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Defiance S02E04: "Beasts of Burden"


How does a prideful man respond when he's belittled, diminished? How does he reassert himself, reclaim what has been lost? How should he respond when those things that keep him in power are suddenly and violently threatened? What happens when the rules of the kwon-yo gyen-do—the new world—upend everything that was once his, or even helped to make him what he is now? Well, if he's in the futuristic, Wild Wild West world of Defiance, he lacks any futuristic options.

"Beasts of Burden" had men chafing under just such conditions. Pottinger was humiliated by raiders. Datak went about restoring himself as the head of his criminal empire and his family. Josef and Rafe were both doing what they could to cling to slivers of their past lives. And how did they do this? Violence. Religion. Bureaucracy. Did it do them any good, though? Did it solve their problems, or just create more?


Only Pottinger, with his trappings of office, managed to achieve a small sense of satisfaction—but not without cost. After Josef (in a raider get-up) hijacked an E-Rep caravan, forced Pottinger to strip down to his boxers, and then urinated on him, he conscripted Nolan to find the raiders and the equipment, but mostly the raiders, so that they could answer for their offense against him. Of course, it's likely that Pottinger, being the ambitious upstart he is, would've been just as single-minded had he not been peed on, but when you add insult to injury, the desire for retribution is unsurprising.

So while Josef was shot in the back, literally, by Rafe, that wasn't enough for Pottinger. Josef's demise needed to be his doing, a way for Pottinger to make it clear to both Josef and himself that he's still the man calling the shots, instead of some hapless teenager caught in a Votanis Collective-occupied boarding school chapel in Devon, England. Denied this, Pottinger evicted Rafe from his plush house likely as easily as the E-Rep stripped Rafe of his mines after they occupied Defiance. It may not've been what Pottinger had in mind to salve his wounded ego, but it would send a clear message to everyone all the same.

And we learned about Pottinger as well. He grew up with enough privilege that his parents were able to send him someplace safe place during the Pale Wars, privilege that Amanda and Kenya lacked, and that Nolan likely wouldn't've been interested in, provided Berlin's Star Wars-related reading of Nolan was anywhere near on the money. That privilege did not help Pottinger, but it still influenced him, molded him into the Pottinger we see on the show: a man who will be humiliated again. 

Speaking of privilege and humiliation, Datak, after assaulting his son and nearly drowning his wife, spent the day making sure everyone knew he was back in town, and that there would be no more of this "things being run by a woman (who raised profits by 20 percent)" nonsense. I'm already on the record—and now I'm likely sounding like a broken record—regarding my enjoyment of the Tarrs so far this season, and Datak's wonderful attempts to resume control of his criminal empire and his family only served to reinforce that storyline as my current favorite element of Defiance

Datak did what any man in a highly patriarchal society like that of the Castithans would do to reassert himself as the patriarch: He turned to the old ways to bolster his position, completely ignoring, of course, that those old ways were also responsible for his lower caste back on the homeworld. Oh, thank goodness for Earth allowing for some wiggle room. It led to the first surprising lack of an outburst as he was harassed by E-Rep soldiers, and then became amusing as we learned that Stahma had paid said soldiers to provoke him enough to get him sent back to Reverie. Then he killed a lieutenant to punish all his lieutenants for following Stahma's orders—another idea from the motherworld—and then he severely damaged Alak's hands in his son's own record press, after complimenting him on setting up a perfect legitimate business front for the Tarrs' illegal operations.

Sadly, Datak didn't have the juice that Pottinger had, and Staham rallied the Tarr lieutenants for a formal coup, casting out Datak. It's likely that Datak just overplayed his hand, given that Stahma was perfectly happy to act indirectly at first. But it was too much, too soon, and considering how well things were working under her leadership, it would appear that the old Castithan ways just can't stand up to the power of money.

While I thought we might've gotten a more Rafe-centric episode this week, this was still the most we've really seen of him since the start of the season, and our first real look at how he's coping with the E-Rep occupation. Mostly, he's decided to stay as close to the ground as possible, even while mumbling things to impressionable young minds, like Josef's. He and Josef have the most direct beef with the E-Rep, between the condition of the mines and the loss of family members—especially compared to pretty much everybody else on the show, who either appear indifferent (the Tarrs), are acting like things haven't changed (Nolan), or are just trying to survive/make the best of it (Amanda). 

