Defiance 2.06 ‘This Woman’s Work’
Original UK Airdate: 23rd October 2014
Odd couples, or at the very least potentially explosive combinations of characters appear to be the theme of the show this week.
In the main story, a major arkfall is expected to land near Defiance. Saying that it contains a potentially world-changing energy supply Pottinger’s boss, Mercado, orders him to personally secure the arkfall – oh, and he has to work alongside the best arkhunter available. That’d be Nolan. Pottinger brings his bodyguard BFF Churchill along for the ride and Nolan brings Tommy – oh, no, wait Tommy quits in a hissy fit when Nolan refuses to let him bring his girlfriend Berlin along for the ride. Berlin wants Tommy to move with her to Texas where she can report from ‘the front.’
Inevitably the arc doesn’t contain a great energy source. Well,. Technically it does, but it’s a deadly being made out of pure energy. A being that thinks the Pale Wars are still happening and that all humans are the enemy. A being that has been suspended in its containment cell for 17 years. A being that’s just been let loose from its containment cell by the impact of the crash. Oh joy.
Soon their backup squad is wiped out and Nolan, Pottinger and Churchill are fighting for their lives. They lure the creature back to the crashed ship where Nolan has a plan to kill it, but he needs time. That means one of them must make a lone stand against the creature (facing certain death) to buy Nolan the time he needs. Guess who?
Churchill’s death is actually quite gutting. He’s been a tertiary character at absolute best and the Biomen are one of the least developed races in the show; but their simple-minded confidence and loyalty coupled with their gruff, stoic delivery have them cemented as an enjoyable background entertainment.
Moreso, the writers of Defiance care about character. It may only be a couple of lines, but Pottinger promising to treat Churchill to his favourite meal if he survives does a lot for both of them, adding a layer to a character whom is essentially a redshirt (in a very similar way to Ulysses in episode 1.04) that a lot of other shows wouldn’t bother to give. The scenes may not reach truly great emotional heights but that little bit of character care carries them higher than they otherwise would.
This comes after Pottinger has told Nolan how he took in Churchill in similar circumstances to how Nolan took in Irisa. This adds more insight into Nolan’s attitudes and prejudices. It was Nolan who asked for someone to make a stand against the monster and didn’t blink an eye when that someone was Churchill – as Pottinger points out, Nolan wouldn’t think of sacrificing Irisa for a second, and yet expected Pottinger to readily sacrifice one of his best friends. The episode shows several other glimpses of Nolan really not liking aliens that much at all (to put it mildly). Irisa being the exception. That Pottinger is genuinely upset at his friends death shows he can be compassionate and show empathy – though I still don’t trust him to not be working any situation to his advantage.
Even though neither are involved in the episode’s A-Plot, the title refers to the works of Stahma and Irisa.
If season one didn’t prove it, Datak and Stahma’s war over the Tarr empire should leave you in no doubt that they are the true stars of the show. This week Stahma comes under attack from a prominent religious leader, Favi Kurr, who thinks that her rise to the head of the Tarr family is destroying traditional Casti values and ways of life (an empowered woman! Oh no!) Stahma tries flattery and threats to no avail, so she talks to Amanda (another potentially volatile mix when Amanda finds out what Stahma did to her sister) who suggests that she try and unite other local Casti women in rising up for women’s rights. When this fails, she simply poisons them all and frames Kurr. Got to love her problem solving skills.
Irisa goes into mindless weapon mode and attacks another man, only this time Tommy sees. Irisa has them hole up with her ‘victim’ until he comes round to better make Tommy understand her situation. She confesses that she doesn’t know what is happening to her and asks Tommy to keep it all a secret. It doesn’t explain anything more about the Irisa as a living weapon arc that we didn’t already know (boo, but it’s also been terminally dull so far, so yay) but it’s good to see more of Tommy and Irisa together and they’re finally doing something to play on the Irisa-Tommy-Berlin triangle.
And there’s still time right at the end for Tommy and Berlin to argue and for the latter to seek solace in Nolan’s bed; and for Christy (remember her?) to paint her skin white, dress up in Casti clothes, go to a Casti bar and get chatted up, all at the suggestion of the radio disc jockey who wants in her husbands pants. Oh, and the guy hitting on her? It’s Pottinger’s boss, Mercado, who has also disguised himself as a Casti. Go figure.
Though it doesn’t explain that if the Casti’s can smell that she’s pregnant, why can’t any of them in the bar smell that she isn’t a Casti!? Or perhaps they just don’t care. Whatever.
The Verdict: Plenty of fun this week, and another example of successfully using self contained stories to advance the entire plot. I don’t know where they’re going with the whole Christy/Alak/Mercado/Radio girl Casti impersonation thing, but it’s weird. Though I am glad that the writers are attempting to do something – anything – with Christy.