Here’s my review of Defiance season three episode “My Name is Datak Tarr and I Have Come to Kill You.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.
If last week was the calm before the storm, this week is definitely the actual storm and it came through like a hurricane. I liked the way that the whole thing went down. All season, we’ve been waiting for Rahm Tak to make his move. They’ve been preparing for an all-out battle. While a war might have some interesting parts, I wasn’t looking forward to something as depressing as a war story, full of drawn out battles and massive amounts of casualties. So I liked that both sides resorted to guerrilla-like tactics which made things more unpredictable and interesting to the audience without losing the tension and emotional drama of the fight.
The only problem with this episode is that Nolan trusted Lt. Bebe in disguise so easily. It was a bold move for them to attack the NeedWant and shoot the hostages, but it was even bolder to let Bebe worm his way into the militia. The problem is that it shouldn’t have worked. With Rahm Tak’s forces easily infiltrating the town, Nolan (or anyone really) should have been suspicious of anyone new in town. Bebe, or Beckman as he called himself, was too good to be true. With as harsh as we know Nolan to be, it seems out of character for him to be immediately trusting of a new friendly face. Why would he put Bebe in a position close to him on the level of Irisa and Alak? This is a bit of poor writing to force a plot point.
However, despite the problem with this part of the plot, how it all played out was what kept the episode exciting. Since we knew Bebe was just waiting to betray them, it kept the audience in suspense as we wait for him to make his move. When things finally get set into motion and Bebe attacks Alak, Irisa, and Nolan before he sets off his bomb, the audience can only watch in horror just as Nolan does. It’s heartbreaking to see a good chunk of the militia blown up, dealing a heavy blow to their forces. We are left wondering how Defiance can win this fight?
And that brings us to the unlikely hero of this episode: Datak Tarr. Tony Curran delivered one of his best performances during this episode, playing both present-day Datak and Datak’s father in the flashback scenes. Throughout the three seasons of Defiance, Datak has been one of the most interesting characters because of his shady morals and his dedication to acquiring power, usually at the cost of his family. Like Alak said during the last episode, Datak is “deeply flawed.” That’s what makes a character so interesting because we want to see whether he can ever overcome his flaws and change.
The episode opened with a flashback to young Datak Tarr, angry and determined to fight. His father berates him and takes his knife away, saying that he’s not yet ready for it. This scene and the other two flashbacks are an excellent way of showing Datak’s backstory without having him explain it to someone. It’s much easier to understand when we can see it. It’s adds so much to understanding his motivations. The second flashback shows his father stabbing him in his hand with the blade to teach him a lesson. It’s a scene reminiscent of last season when Datak injured Alak’s hand to teach him a lesson. It still is cruel what he did to Alak, but now we understand why Datak is flawed in this way.
In addition to this flashbacks being important to his character development, this was also a good time to reveal them. Datak is on the shaming rack about to die. He has nothing left but his memories, so it makes sense to reveal them now. This is also a technique often seen in television where backstory is often fleshed out for a character about to die, because hey, we’ll never get another opportunity for it. It’s very fitting for Datak’s father to say in the last flashback that pride, greed, and ambition are vanities of the flesh and that honor is the most important thing above all. As we’ve seen previously, Datak has been nothing but pride, greed, and ambition. But on the other hand, we find out that Datak still has honor, even if it’s buried deep down inside. When given the opportunity for the suicide mission, Datak takes it. His father’s teaching didn’t go to waste.
The last few minutes are exciting because the audience has no idea whether the plan will work. Will Datak make it in? Will Datak betray the town again? Will he quietly die an honorable death as he takes out Rahm Tak’s camp? Datak, like his wife Stahma, has always worked for his own agenda, only doing what’s best for him and his reputation. But Datak is also a great actor and he easily lulled Rahm Tak into a false sense of security. It’s a shock when Datak chooses to cut off his own arm. It shows how resourceful and dedicated he is. Even if Datak is honorable now, he’s not going to give up his own life so easily. The camera pans from Rahm Tak’s destroyed camp to Datak lying safely on the ground and he just smiles. It’s an excellent ending for an excellent episode.
While there was a bit of a problem with Bebe’s infiltration in the early part of the episode, the rest of the episode more than made up for it. It easily provided lots of strong character moments for several characters and especially for Datak Tarr, the unlikely hero who saved the entire town. I can’t wait to see the fallout of all this in next week’s episode.
Beyond the Stasis Nets
- Didn’t get a chance to talk about Irisa, but she had her own very important character moment too. Nolan told her that he believed in her. He knew she would be able to fight when it counted, and she finally got to that breakthrough when she had to save Nolan from Bebe. Curious to see how she will react in future episodes now.
- Speaking of Irisa, the writers are hinting towards pairing her up with Alak, aren’t they? I feel like I should be opposed to this, but I like both their characters and want them to be happy. Also, they’re the only characters about their age in the show right now, so… if we want romance, that’s about the only options for them anyway, yeah?
- So… does T’evgin’s shift in priorities seem to be really sudden? It’s nice that he’s reconsidered their plot to eat everyone, but it’s kind of quick. Is it the power of pancakes??
- Best line in the episode goes to Rahm Tak’s gleeful “That is some gangster-ass shit!” while watching Datak cut off his arm.
- Someone should get Amanda a hairbrush so she can redo that messy braid she’s got going on. Just saying.
- Best use of The Doors’ song “When the Music’s Over”? Yes or yes? (The answer is yes)
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Just want to sacrifice your left arm to save your town? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.