people. The mayor gets defensive, saying that what she does is for the benefit of all, that she takes no pleasure, and that she just ran out of time. What exactly is she doing? Ran out of time for what? I guess we’ll have to keep watching to find out.
Interesting scene here, as the former mayor seems to be trying to be a “good guy” while doing what looks to be bad things. I am curious as to what she is after. Perhaps a way to return the world to “normal”? We know whatever it is, something within the city of St. Louis will assist with it. I am curious as to why the former mayor is so willing to support the alien culture. That seems a little counterintuitive to how most people would handle these types of situations.
Nolan and Rafe reminisce about Old St. Louis, and we find out a little more about Rafe’s past. His family used to make dog food, and Nolan remembers the brand and sings the jingle to him. We also learn that Rafe used to photograph terraformed landscapes for awhile.
Rafe and Nolan seem to be bonding quite well, setting up a friendship it looks like. This will probably not make Datak a happy camper.
Meanwhile, in Defiance, Irisa has of course shown up at the Castithan gathering, and watches as the Castithan people place rocks in the basket, adding weight which stretches out Elah’s body. As a child begins to place a rock in the basket, Irisa runs up to him and stops him, saying that this is no place for a child. In her frustration, she climbs up and cuts Elah down. Chaos starts to break loose, as people begin to throw rocks at her, but Tommy steps in and fires his gun into the air, announcing that Elah Bandik is under arrest — for loitering. Obviously just a way to take Elah into custody and protect him.
So far I really like Irisa’s character. She has a fun intensity to her, and I enjoyed her being the “moral compass” this episode (despite her almost fleeing last episode). Tommy’s scene was pretty funny, if not a little ridiculous. I guess he had to try something huh?
We then learn that there is a nuclear plant underground, which must be where Ben’s heading. If it blows up, the radiation could kill everyone.
We see Christie working at the train car restaurant where we saw the former mayor at the end of the last episode. Alak’s mother, Stahma, is eating there and tells Christie she heard she’s having second thoughts about the wedding. Stahma tells Christie she can fight her father if she wants to, and shares her own story of being betrothed to someone that she did not want to marry, especially after meeting Datak. She got out of the marriage when her betrothed was “accidentally” flushed out of the airlock of a transport ship that Datak also happened to be on. Stahma explains, “I knew the man I needed in a way my parents could not.” It appears that her story has convinced Christie to put the wedding back on track.
Is Stahma trying to set the seed of Christie murdering her father? She is certainly trying to get her to turn against him at the very least. Hopefully Rafe can see that Christie is her own woman, and can marry who she pleases, no matter what his feelings are in the matter. This would be the best way for him to not lose his daughter. Her fiancé seems oblivious to the plan that his mother has planned, and despite being a hothead, he doesn’t seem too evil from what we’ve seen.
The underground group reaches the nuclear plant and gunfire is exchanged between them and Ben. Ben reaches for the beeping bomb, but they beat him to it and deactivate it. We can see that Rafe wants to kill Ben, but Nolan reminds him that they need Ben alive so that they can find out who is behind all of this. Ben eggs Rafe on, saying that Luke was helping him because he needed money to leave town and get away Rafe because he hated him. Reluctantly, Rafe decides not to kill Ben, but all of a sudden Ben reaches toward the gun still in Rafe’s hand, shoves his body against the barrel of the gun, and forces the gun to go off, killing himself.
I am curious as to why Ben opted to kill himself. Perhaps he felt no way out of the situation he was in, and thought it would be the cleanest way out. I felt a little sorry for him, despite his previous deeds. It seems like he got caught up in the wrong crowd.
Back in Defiance, Irisa and Tommy are at the Lawkeeper station, guarding Elah. When Irisa questions Tommy’s actions, he explains, “You made a move, and I backed you up. That’s what Lawkeepers do. Clancy taught me that.” Datak and a few others come for Elah. Amanda shows up at the station and announces that she’s pardoned Elah from all violations of Castithan law, but the Castithans aren’t having it. Conveniently, Nolan and the underground crew return and interject themselves into the situation. Datak sees that the numbers are no longer in his favor and quickly backs off. He is suddenly very polite to Amanda, even kissing her hand, then he and the Castithans leave. Nolan reports to Amanda that Ben is dead. Amanda says he can give her the details later, that she has 41 people to bury, and she leaves.
It was a very abrupt switch in demeanor by Datak. Sounds like he may be following his wife’s advice, and embracing a more acceptable culture. Or so it would seem…
Nolan tells Irisa that she did the right thing busting Elah out. Irisa admits that Amanda helped, and Nolan makes the remark, “Wow, so we were right to trust her” in a playful “I told you so” tone. Irisa asks if they’re ever going to make it to Antarctica, and Nolan replies that it’s not real. She asks if he’s sure of that, and he replies, “Nope, but this town is, I’m sure of that.”
The ending scenes feature a slow, haunting cover of Nirvana’s “Come as You Are,” as the townspeople attend a funeral in the woods, where white ribbons are tied around the trees. Meanwhile, Rafe is looking through Luke’s room and finds a splinter of wood on the floor that he figures out had broken off from one of the drawers. Hidden in a secret compartment of the drawer, he finds a stash of money, a map, and some sort of interlocking item that looks to be made of gold. So apparently Ben was telling the truth. On the other side of town, Elah is having dinner with his family, when Datak comes to get him. Apparently Elah has been expecting this, and he thanks Datak for allowing him some time with his family. Datak replies that what Elah is doing is brave and honorable. In the next scene they discover that Elah’s dead body has been left outside of the Lawkeeper station.
We learn that Datak was still going to get his way, just had to go a different way about it. I wonder how much convincing it took for Elah to kill himself. We know from earlier, Elah didn’t want the rituals to stop for fear of shaming his alien race, but I have to imagine Datak was a big reason for his death.
My thoughts: I must admit, I was quite disappointed in this week’s episode considering the high hopes I had for the show after seeing the pilot. I felt like this episode did not have much going on in it, and was far less exciting than last week’s episode. Granted, not every episode can be two hours long and have a town-unifying battle scene, but this episode was rather dull in comparison. Hopefully the show can pick up a little next week and regain my interest.
I felt this episode was to define the characters further. We are learning that Datak seems to be a cunning SOB. We are learning that Amanda is struggling as a new mayor, and trying to find the balance between what is morally right and what is going to cause the least amount of conflicts between races and their cultures. I feel like the show is also further cementing the conflict between the McCawleys and Tarrs. We are also learning more about Irisa, and how human she can be despite being an Irathient. I was not thrilled about the episode, but I enjoyed it. I hope we have more fun next week!