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"Beasts of Burden" is the 4th episode of Season Two of Defiance and the 16th episode overall. It is aired on July 10th, 2014 on Syfy.


After his caravan is viciously attacked in the badlands, a badly shaken Pottinger orders Nolan to hunt down and destroy those responsible. Nolan's manhunt implicates one of Rafe's miners causing tensions to explode. Meanwhile, a vengeful Datak is determined to reclaim control over the family business.

Syfy's Fun Facts[2][]

  • Raiders are new world outlaws, preying on the weak across the terraformed Badlands. Although these murderous scavengers travel in packs, they aren't normally bold enough to attack an Earth Republic convoy like this. Raiders are a particular nuisance in the Bay Area (and the Defiance game), where they can be found in large numbers.
  • The "old earth philosopher" Pottinger is referring to when talking to Berlin in the first scene is the character J.D. played by Christian Slater in the 1988 black comedy Heathers. Defiance creator Kevin Murphy co-wrote the book, music and lyrics for Heathers: The Musical, which saw its Off-Broadway debut at the New World Stages earlier this year.
  • Datak inherited Raiga from his former boss, Hunter Bell. Hunter was one of the three founders of Defiance, along with Rafe McCawley and Nicolette Riordon. He built the NeedWant and the fight tent, employing Raiga as his personal bodyguard. When Hunter went missing, Hunter's widow Kenya Rosewater took over the NeedWant, and Datak took over the fight tent. Datak kept Raiga on his payroll, knowing how intimidated most people can get at the sight of the massive Sensoth bodyguard.
  • An aspiring Casti can't enter the Castithan mafia until they've carried out their zambako, or "first life taken." This makes them a zembatso, or "life taker." For most would-be mafiosos, their zambako is a cause for celebration. Clearly, this is an honor Alak could do without.
  • Alak never intended to use Tarr Traxx as a front company for the Tarr family's criminal interests. That was his mother's idea. Earlier this year, Stahma traveled to the Bay Area (in a video game crossover mission). Stahma has been seeking to expand the family's sphere of influence outside the town of Defiance, and shipping contraband under the Tarr Traxx label seemed like the perfect cover. And while Datak is still extremely angry with Stahma for running the family in his absence, he's not one to let a good idea go to waste.
  • Cedars is a small industrial town roughly 150 miles southeast of Defiance. The town is a protectorate of the Earth Republic. The E-Rep has maintained a garrison in Cedars for many years. It's there they staged their forces before rolling into Defiance last year, on the night the E-Rep declared martial law.
  • You can see a case stamped with the Von Bach Industries (VBI) logo in this episode. Karl Von Bach is a notorious weapons dealer who's based in the Bay Area, home of the video game. VBI produces some of the best and most dangerous weapons in the new frontier. Which makes you wonder... what exactly is inside that little yellow case?
  • [On surprising story turns]: "The great thing about this show is it revels in left footing both the cast and audience at pretty much every opportunity presented. That, and the urination scene." - Jim Murray (Niles Pottinger)
  • Josef wasn't actually Rafe's nephew. He was Luke McCawley's best friend. Rafe was devastated when Luke was killed. Josef was the last piece of Luke he had to hold on to. It must have been incredibly difficult for Rafe to put Josef down, but he knows the E-Rep would rain terror upon the town if he didn't. One can only imagine Rafe's rage at the E-Rep right now. Will this finally spur Rafe to action?
  • "While filming the scene where I am wrapping Alak's hand, [Director] Allan Kroeker had me and Jesse improv an argument off the top where he would defend his dad and I would defend the baby and myself. It became quite the heated argument and it really gave me a chance to express Christie's inner thoughts. Soon tears began flowing, emotions were high and I am so thankful that he let us do that because it really allowed Jesse and I to understand our characters' conflicting points of view and really feel just how frustrated our characters are with each other. We both think we are helping the family but we each think our way is better or more “right.” - Nicole Munoz (Christie)
  • The Defiance statue was built to commemorate the eponymous battle in which human and Votan soldiers disobeyed orders to help save innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. This act of disobedience not only gave the town its name, but ultimately brought an end to the war.
  • Up until now, Pottinger has been haunted by the humiliation he endured at the hands of the Raiders. All that seems momentarily forgotten now that's he's gotten his hands on the missing cargo. What is so special about that briefcase Pottinger just took from the crate?
  • All Castithans are raised with a very strict religious upbringing, which is ironic considering how few of them actually take it seriously. Most Castithans view themselves as the supreme being. But even Datak's father found religion in the end, choosing to stay behind on planet Casti and die guarding their family's copy of the Castithan religious scrolls.
  • Devon, where Pottinger is from, is in Southwest England. During the Pale Wars, many wealthy British families sent their children into hiding hoping to spare them from the atrocities being committed in more populated areas. Unfortunately, once Votan forces overwhelmed the major cities, they turned their attention to small towns such as the one where Pottinger was hidden. Near the end of the war, residents of the United Kingdom pushed the Votans off their islands. Today, the U.K. survives as a fortess island, defending her people against the horrors of mainland Europe.
  • The song that played over Datak's beating and at the end of the episode is a Sara Hickman cover of the Tears for Fears song "Mad World." It's from her 2006 album Motherlode.

Deleted Scene[]

Stahma goes to Pottinger, complaining that he violated their understanding. Stahma had been paying him 30% of everything she earned to keep Datak locked up. She offers 40%, but Pottinger says that Defiance isn't a police state, so he can't just haul a man off to jail without cause. She tells Pottinger about how Datak nearly drowned her in the previous episode, but Defiance has different rules than New York. As seen in season 1, Defiance allows Votans to follow their own customs, even if they don't fit with human morality. Pottinger says he sympathizes with how Castithans treat women, but there's nothing he can do. After all, she chose to marry him. "You make your bed. You lie in it."

Votan Translations[]

David J. Peterson, the creator of the Votan languages, has made translations available on his Archive of Our Own page.

Translations for the Votan spoken in this episode can be found at Conlang Dialogue: Defiance, Episode 204.

Highlighted Quote[]

I would spit on the holy Casti bible before I'd ever again open its pages.
Bodhawaya do lapselistalenalu dime no yelazwe Fonjizuga ksa chichundo je.

Season 2
Episodes "The Opposite of Hallelujah" • "In My Secret Life" • "The Cord and the Ax" • "Beasts of Burden" • "Putting the Damage On" • "This Woman's Work" • "If You Could See Her Through My Eyes" • "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" • "Painted From Memory" • "Bottom of the World" • "Doll Parts" • "All Things Must Pass" • "I Almost Prayed"
Stars Grant Bowler as Joshua NolanJulie Benz as Amanda RosewaterTony Curran as Datak TarrJaime Murray as Stahma TarrGraham Greene as Rafe McCawleyJim Murray as Niles Pottinger
Guests Rob Archer as ChurchillLinda Hamilton as Pilar McCawleyMichael Dyson as SkevurKevin Shand as RaigaKatie Douglas as Young Irisa/IrzuMonica Parker as Bailey
Recurring Dewshane Williams as Tommy LasalleJesse Rath as Alak TarrNicole Muñoz as Christie McCawley