The Expanse S01 E02: The Big Empty

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On the premier episode of “The Expanse”, we were introduced to the principal players both on Earth and on Ceres. While Holden and his crew fight to survive in a badly damaged shuttle and Detective Miller uncovers clues to Julie Mao’s past, Chrisjen continues her interrogation of a Belter terrorist. Will she get her answers? Grab your stealth technology and follow me.

Chrisjen

I guess there’ll always be a Guantanamo and, there will always be prisoners that need to be interrogated. When Chrisjen’s supervisor, General Sadavir Errinwright learns that she’s kept a Belter, Heikki Sobong (Joe Delfin), suffering in Earth’s gravity for 20 hours, she’s ordered to place him inside a water tank to equalize the pressure that is crushing him.

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When we think of space travel, we think NASA and the International Space Station and dream of a future where people will travel to far away worlds and everyone will play nice. But if we do get off Mother Earth and start colonies on other worlds, the dynamics will change on who we are when we leave.

Chrisjen (Shohreh Aghdashloo) suspects Heikki is a terrorist belonging to the OPA. Maybe he is, but that isn’t what matters. Chrisjen treats Heikki as a subspecies. He is not. Heikki is human. His grandmother was born on Earth, but when you live in space, your body changes; you become different; different enough that you are no longer considered human by the people of Earth.

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When Chrisjen is unable to break Heikki, she has him shipped to Luna, but she believes that the OPA and Mars have formed an alliance against Earth. Is she right? Holden and his crew might agree with her

Holden

What was Ade trying to tell Holden before the Canterbury was blown to smithereens? The rescue trip to the Scopuli was a trap. Everyone thinks it was Ade who blew the whistle, but it was Holden. His humane effort to save the survivors trapped on the Scopuli, backfired. We can’t blame the guy. Existing in space is equivalent to a cruise ship floating on a vast ocean. When that S.O.S. goes out, you want someone to answer the call for help. It’s a code of honor that people living on colonies far from the surface of Earth would have to abide by if they are going to survive at all.

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The shuttle is badly damaged from the debris that was once the Canterbury. I expected Holden (Steven Strait) to take charge of the shuttle after their ice freighter was destroyed, but it is Naomi (Dominique Tipper) who holds the trust and loyalty of the crew. The beacon used to send the Scopuli’s distress call belongs to the Martian Congressional Navy, but the question remains as to why the Martian Navy destroyed an unarmed ice freighter.

While Holden and Amos (Wes Chatham) are doing their spacewalk outside the shuttle to repair their radio antenna, Alex is running out of air. His breathing tank is empty.

Miller

I’m still getting all the players straight in my head, but on Ceres, Miller (Thomas Jane) is a detective working for Star Helix and, he and his partner Havelock are sent to find out who is stealing water. You can’t live long without water and, on Ceres water is worth more than gold.

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It was ironic that Miller was unable to finish his shower because he went over his limit, but the wealthy have enough water to keep their mini parks alive and green. This discrepancy is not missed by Havelock who is given a potted plant after he defends the Belters in an argument with the representative of the Plaza.

Thomas Jane plays his detective as a tough cop with a conscience. I’m enjoying his character. He’s cool, calm and dedicated. He reminds me of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. He finds the water thief, but it’s only a dumb kid and, Miller lets him go. Later, when Miller is searching Julie Mao’s apartment, he finds a message from her father. There was no love between father and daughter.

Conclusion

It’s only the second episode for this space opera, but I do like it. There is a good story here. It’s a cop show with a decent mystery for us to solve. The Expanse is also a political thriller where different factions are working together against the people of Earth. Is Mars collecting stealth technology? Chrisjen is convinced of this and, maybe it’s confirmed when the prisoner commits suicide rather than go to Luna to be interrogated.

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The distress signal that the shuttle sent out was answered by a large Martian warship. Naomi, Holden, Amos, Alex and Shed are captured by armed Martian soldiers. Was it the same ship that destroyed the Canterbury?

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There is one key element connecting all three groups: the OPA, Star Helix, and the Martian Congressional Navy. Miller tracked Julie Mao to the Docks and learned that she was a passenger on the Scopuli. Find Julie and we can solve the puzzle.

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