Their lives, however, have been basically demolished. Rafe's a prisoner in his own home, it seems, a home he doesn't even really own any longer (and that was even more true by episode's end). Josef lost his family and is concerned about the miner community; his attack on the E-Rep caravan, and his pissing on Pottinger, were reactions to his new existence. His identity is tied up in Defiance, and the E-Rep is not Defiance. It ended up costing Josef his life, as Rafe probably realized that Josef was never going to let it go, and that a bullet to the back was a better way for the young man to go than whatever Pottinger would've done.

It cost Rafe his home, as I mentioned above, but I didn't discuss what the eviction cost Pottinger. Rafe's daughter is in the care of the Tarrs (and I still don't have a clear sense of how Christie fits into their dynamics), he doesn't own his mines, and he doesn't have a home. Rafe has nothing left to lose, and that poses a lot of danger to Pottinger and the E-Rep forces in Defiance. It's a threat that Pottinger may not have expected to face.



CLASSIFIED E-REP FILES

– "If I had you sent down to Reverie or, better still, shot you in the head, it'd break Amanda’s heart, and I'm not willing to do that at the moment. If you lie to me again, Nolan, I will revise that policy."

– No Irzu nonsense this week. Praise be Irzu! @adamndirtyape offered a good read on the Irzu stuff last week, positioning it as nanotech, which makes excellent sense. Doesn't negate any of my criticisms—god-like technology still offers too many narrative outs—but at least it provides a nice potential explanation for what's going on with Irisa. Now if only I cared about it...

– I cannot remember if the information about Amanda's rape and abortion was new or not. I feel like it was, though. Can't wait to see how/if creeper Pottinger uses this bit of intel. Actually, I can wait.

– I didn't recognize the song at the end, and neither did the music identification app on my phone.


What did you think of "Beasts of Burden"?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/28/2015

Season 3 : Episode 13

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There is no mention of this in the review so I wanted to add that it's strongly implied that Pottinger was raped when the Voltanis Collective descended on his prep school (where Amanda's now-dead ex was also a student).

That's why he loses it after being asked to strip and when Josef unzips his fly. That implication is also why Amanda feels comfortable telling him about her rape.

Of course, it was never plainly stated, so it could be that something else as ghastly happened to him on that day when he was asked to strip, such as a mutilation of his genitals -- we know for example, that he likes Amanda but we haven't seen them have sex.

Just wanted to mention that implied violation because that's got to have played an important part in making the Pottinger that we see now.
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is it me or are casti going pinkier every episode ? i guess makeup dep. ran outta whtever.
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Kinda felt bad for the mayor and Datak got shtaked!
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WE knew Amanda had an abortion. Her husband thought it was his and that is why the marriage ended.. ( I hate it when a person would rather lie then tell the truth especially in a rape case. I know it is actually normal reaction, however after she became pregnant she should have told her husband the truth) Anyways glad to hear she just didn't end the pregnancy because it was inconvenient which is what her husband thought.
I think I may have cheered (not sure) when Stahma and the crew beat up Datak... I love her more and more.
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This show has been a pleasant surprise to me. The dynamic between the Tarrs has been so entertaining to watch. Its great to see Stahma's character taking things to another level. The Nolan Rafe dynamic is pretty cool too. At least they know they can rely on each other. I do feel a bit bad for Irisa,although I'm sure if she wanted, she could land another guy :P
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I too, would like a little more clarity on Irisa's inner demon; or is it a demon at all? I am confused on whether the little one is good or bad. The Tarr family has been quite interesting this episode and I'm looking forward to the next one to find out what Datak will do next. I am glad you got his beating.
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Good to know that in the future there is no internet for downloading songs. People/aliens would have to buy actual records to listen to music. I guess they have to buy a good old newspaper or magazines to read about a TV show review. Wait. Are they any TV shows in Defiance?

My favorite thing now is also the Datak family conflict and I am so glad there is no Iruz nonsense too. No wonder this episode flows well and at least bearable to watch.
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Terrific question about the TV show thing. Obviously they have monitors and screens, otherwise Pottinger and Berlin's filmic propaganda stuff wouldn't be worth anything, but are they still using the broadcast spectrum for TV? Maybe in New York, where things seems a bit more together? I'd be willing to bet that radio, given its general prominence, is the primary mass medium in the post-Pale Wars environment.
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I always thought Datak was a reasonable intelligent person and was well aware of the influences Stahma had over him in season 1 in curtailing his more excessive violent tendencies, but I think he has been broken by his stint in jail and he couldn't be reached anymore. Season 1 Datak might have considered a partnership, but not this one.
If Datak is evicted as well he can share a cardboard box with Rafe.
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I don't know about Season 1 Datak being more amenable to a partnership with Stahma. Remember that Stahma always couched her ideas in a mask of subservience --- many times manipulating Datak so that he thought that her ideas were his own.

