Defiance: A Serpent’s Egg Recap

A whole lot of crazy was unleashed in this episode of Defiance, so put on your tinfoil hats and bear with me while we all sort out how we feel about it. It opens with Alak Tarr inexplicably deejaying from inside the St. Louis arch before announcing that the land coach has arrived. Apparently this happens every two weeks, but it’s an exciting time for all, as they get packages, deliveries and visitors with the appearance of the land coach. Not everything is happy rainbows, as the seventies music Alak spins would suggest, when Rynn is shown being prepared for transport to a Vegas prison. Nolan is escorting her and tasked with safe-keeping all of Defiance’s money raised to build a railroad through the town. Inexplicably, Mayor Amanda is going as well.

An Earth Republic representative that Amanda has been avoiding is also on board the land coach, with her two husbands. I’m fascinated that, in thirty three years, the landscape has changed enough to where polygamous relationships are accepted without the blink of an eye. The woman, Tennety Olfin, has been trying to get Amanda to borrow money from them for the town, claiming that the Votans are going to come calling for their scrip and it will be trouble. Nolan and Irisa say goodbye and, once off of the transport, Irisa seems to think she recognizes one of the passengers that got off of the land coach to visit Defiance. From the flashes of her memories and her panicking in an alley, it is not going to be a happy reunion.

Back on the transport, Olfin’s husbands, Kaspar and Ziggy, are not happy with having Rynn aboard, while a traveling preacher by the name of Reverend Sy Preston quotes bible verses to them. This leads to marriage talk between Nolan and Amanda – it is so heavy-handed and eye-rolly, it is almost cringe inducing. Amanda talks about how she has considered group marriage because it is the most practical thing and would allow her to be all that she can be. Besides, she doesn’t even BELIEVE in love! Gee, I wonder what will make her change her mind in the future… Speaking of Nolan, he says her silly thoughts about love not being real are simply a smokescreen because she’s been in love before and been burnt by it. Seriously, it was painful to listen to this conversation.

Please, please, please make this MORE obvious next episode.

Please, please, please make this MORE obvious next episode. I didn’t think they liked each other at all (I am being sarcastic…).

In the NeedWant, Tirra is seen flirting with the Castithan that Irisa recognized earlier. He politely declines all of her attempts to take him upstairs, explaining that he is happily married with a daughter. Uncomfortable, he leaves the establishment, only to be accosted in the street by Irisa, who ties him up in what appears to be a dark basement somewhere. When he comes to, she gets extremely close to his face and says, “Hello, Daigo” indicating she must know him from somewhere. This is about where this storyline in the episode lost me. It was uncomfortable and weird to have her so close to his face, almost rubbing noses with him, while telling him that he tortured her as a child. He denied everything, claiming he had no idea what she was talking about. She told him to confess, to tell her why he did it or he would die.

Meanwhile, on the land coach, everyone is shown to be sleeping except for Rynn. She takes out a pen she had stolen earlier off of the driver and proceeds to pick her locks easily. As she carefully moves across the vehicle to get Nolan’s earlier stashed gun, he surprises her – add extrasensory perceptions to his list of super awesome Alpha Male skills. At the very least, he is a gifted fake-sleeper. He takes the pen from her and handcuffs her back into her seat. Suddenly, the driver of the land coach is killed and it crashes. With everyone trying to figure out what is going on, Amanda opens the back of the vehicle to see if she can see anything from that vantage point. It’s at that time that I noticed she’s wearing something of a see-through shirt. I’m not sure why that’s important, but it was really obvious and kind of distracting every time I would see her from that point on. It turns out the Reverend is not the dear fellow they all thought. His gang is jacking them of all the money Defiance had for the railroad, disarming Nolan and taking everyone hostage.

Wow, that was much easier than I imagined. I wonder what could possibly go wrong next?

Wow, that was much easier than I imagined. I wonder what could possibly go wrong next?

Irisa is shown frantically going through Daigo’s suitcase, throwing jewelry out of it as he continues to deny being Daigo. She finds a necklace of the Devouring Mother, a symbol she claims he taught her about. She hits him again and he apologizes for whatever happened to her, but maintains that he has no idea what it was. Frustrated once more, she storms off and leaves him there.

