UN-MCR Neutral Zone: Mao’s Ship the Guanshiyin
The action immediately picks up where it left off from the previous episode. Captain Malik (Curtis Caravaggio) and his crewmen open fire on Chrisjen (Shohreh Aghdashloo), Bobbie (Frankie Adams), and Cotyar (Neck E. Tarabay). Cotyar returns fire and uses a heavy metal table to provide cover for him and his cohorts. Chrisjen notices that Cotyar is shot. While Cotyar and Chrisjen discuss what to do next, Bobbie sneaks over to a screen panel and finds a way to get to an elevator shaft for their escape. Since Cotyar is shot, (and everyone keeps joking that Chrisjen is too old), they send Bobbie alone. Cotyar informs Bobbie that he snuck her power armor aboard their shuttle, so she should get it and come back to rescue Chrisjen and him. He lays down cover while she runs to the airshaft. Malik and his men don’t notice her escaping. He tells Cotyar he wants to negotiate with him. Bobbie makes it to the elevator shaft and starts crawling down it. With an elevator slowly descending towards her, Bobbie opens a grate along the wall before the elevator hits her. She makes it to a hallway and fights two armed guards. She beats both handily. Meanwhile both parties on the upper deck are negotiating in poor faith, Cotyar and Chrisjen to stall, Malik to mislead. Cotyar nearly passes out from shock. Chrisjen presses on his wound to wake him up. Malik makes Cotyar a new offer. Leave Chrisjen with him, he will let Cotyar and Bobbie go. To gain his cooperation he states “when important people start fighting, people like you and me die. I need control of the undersecretary.” Cotyar responds that they need to exchange hostages. Malik volunteers to escort Bobbie and Cotyar to their shuttle himself. Chrisjen doesn’t like where this is going and asks for the gun, Cotyar won’t give it to her.
Bobbie gets to the end of the hallway. An electrician has his finger on a button and threatens to blow the airlock if Bobbie gets any closer and tries to kill him. He locks the door so she can’t get to the shuttle but he is stuck in the hallway with her. Bobbie calmly asks him if the people he works for are worth his sacrifice. Dying for them isn’t an honorable death. She promises not to harm him. He lets her through and asks if she will rough him up a bit and throw him in a container to make it look like he resisted. She gives him a faint smile.
Malik needs an answer. Chrisjen tells Cotyar that if he is going to sell her out to take charge of the situation. He must stop Errinwright from starting a war. He owes her that. Painfully Cotyar tells her he doesn’t owe her anything. He failed to protect her son, so he owes it to him to protect his mother. Touched by this, Chrisjen seems willing to protect Cotyar; she decides to surrender, gambling that Malik won’t hurt her. Cotyar begs her not to but she tells him she doesn’t take orders from him. Immediately after she surrenders Mao sends a message to Malik to “clean up the mess.” Malik points his gun at Chrisjen and tells her it isn’t personal.
Amos (Wes Chatham) and Naomi (Dominique Tipper) board the Rocinante. He appears to want to get away from her as quickly as possible. Naomi and Holden (Steven Strait) hug. She thanks him for rescuing the Somnabulist from the Martian navy. He tells her she should thank Alex (Cas Anvar) since he was the one who got him to stop hunting the Protomolecule hybrid. Holden apologizes for going all Captain Ahab and not being there for her and the crew. Naomi is impressed by his new attitude. Prax (Terry Chen) is patching up Amos in sickbay. Amos asks him if he thinks the creature was his daughter. He isn’t sure. Naomi kisses Alex on the cheek and tells him, he is a hell of a pilot. Holden reports that the Martian and UN fleets are engaging again over Ganymede. The ship sustained some damage during the rescue and Alex asks Naomi if she is ready to join him in some repairs. As they look on the monitor at some of the damage the Rocinante took they spot the Protomolecule hybrid in the cargo bay.
