Ten Thoughts on The Expanse‘s “Cascade” and “Here There Be Dragons”

By | October 13th, 2018
Posted in Television | % Comments

Hello Multiversity TV bingers! For this year’s Summer TV Binge, I’m tackling the SyFy/Amazon show The Expanse, based on the novels by James S. A. Corey. My boyfriend Frank joined me for our look at the first season, and as we move into the second season, I’m flying my own Rocinante all alone.

After taking last week off for NYCC, you get two recaps for the price of one this week! First, we’ll take a look at “Cascade” – – and as always, spoilers within.

1. On Ganymede

Holden, Naomi, and Prax make their way to Ganymede Station, itself a war zone. They are able to confirm that both Dr. Strickland and Prax’s daughter Mei are alive and head off to find them. Prax’s relief at knowing his daughter is alive is short-lived when he sees the destruction to where he used to work, and the horrifying realization that his lab has been contaminated past the point of no return. Holden and Naomi have their own frustrations with trying to find Strickland: he may be alive, but no one can seem to find him.

By the end of the episode, Holden and company are able to track down Mei and Dr. Strickland to a part of Ganymede that survived the attack.  But there’s now a no-fly zone surrounding the station, which leaves one wondering if they will be able to even get out once they retrieve their precious cargo.

2. #BelieveWomen

There have been times watching this series in the context of current events has proven rather relevant and perhaps eerie. I’m not surprised that our writers (and perhaps even our actors) slip in their own socio-political commentary given that this season aired shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump. The conversation between Errinwright and Avasarala during a break in the summit on Bobbie Draper’s testimony, and one between Bobbie and her superior officer  seems to have predicted the #MeToo and #TimesUp waves that came six months later, and even this most recent wave to #BelieveWomen that came out of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings. They debate Bobbie Draper’s testimony and her credibility, with the men question Bobbie’s mental fitness and credibility, and the women insisting on their truth as the truth. The parallels are very hard to ignore.

3. The Truth Shall Set You Free

Well well well. Errinwright seems to have come around to Bobbie and Avasarala’s side on the incident of Ganymede. He confesses to Avasarala that he believes Bobbie, and that Ganymede was a test for something larger – – and that he was working with Jules-Pierre Mao. Avasarala does not welcome this confession, laying forth the accusation that has been on everyone’s mind: Frank DeGraaf did not commit suicide.  Nothing Errinwright does or says (even turning over all his proto-molecule research) will change her mind, nor is Avasarala interested in keeping things quiet to keep the balance of power intact.

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Errinwright will have to answer for his actions – – perhaps not right away, as Avasarala finds him useful.  But I am left wondering if this confession was made out of pure and honest guilt for his role in the entire situation, or if he has some other motivation in mind.

4. Breaking Free

Bobbie you crafty woman. You want to see the ocean, or just get out of your military imposed prison with room service, you make it happen with only what you have on hand. She’s a fish out of water in the shanty towns of Earth, but she finds a kindhearted soul who shows her the way to the ocean. Both learn a bit about the other and their respective cultures in the process, and just from this one moment, the galaxy is just a bit smaller.

Could Bobbie be looking for a new home and purpose?

5. The Cascade

We’re not talking about dishwasher soap here, this Cascade (ROLL CREDITS!) is a dangerous, extinction-level event for Ganymede.  In a natural ecosystem, there’s enough biodiversity to supply life. But in an artificial ecosystem like on Ganymede, when one things fails – – what Prax discovered earlier, and what he discovers later with plants and improper watering – – everything else fails behind it, like a domino chain. There’s no saving Ganymede now.

Continued below

Remember this is a planet that was not only the breadbasket of the galaxy, but was a planet that boasted excellent pre and post-natal care. To lose it would be devastating to the survival of the outer planets. This simple complex system is central to the life of the Outer Planets. And it is now left for dead.  And by extension, so are the Outer Planets.

This is . . . not good. Not for Earth, not for Mars, not for anyone.


– When the Roci is away, Alex gets drunk, listens to bluegrass, and has fun and games with zero gravity. This is not helping my perpetual crush on Alex/Cas Anvar, you know.

Line of the night (and it was less than five minutes in to the episode, no less):

Prax (to Amos): “How many people have you killed?”
Amos: “I’m not sure.”
Prax: “You’re not sure?”
Amost: “Well I’m not a homicidal maniac.”

(I mean, you could have fooled us Amos. Especially after you start to bash the head in of an informant who may be key to finding Mei.)

