(I’ve just jumped on board Nerdophiles, so this is me continuing to play catch up.)
“The Devil in the Dark” is the name of Defiance’s third episode and, in my opinion, it doesn’t quite live up to the sinister undertones promised with a name like that. The episode opens on an unknown man meticulously preparing for a run, we see him open up a box containing a recognizable iPod and ruby red running shoes that brought to mind The Wizard of Oz for me. He takes off running through some idyllic looking woods and is attacked soon after by an unknown boogeyman. Cue opening credits.
Irisa is seen practicing some kind of knife-wielding yoga that includes flips, but somehow she’s not fast enough to avoid a butterfly landing on her blade. Meanwhile, the Spirit Riders show up in Defiance to do some trading. A young Spirit Rider wanders into a booth and picks up a plum. When she goes to set it back down, the owner of the shop tells her that she touched it, so she has to buy it. He lost a brother to “their” Irathian plague and is having none of her sass today. Irisa throws a knife at him and threatens his eye to break the tension, justifying it by telling the leader of the Spirit Riders she knew he was in danger. While talking to the Spirit Riders, she sees fresh wounds on the young woman’s face. She looks again and they’re scars. The leader of the Spirit Riders – Sukar is his name; I had to look it up – notices her funny look and tells her that she should be spending more time with her own kind.
Just then, Irisa is called away by Nolan and we’re shown the bloody crime scene of our dearly departed runner from the beginning of the episode. His name was Dalton Taggart and he had his marrow sucked clean out of him. While on the scene, Irisa sees another butterfly and has some kind of debilitating flashes of something else occurring.
Meanwhile Sukar, the Irathian leader of the Spirit Riders, is meeting with Mayor Amanda. He mentions how she is up for re-election soon. Up for re-election soon? How long has it been since the Volge attack? When that happened, she’d only been mayor for three weeks! Last episode she still had her sling on from being injured in the battle. Anyway, she tells him that they can stay in Defiance because of their assistance in the battle, but that they have to stop provoking people. There doesn’t seem to be any good reason for him and the Spirit Riders to stay in town, but he inexplicably agrees to stay with a warning. They will assimilate, until the people of the town turn on them, but by then they will know where the storages of food and guns are. He then reminds her that the soil of Defiance is soaked with Irathian blood. Mayor Amanda says nothing.
Cut to the weirdest sex scene so far, Kenya is cooking up bacon and there is a man tied down to the bed and begging to be fed. He actually says, “Shut up and feed me, bitch.” To which she slaps him and pours hot bacon grease on his chest? I honestly don’t get it either. There’s some breathy moaning, some rubbing of bacon grease into a hairy chest and when he tries to say the safe word – “calamari,” for those of you curious – there’s a brief glimpse of something coming up through the bed and ripping through his chest. Meh Yewll is the name of the sassy Indogene doctor who helped save the town in the pilot, saved Irisa’s life and informs them that it was a Hellbug attack that killed the man.
Irisa notices a flag tattoo on the dead man’s leg and has another episode, which she blames on the sight of blood and fools absolutely no one. Nolan follows her out to ask her about the incident, apparently they’re nothing new and he thinks they’re symptoms of PTSD. He was under the impression that they had stopped, but Irisa claims she had just stopped talking about them and now they’re getting stronger. They also found attack pheromones at the scene of the crime, the same type found at the first murder scene, pointing to a murderer in Defiance.
Christie has been staying with the Tarrs for who knows how long and is shown cooking dinner for them. Datak is not impressed with her cooking and says as much in Castithan to Alak and Stahma. It turns out that Christie has been learning Castithan and excuses herself from the table to go stand just outside their door. Datak continues to lament Christie’s strange ways – including insisting on bathing alone, which is not in line with Castithan tradition. Meanwhile, Alak goes to comfort Christie and we finally get a good look at the Hellbugs. They remind me of crabs.
Alak falls to the ground and tries to scoot away from them as Christie picks up a standing candle holder and tries to scare them off with fire. Datak steps in to kill the Hellbugs while Stahma leads the children away. After slaying them, Datak reunited with the three and they take Christie to her father’s house. They are reluctantly let in and once settled, Datak and Stahma make sure to tell Rafe that Alak was the one who courageously saved and protected his daughter. He thanks Alak just as the investigating crew shows up and traces Hellbug attack pheromones to Christie and her clothes.
Nolan asks Rafe how he knows Dalton Taggart and Boyd Bowen – the runner and the weird guy with the bacon fetish – and it turns out that Rafe had bought land from them nearly twelve years ago. Nolan asks to see the deed and Rafe quips they’ll need coffee, as it is revealed that he has the worst filing system known to mankind. He remarks that it is difficult to keep twelve years of records for the mines without having a computer or a database program. This absence computers is starting to become a glaring problem for me, but more on that at the end.
