The shtako completely hits the fan in another game-changing Defiance

Can I tell you that I was on the edge of my seat for like 75% of last night’s Defiance? There were so many surprises, problems and changes to the status quo I have no goddamn clue what they’re going to do in next week’s finale — and I can’t wait to see it.

With so much craziness, it’s hard to know where to start. Well, let’s begin with the election, which is almost upon us. Stahma tearfully tells Kenya that Datak is planning to have Mayor Amanda killed, because his Castithan pride couldn’t take it if he lost the election (and from what we’ve seen of him, this certainly seems to be on the level). Kenya of course tells Amanda and Nolan, while refusing to reveal her source. Nolan wants to cancel her appearance at tomorrow’s debate; Amanda of course refuses. She simply orders Nolan to protect her.

Oh my god, the Tarrs — THE TARRS. The Tarrs are some evil motherfuckers tonight. So remember last episode, when Datak was irked that Christie didn’t wear that Castithan metal veil and we thought Stahma was being nice by making a human-type veil for her daughter-in-law? Alak gets in some serious trouble for it — Datak says his son has shamed his father, and forces Alak to perform an old-school Castithan begging-for-forgiveness-I-am-the-dirt-beneath-your-feet type ceremony. He gives Alak a chance to make it up to him, though — all he needs to do is get one of his friends to shoot Amanda with a paintball gun during her debate.

The shtako completely hits the fan in another game-changing Defiance

Of course, the paintball gun looks preposterously realistic, and Nolan spots the kid and shoots him before he fires, killing him instantly. Unfortunately his paintball gun goes off, revealing that Nolan has killed yet another unarmed, innocent alien. With the election the next day, the town council is of course divided; Datak wants Nolan removed as lawkeeper and arrested; Mayor Amanda stands by her man, er, appointee. And sure, while a reasonable person might think that a kid holding what looks like a real rifle at a political rally and aiming at one of the candidates has totally earned getting shot and killed, this totally scans for me, because reason has little place in politics.

Awesomely, Datak isn’t even close to done. Because he’s allied himself with the Earth Republic — his platform being the E-Rep can better protect Defiance from the disasters that have beset them this season — he’s got Nolan’s military case file, which includes several instances where he’s apparently killed human and alien civilians. And he went on a lengthy insanely species-ist tirade during a military trial about how awful and gross and terrible all aliens were… which Datak literally broadcasts throughout Defiance on loudspeaker. And then he reminds the Defianciancians that Mayor Amanda supports this asshole 100%.

And in what is absolutely the smartest thing Nolan has done all season, he runs to Amanda’s office and turns in his badge. An emotional Amanda won’t let him quit, but Nolan tells her she’s firing him. He’s political poison, and she can't go on the air to defend him, because 1) it'll cost her the election and 2) that’s exactly what Datak wants. Because they’ll vote Datak in as mayor, the E-Rep will take over the town, and in a genuinely stirring confession Nolan says he likes Defiance too much to be responsible for destroying it. And Nolan is 100% right about all of this. Of course, before Nolan leaves — and now that he’s no longer lawkeeper — he seeks out Datak Tarr and gets in a brutal, awesome fistfight, where Datak pulls out some impressive moves, Nolan fights even dirtier than Datak does, and the only reason Nolan doesn’t shoot Datak while he’s lying in the street like a dog is because Irisa stops him. I have no idea how — or even if — he can possibly stay in Defiance after this.

What does all this mean? A lot. First of all, Datak obviously set Alak’s friend up to get shot. This also means that Stahma set up Kenya, and 1) Datak at least knows part of what was going on between Stahma and Kenya and approved, and 2) Stahma was playing Kenya the whole fucking time. Hell, that speech she gave in episode 4 to Amanda telling her what a wonderful, understanding person Kenya was to her — which some of you thought might be bullshit, but I thought was true because she seemingly had nothing to gain by it — well, that may indeed have been the start of one long-ass con. It’s cold as hell, and it gets even colder when Kenya confronts her at the Tarr house and Stahma reveals she loves her husband because he’s a cruel bastard (she makes it clear its not in a “human woman loving her abusive husband way,” Datak’s cruelty gets her off). It’s such a great scene and such a great twist to a character that the show has been carefully and systematically softening after a few Lady MacBeth-ish moments in the first part of the season.

That’s not even close to the end of the fallout, though. Alak bursts into his house to accuse his father of setting his friend up to die — which Stahma immediately, deviously, brilliantly turns into a moment of pride, in that Alak is strong enough to question his father’s motives for anything. Because Stahma completely knows how to work her husband, Datak goes from enraged to happy without even realizing it. But later, when Alak is walking through town, a bag is thrown over his head and he’s dragged into an alley by three mysterious thugs and gets the shit beaten out of him. The mystery is immediately resolved when Rafe McCawley reveals himself to his son-in-law without hesitation. He tells him that if he ever pulls a anything like that again — something unbecoming of his daughter's husband — the marriage will end and he doesn’t believe in divorce. So not only is this a pretty great moment for Rafe, who also seemed to be softening, but Alak Tarr instantly becomes an infinitely more compelling character, because now he has to win the respect of two fathers with completely opposite values and goals.

The shtako completely hits the fan in another game-changing Defiance

And lest you think Doc Yewell put the Naziri Thingie in her box and forgot about it, oh no. She’s doing some weird experiments on the Thingie, shooting blue light into it — which just so happens to paralyze the lower half of Irisa while she’s boning Tommy. Nolan takes her to Doc Yewell’s… where Yewell notices something is weird with Irisa’s back, and Irisa notices a younger vision of herself running around Doc’s office (Irisa breaks into the office later, but finds nothing). Doc Yewell examines a few of Irisa’s back x-rays later, by herself, and they’re super-weird, so she clearly knows something is going on.

