The battle for the mayorship is heating up, but despite pressure from Colonel Marsh, the E-Rep commander in cahoots with Ambassador Tennety and Datak's undermining schemes, Amanda feels good about her chances. But maybe she's overconfident, because Datak's treachery knows no depth. He convinces Alak (using Alak's guilt at disobeying his father's wishes by marrying Christie and not insisting she wear the traditional Castithan garb) to get his wannabe gangsta friend to shoot Amanda with a paintball gun during the debate, but because of a tip from Stahma to Kenya (post-coitally) that Datak planned to kill Amanda, the teen gunman is taken as a serious threat. Nolan sees the gun and takes the boy out.
But the story doesn't end there, no! Nor does the plan. You see, Datak got his grubby mitts on Nolan's military file and knows how he got the nickname "No Man" Nolan (refresher course: it was because he left no man standing, even if the battle was already won). In light of the murder of Alak's friend, Datak makes a city council move to fire Nolan, but Amanda stands up for him, at which point Datak broadcasts Nolan's testimony from his court marshal, wherein he used every epithet imaginable to describe the Votans.
What follows is a series of badass moments. First, Rafe goes after his newly-minted son-in-law - he has some miners kick some sense into Alak, then sits placid in an armchair while he tells Alak what will happen if he does something as stupid as the paintball stunt again - if there were horses in Defiance, he probably would've put one of their heads in Alak's bed. Alak is already stunned by the knowledge that his dad set his friend up to be shot, and ashamed in front of the boy's parents, so Rafe can be sure that his message is effective.
Kenya realizes she's been played by Stahma, so she goes to House Tarr to shame her just by showing up, and also to threaten her that if she doesn't step in line, her husband will find out about their goings-on. But instead of getting the expected, "No, don't do it!", Kenya gets a speech on how Datak's cruelty turns Stahma on and makes her love her husband even more. Oh, we can't make out anymore? Boo hoo. I'll get off while my husband eats your beating heart.
And Nolan knows that he has to leave town to ensure Amanda's viability in the mayoral race. She doesn't want Nolan to go, but he insists, saying that if Amanda doesn't fire him, Datak will win the election, bring the E-Rep in to walk all over them, and ruin Defiance. It's not a choice. But that doesn't mean he can't kick the living shtako out of Datak. In fact, the loss of the badge frees him up a little. Once Datak's bloodied and ashamed, it's time to go.
There's only one thing blocking their departure, and that's Irisa's strange ailment. A few days ago, Irisa felt excruciating pain in her back, and couldn't feel her legs - not so coincidentally, Doc Yewll was activating the golden knot that night. Yewll examined her and found strange patterns throughout her nervous system, patterns consistent with those created by the flowing, golden tendrils of the knot. Irisa has been having her visions and knows something's up - she's been flashing back to her childhood captivity, and recalling a silver knot unraveling and enveloping her body. She even intuits Yewll's hiding spot for the artifact, but can't see the full story.
On the night Irisa and Nolan pack up to leave town, Yewll sparks the knot again, prompting us at home to say "WTF!?" When Irisa collapses, as Yewll surely knew she would, Nolan brings her crumpled body to the Doc, who orders him outside while she operates on "a Votan parasite that could paralyze" Irisa. Nice one, Doc. The unconscious Irisa sees her childhood self appear and whisper to her - just as that creepy Castithan priest-turned-salesman had - "Become." But as soon as Yewll slices open Irisa's pulsing, writhing back, silver tendrils emerge from her skin and join with the gold ones emanating from the activated knot. The threads and Irisa gain enormous strength, pushing Yewll to the floor and causing Irisa to run toward the woods outside of Defiance. Nolan rushes to find her, but someone else gets there first - Rynn. She's furious that Nolan shot Sukar, and holds a knife over the neck of the already-bloody Irisa.
Datak goes on as usual, meeting with Colonel No-good, who has a plan to dissolve Rafe McCawley's gift of his gulanite mines to the Irathients, and cut Datak in for a good profit. For some reason, Datak seems hesitant... is he developing a conscience? All kinds of weird things are going on in this town.