Defiance 2.12 ‘All Things Must Pass’
Original UK Airdate: December 4th 2014
Defiance’s best writing team of Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer deliver another winner of an episode. A reverse of 2.06, which pared the regular cast off into odd-couple combinations (Nolan and Pottinger, Amanda and Stahma, Datak and Rafe), All Things Must Pass matches up characters in obvious combinations to pay off on storylines and tensions that have been building all season. Nolan is still dragging the critically injured Tommy on a sledge towards medical help, Pottinger and Amanda have a dinner date with an interesting after-dinner entertainment and Stahma and Datak are kidnapped and chained up together in an abandoned silo.
Starting with the latter, it’s a smart, mature and humorous couple of scenes as they first argue over who has done what to who and how much better off they are without each other and then come to admit their own failings in their marriage and what they would do differently if they had their time again.
Pottinger it turns out, has had them kidknapped and his post-meal entertainment is to take Amanda to the silo, tell her the truth about Stahma killing Kenya and then hand her a loaded gun. After much dramatic begging for their lives – and each others – Stahma accepts her fate and Datak begs to be killed rather than live without her, but Amanda can’t pull the trigger.
Pottinger serving Datak and Stahma up out of nowhere is a lazy shortcut, and the question remains how Pottinger could think this was a good idea even for a second. In the scene with Pottinger outside the silo where Amanda explains her reasons for not shooting Stahma and Datak, isn’t she thinking a little too clearly and rationally for a woman just confronted with her sister’s killers and handed a loaded pistol? Ultimately though this story does result in some dramatic tension and does tie two separate season-long storylines together while setting up an arc for Season Three where Pottinger and Amanda will be plotting the downfall of the Tarr’s.
Also, while it’s satisfying to see the power couple back on the same page, I also feel that the Tarr Civil war was the most compelling subplot of early-mid season two, and having them reunite without mining a tenth of the dramatic potential there is a severe missed opportunity and harkens back to what I was saying last week about the writers taking the show back to season one blueprints.
You know Tommy is a deadman once the flashbacks showing how well he and Nolan used to get on got on start, and you can hear the death bells tolling when he thanks Nolan for saving his life, but his death is still affecting and Nolan’s slow, terrible realisation that his friend is dead is a superb moment. The shot of Nolan breaking down over his friends corpse in a darkening forest, surrounded by light snow-fall is a beautifully haunting shot, but a shot which is cut away from too quickly. It needs to be held for longer for it to truly deliver the powerful gut punch it aims for. Plus, for the emotional resonance to peak it could have done with been the very end of the episode, without the extra little scenes set presumably hours and possibly days later that surely were either unnecessary or could have waited to open next week.
A couple of minor happenings this week: There is quick fire back-and-forth wit aplenty as Doc Yewll’s imaginary wife leads her to the wreckage of the Votan ship (that we earlier saw crash in 800-odd B.C) in the ruins of old St. Louis; and Rafe McCawley’s wife LINDA HAMILTON appears again to reunite with Rafe in prison and to take Christy out for food. Christy seemingly okay with the mother she has long believed to be dead suddenly appearing unannounced. It’s so late on in the series for this plot to really go anywhere, I get the feeling it’s also build-up for Season Three.
Thought of the week: Say, didn’t Viceroy Mercado used to be a character?
Season finale next week!