This week Defiance is dealing with a plague, technically known as a viral hemorrhagic fever, but more commonly known as something the I-raths, or Irathients, spread. Alak is up in the arch broadcasting information about the contagion – it spreads through skin to skin contact, but people are still buying up masks left and right. At the beginning of the episode, six have already died and twenty one more are sick in triage tents.
Doc Yewll tells them about Erin Niden, a woman working on an anti-virus. If they get word out to San Francisco, they may be able to get ahold of an anti-virus to save the town. Mayor Amanda notes that Nolan is sweating, but he claims it’s just hot. From his eye in the sky, Alak sees Earth Republic trucks parking just outside of town and informs the mayor. When Amanda and Nolan hunt down Connor Lang, he’s getting very drunk in fear of dying soon. He explains that the E-Rep people are quarantining the town and have no problem letting everyone die so that they can have control of the Gulanite Mines that are currently under Rafe’s control.
Elsewhere, Castithans are throwing rocks at some Irathients, as it turns out that Castithans are immune to the disease. With sixteen dead and thirty more in the triage tents, Datak explains to the council how the other Votan races view Irathients. They are seen as unclean, as plague carriers, and Rafe suggests that they put the Irathients in the mines temporarily. Datak and another council member, Ozin, voice agreement by saying that it is a “kindness” that they are keeping the Irathients safe. Amanda disagrees and puts the idea to a vote. Obviously, she loses.
The Spirit Riders, along with Irisa, are praying for the humans when Rafe comes with armed guards to quarantine them against their will. Irisa fights them off while the other Irathients get away. Amanda and Nolan show up and there is a tense standoff between Rafe and Nolan. Ultimately, Rafe takes Irisa away and Nolan storms off to pack a bag and rescue her. While arguing with Amanda, they’re informed by Doc Yewll that San Francisco dropped anti-viral medicine out in the badlands for them.
Quentin visits ex-Mayor Nicky to ask about his mother, Pilar. There’s some awkward cheek petting and she refuses to tell him anything until he brings her the artifact. Elsewhere, the Irathients are shown in cages. It reminded me a lot of how they treated the refugees in Children of Men… before one of the Irathients explained that they would be gassed down here. The Castis killed them during the Great Diaspora with gassings. That’s right, it just turned into a Holocaust metaphor. Let that one sink in a little bit.
Mulling over what to do, Quentin is seen talking to his dead brother again when he gets hailed. Christie has gotten sick and his father and the Tarrs are watching over her. She’s sick and hurting, but there are no more pain pills until Datak offers her an old world opiate. During that time, they bring Mayor Amanda into the triage tents – she’s hit stage two of the plague and it’s not looking good for her.
Connor and Nolan have a nice conversation about Amanda on their drive out to the E-Rep checkpoint. Nolan thinks they broke up after three years because he cheated on her, but he reveals that he got her pregnant and she terminated the pregnancy without telling him. Yep, it’s a heavy episode on all fronts. My rarely flying feminist flag was out in full glory with the language thrown around in that scene. He got her pregnant, she didn’t consult him about the abortion. Anyway, once they get to the checkpoint, their good friend Olfin Tennety is there and doesn’t want to let them pass through. It takes some arguing about the reputation of the Earth Republic in Defiance if they let everyone die to get them through.
The streets of Defiance are shown to be empty while Stahma and Amanda have a discussion about who will take over mayoral duties while she recovers. Stahma, naturally, wants Datak in charge, but Rafe is the senior counsel member, making him the temporary mayor. Back in the mines, the Irathients are seen praying around a small rock shrine. This is irrationally upsetting to a human woman, who takes it upon herself to go into the cage, kick over the shrine, and tell them to break it up. An enraged Irathient jumps on her and is shot dead.
Quentin’s decision is made and he brings the artifact to ex-mayor Nicky. She relays to him, very matter-of-factly and perhaps with a bit of glee, the fate of his mother, Pilar. She was around when the boys were very young and Christie was just a baby. She had bipolar disorder and Nicky and Datak worked together with Rafe to get her old world lithium to stabilize her mood. Unfortunately, the more than a decade old medicine stopped working and Rafe found her buttering toast for her sons with rat poison. He would have shot her, if it hadn’t been for ex-mayor Nicky stopping him. As it turns out, they were having an affair and she knew he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he shot Pilar. This lead to them breaking up and Pilar being sent off to Mendocino. While Quentin is overwhelmed and dazed by this information, ex-mayor Nicky takes his key card, telling him he won’t be needing it if he’s going west to see his mother.
Nolan and Connor run into problems on their way back into town with the anti-viral medicine, as they run over spikes and blow a tire on their cruiser. It’s escaped Irathients who hold them and the medicine hostage until their demands are met. They want Nolan to hail the mayor, who happens to be a very distracted Rafe. Alak is putting a ring on Christie’s finger as she bleeds from all of her orifices and Rafe is worriedly watching over. Stahma and Datak seize the situation and she makes sure that it is Datak who gets control of the hailer to negotiate. Ultimately, she tells him to trust her and to release all Irathients.
Datak Tarr shows up where the Irathients are holding Nolan and Connor hostage, with Nolan knocked out from the sickness. He tells the Irathient that this is a cleansing fire, to get rid of the humans, and tosses a crate of medicine out in the street to be destroyed. When the Irathient goes after it, he’s shot in the head and killed. Datak shoots another one, but the third grabs hold of him and demands he beg for his life. He does, buying enough time for Connor to rush the woman and knock her off balance. In a fit of rage, he shoots the woman, kicks her repeatedly and leans down to spit in her face. Still on-board with this episode? Because this violent outburst doesn’t fit with his “narrative” as he calls it, he has to kill Connor, who unfortunately witnessed it. For a moment he thinks Nolan was faking and observed as well, but is relieved to see he was actually sick and knocked out. He opens the crates of medicine and injects Nolan, saving his life.
At the end of the episode, the bodies of the infected are seen being dumped into a burning pit. Amanda is privately upset by Connor’s death. Quentin is seen arguing with his father and ultimately leaves home. To wrap up the ordeal for the town, Amanda and Datak get on the Raider Radio to thank Connor and Nolan. She thanks Datak for helping the town while she was sick and the Tarrs work together to take advantage of the situation. Alak unplugs her microphone and Datak gives a rousing speech about community before announcing his intentions to run against her for the governor position in the upcoming election. In the closing scene, Doc Yewll is seen getting into a car with ex-mayor Nicky. It turns out she was part of the “old gang” and knew of the Volge attack that Birch and Nicky had orchestrated. Nicky tells her that she found one of the Kolovam – whatever those are – “The Golden Knot” and Doc Yewll urges her to destroy it. She declines, claiming it could be used to reshape the planet.
I’m really curious how this episode sat with others. It was a heavier episode than those past, with much fewer moments of levity. Connor Lang wasn’t a main character, but I was just getting used to his presence. It’s also still distracting when a “main” character doesn’t make an appearance. Where was Tommy during this plague? Where was Kenya and the NeedWant? Major question marks like that distract from the story being told. I usually laugh at least once an episode, but there was none of that this episode. I found myself frowning throughout the whole thing. What did everyone else think?