Down In The Ground Where The Dead Men Go

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | 2 USERS: A+
As We Are
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!


Jeb Nolan and his daughter Irisa returned to the refugee city built on the ruins of his hometown, and got themselves all mixed up their politics. One murder and a high-cost skirmish later, Nolan has become the town's new Lawkeeper. The new Mayor, Amanda Rosewater, has no idea of the forces working from inside her office to clear out the town and find a mysterious artifact that could end the world, or save it -- while the first-generation problems between the various races stranded on what remains of Earth threaten to do the same.


A Castithan named Elah Bandik fled the fight with the Volge, pissing off Datak Tarr and stirring up all kinds of caste-related drama in the wake of the battle. This episode is about the way various imported Votan traditions are incompatible, and how to reconcile those things with Defiance's mission of making a home for everybody.

The easy reading is that it's a simple Western transplant -- with "aliens" standing in for savage Red Injuns or various inscrutable Asians -- but the only reason it comes off that way is because the Mayor and Sheriff of the town (whose job it is to serve and steward that mission) happen to be gorgeous white people. If the show is "about" Amanda and Nolan, then yes: This is the White Man's Burden. But I think the show goes to great lengths to show that it's no more "about" those two characters than it is the ten other main characters on the show, making the only real person at issue Defiance herself.

So in the wake of this battle, with 41 dead from all races, Datak Tarr -- as the preeminent Casti magistrate in the town, and the show -- leads a posse to track down Elah Bandik and punish him. It's all tied up with Casti concepts of honor and caste, or "liro," and as we'll see Datak has several intertwined purposes here: One, to reinforce Casti culture within the larger Defiance community; two, to preserve that culture by isolating it; three, to reinforce his own power within that culture; four, to leverage this factionalization and tradition for his power within Defiance.

If the Castithans stay true, and stay on top as the strongest Votan race in Defiance, than leading and defining their traditions means he gets power in both. Datak described last week his understanding of this situation: The second-generation kids of Defiance have no reason and no context to stick to tradition, because their world is gone and Defiance belongs to the children, so he has to do various unpleasant things to keep the Casti spirit alive... Which spirit just happens to be itself about the subjugation of other races, their own women and children, the lower castes, and everything else that -- as we'll see -- was denied him back home.

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