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Defiance
"This Woman's Work" (S02E06)

First up: Apologies about the lack of a review last week. We've decided to forgo reviews of Defiance for a while (pageviews), and while I fully intended to do these brief, capsule reviews (a la my Elementary capsule reviews) starting with last week's episode, that night was sort of crazy for me, making me glad I did not have to write a review because it would've been a friggin' mess.

If you didn't read my Elementary capsule reviews, these posts are basically really distilled thoughts about an episode, normally a loose 3-5 paragraphs, and I'm done. Think of it like a really long comment or a discussion prompt. (I honestly thought someone would've done a post about last week's episode in the community, if only to complain/celebrate that I didn't do a review, depending on how you feel about my take on the show. ;) )

In any case, here we are with "This Woman's Work." It was a very fine episode that only reaffirmed my belief that Defiance should just become The Stahma Tarr Show because what's going on with her character and the elements of the Casti society are the most interesting aspects of the show. Nolan and Pottinger doing adventure stuff and going after a rare Votan species that's basically just pure energy? So very boring compared to watching Stahma deal with a culture trying to keep her down and in her supposed place. "In her supposed place" was a bit of a recurring element with this episode, though. Not only was Stahma navigating Casti religion, but the other plots in the episode were concerned with women disrupting things, even Pottinger and Nolan's Gulanee hunt as the Gulanee they hunted was referred to as she and the containment suit was in a humanoid female shape.

In Stahma's case, I think Defiance is doing some really delightful anti-hero stuff. We've got a woman with a strong feminist bent (provided you find that heroic, otherwise I suppose Stahma's just a villain then), trying to beat back cultural oppression ("I come from a culture that worships dicks."). All she wants to do is run her family's business, a business she runs better than any man seem capable of doing, but it's not a meritocracy the Casti's are running here, it's a patriarchy. That's commendable and I imagine to a number of viewers, perfectly reasonable for Stahma to want a seat at the table, even the seat at the head of the table.

And then she goes and kills three women who clearly weren't going to side with her to frame up the Casti holy man who was giving her trouble and you go, "...that is not how I can be okay with you advancing the cause of Castithan female empowerment, Stahma." It's sort of like, "Yes, Walter, the healthcare system is terrible...but cooking meth and selling it (not to mention murdering your competitors) may not be the best or most moral way to pay your cancer treatments...also, it went into remission." Prior to this, I don't know that the show had reached a point where we were supposed to be hugely uncomfortable with Stahma's tactics, but we may have crossed that moral event horizon here. This isn't a complaint or a critique; I'm just curious about where things go, and how things are going to escalate.

Meanwhile, in the Gulanee hunt, Mercado sent Pottinger off to retrieve it from a fallen ark vessel, and it all went to crap, resulting in Churchill's death/sacrifice (Pottinger's look of ruthless regret was pretty great) and Pottinger's dismissal as the leader of the E-Rep forces in Defiance. With the strength of the Stahma plot, this just felt like padding, action beats because Defiance is supposedly an action-y show. But as the commercials kept reminding me, it was also just a video game tie-in bit, and that sort of made it all the worse for me. At least the special effects were pretty neat! They certainly looked better than the game, that's for sure. Again, we have a "female" (presuming the Gulanee care about such things, but who knows since it never speaks, just shrieks) disrupting the plans of males, this time to be exploited as an energy source as opposed to a prop of support that sits around and cooks and knits.

Tommy spotted Irisa doing her Irzu indoctrination thing and they had some time to talk in a container while they waited for the hapless Castithan to come back to life. Irisa's having doubts about what this Irzu thing inside of her is, but still has no idea what the plan is. Either way, Tommy -- who quit being a lawkeeper because of Nolan being Nolan to him -- decided to stay in Defiance instead of heading to Texas with Berlin, and everything got mucked up, albeit because of how Tommy feels about Irisa, and not because of Irisa.

I still just can't bring myself to care about anything happening to Irisa, but that's largely because it's so opaque and mysterious that I feel like once I get my footing, it'll be pulled out from under me and I'll start over someplace else. Someone make a case for the plot's interest. I want to care. Really!

Random bits
+ Mercado likes to dress up as a Castithan in his spare time, and apparently a lot of other humans like dressing up as various Votans as well. In scenes that felt dropped from an earlier episode when this was first introduced but were included here, the hooker-slash-DJ dressed Christie up as a Castithan and sent her to the club, where Mercado totally hit on her. Oy vey. Christie has seriously faded into the background to the point where her plot can only be dealt with during the closing montage. This isn't good.

+ Nolan and Berlin hooked up. Because I guess that needed to happen.
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