Irisa hallucinates that some of the pictures she is holding are on fire and she is startled into dropping them before running off. Rafe finds the deed that shows they bought the land off of an Irathian homesteader before selling it to him. Nolan notes that it’s not often that Irathian homesteaders sign their names in English while Rafe ruffles and insists it was a clean buy.
Meanwhile, Irisa has found her way to the land in question and begins her most violent episode yet. She sees a young Irathian girl and her family attacked by humans while writhing and rolling around on the ground. It’s a bit overdramatic for my tastes. When she comes out of it, she appears to have had an epiphany and hunts down Sukar to ask where Rynn, the young Irathian girl that rides with him, is – she is the girl from Irisa’s visions and she is responsible for the attacks. He doesn’t know where she is, but he is intrigued that Irisa has been “touched” by the gods. He claims that Irisa can find Rynn herself if she opens up her heart.
To open up her heart, she must participate in what looks like a sweat lodge ceremony complete with chanting and hookah. For the first time, we are witness to the entire attack beginning to end and then Irisa is able to control her sight and figure out where Rynn is right at that moment. Throughout this ceremony, Nolan can be seen in the background looking displeased and when it is over, he goes to Irisa and tells her he owes her an apology. She is in too much of a teenaged angst mood to hear any of it and yells at him that it was never PTSD and that it was his fault she was ever afraid of the visions. He claims he wants to talk about it and help her figure it out, but she tells him he’s too late and huffs away from him.
Nolan, Irisa, Tommy and Sukar team up to get Rynn and go into the Hellbug nest to kill them. Sukar makes a comment about Irathian fathers understanding that Irathian children can’t be “made” to do anything and seems to drive another wedge between Irisa and Nolan on their way down in the elevator. They stop to cover themselves in Hellbug shtako because it will make it so that the Hellbugs cannot detect them and then they take a bad CGI elevator fall right into the heart of the nest. The matron Hellbug emerges, but cannot detect them and they go about fixing the elevator and setting the charges to destroy the nest.
While they’re doing that, Rynn confronts them by shooting Sukar in the leg and threatening to throw the attack pheromones on them. Irisa steps forward to reason with her by telling her that her vengeance has been fulfilled. This doesn’t work and Rynn throws the pheromones at the group, but Nolan saves the day because he is the Alpha Male of the show. I mean, he thinks fast and throws the pheromone bomb onto the matron Hellbug. The group escapes back into the elevator, Irisa helping Rynn along after throwing a knife at her, and Nolan uses his Alpha Male powers to demonstrate another one of his incredible skills! He’s a master marksman and detonates the charges by bullet as they’re ascending in the elevator.
The Hellbug nest is destroyed, the town is saved once more and Mayor Amanda is using her mediator skills to fix that little problem of landownership still in need of attention. She explains that the land is now owned by the descendants of those who originally owned it and they have agreed to lease it back to Rafe and the mines. It’s a “step towards righting an old wrong,” but I’m confused. Isn’t Rynn the descendant? So wouldn’t control of the land go to her in that scenario? There’s no way she’d give the land over to Rafe after trying to kill his daughter. So who owns the land and who gave the okay to the leasing agreement? Who knows, from the looks of the scene it was Sukar. But that still doesn’t make very much sense.
After the ceremony, Sukar is left alone with Rynn and she laments that he helped them to stop her. He basically tells her, “Irisa has the sight, she has shown me the way and now I’m choosing her over you, have fun in prison!” And then immediately afterwards, Irisa is seen brooding alone at a table. Nolan makes an effort to go to her, but Sukar gets there first and Nolan’s disappointment is palpable. Irisa, however, seems glad to have his company. In another scene, Rafe is seen walking his daughter back to the Tarrs home. This also doesn’t make sense because it had been suggested when they were all together that Christie should stay with her father for a bit – and they all seemed to agree about that. The last shot of the episode is Irisa tossing and turning in bed while a worried Nolan sits near her and tries to hold her hand for comfort.
The father-daughter relationships in this show are broken at best – but that’s what makes them interesting. What isn’t interesting is how the writers are screwing up continuity. Mayor Amanda’s re-election already? Who are the descendants that own the land that Rynn’s parents owned, if not Rynn? Why is Christie being sent back to the Tarr home if they all thought it best for her to stay with her father? This episode really didn’t live up to the promise of its name. There was no lurking “Devil,” just some weird bacon sex and a run of the mill tale of revenge.
And here is my biggest issue with Defiance so far: the technology.
In the pilot we clearly saw a GPS system in Nolan’s roller, we saw an iPod in this episode, and we saw the doctor with a technologically advanced pheromone detector/seeker, not to mention the Iron Man-esque sphere she worked on in the pilot. We’ve seen Tommy use a radio on his vest multiple times, Mayor Amanda called Ben on a cellphone; there have been all sorts of technological devices shown. So why haven’t we seen a computer? Rafe even makes a point this episode to say he doesn’t have access to one. What happened to them? It’s only been 33 years; we definitely have working computers in 2013. Where are they? Ironic for a television show with a computer game tie in…