On the land coach, the Reverend Preston and his gang attempt to take the money from Nolan and also try to get Olfin’s money, as they’ve heard she is worth quite a bit. To convince her to give up the money she is denying she has, they ponder which husband she likes more. A gratuitous crotch shot of a man grabbing the crotch of another man – Kaspar is black and Ziggy is white, guess whose crotch he grabbed? – one of the thieves declares, “This one, definitely this one.” And then they shoot him. She panics and gives them the scrip chip full of money that was on the now-dead husband’s person. Ziggy is upset that he had been carrying it without his knowledge and that he was now dead. Nolan uses the fit as a distraction to stab the nearest thief and a shootout ensues. Ziggy and Preston are both shot, Olfin is taken hostage, but Amanda manages to close the door to the land coach, closing in Nolan, Rynn, Ziggy and herself with Defiance’s money.

In Defiance, Tommy notices Irisa acting strangely and he follows her to where she is torturing Daigo. He hears the screams of the man, sees a snake escaping the bag Irisa brought down there and attempts to free him. Irisa pulls a gun on Tommy and tells him he’s not going to free the man, handcuffing him to keep him in place. There are really uncomfortable sexual overtones as she explains to them both that he tricked her parents by telling them that she was special and that he was going to prepare her for her destiny. She says, “Did it turn you on? Did you get off on it?” He maintains that it wasn’t him, closing his eyes and relenting a little bit. He asks her, if she knows he is the man that tortured her, what color are his eyes? Hesitating, Irisa claims they’re blue, but when he opens his eyes they’re not blue, they’re orange. She gets upset and lets the snake bite him anyway.

Everything about this story line made me SO uncomfortable, from beginning to end. So bravo writers... I think?

Everything about this story line made me SO uncomfortable, from beginning to end. So bravo writers… I think? Except Daigo really, really reminds me of Castor from TRON LEGACY…

The standoff between the land coach and the thieves is at a standstill, with Olfin calling out for help as bait and the water tank from the coach already emptied from a stray bullet earlier. Nolan adds master planner to his Alpha Male skill sheet and empties the suitcase of money when Amanda decides they must turn it over. He, instead, gives her a gun and explains to her the exact attack plan they would use and takes her place in going to meet Preston with the suitcase. Before they leave, Rynn realizes and verbalizes that he is doing this for Amanda. This is not reading between the lines, this is being smacked in the face with a dictionary. Amanda goes out to cover him and while they’re both gone, Rynn breaks free and runs in the opposite direction.

Nolan throws the case to Preston and rescues Olfin, allowing her to limp off back to the land coach while they have the classic scene, “Let’s just hang out and have a ten minute conversation with the bad guys and learn of their plans.” Preston finally checks the case and realizes there’s not much scrip in there, but it’s too late – Amanda magically is also a master marksman and shoots his Castithan partner in crime. Nolan pulls a second gun, because of course he has a second gun! – and kills Preston. They return to the land coach and plan to camp out for the night when twist! Olfin pulls a gun on them, demanding the money. She reveals the actual plan to them, while holding them at gunpoint. She and Preston were going to meet up and split the money, Defiance was going to go broke and be forced to borrow from the Earth Republic, and she was going to get a big promotion out of it all. Before she can shoot any of them, Rynn inexplicably shows back up by throwing a chain around her neck and immobilizing her.

In the torture chamber, Irisa blindly seeks justice, but Tommy talks her into freeing the man. Before she ends up freeing him, he confesses, delirious from the snake bite venom. He claims it brings clarity and that everything Irisa has said was true. There’s a painfully clichéd speech about running from the truth and he decides that it was no accident that they met again. He admits to torturing her as a child because he was testing her, preparing her to become Alakta – the chosen one, the destroyer, the creator, the revealer, the mother. The serpent’s venom was to bring out her true nature and he knew she was the one because she was the only one to survive the preparations. He also claims that her parents gave her up to him willingly.

This explains a lot of Irisa's teenage angst, her blood is full of snake venom.

This explains a lot of Irisa’s teenage angst, her blood is full of snake venom.

A flashback shows a scared young Irisa, crying and upset, with a person kneeling before her. She is supposed to kill this supplicant to fulfill the prophecy and become her true self, but before that can happen a younger Nolan and his team of soldiers swoop in to break up the ritual. He introduces himself to her and carries her off, showing how they first met – though, at some point, by her own admission, he must have killed her parents at that same time. Daigo gleefully says he is no longer afraid, realizing he is supposed to be her sacrifice. If she kills him, the prophecy will be fulfilled. He eggs her on by shouting, “Do it! Become!” However, she refuses and releases Tommy while he pitifully continues to beg for him to kill her. The now freed Tommy walks over and begins to beat the man, but Irisa stops him. She explains it by telling him that that is what Daigo wants.