I'd say the watershed moment came when she had that conversation with Alak where he demanded "straight talk" at which point she was brutally upfront. When Datak returns she still maintains some submissive body language and phrasing but the steel inside the silk is showing.

It was nice to hear Datak plainly (albeit in a rage) acknowledge his wife's intelligence. Before he'd only said things like "I've married well."
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"I'm not getting sex because you have to go work at a whore house?" :)

I agree with others, this season is improving. While first one relied (too) heavily on western cliches about border towns it was OK because it established Defiance and dynamics in it. This season managed to get beyond that and with introduction of E-Rep tossed in a new player and relations between existing players are changing and evolving.

Tommy seems to be a dick just so he can be a dick. yes, Nolan and Irissa left without saying anything and now that they are back expect things to go back to what they were. I understand he resents Nolan for taking his job but being p/o at Irissa? He has Berlin now so why is he still so hung up on her

If promo for next ep is anything to go by things will heat up. good. :)
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I would just like to say, this is now my favorite show. Every episode so far has been as good as the last.
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Amanda's fiancé and abortion were season 1 story lines. The rape intel is new. Season 1 all we knew was that her relationship with fiancé (who we met season one but at the moment his name escapes me) died out when he found out she aborted the pregnancy.
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Please check out my recap/review of this episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSdeVKGtZBc
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I think, this one is the strongest episode of the series. Defiance is turning into something better this season.

Tension among Tarr's family is so far the real Gem of the series to me now that he managed to get himself out of the pit.

I think it is also the time now that series give us some more clarity about our little miss wolf too. What she really is capable to do and WHY. What her "inner sound" really up to and WHY. In next 2 3 episodes some hint would be great turn-in.

I start watching this season just because I watched the first one, but with this episode, now again I want to watch it to know what will happen.
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I'm really rooting for Alak to get out of the "family business" and work on his record company like he really wants to. His parents are pushing him towards a life of crime when he could be doing something that he really loves (that is actually legal). I don't think Alak will be able to totally defy his parents and do what he really wants to though.

Rafe also wants Alak to stay out of it - so I'm not sure how him and Datak working together is going to end. When Rafe discovers that Datak is trying to force Alak to become his partner I could see there being big problems.

Josef really should have left when he was given the chance. Nolan & Rafe were going to let him leave town but he wound up making matters worse when he kidnapped Berlin and because of that he's now dead.

It seems like Datak's crew would much rather follow Stahama and don't have issues with taking orders from a woman. Maybe we're moving towards a change-up in their social structure after living on Earth for a while now and they'll become less male dominated.
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To be clear, I don't think that Stahma seriously wants Alak to take part in the business. She just wants to use him as the male face of the family business for cultural reasons. Stahma seems to love him (in her way, accept who he is, though not understand it, to like Kristie and be happy to be having a grandchild. Datak is the one who wants to force him to do nasty things.
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1. Poor Amanda :( Not only she's addicted and is working in the whore house, but now we found out she was raped and she had abortion. Her life is basically one big black hole of despair. Leave her alone writers!

Judging from the next week's promo (spoilers!) - Amanda is either going to have a flashback of her assault or a creepy Mayor will attack her. Either way I don't want to see it.

2. I officially hate Tony now. Can someone please kill him?

3. Take that Datak! That's for trying to drown my Stahma last week. It's a such a shame you survived the beating.

Thanks for review, Noel.
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When she mentioned the rape and then I saw the preview I realized that's the only reason she had brought it up in this episode. They needed to let the audience know about it so we'll understand what's going on with her in the next episode.
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This show may get the award for Most Improved in Season 2 if it keeps this up. ('Arrow' holds that title now but 'Arrow' had a lot less work to do.) New stories holding up, new characters have added a lot - Grant Bowler still not that great of an actor (Drinking game - Grant Bowler has a tough time when not giving dialogue in scenes. Take a drink ever time his eyes just start wandering to a different part of the room or a different camera when 'Nolan' is in a scene but isn't speaking in the scene. They apparently can't get him to stop doing this.) but the character 'Nolan' is and Bowler is getting better.


