Defiance 2.09 ‘Painted from Memory’
Original UK Airdate: 13th November 2014
It’s a very different episode of Defiance, with almost no action even less Irisa. While I admire the creative team for breaking with their formula, it’s a less than successful experiment. Painted from Memory is a plodding episode and far worse, undoes a lot of good work elsewhere.
Kenya’s reappearance sends shockwaves through Defiance this week. Stahma looks like she’s seen a ghost, Nolan is suspicious about the gaps in Kenya’s memories and Pottinger is back, sadly in 2D villain mode.
Amanda is overjoyed her sister is back and is in no mood to listen to Nolan’s concerns or Stahma’s reassurances that the woman walking around Defiance can’t be her sister.
To prove to herself once and for all that Kenya is dead and she isn’t losing her mind, Stahma takes Datak for a spot of grave digging; and it’s interesting – although entirely understandable – that she’s the one who flips first. Again Jaime Murray’s performance is the highlight of the show; although Julie Benz runs her close, seemingly having to go through the entire gamut of human emotions in forty minutes of television.
Datak’s discovery of Kenya’s skull in the earth leads to the reveal that the Kenya walking around town is an Indogene clone. That in itself is fine, and I like how Nolan is able to piece the information together to reach this conclusion himself, even without knowledge of Datak’s gruesome find.
The big disappointment comes with the news that Pottinger and the Doc are behind it. Pottinger’s masterplan was to make clone of Amanda’s sister with a limited lifespan, so that when the clone dies he can console her and as Yewll puts it, “her pants will just melt way.”
As Mayor, here is a person who can exert massive amounts of control and power (and has, he took over control of the town’s adreno drug supply just for Amanda, he’s ordered murders, he’s sprung the Doc out of prison) and yet chooses to do this, obviously flawed, quite stupid plot. Aren’t there a thousand other ways he can abuse his power to get Amanda into bed? And in Yewll he has a hold over a genius level war criminal. Is this really the only use of her talents he has?
What is massively infuriating about all of this is that Pottinger could so easily have been a 2D villain but the writers have worked so hard to make him a rounded, complex, emotional human character – who just happens to be a complete jackass – and all of that hard work is wasted the second he is revealed as the ‘brains’ behind the scheme.
The only hope for redeeming this plot is to have it be part of a larger E-Rep ploy to make Indogene clones of humans, and Pottinger is just seeing if he can early attempts at mastering the technology for his own ends; effectively killing two birds with one stone.
Also, Rafe’s son Quentin (remember him? Probably not) is back and it is revealed that he was Kenya’s captor last week. And still no one cares. The show jettisoned this weak character in Season One and hasn’t mentioned him since, so his return seems pointless; but it does point to a larger problem: Season two took a jump forward creating a very interesting situation in which to tell stories, so why, particularly over the last few weeks, does the show seem so intent on revisiting the first series and basically undoing the new Status quo it established?
With the returns of ‘Kenya’ and Quentin, a lack of focus on the E-rep occupation of Defiance or on the Christy/Mercado story, the return of Yewll to ruthless genetic experimenter and the aforementioned issues with Pottinger’s characterisation; it is also permeating into Season Two plotlines. The most interesting running sub-plot in early-mid Season Two was the Tarr family civil war between Stahma and Datak and the last couple of weeks they’ve been working together again (albeit reluctantly).
Defiance seems to be wasting some of its dramatic potential and possibly indicates the writing team are too scared to let go of some elements of whatever blueprints they originally created for the show, regardless of how poorly they turned out.
But to end on a positive; Nolan and Tommy’s early charged confrontation was a highlight and the Datak/Stahma alliance did at least lead to the quote of the week:
Datak: Do I look like a biologist?
Stahma: You look like a pauper, but that’s incidental.