Huzzah! The Defiance recap is back, and just in time — the show possibly delivers it most well-plotted episode yet, right as season two kicks into high gear for the presumably explosive finale. Plus: Datak is being awesome again! What's not to love?
First, let me apologize for the incredible lack of recaps over the last months. I have excuses, if you care: three weeks ago I was working 12-16 hours a day handling Comic-Con coverage; two weeks ago I was sick from working 12-16 hour days covering Comic-Con the week before; and last week I was off, so I could finally recover from working… you know. But in case for some reason you desperately want to know what's happened on Defiance and yet my recaps are your only interaction with the show, here's some quick summaries:
"This Woman's Work" — Nolan and Pottinger investigate an Arkfall, which releases a killer energy robot on the area (Pottinger and Nolan make a weirdly fun team). Stahma battles gender inequality in Castithan society, and when I say battles I mean "she poisons the stodgy women who don't agree with her liberated atitude and blames a woman-hating Castithan man for the murder."
"If You Could See Through My Eyes" — Easily manipulated by DJ Prostitute, Christie McCawley decide the best way to please her husband Alak is be to dress up like a Castithan and hit an alien transvestite club. Turns out Viceroy Mercado — played by the infinitely overqualified William Atherton — has the same hobby, and the two mack on each other. Alak finds out and is freaked out; partially because she's appropriating his culture for selfish reasons, but mostly because she's flirting with other dudes. In the thematically similar main plot, someone is murdering Votan and stealing body parts to help human cosplay as aliens. Most importantly, Irisa meets an Irathient man she's seen in her visions, and they share another vision of them taking over a Votan ship to prevent it from completely terraforming Earth (and killing all the humans).
"Slouching Towards Bethlehem" — The Votan Collective has hidden a suitcase bomb in New York City, and the E-Rep capture the sexy Votan spy working at the Need/Want — you know, the one colluding with Datak. Amanda gets a call from a mysterious man who says he's holding Kenya hostage — and he actually does! Amanda has to free the prisoner if she wants Kenya to live. Amanda does not manage to accomplish this, but she and Nolan manage to find Kenya, even though the mysterious masked man who held her captive gets away. And somewhere way outside of town, all the people Irisa/Urzu vomited silver threads into are coming together for something called "Arcrise." I think you can probably guess what that means.
All of which finally brings us to last night's episode "Painted from Memory." Yes, Kenya is alive and back and played by Mia Kirschner in an absolutely terrible wig. She has a lot of holes in her memory and she has no idea what happened to her or what she was doing for most of the last year, but she's back and Amanda couldn't be happier.
In earlier recaps, I mentioned how Defiance was clearly taking some tips from the Buffy model, and I think this episode is another excellent example. Kenya's reappearance is big enough that is affects pretty much everybody, even if just by a ripple effect. Amanda is thrilled, obviously. Stahma is completely freaked out, even when she realized Kenya doesn't remember being poisoned and, er, murdered. Nolan is suspicious but more than willing to have sex with her.
So Kenya and Amanda bond. Stahma enlists Datak — they've been getting along better, although Datak continues to live in a motor home — to help find/dig up Stahma's body to see if the living Kenya is the real thing. And Nolan does try and have sex with Kenya, until it dawns on him that the only memories she has are the ones she shares with Amanda, and that Kenya no longer has the scars from her shitty ex-busband on her back. And Doc Yewell? She tries to secretly give Kenya a chemical lobotomy before she remember ths truth.
The truth, which Kenya eventually does remember, is this: she's an Indogene engineered and reconstructed to be a new Kenya, courtesy of some of Kenya's DNA (from the Need/Want), Amanda's ego implant from a couple of months ago, Doc Yewell's war experience and complete lack of morality regarding experimentation, and Pottinger, who set this whole thing up in order to "reunite" the sisters and get into a grateful Amanda's pants. But then that mysterious masked man from last episode and soldiers from the Votan Collective broke into the lab and took her before those memories were fully implanted, which is how Faux-Kenya found herself held hostage in "Slouching Towards Bethlehem."
It's not the most stunning of plans, but it works, partially because Defiance took its time setting it up. Heck, the Indogene sleeper agents transformed into humans were first mentioned in season 1, even before Kenya died. This gives the story more power than if the episode had begun with Pottinger and Doc cackling evilly over a Kenya clone.
Both Nolan and Stahma try to tell Amanda the truth about Kenya, but she denies it until Kenya, having realized the truth, shows Amanda the scaled Indogene flesh underneath her human disguise. Even then Amanda tries to convince Faux-Kenya that she should stay and be the real Kenya, but to no avail. With only three months to live — a cruel by-product of her transformation — Faux-Stahma leaves Defiance and is last seen heading to San Francisco. With Pottinger infuriated, Doc flees to Datak, her only friend in Defiance — and both she and Datak realize how pitiful that is. And once Amanda pulls herself together, she's finally able to hold the funeral for Kenya that she's been avoiding for over a year.
All that's left is to reveal the man behind the mask. And it's… dunh-dun-dun… Quentin McCawley! Who showed back up in the middle of the episode after a trip to visit his crazy-ass mom at some Votan monastery out west! I admit, despite Quentin's sudden arrival, he's such a nothing character that it didn't even occur to me to consider him as a candidate. Also, I guess I kind of assumed he was pro-human like his dead brother Luke, mostly because I can think of no other characteristics about the McCawley children other than Christie's new hobby. So he's on the side of the Votan Collective and ready to E-Rep kick ass, eh? I feel pretty confident that no matter what happens this will not end well for the McCawleys, although it might end exceedingly well for Defiance overall.
• Defiance uses a Votan cover of "What's Goin' On?" for the intro of Kenya's return to Defiance, and then a weird instrumental/muzak version of the same song later. I don't really know what Defiance was thinking when it used the song, but I guarantee at least 85% of the people watching it were thinking of nothing but this.
• Kenya was born on the day Kenya blew up, apparently, and was named in honor of the ex-country. That… seems weird to me. Isn't that like someone having a kid on August 6th, 1945, and deciding to name their kid Hiroshima?
• God, Datak is so good this episode, whether he's smugly enjoying his wife's total panic or giving her shit after they find the real Kenya's "tiny" skull. "Yes, it's darling. Now let's bury it and go."
• My second favorite line of the night, delivered by Pottinger to Doc Yewell after she bitterly explains his stupid romantic plan to Faux-Kenya: "You're not funny."
• Nolan is such an amazing asshole to Tommy it's gone from irritating to massively entertaining, at least for me. He's taken Tommy's job as deputy and then started having hot sex with Berlin mere seconds after she broke up with him, and rather than be even slightly circumspect he just throws it in Tommy's face whenever he can. And the show seems to be fine with this because Tommy's joined the E-Rep.
• As much as I liked this episode, it doesn't come close to making up for forcing me to watch William Atherton karaoke while dressed as an albino alien a few episodes ago. I pray to Klingon Space Jesus he was well-compensated for that madness.