We're back in the present this week, and it's election time! Hurrah! I'd been looking forward to this, as you all know, and I was pretty happy with how all the schemes played out in "Past Is Prologue."
I do feel sort of foolish for being suckered into the Stahma/Kenya plot that began in the razor rain episode without stopping to think that it was probably a long con played by the Tarrs. It's obvious in hindsight, sure, but I think I was looking for ways in which Stahma was perhaps attempting to throw off Datak and strike out on her own. Plus, it played into the plot's favor that it wasn't associated with an "explain it all to the audience" bathtime scene in the Tarr abode, as was wont to happen with the their scheming earlier in the season. The lack of that particular narrative tick helped to sell the twist, both of the plot and of the knife in Kenya's back. It was really the first time that the Tarrs felt like master manipulators, thanks to the showing up front and then the telling later—as opposed to the other way around.
However, the depths of the scheme, were what really sold it for me. Using Alak to in turn convince a friend to take a shot at Amanda with a paintball rifle during the debate was something of a small masterstroke, and it made feel a tiny bit of sympathy for Alak. He's always been a pawn in his parents' game to gain control of Rafe's mines, but to use him as they did, and then congratulate him for being bold enough to question their schemes, was pretty cold-blooded and awful. If I had more than that just that tiny bit of sympathy, I'd be worried about what Alak might do now that's he trapped between Machiavellian parents and a father-in-law who's pretty much ready to kill him, but alas, that's all the sympathy I have, and I wouldn't actually mind too much if Rafe snuffed him out and ended up escalating the situation with the Tarrs.
Using Nolan's ERep file was probably just a cherry on top, of course. Shooting an innocent Castithan with a paintball rifle would've been bad enough for Nolan and Amanda, but Nolan's past, and that recorded testimony, were pretty damning from a PR perspective. It's all sorts of ridiculous that Amanda would stick by Nolan after that, but she is loyal to a fault, and she isn't wrong about Nolan being different now than he was during the Pale Wars.
While having Irisa as a daughter likely softened him up some, the timeline on the Yosemite Massacre, the trial, and when he rescued Irisa is admittedly spotty, so who knows. Like with last week's episode where the past came forward to inform the present, I would've liked Nolan's record to have been put forth a little sooner in the season so as to complement Yewll's shady past during the war. Both of them have done things they aren't proud of and are (apparently) trying to get past, and a richer thematic connection between those two characters—especially since they're so entwined with the Pale Wars—would've been welcome.
Speaking of Yewll, I have absolutely zero idea why he was fiddling around with the Golden Pretzel. It is, in her own words, a "genocidal weapon" that she wanted nothing do with. She just wanted to be a doctor in Defiance, so why she decided to blast it with energy beams is beyond me.
There's no apparent motivation for it beyond the show's writers saying, "Well, guys, we spent 10 episodes building up to this, and we need to fire Chekov's Golden Pretzel. We thought killing Nicky would be pretty cool, but we weren't sure how to keep that going. Ah well!" I'm thinking that we'll get an explanation for Yewll's behavior in next week's season finale since I imagine Nolan will have questions for her, but even something like taking notes on a recording device of some sort might've helped to illuminate her thinking process here.
Putting that rather glaring issue aside, as it was pretty obvious from the get-go, Irisa and the Golden Pretzel were intimately connected as she seemed to have a counterpart implanted near her spine. I'm still interested in knowing why Irisa was chosen for this, even with the backstory episodes from earlier in the season that've attempted to provide some answers. If it's just a matter of religious zealotry on the behalf of some shadowy cabal of Votan, I can probably get behind that, as it's as good a reason as any. Though I can wait for any larger motivations to be unearthed next season, as the whole thing does need to be wrapped up, and the town saved from whatever is about to happen.
– Tommy was reading the final paragraph of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations during the cold open. I still have 100 pages of Moby-Dick to finish.
– I wonder who is still manufacturing umbrellas on this post-Pale Wars Earth. Maybe it was explained in the video game!
– Sort of sad to see that Kenya no longer had the duct-tape bra. Maybe Stahma rates the nicer undergarments.
– Closing montage cover song: Cyndi Lauper's classic "Time After Time."
What'd you think of "Past is Prologue"?