This The Expanse review contains spoilers.
The Expanse Season 2 Episode 7
There’s no denying that this week’s The Expanse was a set-up episode, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like a massive ship having done its deceleration burn last week, “The Seventh Man” fires up the maneuvering thrusters, getting ready to explore the escalating power plays and teasing us with glimpses of a creature only one person that we know of has seen. The Expanse has always been carefully paced, but with the building tension on Tycho and the return of Sergeant Draper, the edge is far from dull.
That being said, it is never pleasant to see our intrepid heroes brought low, especially if, in the process of them choosing a side, viewers also have to decide with whom to agree. Additionally, when Naomi, arguably the conscience of the Rocinante crew, ventures further into deception, it makes it difficult to get behind her defense of Anderson Dawes as a community builder who supposedly funnels his “Belter taxes” (a.k.a. shakedowns) back to the natives of Ceres, especially given Dawes’ conniving behavior in this episode.
At the same time, Belters might need to reframe the concept of “mansplaining” as “Earthersplaining,” as it would be hard to defend Holden jumping into the fray during the discussion of the Belt’s participation in the peace process. Yes, he did what he was told and picked a side, and yes, he was on Eros and saw the fallout from Earth’s greed and disregard for Belter lives. Nevertheless, Naomi’s right in saying he should kept his mouth shut. It’s hard enough for Fred to guide the OPA as an Earther; he doesn’t need another down-the-well know-it-all chiming in as well.
It was wonderful and worrisome to see Dawes take advantage of the shifting optics. His willingness to give up Earth’s nukes as a show of good faith may have been surprising at first, but his realization that Fred must have another ace up his sleeve to agree to such a maneuver is disturbingly perceptive on his part. Riling up the gathered factions and insisting, “We must protect ourselves against these weapons! We must find out what it was!” is only going to lead to trouble, especially now that he has run off with Cortazar.
On another level, Dawes machinations did slow down the episode a bit. Although it was understandable that he had to weasel out the information about the Protogen scientist somehow, and Diogo’s participation made perfect sense in that regard, some of the Dawes’ declarations seemed merely to be a placeholder for a narrator. Telling us that “Belters were never unify under Fred Johnson’s flag” as a traitor to Earth and an exploiter of the Nauvoo certainly brings home the point, but we end up with an overabundance of Belter-patois snark as a result.
The other tantalizingly slow development is much more enjoyable as we return to the Martian perspective and the formidable Bobbie Draper. Firstly, Frankie Adams delivered an incredibly believable performance as she made the audience feel every bit of her painful recovery from the attack on Ganymede. One of the great callbacks to season 1 that came in handy was the small spherical focus drug that both she and Commander Thorsen used in her debriefing sessions. Gotta love the Martians!
The visit from the chaplain and the awarding of the purple heart added more depth to her rehabilitation story, but it was torturous to have her arduously recall additional details about the ag-drone and the titular “seventh man” with its protomolecule-like blue eyes only to have her reports ignored or discouraged! On the one hand, Bobbie seems to want Earth to be at fault, but on the other, she realizes that the UN Marines were running from something, not attacking the Martian line. It will be interesting to see how her testimony at the peace summit on Earth will be colored by those who would have her omit certain facts.
Something tells me Avasarala will get the truth. Her all-too-brief discussion with Errinwright and the UN Secretary-General again highlighted her skillful guidance away from war and towards an understanding of what’s really going on. Hopefully, viewers of The Expanse will also get answers soon as this set-up episode steers the narrative towards what will hopefully be an enlightening summit. The political intrigue is about to ramp up, which will make all of this preamble a more delicious appetizer before the main course arrives.