This The Expanse review contains spoilers.
The Expanse Season 2 Episode 3: Static
The more complex The Expanse gets, the more the audience really gets to see what makes each character tick, and with the increasing tension between Earth, Mars, and the Belt, those motivations are becoming key. Now that the consequences of playing with the protomolecule are making themselves known, it’s an all-out struggle to see who gets to it first: those who would destroy it, those who would weaponize it, or those who would surrender to it.
It’s difficult to decide if Holden is right to be so angry with Miller for taking out Dresden, the man who could tell them the most about the alien organism. Miller admits, “I didn’t kill him because he was crazy; I killed him because he was making sense,” which surely makes him dangerous. Even Naomi thinks Holden’s reaction is a bit over the top. If there is even a small chance at developing a cure (doubtful) as Holden hopes, isn’t Cortazar, the sociopathic nano-informatics specialist, just as informative as Dresden would have been?
The bit about Cortazar having his brain altered to remove empathy was not only a great way to explain how so many Protogen scientists could conceive of feeding Eros to the protomolecule; it also was a wonderful parallel to the way Amos lives his life, killing with emotional impunity those who, like Miller’s friend Semi, threaten his crewmates’ lives. When he idly asked if there was a cure for the scientists’ condition, the level of sympathy for his character jumped considerably.
At least now there’s an answer to the question of why the station had riot bullets instead of real ones: to keep the sociopaths from killing each other. And what better way to interrogate a closed-mouth prisoner than to send in another sociopath? Amos’ questioning strategy and his analogy of showing pictures to a pedophile was perfect, not only for them to get answers but to explain how the protomolecule works to the audience as well.
The idea that the voices of those the protomolecule has absorbed on Eros would be used as inspiration for some crazy Belter dub-step is both creepy and awesome. With Miller still seeing visions of Julie Mao, it raises the possibility that her consciousness is still somewhere in those blue-brown “metabolic excretions.” But the fact that Miller would propose using the Navoo to take out Eros is awe-inspiring in its insanity and its scope of possible destruction. After all the marvelous possibilities the Mormon man showed him, it’s stunning that Miller would ask Fred to sacrifice such a project.
This episode would have been intricate enough without the brilliantly woven protomolecule exposition, but there was also the extra development for Naomi and Alex, however minor; it’s great to see these other crew members get some attention. Alex torturing himself over the death of those inside the assault pod that didn’t make it last episode was both endearing and sad; after all, he did the best he could! Naomi provides quite a contrast, enjoying herself by dancing and playing handball with Tycho’s repair technician. Still, it’s nice to see her have some fun.
The Martian team gives us the welcome perspective of the third faction, although they seemed to be covering familiar territory at first with their petty squabbling. Thankfully, Sutton dresses down Draper about her punching Private Travis, but her explanation that they need someone to fight besides each other with all that’s going on, especially after the destruction of Deimos, makes total sense. So why send them to Ganymede to protect a food supply? Who can blame Draper for being angry?
Avasarala has more reason to let her temper fly at those around her, especially Errinwright, but she is one cool customer. Even in the face of being accused of treason, she knew the only way to defuse the situation was to reach out to Fred. Luckily, he understands her intent and gives her what she needs: the location of a stealth ship. What she will do with this information remains to be seen, but it’s an enticing bit of intel.
Viewers are left with the question of where this is all headed, and this season of The Expanse is being set up for an extremely compelling mystery: what will the alien protomolecule do? Cortazar says the pulses are “steady like a clock, counting down. It’s building something,” but what? The same could be said of the show; it’s certainly building something, but it’s not counting down. It’s revving up.