This The Expanse review contains spoilers.
The Expanse Season 3 Episode 4
It figures that it would take a common enemy, even one as temporary as the MCRN squids who try to take over Holden’s ship, to bring the divided crew, including Bobbie and Avasarala, closer together in this week’s The Expanse. Although the events unfolding on Io hold the most intrigue in “Reload,” the emotional journeys and enjoyable reactions of Amos, Bobbie, Naomi, and the others are what ultimately make this a successful episode. Giving Pastor Anna a part to play in the larger story as a new character who is struggling to gain audience sympathy couldn’t have come at a better moment either.
That’s not to say that Anna doesn’t deserve sympathy — she certainly does! We already got the sense that her earlier speech-writing stint with Esteban Sorrento-Gillis was an experience she wasn’t particularly proud of, and for her to be coaxed once again into believing the dream of changing the world through her words must have been devastating when it ended in spectacular disappointment. The problem is we don’t know Anna well enough to care about her humiliation on a personal level, even though Elizabeth Mitchell excels at portraying quiet indignation; therefore, the fact that she receives Avasarala’s evidence against Errinwright gives us hope that her character will gain importance, redemption, and audience investment.
That being said, it was satisfying to see Errinwright put in his place, and we look forward to more of that now that Holden has decided to help Avasarala. Despite continued friction between Naomi and the others, it was enjoyable to see her realize the change in James, saying “This is how it starts, you know.” Yeah, Naomi, we know. Trust us, no one believes Holden’s insistence that, “We’re sending a message, nothing more.” Meanwhile, Shooreh Aghdashloo wears the Razorback jumpsuit well as she spots Anna on the newsfeed and decides the pastor is the one to trust. Can’t wait to see where that goes.
It’s an interesting dynamic that has arisen on the Rocinante (yes, we’re back to calling it that for clarity’s sake). An atmosphere of casual prejudices that surround morally complex situations like scavenging the debris field near Jupiter as well as simple social interactions like eating Naomi’s red kibble. As the Martians begin to outnumber the Earthers, the distrust and differing levels of discipline make themselves known, especially once the survivors of the Kittur Chennamma realize they’re on the salvaged Tachi in the presence of the now infamous James Holden. And speaking of the Martian ensigns, Kelly McCormack and Atticus Mitchell were a nice bit of casting for fans of Killjoys, one of Syfy’s other space drama offerings on which they feature.
Their ill-advised attempt to take over the ship makes sense on its own, but it also serves as a catalyst for the other new Martian on the crew, Bobbie Draper, to become part of the voice of reason. Alex’s honorable discharge and Naomi’s negotiation tactics aside, Bobbie commands the room in her power armor skinsuit with a simple, “What’s all the ruckus?” and the reassurance that, “The hardest part of this game is figuring out who the enemy really is, and these guys aren’t it.” Her persuasion is even more powerful a deterrent than Holden’s general alarm which calls Amos to the fray, sadly but hilariously too late.
Amos is such fun with his black and white, no-nonsense approach to life, but while no one can accuse him of being unprincipled, some of his interactions this week are pleasantly puzzling. We’re not surprised, for example, that he sees no problem taking PDC rounds from the derelict ship; after all, they’re not using the ammo anymore. So why is he surprised when Prax coldly dismisses a Martian corpsicle when looking for more supplies to steal? And when Naomi does minor repairs on the Kittur Chennamma and observes metaphorically, “It’s nice to be working on something that’s easy to repair,” why does Amos still holding a grudge when he says there are things you can’t fix? Perhaps he’s more complex than we give him credit for.
On the other hand, maybe we gave Mao too much credit for pulling the plug on the hybrid project once he learned kids were getting hurt last week. Both his willingness to shut the facility down in preparation for the Agatha King’s arrival and his admiration for Mei’s feistiness with one of the scientists initially reinforced our belief that Mao could act in a moral fashion. But when Katoa begins to speak in the analytical speech of the protomolecule saying things like, “Disassembly reveals useful pathways,” Mao’s fascination with the alien organism returns with a vengeance, enough to ignore the dismembered, disemboweled scientist on the floor of the medical bay. Despite his somewhat expected return to villainy, the possibilities do excite speculation about what will happen next.
Even readers of the Corey novels have new territory to enjoy in these plot departures for Anna and Errinwright, for Katoa and Mao, and for Holden and crew. With the amazing opening sequence of the drones repositioning the Nauvoo for its return to Tycho, everything about this episode reminds us of why we love The Expanse. Its keen sense of the massiveness of space, its intricately woven and complicated relationships and personalities, and its deeply mysterious underlying alien mythology all create a unique blend of great storytelling, raw action, and the hard sci-fi elements that make this show like no other.