The game is on and the plot thickens in Syfy’s new space opera, The Expanse. On last week’s episode, Holden and friends were separated and interrogated on the Martian ship, Donnager, but they might have bigger problems when a mysterious warship attacks. Miller is wondering where his sidekick is and, we meet and old friend on the Tycho Station.
This episode put to rest my worries that this series wasn’t going to make it out of the starting gate. Things are starting to fall into place with Miller attending the autopsy of Bizi Bitiko, a known friend of Julie Mao. But, if you think we have problems with identity theft now, wait until the future rolls around.
Miller, unable to contact his partner Havelock, goes to a favorite hangout of Bizi, but Miller is in for one big surprise when he learns that Bizi is not dead but on a ship that is part of a slingshot gambling game. It’s a one way trip. So whose body is at the morgue? Miller is back to square one until Octavia (Athena Karkanis) drops in.
Data broker may sound futuristic to you, but it’s something companies are doing now. The only difference with now and the future is where the data is stored. The dead Bizi, a data broker, has information implanted on his body that may lead to the whereabouts surrounding the mysterious Julie Mao.
Our protagonist goes from the frying pan into the flames so often that he must surely have a bullseye painted on his back. While Holden tries to negotiate a way off the Martian warship for him and his crew, the MCRN Donnager is attacked. Captain Yao (Jean Yoon) is either one cool cookie, or she’s as passionate about her caffeine as I am. Torpedoes are hitting the hull of the Donnager and that cup never leaves her hand. I’d worry if I were Yao because the only fighting most of her crew has ever seen was in training simulators.
We get to learn a bit more about the stressed relations between the three principle entities: Earth, Belters and Mars, from the conversation between Corporal Dookie (Jordan Van Dyck) and Holden (Steven Strait). Since I have not read the books, this bit of tit-a-tat was very important to me understanding the storyline.
Let’s face it Earthers, we suck at taking care of our planet, or its resources. Now imagine living on Mars where survival is only achieved within an air-pressured dome. There are no blue skies and no oceans on Mars. And, if you were born and lived on Mars, how would you feel about the people of Earth polluting the oceans and the sky? While the people on Mars are unable to leave the dome without the proper spacesuits, the people of Earth enjoy free air. Dookie’s anger is justified. This conversation shows a softer side to the scary interrogator from episode 3.
When they realize that the Donnager is under attack, Naomi, Amos, Alex and Shed buckle themselves into their seats and hope for the best. Captain Yao is determined to stop a war and to prove it, she promises to send Holden to safety if he tells Earth that Mars did not destroy the Canterbury.
I can’t wait to learn more about Chrisjen. This is one determined Ice Queen and she knows more than she’s letting on. She is aware of the attack on the Donnager, but for now, she rests on her roof and watches the light show in the night sky. Her grandson might think he’s watching shooting stars or comets, but Chrisjen knows better.
Chad L. Coleman is best known for his fantastic work on The Wire and on “The Walking Dead” His much loved character, Tyreese, died in S05 E09 of TWD. I’d met Mr. Coleman at Monster-Mania in Cherry Hill, New Jersey a few years back. He is just as lovable in person as he is on the screen and, I’m working on getting an interview with him.
We are introduced to Coleman’s character, Col. Frederick Lucius Johnson in episode 4. Johnson is the Chief of Operations at Tycho Station and oversees the construction of space stations and also the first generation starship called the Nauvoo which is scheduled to take a ship full of Mormons on a 100 year ride towards a new sun.
Although Johnson is a retired Colonel with the UN Marines, his last mission was a military disaster. Johnson is also a suspected sympathizer for the OPA and friend of Anderson Dawes. We are left to wonder why Johnson points his sensors and his focus on the ship attacking the Donnager. Does Johnson have anything to do with the mysterious attacker?
There is something so telling in the coroner’s mention about the lifespan on Earth (123 years) as compared to Ceres (68 years). This is the future and the people of Ceres have a bleaker lifespan than we do now in 2015. It emphasizes the legitimate reasons why the Belters are protesting. Imagine living in a world where you need to pay for your air. Imagine having to use a breathing mask every single day.
This series is definitely not your usual run of space shows. The Expanse is not Firefly or Star Wars and, that’s okay because this series does what the others don’t. It peels back the scabs to reveal that people can be bad no matter where we live. Do you really think we’ll act honorably when we begin to colonize other worlds? Our track record on Earth says, no.
Who wants to start a war between Earth and Mars? There are plenty of suspects, starting with Chrisjen Avasarala. Chrisjen reeks of politics and that means she not only knows what is going on, but she is a game player; moving her pieces surgically across the board.
Captain Yao claims that Mars wasn’t behind the attack on Canterbury, but Holden’s disbelief turns to respect when Yao allows him to leave the ship in order to tell the truth. The ship attacking the Donnager is the same one that destroyed the Canterbury and maybe Phoebe Station. Captain Yao wasn’t looking for a war, but it came looking for her.
When the Donnager is attacked, we watch in horror as one of Holden’s men is killed. The scene where Shed Garvey (Paulo Costanzo) suffers an accidental but fatal beheading in zero gravity brings home the fact that the writers have done their homework. The special effects in this series are great, but now the writing is catching up and things are making more sense.
As Holden, Alex, Naomi, Amos and Dookie fight their way to an escape pod, and Havelock is found alive, we realize that life in the future hasn’t changed: people are considered less than human by powerful corporations; politicians can’t be trusted; war is good business; and, good captains always go down with their ships. Episode 4 has proven that The Expanse has found its mojo.