Defiance S2 Ep04 – Beasts of Burden

Defiance S2 Ep04 - Beasts of Burden

Defiance‘s second season has gotten off to a very strong start. The past three episodes have done a decent job at building the world of Defiance and fleshing out the show’s morally ambiguous characters. While a lot of attention has been put on Irisa and her arc recently, “Beasts of Burden” pulls back from that and gives us a great story concerning the E-Rep occupiers who have taken over Defiance, the rebels, and Rafe McCauley. Of course, there is also plenty of Tarr family drama sprinkled in there as well.

Defiance - Season 2

Mayor Pottinger

The episode begins with Pottinger and Berlin transporting a delivery through the outlands, when suddenly their vehicle is raided by four people with guns and hockey masks. The raiders manage to take out Pottinger’s guards, while getting two of their own men shot and killed. The raid seems to go mostly as planned, as they steal the tech Pottinger was carrying. Although, before they leave, one of the raiders decides to make a fool of Pottinger, forcing him to get down on his knees and strip down to his underwear. The raider then urinates on Pottinger’s bare chest before driving away.

This was a surprisingly gross way to begin an episode. Defiance has never shied away from portraying sex and violence, but this would be the first time that I can recall something of this magnitude being portrayed. The act of being urinated on was used effectively, though, as it strung up some of Pottinger’s past memories. While confiding in Amanda, without actually saying the word, he implies that he was raped as a child. This reveal by Pottinger makes Amanda later open up to him about her own rape experience. She tells him of how she was even impregnated and had to abort the child, which ended her relationship with her husband who never knew the truth and assumed the baby was his. The discussions between Amanda and Pottinger bordered on “special episode” territory, but the treatment of such subject matter is handled respectively and helped flesh out the two characters as well.

The main arc of “Beasts of Burden” deals with Nolan trying to find the people responsible for stealing Pottinger’s tech. After seeing some mine residue on one of the raider’s corpses he decides to interrogate Rafe McCauley, but wipes it away in order not to incriminate him. By this time we already know that Rafe’s godson Josef, a fellow miner, was responsible for the heist. Nolan makes his way over to Rafe’s and is held up at gunpoint by Josef. Nolan fights him off, gets the upper hand, and nearly takes him into custody before Rafe reminds Nolan of the time he fought off E-Rep soldiers in Irisa’s defense. Nolan calls off the arrest and tells Josef to get out of Defiance.

Defiance - Season 2

Rafe McCauley

What I really like about Defiance, in this season especially, is that a lot of the characters are morally ambiguous. Both Nolan and Rafe know what Josef did was wrong, but are still willing to let it go. Rafe’s decision comes out of love for his family, while Nolan’s decision comes from his respect and honor towards Rafe.

By the end of the episode Josef kidnaps Berlin since she was able to record a shot of his face on her camera. Once Berlin gets kidnapped, Nolan is no longer concerned with keeping Josef out of trouble and convinces Rafe to help him find the two of them. Nolan and Rafe then rescue Berlin from Josef right in the nick of time. Afterwards, Rafe tells Josef to run and leave Defiance before he is arrested, but as he is running Rafe guns him down. This scene was actually very tragic. The fact that Rafe killed his own godson could mean Rafe was looking only after himself and didn’t want Josef’s acts to incriminate him, or he truly thought Josef deserved to die. Either way, seeing Rafe break down afterward for what he did was heartbreaking. Rafe is later evicted from his home and now his future is up in the air.

The other arc in “Beasts of Burden” deals with the Tarr family. As stated in previous reviews, the Tarr family continues to be the most interesting aspect of Defiance. This episode sees Datak try and re-assume control of his family business. In true Datak fashion he ends up being a real jerk about the whole ordeal, denying his wife Stahma equal partnership and saying she’s lucky he doesn’t kill her since their ancestors would have done just that. He later decides to begin using Alak’s record business as a front, and even burns Alak’s hand on a record press. These acts all culminated in an amazing scene at the very end where Datak walks into the tent where he holds his business and sees both Stahma and Alak waiting for him with all his goons. Datak’s goons begin to beat him down and throw him in the mud. The show ends with Stahma telling Datak that he should have made her a partner.

Defiance - Season 2

Stahma Tarr

When it comes to Stahma I’m always on the fence about how I feel about her. On the one hand, she is bad and even murdered Amanda’s sister in the previous season. On the other hand, her husband is worse and I was really glad to see her stand up to him. The end of “Beasts of Burden” had me rooting for her.

Overall, “Beasts of Burden” was another really good episode. It fleshed out characters like Amanda and Pottinger and it placed Datak and Rafe in completely different places than they were before. I feel concerned for Rafe’s future. I despise Datak, but I love seeing him continue to struggle to get back on top.

Irisa was barely in this episode, but I’m glad we got a break from her story. We did get to see that she is still jealous of Tommy and Berlin’s relationship, though. As for Tommy, he continues to hate the idea that Nolan is Lawkeeper and he isn’t. He even rats out Nolan for tampering with evidence early in the episode. I understand Tommy’s frustration completely, but it would be nice to see a different side of the character soon. As of right now he’s just grimacing around Defiance.

What did you think about “Beasts of Burden”? Feel free to let us know in the comments and check out a preview for next week’s episode “Put the Damage On” below.

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