And now, here’s five thoughts on the 11th episode of the second season, “Here There Be Dragons.” Like before, spoilers within.

1. Naomi’s a Mom?!

We never really learned too much about Naomi over these two seasons but one rather large aspect of her backstory comes out in conversation with Prax: she had a son that was taken from her (it’s not explained why), and her search for him proved fruitless. It certainly explains the nurturing aspects of her character, her fierce loyalty – – as well as her pragmatism, a tool to mask her pain.

2. Here There Be Dragons

ROLL CREDITS! We get a glimpse into the meaning of the episode title while back on the Arboghast with Janus and Iturbi as they debate how to drop probes into the Eros crater on Venus, with Iturbi suggesting some radical, off-protocol maneuvers.

Janus: “You know what sailors used to say when their ships went past the end of their maps?
Iturbi: “Time for a new map.”
Janus: “Here there be dragons.”

The phrase (and its variation “Here be dragons”) dates back to medieval times when dragons and other mythical creatures on uncharted areas of maps. It was a symbol of uncharted territory, of possible bad things in the unknown.  And it’s what Janus fears most as the Arboghast comes closer and closer to what is left of Eros.

3.  Clever Girl

Bobbie Draper has a lot on her mind.  Avasarala confronted her in the final minutes of “Cascade” with the truth of the protomolecule. Her commanding officer confronted her with the truth of the future of her military career (or lack thereof).  Wouldn’t blame a girl if she just wanted to sit by the ocean and think for some time longer . . . which Chrisjen arranges with a cleverly timed airspace restriction to keep Bobbie on Earth just a bit longer.

To think about things. And perhaps share those thoughts with her.

Which she does. Turns out Captain Martens used Bobbie’s team for a weapons test with the protomolecule, and she’s none too pleased. With nothing to lose, Draper beats up a few Martians and her commanding officer, pleads for political asylum on Earth, and takes Captain Martens’s tablet straight to Avasarala.

It’s a brave move, but is Bobbie ready to deal with all its implications?

4. Alex Does a Thing! Alex Does a Thing!

I’ve been getting a bit frustrated with Alex being left to brood, fly the ship, make lasagna, and do fun bar tricks in zero gravity. I want my sexy skilled pilot doing skilled things while looking sexy, dammit! All season, Frank had been teasing me that “Alex was going to do an awesome thing” and here we have it (FINALLY). With Ganymede airspace a no-fly zone, Alex has to figure out a way to covertly get the rest of the Rocinante crew off-world without risking fire. With some careful planning around the Jovian moons, he has a plan: it’s slingshot time.

And what a graceful, deft ballet through the moons it is! If you’re one for motion sickness best to watch these scenes at home, sitting still.

Continued below

5. Finding Mei

It is very, very, hard for me to put into words Prax’s reaction to seeing one of the children of Ganymede (though not Mei) and our insight into what exactly happened to this child that presumably has also happened to Mei. It is perhaps both expected and unexpected at the same time. Expected when given the context of who Dr. Strickland is, unexpected in that you did not think he – – and a team of extremely intelligent people – – would go as far as they did in the name of science. Parent or not, it’s heartbreaking to watch.

It also inspires Naomi to stay put on Ganymede, to do “good where we can when we can” and get as many people off of the station before it dies. She wants to stop the protomolecule, but fears that is a lost cause.  Holden is heartbroken, but sees the best of her, what made him fall in love with her in the first place, in her eyes, and does the smart thing: lets her go.

But with a protomolecule hybrid glaring back at Holden, Prax and Alex (who came down from the ship to rescue them), no one’s leaving Ganymede any time soon.

Line of the night:

Avasarala: “Sergeant Draper, when I said ‘I need your help’ I didn’t mean ‘create a diplomatic incident. ‘ ”
Bobbie Draper: “Then you should have been more specific.”
(It’s all in the instructions .  .  .)

We’ll see you next week for another two-fer to close out the second season and this year’s Summer TV Binge, “The Monster and the Rocket,” and “Caliban’s War.”

//TAGS | 2018 Summer TV Binge | The Expanse

Kate Kosturski

Kate Kosturski is your Multiversity social media manager, a librarian by day and a comics geek...well, by day too (and by night). Kate's writing has also been featured at PanelxPanel, Women Write About Comics, and Geeks OUT. She spends her free time spending too much money on Funko POP figures and LEGO, playing with yarn, and rooting for the hapless New York Mets. Follow her on Twitter at @librarian_kate.


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