This The Expanse review contains spoilers.
The Expanse Season 1 Episode 8
How nice to have Miller together with the Roci crew! As The Expanse nears the conclusion of its first season, the reveals are coming hard and fast with a gun battle to match. Paired with the suspenseful exploration of the stealth ship that destroyed the Canterbury, this episode had a little something for everyone. Looking back, the only thing that could have been a little clearer or at least more impactful and integrated with the rest of the plot is the Earth storyline with Chrisjen Avarasala. Otherwise, this season has been hitting on all cylinders.
The Earthbound plot, which usually suffers from too much distance from the main action, does finally reach into the lives of our protagonists as a gang of thugs hired by the Secretary tries to take out Holden and his team. The action scene at the end of the episode was made more realistic by the limited ammo and the necessity of Miller’s intervention. His rescue made him and Holden necessary allies for the time being, but it was nice to see the mistrust remaining, especially considering Miller’s negative opinion of Holden’s accidental celebrity with the Belters.
The interaction of Miller with the Mormon on the transport was also enlightening on two fronts. It gave viewers a feel for Miller’s Ceres-bound life and reminded everyone about the Navoo, whose journey outside the solar system, while exciting in itself, has not shown itself to be related to the main mystery yet. The Expanse has always been very good at allowing its audience to push the puzzle pieces around even before they’re ready to be placed.
Making another appearance, for example, was the mysterious blue goo covering the engine of the stealth ship, which hasn’t been seen since the premiere. Presumably, this energy-sucking bio-fluid is part of the weapons research being done on Phoebe, and the tenuous political situation in the solar system is no doubt tied to the weapon’s destruction or preservation, though it’s unclear which. This compelling cloak-and-dagger reveal definitely deepens viewer interest and skillfully heightens the overall tension of the series.
In fact, the whole exploration of the stealth ship was expertly paced. From the approach to the asteroid to the docking with the well-hidden derelict, Anubis, viewers were on the edge of their seat throughout. Amos escorting the Earth spy around the bridge was fraught with potential conflict, and Naomi’s and Holden’s reaction to the encrusted core was felt through the screen. Even Alex’s drone finding all the airlocks open felt like a nice extra touch to the scene.
The “previously on” footage notwithstanding, it was a little difficult to track what the suicide of the Mars ambassador meant to the larger picture other than making Chrisjen feel guilty for using him to further her own goals. A more interesting small detail was Fred Johnson trying to hack into the data card he found on the Martian soldier’s body. In the end, the OPA’s involvement, with or without Johnson, is simply more interesting than Earth’s opinion of the matter.
Regardless, this episode of The Expanse was another successful installment that took viewers even further into the central mystery. The final fate of Julia Mao and the bringing together of the Ceres and spacefaring plotlines feels like a build up to long sought answers. Once the peripheral details like the Navoo, Fred Johnson’s role, and the power behind the stealth ships becomes known, this series will be the complete package.
For more speculation and discussion of The Expanse, check out Den of Geek’s new podcast, Sci Fi Fidelity! The inaugural episode contains discussion of this great show (27:08) as well as an interview with Naomi Nagata herself, Dominique Tipper (47:54). Check it out below and subscribe on SoundCloud, Stitcher, iTunes, or TuneIn.