Rynn explains her heroic moment by claiming that “these are the rules” that she lives by, but that she wants a rifle and a roller to leave. Ziggy, Olfin’s what I’m assuming will become ex-husband, asks to go with her and she reluctantly allows him. Mayor Amanda decides to “let her off with time served” and when Nolan questions if that is within the scope of her abilities, she tells him she did it. While deciding to what to do with Olfin, they play a little bit of bad cop and worse cop, but Amanda’s conscience gets the best of her. They ultimately take her back to Defiance for prosecution.

I'd be alright with this being the fate of most bureaucrats.

I’d be alright with this being the fate of most bureaucrats.

The closing minutes of Defiance are always packed with a million different montages. When Tommy questions why Irisa let Daigo go without punishment, she explains that he wanted to create a messiah. By giving him an ordinary life, they are giving him a terrible punishment. Nolan and Amanda are back in town by now and Ambassador Olfin is seen being taken away in handcuffs. Once out of their sight and into the transport, the escort uncuffs her and apologizes. Olfin orders her to find out everything she can about Amanda Rosewater, hinting at bigger forces in play. Irisa opens up to Tommy in the jail by sharing with him her concerns – Sukar claimed she had a good gift, Daigo claimed it was something bad, which one was right? Tommy tells her that she’s already proven Daigo wrong and when she questions how he knows this, he explains that she’s not the only one with nightmares. There’s a far-too-long pause before they start roughly kissing.

Harkening back to the beginning of the episode, Alak Tarr is back deejaying in the arch and this time he plays Lovesong by The Cure, dedicating it to Christie. I don’t understand it either. As the song plays, people are shown dancing in the NeedWant, Rynn and Ziggy are seen driving off together, and there’s a lingering shot of Nolan and Amanda sharing drinks. The final scene is the fifth sex scene in as many episodes, this time between Tommy and Irisa on the floor of the jail. The last shot is of Irisa looking… upset? Uncomfortable? Filled with regret?

Seriously, tell me what face this is. I'm leaning towards, "I've made a huge mistake."

Seriously, tell me what face this is. I’m leaning towards, “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

The writers of Defiance seriously need to work on the dialogue. This episode was the most cringe-worthy in terms of listening to actors interact. I’m also not really crazy about how characters disappear for entire episodes. We haven’t seen Alak Tarr in a while? Let’s remind everyone he’s spoiled and let him play love songs for all of Defiance! The last episode closed on the cliffhanger of Rafe and Quentin down in the mines exploring the key that Luke was supposedly killed for. What happened with that? Likewise, Kenya was tortured last episode and Nolan seemed pretty concerned then. Now he’s guilt-free flirting it up with her sister? The ex-Mayor Nicky still hasn’t been around, are we just done with her? Two failed plans and you’re out? I love a good train heist as much as the next guy, so I liked that part of the episode. I was uncomfortable with the Irisa stuff, but the hookup was spotted coming a mile away. I’m not entirely sure if the show is hitting its stride or if they’re going to keep up with this story of the week, episodic stuff that doesn’t really follow the episode before it.

6 responses to “Defiance: A Serpent’s Egg Recap

  1. This is going to come off as super catty, but I don’t mean it to be, this is just an observation: I think it would be useful for you, writing wise, to double check the definition of “inexplicable”, and consider using it less. For example, Alak transmitting from the top of the Arch really is in no way “inexplicable”. It’s height and central location make it a great place to transmit from, there’s no reason why a town wouldn’t have a little radio station, the real life Arch has an almost identical observation deck up there to match the one on the show, there’s no reason why a teenager in love wouldn’t dedicate a love song to his girlfriend, etc. Basically, all the show is asking us to believe is that an alien teenager might have eclectic enough musical tastes that he’d be into human oldies music, but that’s not weird enough to justify one of the three or four “Inexplicable”s in the review. Personally I way overuse commas and the word “apparently”. It’s just one of those things to try to look out for.

