Defiance Season 2 Episode 5: Put the Damage On
Original UK Airdate: 16th October 2014
Amanda is bathing when someone breaks in and attacks her. Only Nolan can find no sign of a break-in, and it soon becomes pretty clear that she’s experiencing hallucinations. Convinced it’s a side effect of a bad-batch of adreno (the drug she’s become addicted to), she confronts her supplier – Pottinger – who assures her the batch is clean. He packs her off to rest at the old McCawley house with Irisa and Tommy as guards. But Amanda soon hallucinates another attack, shoots Irisa and escapes.
Meanwhile, Doc Yewll is visited by her ex-partner (in every sense of the word), Lev, who tells her she is dying. The scenes between the two revel many more details about the atrocities Yewll and Lev committed during the Pale Wars, but also show a sweeter side to her character as her ex questions when she became so cold and unloving and gradually Yewll softens.
Pottinger himself begins to experience visions, and he’s seeing Connor Lang, Amanda’s ex-whom Datak killed in season one. Their scene throws up some interesting titbits about Pottinger’s background, but it had dare not lead to the revelation that it was Pottinger who attacked Amanda all those years ago in New York (see last week.)
It turns out responsibility for Amanda’s hallucinations doesn’t lay with a bad batch of drugs, but a malfunctioning Ego implant – for those of you who haven’t played the Defiance game, an Ego device, developed during the Pale Wars, is a chip inserted into the neck which contains an AI which links directly to the host brain and has a variety of uses. It basically serves as the in game HUD. Amanda is found in time for the Nolan to remove the chip before it caused any more damage.
The revelation that Yewll is too, hallucinating is a brilliant twist and her steadfast denial that her ex isn’t actually quite dead is a tender, bittersweet, emotional moment. Yewll decides not to remove her own Ego chip so she can spend more time with her departed ex.
The end reveals that Pottinger and Yewll are behind the whole thing; they injected the Ego chip into Amanda’s neck when Amanda was in a drug induced stupor and the Ego has been slowly downloading and recording Amanda’s memories and actions for Pottinger’s benefit. Sadly, the explanation of how they too came to be affected is pure hookum. And when she finds out about the implant, how come Amanda isn’t angry? Or concerned as to how it got there in the first place? She barely even cares!
Elsewhere, Datak schemes to get back into power. Can he and Rafe, the heads of two feuding families last season who have since lost everything actually come to a mutually beneficial alliance? Especially since Rafe and Stahma come to some sort of understanding? That takes place in an amusing scene with Rafe taking a bath in the Tarr residence until Stahma turns up and changes from playfully seductive to scary threatening and back again in the blink of an eye. Just after, Datak turns up at the house and Rafe has much fun acting as if he’s the new head of his rivals household.
Final thought: the subliminal flashes whenever someone has a vision are neat creative touch.
The Verdict: I applaud the decision to not have the cause of the hallucinations be dodgy drugs as that would have been a complete cop-out and I like the malfunctioning Ego chip idea and its part in Pottinger’s grand plan (not to mention it’s a smart video game tie-in to boot) but the explanation for how Pottinger and the Doc are also affected is inadequate. Much of the stuff with Yewll and Lev is excellent. It really adds more sides to her character and their scenes contain most of the emotional punch of the episode, but some of the dialogue is more daytime soap opera than prime-time drama. Beyond that, there’s not much else really wrong with Put the Damage On, it just isn’t a home-run episode.