Yes, Datak Tarr is one heck of a slum lord. He’s a big fish in a rather small pond, and he likes it that way. Who wouldn’t? After all, Datak has a lot of power in Defiance. But Datak has a blind spot, and it shares his home – and his bed. For though he thinks he’s a big bad boss, his power is small potatoes next to that of his wife, and he doesn’t even seem to know it.
Of course, she likes it that way, and Datak is hardly alone in his obliviousness to the wonder he married. Stahma Tarr has been the powerhouse behind Defiance from the very beginning. She is truly a master manipulator, and she has that special ability that only the truly gifted in that department possess: the ability to see all the variables. She can also predict how others will react to certain situations with nearly flawless clarity and will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. If her husband’s agenda happens to line up with hers, great. That makes her job easier. If it doesn’t, that’s fine, too. She’ll just convince Datak to change his mind, and he won’t even know she’s doing it, because Stahma is one smooth operator.
She was responsible for getting Datak appointed to the town council and then later giving him temporary mayoral privileges. When he was fresh out of ideas, Stahma came up with the plan to set Datak up as a hero during the plague. And she helped assure his victory in his later campaign for mayor by pulling all the right strings to set Nolan up for a fall that was sure to bring Amanda to his defense despite overwhelming public opinion against him.
And she did it all without getting her hands dirty – or caring who got hurt in the process. This is a woman who uses her son to gain power and favor. A woman who manipulates her son’s fiancée/wife into doing exactly what will further her own goals and then straight-up lies about it later. A woman who essentially sent a teenager to his death (and used her son to accomplish this) just to sully her husband’s electoral opponent. Sure, Datak may have sent Alak to do the deed, but you can bet Stahma whispered the idea into his ear – especially since Stahma used her then-secret relationship with Kenya to set the whole thing up. This is a woman you do not want to mess with.
Stahma’s upbringing and loyalty to the old Castithan ways mean that she’s still playing the dutiful wife for now, and her (probable?) murder of Kenya Rosewater solidifies this role, but I don’t think this will last for long. Stahma is too smart to ride that wave any farther than it will take her. Once it starts to pull her under, she’ll find a new way to travel. One without Datak Tarr and his impulsive need to murder people who somehow offend his honor without considering the consequences of his actions.
And Lord help Defiance if and when that happens. Because Stahma always considers the consequences. Of everybody’s actions. Without Datak to hold her back, this woman could take over the world – much less a little town like Defiance. And by the time anyone realised what was happening, it’d be too late to stop her. Kenya was onto her, but she’s dead now (probably?), and though Nolan has an inkling of the potential evil in Stahma, I don’t think he’s quite caught on to just how much attention he should be paying her. Perhaps using him as a weapon in a campaign against Amanda, the (probable?) murder of Kenya, and the slaying of Colonel Marsh will change that, but I suspect that Nolan will be too distracted by whatever has become of Irisa in the early part of season two to much care about the Tarrs for a while.
No. Scratch that. Because somehow, no matter what else happens, I have a feeling Alak’s mother will come out not only on top but looking like a hero. Even if Datak goes down hard for the killing of Colonel Marsh, there’s no way any of the blood on his hands will stick to Stahma. She’ll make sure of that.
You watch. She’ll be just fine – and she’ll be up to no good again before we (or any of the citizens of Defiance, for that matter) know it.