Agree with the author about the best part of the story this year. The Tarrs are just awesome. Jamie Murray and Tony Curran have both been marvelous from the word 'go' this season and if they could have just cast a better Alec, young dude still struggling with this difficult character and 'Christie' doesn't make it any easier for him - with Murray and Curran they are giving him gold and he does much better in scenes with the veterans than he does with his bride. The whole show could be about them and I would be just fine.


But my personal favorite development: She's crawling to get there and drug addiction story lines are just so overdone but I'm sensing that we might be getting some 'Darla' from Julie Benz very soon and in my opinion, that is the best Julie Benz. 'Dexter' kind of clipped her wings and its nice to see her get another good character to portray.


Also cool I really liked James Murray in other stuff, ('Primeval', 'Krod Mandoon') and 'Niles Pottinger' is thus far a fascinating character he is doing a great job with. Benz has fantastic chemistry with both actors this season and must be having a lot of fun. Haven't seen that smile from one of her characters in a while.

Only think missing was Doc Yewll and only got a minute of Irisa, to service the budding love triangle story, but its cool that they were missed. I'm liking the gorgeous Anna Hopkins as 'Berlin' and hope she sticks around a while. Also very excited this season for more William Atherton one of the greatest character actors of my generation for playing a-hole characters. (My personal favorite, sorry 'Ghostbusters', was Dr. Jerry Hathaway in the Val Kilmer classic 'Real Genius'.)

Keep moving in the right direction show! Its not on the DVR very long this season.
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More sexy times with Amanda, this has got to be the best occupation EVER, as far as Nolan is concerned.

The entire Tarr story line...SO GOOD! And based on the promos for next week, things are really gonna heat up with Datak and Rafe, two guys who once were king of the hill now find themselves literally with nothing, team up to form some sort of Defiance reclaiming Voltron. I'm looking forward to Rafe finding out about Datak's pushing Alec towards "the family business" and seeing these two go head to head again.

Out of curiosity, since Datak was released in order to provide "security", shouldn't he at least once make an appearance at the clinic? Just sayin'

Pottinger, dude, you had it. You found your in through the sharing of vulnerability and violation tales...then you had to go and blow it by being a petty tyrant. You've got nobody to blame but yourself.
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Out of curiosity, since Datak was released in order to provide "security", shouldn't he at least once make an appearance at the clinic? Just sayin'


Yes. That.
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I wonder if Graham Greene's (Rafe's) time on Longmire is the reason we haven't seen as much of him this season. That knowing the actor is splitting his time they haven't been able to work as much of his stuff in.

Still, last night was solid work by the actor last night. His emotional scene at the end was good as were his interactions with Nolan.

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I was thinking the same but then checked and discovered he must just be really busy. As you mentioned, Graham Greene is playing the central antagonist this season on 'Longmire' (possibly the central antagonist for the entire series) and has thus far been in every episode. He's been quite good in both roles. Longmire shoot began March 2014 in Santa Fe, New Mexico and they are in all likelihood still shooting final episodes. 'Defiance' shoots in Toronto and Season 2 was shot August to December 2013.


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I'm loving it... AND I have to applaud them "pushing the boundaries"

For a basic cable show, at 8PM, so far this season we had hand-j*bs and water sports. This is on top of the "outfits" that Jamie Murray wears in her bathing scenes.

Granted cable isn't under the FCC scrutiny that networks have... but it's still risky. I love it when shows push limits.
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That was a really interesting episode, is anyone else getting a real friend vibe off of Pottinger toward Amanda? Like the way he looked at her when she was telling her story (which had been implied before, but she'd stopped Kenya from talking about it) and then even the way he talked to Nolan that I had this passing though, maybe he's gay? Anyway, whatever, I am getting a kick out of his character.

While what ultimately happened to Datak wasn't that surprising, I think it had something to do with Jaime Murray's unhidden rage during the whole episode. I started to think there might be some sort of cultural tradition where if a situation is really bad in Castithian household there is an allowable murder of a husband by a wife if she is protecting the male progeny. But then the overarching thought I kept having is something Nolan called about the second or third episode into the first season, Stahma is far scarier than Datak and she already had elicited what I saw as more respect from the gang than Datak ever did. Like they are all scared of Datak but that is because he is a little crazy and over the top. Stahma might eradicate your family line if you betray her, but she will have a civil society.

I get so confused by Rafe.
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Stahma is more intelligent than Datak and she doesn't let her emotions get in the way.