    • I’ve got a thick skin, don’t worry about it. And I think you’ve got a good point, in re-reading, I don’t think I mean “inexplicably” so much as I mean “apropos of nothing.” The deejaying in the arch kind of came out of left field, but has been built upon since this episode as a headquarters to make town-wide announcements and whatnot, so it does make more sense – and the description you put forth does nullify “inexplicable” from the situation completely. I’ll have to re-watch the pilot to see if they broadcasted announcements of the impending Volge attack from the arch (and if they didn’t, why not?). I think I’ll defend the use of “inexplicable” when it comes to Amanda escorting Rynn to the prison – I think the mayor should stay in town and can’t think of a reason to abandon post for ONE person when the sheriff is also escorting. The two major players in Defiance (arguably in title only) don’t both need to leave for one Irathian girl. The last “inexplicable” is just a wrong word choice on my part, as I do explain the situation a few paragraphs later. I’m just happy you took the time to read through the recap, go forth and critique the word choice in the rest!

      • Cool beans. 🙂 Although technically, I don’t think Amanda was there for Rynn. She was representing the city for the railroad stuff (I assume last minute business/diplomatic whatevers to finalize the deal, dot the I’s, cross the T’s).
        In the first episode, you do hear a voice over loudspeakers asking people to gather for a town meeting about the Volge, but it isn’t made explicit that the voice (It doesn’t sound like Alak, I don’t think) is coming from someone up in the Arch.

      • I remember her being there to greet the convoy that came in and explaining that Nolan was taking that briefcase of money to wherever it was going for the railroad plans, but I can’t recall if there was a real reason for her to leave town and go with them. I suppose she could have had to go sign some papers or something, but it wasn’t made clear or I missed the explanation.

  2. Man oh man oh man!!! I am seriously trying to like Defiance but its hard work! I have to agree, in part, with Kylee Sills. This episode and, pretty much all the preceding episodes, just haven’t done it for me. I can just about get used to pauses in the main story arc, i.e. I don’t expect a TV series to necessarily be one long continuous arc (personally I like big epic arcs, if they’re good they keep you completely glued to the show) but, if you’re going to deviate, at least make the distraction interesting! Sure, they are obviously developing new sub stories but, I have to agree with Kylee: I’m much more interested in seeing more of the politics, more aliens, more technology, more of that device found in the mines and, what the previous mayor is up to! But all we’re getting is more and more intrigue at a painfully slow pace. It would be great if Defiance would just get back on track and develop the main arc and established sub stories at a faster pace. I’ve just recently become completely converted and devoted to Game of Thrones, having just watched all three seasons in about the same number of days and, I have to say, Thrones is blowing Defiance out of the water! Thrones is just a lot more interesting, the pace is excellent, the action and tension is incredible and the characters have a hell of a lot more depth. Also, although CGI is not something that is at the top of my list, the CGI in Thrones is an order of magnitude above Defiance, so yeah, Thrones just looks a lot damn better! I’m hanging in there with Defiance, despite the drop in it’s ratings but, something BIG will have to happen soon if this show is going to stem the flood of viewers currently leaving it!

    • This is exactly how I feel about Defiance! I am trying so hard to like it, but the show makes it damn difficult. There are plenty more episodes of the week, if you’re only caught up to this episode. A lot of characters disappearing for entire episodes with no reason given, despite being major parts of the plot/last episode. The overarching plot is what’s going on with the previous mayor and its developing too slowly in my opinion. I also watch Game of Thrones and they definitely do better world-building, but they’ve also got a bigger budget and thousands and thousands of pages of source material to go off of, it’s an expansive world to begin with. Defiance’s issues lead back to the choppy writing. There’s also an expectation of doing a lot of your own research/reading to figure out Defiance. When I first started writing these recaps, I had to google a lot of information to figure it out. While the video game tie-in is an awesome concept, I think it also helps to stretch the writing a bit too much and confuse the show watchers. If they tightened up the writing, it would be less confusing in the long run. Fun fact though, David J. Peterson, who created the Dothraki language for Game of Thrones, created the Castithan and Irathient languages for Defiance. They also had Bear McCreary do the soundtrack. He’s done soundtrack work for a lot of other sci-if shows, as well as The Walking Dead. So it’s not like they can’t pull in talented people to work on this show. It’s already been renewed for a second season I think (unless I’m confusing it for another show), so I sincerely hope it gets better with the unevenness of the plots.

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