Prax doesn’t want to attack the Hybrid right away. He would like to try to talk to it. Holden wants to get it off his ship right away. Fully armed, he and Amos head to the cargo bay. The Hybrid reaches in its chest and pulls an explosive device out of its chest and tosses it out the damaged door. Amos and Holden open fire. The Hybrid isn’t hurt and throws a cargo container at them, pining Holden to the wall. Amos’ helmet is damaged and is leaking oxygen, so Holden orders him to leave immediately. The Hybrid looks up the stairs and sees Holden; it slowly walks up the stairs towards him. Holden’s gun is out of his reach. The Hybrid turns around and goes back downstairs and starts tearing up the bulkhead. Alex and Prax are speculating if the Hybrid has intelligence. They realize the Hybrid is tearing up the bulkhead to get to the ship’s reactor.
The crew discusses how to get rid of the Hybrid. Amos points out that they must get to Holden before he dies and he explains how his injury will kill him. Prax: “You know a lot about how people die.” Amos: “Yeah, I guess I do.” Amos formulates a plan; they pop the hatch off the cargo bay to blow the Hybrid off the ship. Holden should survive it. They will have to seal up some of the decks to send the pressure to the cargo bay.
While Amos is sealing up a deck, Naomi apologizes to him for what she did to him on the Somnabulist. He turns around and apologizes to her for forcing her to do it. He should have listened to her when she said she had to do something. Amos explains he is trying to think for himself more but it is hard to do. There are mistakes he makes. Naomi assures him everyone makes mistakes, and she emphasizes that she is sorry she hurt him. She knows that Amos was lying that Holden can survive blowing the hatch. If he must do it, wait for her approval instead of Holden’s. She knows Holden will sacrifice himself for the crew.
Alex gets an idea to buy them some time; he’ll shut down the drive and they’ll go to zero gravity. He does it and the Hybrid stops tearing up the bulkhead. Alex is pleased it is working, but the Hybrid turns its attention back towards Holden. His gun is floating towards him but he can’t reach it. Alex starts the drive again and Holden’s gun drops. The Hybrid goes back to tearing up the bulkhead. Prax is sent to help Amos weld; when he looks at some plants he gets an idea.
Holden is in immense pain. Naomi is desperately trying to come up with a plan that gets rid of the Hybrid without killing Holden. He wants to talk to her before it is too late. She wants to talk once they have saved him but he knows this can’t wait. Holden asks her not to follow his path and go looking for revenge if he dies. He wants her to take the ship and the crew, hide somewhere, and ride this out in safety.
Prax goes back upstairs to explain his plan to Alex. Plants turn towards the sunlight, following the nutrient gradient. Give the Hybrid a better food source and they can lure it off the ship. He mentions they have nuclear warheads. The plan, Naomi and Prax will take a torpedo, take its warhead off and use the radiation to lure the Hybrid off the ship to follow them. Amos tries to say goodbye to Holden just in case, his first attempt is humorous, but he finally finds the right words and thanks Holden for always trying to be a good man. It helped him not having to worry if he was on the right team.
Alex shuts down the drive. Naomi and Prax are outside the ship with the torpedo. The Hybrid can sense the radiation and leaves the cargo bay through the damaged door. They have separated the warhead from the torpedo and Prax is holding it. Naomi tells him to throw it when the Hybrid gets close. As the Hybrid gets closer, Prax just stares at it. Everyone is screaming at him to throw it. Finally, Naomi tells him it isn’t Mei. He finally throws it and the Hybrid jumps off the ship after it. Naomi and Prax run back into the ship. When the Hybrid catches it, Alex turns the drive back on and turns the ship’s burners towards the Hybrid and barbeques it.
Orbiting Venus: the Arboghast
The crater that Eros created on Venus is active. Dr. Iturbi (Ted Whittall) and Colonel Janus (Conrad Pla) discuss what they should do. Because they are out of probes, they decide to descend to get the readings. Colonel Janus is concerned the Martian ship that is shadowing them might shoot them down. Instead of trying to shoot them down the Martian ship passes them to get to the crater first. One of the crew members reports that the Martian ship disappeared. Suddenly their ship stops in mid descent. The blue molecules of the Protomolecule float into the ship.