Later, she runs the test again, just as Nolan and Irisa are getting ready to leave town, forcing Nolan to run her half-paralyzed body to Doc’s place. Doc puts Irisa under and kicks Nolan out, and then starts cutting open Irisa’s back — which, thanks to Irisa's visions, she “remembers” somebody out a silver Thingie in her back when she was little! The gold Thingie begins to react to the silver thingie! Thin tendrils start to sprout from both thingies, entwining with each other! Doc Yewll is paralyzed with shock! Little Irisa tells regular Irisa to wake up, a fight ensues, Nolan bursts in to find his daughter gone, having run out into the woods outside Defiance! She chases the phantom of her former self, eventually collapsing…

…where Rynn, the Irathient outlaw from several episodes back, finds her and asks why the hell she shouldn’t slit her throat, END.

So who exactly had completely awesome moments tonight? Let’s see:

• Datak, for having the ingenuity/balls to run Nolan’s hate speech from his military days and for his badass fight scene

• Nolan, for getting “fired” for Defiance’s own good and the same badass fight scene

• Stahma for revealing herself being the cold master manipulator the show wanted us to forget about

• Rafe, for telling the Castithan his daughter loves that he will kill him if he involves himself in another of his actual father’s plans

• Doc Yewell for doing crazy shit that nobody has any clue about so we don't even know if she's evil, good or insane

That’s so much awesome, guys. And hell, I’ll add Alak’s new conflict as being awesome, even if he specifically isn’t yet, as well as Irisa’s insane new Thingie-related status and getting found by Rynn at the end of the episode.

Honestly, I can’t speak highly enough of this episode, and Defiance in general at this point. What I hoped for at the beginning of the season has happened — they built relationships, created history between these characters and in the world, and now we’re receiving payoff after payoff.

Again, this episode would have been a phenomenal season finale all on its own — I would have considered it jam-packed with twists and awesomeness. But it’s the episode before the finale, and I don’t think any of us should have any qualms about expecting our socks to be knocked the fuck off next week.

The shtako completely hits the fan in another game-changing Defiance

Assorted Musings:

• I guarantee you that Deputy Tommy’s first thought when heard Irisa yell “I can’t feel my legs!” during sex was “Hell yes you can’t. I AM THE GREATEST.”

• During Evil-Ex-Mayor’s wake, Nolan gets a call and has to rush off, but it's well before Irisa loses her ability to walk courtesy of the ol’ Tommy-gun, which is when Tommy would have called Nolan for help. I merely point this out because this is the level of nitpicks I’m reduced to for this show.

• One other: You think there was a budgetary reason why the debate was held in the rain with pretty much everybody under umbrellas?

• I think this is the first time we’ve heard a Sensoth (the giant, orangutan-looking dudes) actually get a line, but his fist-bump with Alak was awesome.

• Okay, Stahma — first of all, Datak obviously knew something of what was going on, because he had to capitalize of Stahma’s tip to Kenya. But the way the show puts it, it’s unlikely that Datak knew his wife was fucking his favorite NeedWant employee — I assume he assumed she was boinking another girl, who would pass the info Kenya almost instantly, or maybe he thought Stahma was befriending Kenya in a non-sexual way to get her trust.

• So is the Naziri Thingie making Doc Yewell crazy, or is her plan… er, not crazy? Discuss.

• I have no idea why any of the alien races would make a weapon? terraforming control? thingie that would also drive people crazy when they touch it, but I actually trust Defiance has an answer. This is a pretty huge thing for me, to literally trust Defiance knows what it's doing to this degree.

• I literally thought Rynn was going to slit Irisa’s throat at the end there, but that the Thingie to stitch her back together in the finale, like the Arcship nanobots did for Sukar. That would have floored me, for Defiance to go to GoT-level mindfuckery, but I still totally respect the show for not going down that road.

• I forgot to mention Datak meets with Col. Marsh near the end, where Marsh helpfully gives Datak a pre-drafted bill seizing Rafe McCawley’s mines and giving them to the E-Rep — of which Datak gets a cut. I get the feeling… actually, see “CRAZED FAN THEORY” at the very bottom of the article below, in case I’m brilliant and it’s a spoiler.

• POSSIBLE SPOILERS: The showrunners have made it pretty at least one major character is going to die in next week’s finale. My guess is now Kenya, because 1) she threatened Stahma, which is pretty much signing her own death warrant, and 2) the show really hasn’t had much for her character to do except getting captured one episode.

• MORE POSSIBLE SPOILERS: On the other hand, Julie Benz (Amanda) and Jaime Murray (Stahma) are the two highest profile stars on the show, and it's conceivable to me that either of them signed on for a single season to move on to greener pastures. But both are clearly okay with genre entertainment — Benz has Dexter, Angel and No Ordinary Heroes on her resume; Murray has Dexter, Spartacus, Warehouse 13 — so it’s just as likely they’ll be happy to be gainfully employed as long as they can. I assume Tony Curran, excellent though he is, is so gratified to finally be giving a leading role like Datak that he wouldn’t leave, and the showrunners would be fool to kill him off.

• CRAZED FAN THEORY: Because god yes, I am a fan at this point. My guess: Kenya dies. Amanda loses the election and takes over the NeedWant (but does not “service” customers herself). Datak wins the election… but betrays the E-Rep, because he’s not after money, he’s after power, and being the E-Rep’s puppet is not part of his plan. I think this would keep Datak right on that razor’s edge of being awesome/a bastard after two episodes of major bastardry, it gets rids of the semi-problematic character Kenya, it clears up the way for Nolan-Amanda, and it makes for an awesome hook for next season. Note: I have no fucking clue what’s happening to Nolan or Irisa.