Basically, the problem is that if you take Space Heroin, you tend to hang out with scuzzballs that take Space Heroin, and they do shady things. Space Heroin itself? That stuff's fine, apparently. Also: More handjobs!
I think "Putting the Damage On" has been the highlight of Defiance's second season so far, and let me tell you why: It felt like everybody's storylines were being told organically, and that they were actually building off what had come before rather than just "Here's what so-and-so does this week." Most of all, I like how everybody's storylines kind of bounced off each other, even if it was just tangentially. It was the most Buffy-like episode of Defiance I've seen, at least in terms of structure, and that's a Very Good Thing Indeed.
It also had a very Buffy-like plot, which is to say some magical doodad gets introduced and affects multiple characters in different ways, organically revealing their thoughts and feelings, although it wasn't quite as deft as Buffy usually did it. Still, it was much appreciated.
See, somehow Amanda has unknowingly contracted a device called an ego implant. This makes her think that her old attacker, the one she just revealed last week, had somehow shown up in Defiance to attack her. Then later Nolan is a massive dick to her when in fact he's around the block, and Amanda realizes she's been hallucinating, but she thinks it's because of the Space Heroin. The problem actually is the ego implant, which is malfunctioning; eventually Amanda falls over and starts ODing, but luckily Nolan finds her and Doc removes the unit before it can kill her.
As it turns out, Pottinger had Doc inject her with the ego implant during one of their drug sessions in order to record her memories of the last few weeks (for some reason). But the ego implant is somehow a device with a blinky light that that can be contracted like an airborne virus, and both Pottinger and Doc accidentally receive their own implants — and get their own hallucinations.
Pottinger's is of Connor Lang, who you might recall was Amanda's deceased fiancé and member of the E-Rep. Apparently, young Pottinger had quite the fixation on Connor, which was cemented when the Votan attacked his school and subjected him to Very Bad Things, and Connor tried to comfort him. But Faux Connor just mocks him for trying to be like him, for wooing Amanda because he did, for being a disgusting pervert. It's well-trod damaged antagonist territory, but Pottinger looks so genuinely anguished and ashamed that it works.
Doc Yewell reaffirms her status as the best character in the series, as this episode reconfirms her dual identity as the sarcastic, sardonic town doctor with a sharp tongue and a heart of gold… who is also somehow a terrifying scientist who seems to have no moral scruples whatsoever. It's a contradiction that somehow actress Trenna Keating makes work — that Doc can recognize the horrible experiments she performed on humans and Votans as part of the war, and wants to atone for them… but somehow still has no moral qualms about sticking crazy alien artifacts in Irisa or implanting something into a drugged Amanda for whatever she and Pottinger have planned.
Doc imagines Lev, another Indogene scientist and former friend/lover who seems to arrived in Defiance to tell Doc she's dying. Of course, Lev died eight years ago in the war, and Doc has just sublimated the truth with her guilt of all the other horrible shit she's done. Eventualy Lev finally forces her to acknowledge that she's gone and Doc realizes the ego implants are loose and malfunctioning. It's an episode full of nice character moments for Doc —moments that reveal her humanity, so to speak, but also that terrifying part of her that somehow co-exists with it — and at the end, Pottinger her has several weeks of Amanda's memories and he and Doc can proceed to Phase 2, whatever the hell that means.
Now lets check in with the Tarrs! Back in last week's episode, we saw the newly returned Datak get his groove back by cowing his family, maiming his son, and regaining control of his crime syndicate. And then we immediately saw his groove get the shit kicked out of it by Stahma and his former gang, who wanted no part of his psycho-ness anymore. Datak almost immediately recognizes he needs to actually work to regain his family and his position, which is both gratifying and irritating — gratifying that he's finally returning to the somewhat clever schemer we want, but irritating that we've had episodes and episodes of him being an idiotic maniac and now he just turns it off.
Anyways: Having been evicted from his house for shooting Joseph last week — I have no idea how that works — Rafe McCawley is staying with the Datak-less Tarrs. Stahma welcomes him with a complimentary handjob in the bath, but she more interestingly reveals 1) she knows Rafe had Alak beat up last season to scare him away from the Tarr's crime syndicate, and she doesn't care, and 2) she's running the crime business now, and Rafe doesn't care about that. It's a very interesting partnership, and one I hope Defiance adequately explores.
Meanwhile, Datak uses his knowledge of the "Castithan Crazy Scrolls" (Doc's words) to find a Castithan ritual that forces Stahma to allow Datak to visit his family, although why Stahma — who's has been sick of the Castithan social order as the series has gone on — would accept this is unknown and kind of bullshit. Datak does get to see Rafe lounging in his home in a bathroom, so that's a fun moment at least. (Meanwhile, Christina McCawley is very upset about Datak returning, which somehow leads to her being friends with the prostitute-turned-DJ who tried to give Alak a handjob back in the season premiere, which I predict will inevitably end 1) with as much girl-on-girl action as Syfy thinks it can get away with 2) really, really stupidly.)
Datak, using his miraculous new powers of self-control, decides to propose a plan to Rafe. It's the same plan he proposes to an Irathient spymaster for the Votan Collective, conveniently working as a prostitute at the Need/Want: Get the E-Rep out of Defiance. Datak deftly tells the Votans he can hook them up with Rafe's miners, who are willing to stage a revoutlion, and he tells Rafe he can get the Votan Collective to give his miners all the weapons they need to kick the E-Rep out of town. It's simple but elegant, and suffice it to say neither Rafe nor the spy tell Datak to get lost.
It's good to have you back, Datak.
• First of all, let me apologize for the lack of last week's recap. I was writing it up — mostly done, actually — when I decided to pour a beverage directly into my Macbook, destroying it completely. I blame the Space Heroin, obviously.
• Speaking of, Nolan discovers Amanda is on Space Heroin; he seemed to be miffed but not appalled.
• The show spliced in a few frames of people's personal traumas — e.g. Amanda's attacker — during all their freakouts to let us know they were hallucinating. It was ironically not very subtle at all, but it got the job done.
• Is everybody in the world of Defiance is omnisexual? If so… awesome. Again, I love how Defiance does this stuff — like Datak grabbing the male Irathient prostitute for a big ol' kiss — and the show just outright refuses to make a deal out of it.
• "Tangbark"? Please tell me there are now Tang trees in the future.
• Looks like some killer robot arrives next week. I know in my brain that it's going to probably be really gooft, bu in my heart I'm a little excited.