Holden is in sickbay thanking the crew for saving him; Alex tells him it was Prax’s idea. Holden thanks Prax. Naomi asks to speak to Holden alone. Once everyone leaves Naomi begins her confession. While she is confessing to Holden that she didn’t send the torpedo that held the sample Protomolecule to the Sun but kept it instead, we see the wrap-ups to the other storylines. Bobbie is in her power armor and beats the hell out of Malik and his men, saving Chrisjen and Cotyar. The Arboghast is disassembled like a model spaceship. Iturbi and Janus have stunned looks of complete amazement at what they are seeing. Holden looks stunned too, especially when Naomi tells him that while on the Somnabulist, thinking that they were all going to die, she told Fred Johnson (Chad Coleman) where the torpedo was. We see Fred looking in amazement at the sample he now possesses. The final scene is Dr. Strickland (Ted Atherton) looking at Mei (Leah Madison Jung) in a pod and telling her to go to sleep. Her pod joins many other pods in a large facility.
When The Expanse ended its first season, Mao’s men contaminated Eros with the Protomolecule and the Rocinante crew just barely escaped. Very few people knew of the Protomolecule. Now all the important players know about it, and Earth, Mars, and the Belt possess it and have their own plans for it. What no one realizes yet is that the Protomolecule has its own plans. Therefore, instead of bonding together to meet this threat, Mars and Earth are fighting above Ganymede and the OPA factions fight amongst themselves.
Introduced this season were two new major characters, Gunnery Sgt. Bobbie Draper, and Dr. Praxideke Meng. Bobbie has taken the biggest journey of the two. When we met her, she was a Martian marine whose only goal was to fight Earth. She believed in Mars and all it stood for. This was before Ganymede. Betrayed by her superiors, her unit used as product testing for the Protomolecule Hybrid soldiers. Once she understood what had happened, she became her own independent person and joined forces with Chrisjen Avasarala. This was something she could have never imagined for herself, but with the system changing so rapidly, she is changing with it. Like Bobbie, Prax’s world changed on Ganymede, losing his daughter to the evil Protogen scientist who are experimenting on Mei and other kids to create the Hybrids. In this episode, he established himself as a true member of the Rocinante. Since he has been on the show a shorter time than Bobbie, he hasn’t had as large a journey, but we are seeing his character change. You can say that about all of the characters. Holden is maturing as a captain, Amos is trying to think for himself more, Alex is more confident of his abilities, and Naomi is embracing her Belter heritage.
The episode was exciting and surprisingly funny. Bobbie, Chrisjen, and Cotyar got off some funny lines together. They are a fun snarky group and I hope they keep them together for Season 3. It was gratifying seeing Bobbie beat up so many men in and out of the power armor. She is a true powerhouse. The effect they used to disassemble the Arboghast was great; it reminded me of the shot they used in “Legion” when they showed the effect of David’s kitchen exploding. It was interesting seeing Iturbi and Janus finally getting along just before they die. The Protomolecule proved once again how powerful it is. The big question is what the Protomolecule is creating on Venus. The crew fighting the Hybrid was a horror thriller. It was a classic base under siege story. Anytime the Hybrid would head toward a defenseless Holden, I felt a chill. It was great seeing the crew work so well together to defeat this threat. After Naomi’s reveal to Holden of her duplicity, how will the crew survive this deception? What will happen to Naomi and Holden’s relationship? Fred Johnson has the sample and it makes him a major player in the system again. How will Dawes react? Their rivalry over the OPA should get very intense next season. Finally, we know that Mei hasn’t turned into a Hybrid yet. Will Prax and the crew of the Rocinante save her in time? These are some of the big questions for Season 3 to answer.
Naomi’s speech to Holder at the end of the episode says a lot about the show this season and a lot about humanity. Let’s hope that we in the 21st century can prove some of her pessimism of humanity wrong. Here’s a portion of it to end this season’s reviews. Hope to see you in 2018.
“The Protomolecule has changed everything, except everything it didn’t. I don’t ever remember a time when Earth, Mars, and the Belt weren’t fighting. The sides change sometime. What we think we are fighting for. Who we tell ourselves are the good people. But it seems we can never stop fighting war after war after war. It’s part of being human. An ugly part, but I don’t think it will ever change. Technology certainly hasn’t changed it. Guns. Railguns. Nuclear bombs. No weapon ever brings peace. No one knows what the Protomolecule wants or what it is doing but they are using it anyway. It is already scattered too far to ever know if it’ll be gone. It is part of the equation now and it will be for now on. We can’t change that. We can’t wish it away. Earth has it. Mars has it. And the Belt need it too.”
Episode Grade: A
Season Grade: A-