The Expanse Season 3 Episode 5 Review: Triple Point

The Expanse traded in its political intrigue in favor of a military drama this week, and the results were anything but subtle.

This The Expanse review contains spoilers.

The Expanse Season 3 Episode 5

This is one of those episodes of The Expanse that’s hard to judge. On the one hand, the cooler heads prevailing in war was inspirational, but on the other hand, the death and destruction caused by an admiral desperate to hold onto his power threw everything into chaos. Placing more reflective moments for Naomi, Prax, and Alex beside this military drama was disorienting even though the insights themselves were quite welcome. So while “Triple Point” is a win for compelling action and emotional depth, it’s a bit of a misfire in terms of pacing and cohesion.

The most cathartic scene happened also to be the most out of place, paradoxically enough. Naomi’s decision to share the fact that she had a child with an idealist in the OPA to explain to Holden why she shared the protomolecule with Fred Johnson was heartfelt, and Holden’s reaction was admirably both full of understanding and muted by the still fresh betrayal. But this bit of back story felt like The Expanse was shoehorning in a bit of Naomi’s past from the novels, and it didn’t feel all that persuasive other than the sincerity with which Naomi apologizes, not for what she did but for the way she did it. Those hoping for reconciliation for the couple were at least partially placated by Holden’s concession, “I can’t hate you for doing what you thought was right.”

Holden likewise had a scene that was no doubt meant to carry more weight between him and Avasarala, but it ended up just marking time. Certainly Avasarala’s admission that Earth needs a sample of the protomolecule is important both for Holden’s truce with Naomi and for the overall political game in which Avasarala is involved, but the banter about adults and children feels a little self-indulgent here. Avasarala admonition to Holden doesn’t really tell us anything new: “You are not a child. I suspect you never were. So stop acting like one. It doesn’t become you.” If that was supposed to push Holden back towards wanting to save humanity again, fine, but in this case bold actions speak louder than pretty words.

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The sense of impending but unfulfilled action permeates the rest of the crew, too, with Alex receiving words of encouragement from his son, Melas, carrying through on a background story that helps us engage with the Martian pilot but also makes us wonder where these family details are leading. The same is true for Amos; as he teaches Prax to shoot, you can see the worry on his face that he has turned this compassionate scientist into a cold revenge-seeker. Their interaction likely foreshadows a decisive moment to come in the assault on the Helium-3 refinery. Viewers have to simply file these details away for later fulfillment.

But that’s hard to do in an episode filled with mutiny, fits of conscience, and military regulations among both the MCRN and the UNN. Make no mistake, the tension created by Captain Kirino of the Hammurabi trying to decide what to do with the Errinwright recording was executed brilliantly as was the mutinous discussions among Souther, Mancuso, and Shaffer on the Agatha King. How shocking for Nguyen to go from carefully exercising his authority to gunning down his fellow naval officers in the CIC! It was as surprising a turn of events as we’ve seen on The Expanse.

The back and forth was particularly disorienting — in a good way except for, as mentioned above, the tendency to be distracted by the emotional moments elsewhere. Kirino initially dismisses Sinopoli’s characterization of Avasarala as trustworthy, but she eventually sends the evidence along to Souther anyway, against the advice of her XO. Souther cautions his team against encouraging a revolt at first but is then the first to go down. Even the guns being pulled on Agatha King’s bridge trade hands a few times in dizzying fashion. When Nguyen destroys one of his own ships and finally sits down at the weapons console to fire off the hybrid pods, the audience is giddy with entertained confusion.

Presumably all of those hybrid pods contained mindless creatures such as those on Ganymede and not the more advanced type like Katoa who “can’t stop the work,” but who knows? Where those pods are headed is anyone’s guess as is what it might mean for Mei that Strickland and Mao intend to experiment further on her. Because Holden and company have only begun their infiltration of the Mao-Kwikowski facility, it wouldn’t be crazy to predict that a race to save Mei, guns a-blazing, is imminent. But Nguyen has made it impossible to predict, delightfully so, what the consequences for his actions will be.

So again, it was a great episode of The Expanse: entertaining, plenty of action, and forward movement on several story arcs. But the intimate beats for Alex, Naomi, Holden, and Prax got lost in the mayhem and even in isolation, certain aspects of those scenes felt forced. The performances from the actors, especially Dominique Tipper’s remorseful confession, were wonderful, but aside from Prax’s Amos-like composure, which applied directly to their mission to Io, none of those moments built further on the story at hand. Nevertheless, even this small stumble can’t keep The Expanse from being the most exciting space drama on television.


3.5 out of 5