The Expanse Season 2 Episode 13 Review: Caliban’s War

While plans are hatched and adventures abound, the real strength of The Expanse season finale is in its new and reforged relationships.

This The Expanse review contains spoilers.

The Expanse Season 2 Episode 13

When looking back at the season 2 finale of The Expanse, it might appear to be the self contained story of a dangerous creature loose on a ship as in the Alien movies with a sidebar following the escape of an important Earth diplomat from a Mars-held ship, and that would actually have been enough. But this finale is so much more, mostly because of the final minutes of the episode, in which it becomes clear that the enemies have only been temporarily defeated and the big picture is larger than we thought. Oh, and they threw in a few great character moments as well, but although we’re used to that with this show, let’s not take it for granted, shall we?

How about that pairing of Amos and Prax, for example? Their awkward bromance is perfectly off-balance, whether the botanist is being asked to play doctor or the self-aware sociopath is trying to express sympathy for the other man’s daughter. When Prax makes the blithe observation that Amos knows “a lot about how people die,” and goodness knows the mechanic was awfully specific about Holden’s potentially fatal potassium levels, it’s almost as if the scientist is noting the characteristics of a plant rather than a person, and Amos accepts and perhaps appreciates the candid observation..

Amos even offers to teach Prax how to weld when the doors are being reinforced to jettison the hybrid creature, but although he never gets to fulfill that promise, Prax instead becomes the unlikely hero in a delightfully unexpected turn of events. Likening the hunger of the protomolecule to a plant reaching for the sun seems an apt comparison considering how the alien organism grew throughout Eros and apparently on Venus as well. Kudos to the visual effects crew for putting together a very believable extended sequence of shifting motivations for the CGI character. We were almost sorry to see Alex “fire up the barbecue.” Almost.

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Amazingly, there’s plenty of time for emotional moments of forgiveness between Naomi and Holden as well as Naomi and Amos, a testament to the depth of writing of the episode. Even though Holden seems to have seen the error of his ways, the fact that his “plan B” is to “make sure plan A works” shows that he hasn’t changed all that much. Likewise, although Amos apologizes to Naomi for not making the right choice on Ganymede and she’s sorry for knocking him out, they were just being themselves. Only Naomi’s final apology has the weight of real consequence. We knew she hadn’t gotten rid of the sample yet, but even viewers were unaware that she gave its location to Fred in the moments before she thought she might die. A spectacular reveal!

In another display of people’s ability to surprise each other, the trio of Avasarala, Cotyar, and Draper probably were as unpredictable to each other as they were to the audience. Avasarala, usually the strong one, seemed out of her element letting Cotyar do all the negotiating with their Martian captors, and even if she was being strategic, Cotyar’s refusal to allow her to guilt him into protecting her was refreshing. The ex-spy also shocked both Bobbie and Chrisjen by sending her to retrieve her power suit from the skiff, which showed both foresight and substantial trust in the former marine. This interplay really helped bond them as a newly-formed group, and seeing Bobbie intimidate an electrician and kick everyone else’s asses solidified her joining team Avasarala.

The final unexpected bond formed quickly between the previously adversarial Colonel Janus and Dr. Iturbi on the Arboghast, and although their friendship came together just in time for them to die in spectacular fashion, the doctor for one didn’t seem displeased at the unlikely manner of his demise. Congratulations must go to Mythbusters vet Adam Savage, not only for his cameo, but also for delivering the news that the Eros crater is moving! Its disassembly of the Arboghast was like the careful deconstruction of an engineer or architect, a strikingly intelligent contrast to the instinctual, animalistic nature of the human-created hybrid. An awe-inspiring ending to a great finale!

The Expanse leaves us with a glimmer of hope accompanied by a creeping sense of foreboding as we glimpse poor Mei, thankfully not transformed but also not free. The audience’s enjoyment of the earlier adventures gives way to attempts to predict where season 3 will go from here. Clearly the protomolecule is not finished with its mission but neither are the Rocinante crew, Avasarala and her new allies, or Mao and whatever political forces would seek to exploit the protomolecule that Naomi reminds us is “part of the equation now.” And now that The Expanse is well-established as a sci-fi juggernaut, it’s just as much an undeniable part of the television landscape.


4.5 out of 5