This The Expanse review contains spoilers.
The Expanse Season 3 Episode 8
Since “It Reaches Out” was essentially a continuation of last week’s stellar episode of The Expanse, all of the excitement and intrigue surrounding the race to the Ring is still intact, but this week’s story has the added ingredients of Melba’s sabotage of the Seung Un and Holden’s struggle to figure out why he’s seeing visions of Miller, both of which certainly up the ante considerably. Together with the different views of Belter politics onboard the Behemoth and the interesting dynamic provided by the presence of the documentary crew on the Roci, the current story arcs are firing on all cylinders.
The only weak point, in fact, comes from the somewhat clumsy introduction of religion into the debate surrounding the Ring. Anna does a great job of shutting down the thinly veiled contempt from the male delegates with her on the Thomas Prince who blame the OPA for the slingshot pilot’s reckless activation of the Ring, but the brief glimpse of the pontificating priest and the wealthy woman whose husband funds his megachurch felt out of place, even though we’re clearly being set up for future plot development on that score. Far more interesting is the fact that Anna notices Melba’s distress and offers help, an encounter that will no doubt lead to more discovery later.
Melba has quickly become a more interesting character now that we’ve had a chance to see the range of emotions surrounding her act of sabotage. It’s clear that she genuinely respected her boss, Ren, and wishes she hadn’t been forced to kill him (and crush his skull to make him fit behind the electrical panel — yuk!) to cover up her crime. When Anna sees her crying, she almost seems ready to accept help. So why did she blow up the Seung Un, and why is she broadcasting a fake message from Holden taking responsibility on behalf of the OPA? (Shhhh, novel readers, we know you know…) Melba is an enticing enigma, for sure.
The little trick Melba does with her jaw almost seems out of place (but still cool) for such a troubled saboteur, and although the cameraman on the Roci seems less reluctant to sneakily switch out ship components, his actions are clearly tied into Melba’s plan, since it appears Holden can’t use the comms to deny his part in the destruction. Even the blind flirt’s second attempt to seduce Amos after being caught at Alex’s console seemed calculated. And how coincidental that Holden was acting erratically such that even his own shipmates suspected he might have actually done something crazy!
But of course Monica reminds us that synchronicity often plays a role, and even though her fellow documentarian is a little weasel, her polite but pointed persistence in getting the story is admirable. Her statement that the system wants to see what happens with the Ring through his eyes is spot on, and her ability to read Holden psychologically is actually more charming than off-putting. Holden noticing the video timecodes that place Miller’s appearance at the same moment that Manéo went splat is brilliantly played, and when Monica protests that she has “gray matter all over me” and wants him to share his epiphany, we can’t help but be a little sympathetic towards the intrepid journalist.
The return of Miller has, needless to say, been amazing. Even in this new form, Thomas Jane’s performance is a joy, and who couldn’t love the fact that part of Holden’s frustration with the mumbling detective is with that damn hat? What we learn about the reasons behind Miller’s presence is subtle but informative: that the protomolecule is “reaching out” through the small fragment of goo beneath the hull of the Rocinante to investigate the nature of the human interference in its plan, whatever that may be. The nonsensical stories about brothels and rookies take on new meaning when viewed through this lens and guide Holden towards a fateful decision in the end.
Alex mentions that it seems like fate that they’re always in the middle of the action, and nowhere is that more true than when Holden tells the pilot to head through the Ring to avoid the incoming missile. What else would have forced him to make that exact decision, probably the one choice Miller and his protomolecule puppet-master would have chosen for him anyway? And can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that ships on The Expanse decelerate towards their targets rather than slowing inexplicably in the vacuum of space? The flip burn is all!
But we mustn’t forget the drama unfolding on the Behemoth; those who love the Drummer-Nagata dynamic must be disappointed that Camina is forced to play the political game she just finished saying she didn’t want to indulge in. Again, it must be said that Ashford isn’t wrong in the advice he gives even though he’s a little rough around the edges. In fact, he was downright charming with his toast to Anderson Dawes, Fred Johnson, and “the rockhopper” Néo, but optimist or not, Naomi knows Holden would never issue ultimatums as an OPA spokesman, and Ashford’s contrary nature and his influence over Drummer loses him some points.
Wondering about what the fallout will be from the action-packed ending of this week’s The Expanse is half of the fun, though, and our craving for more understanding about the Ring, the weird slow-down effect of its threshold, and the nature and purpose of Miller’s visitation increases our anticipation. “It Reaches Out” continues the near-perfect trajectory of the season’s second half, and it appears we’ll be going full burn all the way to the finale, forgetting all about Miller’s advice: ““You walk into a room to fast, the room eats you.” Eat away, The Expanse; eat away!