Witness what happened with Kenya. She loved her but when Kenya's existence threatened her, she had to go. She also speaks to Alak that way -- like at any time she could eliminate him -- though we know she loves him.
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Seriously, what the hell is up with Tommy.

I can see him being annoyed that Irisa left without saying a word (since he doesn't know the context) and maybe that Nolan was promoted over him.

But his reaction to Nolan is a bit beyond the pale. My understanding was back in Season 1 they got along well enough. So I could see mild annoyance, like in Eureka when Carter got promoted over Joe she was sour but still professional yet pulled pranks. But here he's just trying to be first class jerk.

Did something else happen in the finale that I'm forgetting that would make this animosity understandable?
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Well as Kate said part of it has to do with his Irisa and his feelings toward her, and having them disappear without a word for 9 months. But what I think the biggest thing is in the beginning of season 1 he was passed over as the chief lawkeeper the "Sheriff". It was like you said about eureka in season 1 Tommy was upset but still did his job after realizing what a ngood lawkeeper Nolan is so he followed his lead. Than the two left and at some point Tommy was appointed the position he wanted and felt he deserved only for Nolan to swoop in again aand just like that he went from giving orders to taking them all over again and animosity is abound
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Yeah, I don't know what is up with him (especially the overly intense glare he was working last night). I figure he is angry because he was abandoned by Nolan and Irisa, and Berlin is right there is something still there between him and Irisa, but seriously dude, punch Nolan or something and be done with it. This passive aggressive bullshit is making me not like you with either of the girls. Especially since we spent the past two episodes actually getting to know and like Berlin (and that seriously once this whole Irisa thing ..fingers crossed it is nanotech even if we suffered through that with Revolution... is done, Irisa and Berlin might actually be friends).
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I am in awe of Jaime Murray. I shudder thinking about what this show would look like without her.
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And she just sticks the killing with a smile.
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Significantly less interesting.
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Indeed. Also the eye candy would take a crippling blow.
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I was bummed they didn't stick with Irisa's story a bit this week, but they made up for it with Stahma's awesome take down of Datak at the end.
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Undoubtedly Stahma & Datak dynamics are the most "entertaining" this season and things are just escalating... there will be a lot of pain I think at the end of the season brrrr....

The acting is just perfect: I am so impressed with Ms Murray!

Nanotechnology... that makes sense, will read what you suggested Noel.

So far Defiance is being much more entertaining than Falling Skies.
Plus now, there is a series that feels more like a video game that Defiance LOL! The Last Ship is so cartoonish, I have played more realistic games!
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One single brilliant scene says all about my feelings toward this episode: When Datak said to Stahma "you should embrace me now", her look before she stood up was on of serious hatred and disgust and made me not only rewind it and watch it again, but utter out loud that Datak was a dead man now. I cannot help but love the acting Jaime Murray does in this series.
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Loved that, her acting there was TOP, making that moment gold.
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I could not agree with you more! If you are a big sci fi/fantasy genre type tv show fan like myself u may notice certain actors showing up in the shows u watch. The always brilliant Jaime Murray is one of those actors.(Also Mark Sheppard mostly known now as "Crowley on Supernatural, and Lauren Conrad "Maggie" from The Walking Dead) From Dexter(including Julie Benz) to Warehouse 13, Spartacus: GOTA and a couple of others. I love that certain actors stick to doing as I said "genre" type shows, it shows us that they are not only just actors but fans themselves like us. Jaime was one of the best things to happen to Warehouse 13 as her H.G Wells, however in Stahma from the way she moves to the constant smile, which is both good and wicked, she absolutly shines! If the major awards people weren't such asshats who don't even consider sci fi as good enough tv to get nominated for anything she would deserve an emmy
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Pretty sure Pottinger was the one who assaulted Amanda way back when because of the way he's maneuvered to get her close to him.

*He puts up with her disloyalty and lying.
*He started her off extremely close to himself and his dealings.
*He shut down her outside source of addiction, took it over and is now supplying and using it with her.

All of this makes me feel like he's her attacker/stalker.
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That's sort of what I thought as well, but I don't think they are going there with him. They seem to being humanizing him bit by bit.
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I was thinking the same thing Barry. He is manipulating her, from body language confessing his past, to his stalking her with cameras in her bedroom, to making her depend on him for drugs. Don't trust him at all.
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but the attacker doesn't look like him (in the next ep promo) - he is with mask, but he looks lighter (may be blond) ...
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