Hello Multiversity TV bingers! For this year’s Summer TV Binge, I’m tackling the first season of the SyFy/Amazon show The Expanse – – and for this, I’m enlisting a little help in the form of my boyfriend, Frank, who is a big fan of the show and its source books by James S. A. Corey. What’s going to make this fun? As I said, he’s a big fan of the show and has been watching it from the beginning, whereas I’ve never watched it before. Two people with different perspectives watching the same show, who also happen to be dating. Hilarity is bound to ensue.
Just when Holden and the surviving Cant crew think things can’t get any worse, they can – – their Martian Not-A-Pleasure-Cruise gets attacked. On Ceres, Detective Miller thinks he’s cracked a lead in his missing woman case. Let’s dive into “CQB” – – and as always, spoilers within.
Kate’s Five Thoughts
1. Mormons! In! SPAACCEEEE!
This is another one of those moments where the world of 24th century Earth and Ceres are not much different than the Earth of Today. In the premiere it was the billboard for The Book of Mormon. This episode, it’s Mormon missionaries constructing their own spaceship for a 100 year trip. Questions about this show’s interesting obsession with Mormons aside, it made me chuckle to see that while the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints still holds true to the concept of the mission 200 or so years later, but their uniform really hasn’t changed all that much. The more things change, the more things stay the same – – isn’t that how it goes?
All chuckles aside, this scene does prove to be rather pivotal. Fred Johnson, the tech on the space station Tycho working on this ship does turn out to be part of the OPA, blackmailing his superior from the church into letting him stay on the project. After ordering everyone off for some calibration testing, Fred radios someone asking for an update on the Donnager. Since it becomes clear later that the Donnager is attacked, this is pointing to the OPA as being responsible for these recent aggression. I have a feeling it’s not just that simple. It can’t be.
2. Is There Life On Mars?
We’ve seen differences in language and body structure between Earthers and Belters, and this episode mentions in passing yet another difference between the two: life expectancy. Average life expectancy on Earth now reaches 123 years (pretty impressive). On Ceres, it’s 68 years, a little over half of that. Belters are not only working harder to serve a distant population, their lifespan is shorter. There’s no hazard pay in the world that will make up for that.
3. Who Run the World? Girls.
Naomi’s back to being the badass that she is in this episode, one who always manages to keep her cool. When the Donnager is under attack, combat punctures the wall of the ship, sucking out the air (and then Shedd’s head). This girl don’t fret or freak out – – she’s digging around in their close quarters looking for anything and everything to solve this problem, whether it’s a very MacGyver-esque solution to plugging up the holes so everyone else keeps their heads (how ironic or apropos that the Donnager’s emergency procedures manual served as the stopper to the drain of oxygen) to finding a sedative to knock someone out to continue to conserve the air. She is a doer and I have no doubt that without her on board, none of the other surviving Cant crew members would have made it this far.
What we do see for the first time this episode is a deep, profound sense of emotion as Naomi mourns the loss of Shedd. Was there something else between them that we will never know?
4. Cracks in the Armor
We don’t see too much of Chrisjen in this episode, save for a moment in the opening act where she’s on the roof of a house staring at the stars, looking just a bit . . . apprehensive? wistful? worried? It’s hard to tell, could be a mix of all three. Her one comment was telling to me: “I worry about people that throw rocks.” Like Naomi, it’s emotion that is short in duration but deep in its significance, when compared with what we know thus far of her personality. This is the first sign of vulnerability in her political machination armor, and I wonder if the loss of her longtime friend from the previous episode (the Martian ambassador) struck a chord.Continued below
5. I’m Not Dead Yet
Detective Miller is trying to bring out his dead when they’re not really dead. Take the case of the dead Bizi Betiko, one of Julie’s Space Tinder dates.
Except he’s not dead. He’s actually very much alive participating in the extreme sport of slingshotting, an extreme sport (also an illegal sport) in which participants try to slingshot themselves around the galaxy in homemade crafts using the gravity of other planets. Surprise!
And then Bizi is dead again. But that leaves the question of who was the stiff in the morgue? Octavia’s detective work reveals a spoofer mod throughout his body, the future equivalent of a fake ID. There’s also a Memory Crypt implanted in the dead dude’s calf, which Miller and Octavia remove. (I know it was a dead body but it still grossed me out, thereby proving I was never cut out for medicine.) This dead guy’s calf was holding some very sensitive and very redacted government documents, meaning just when you may have thought Detective Miller’s case of Julie Mao was dead in the water – – well, that’s not dead yet either.
– Alex driving the Martian ship as they escape the Donnager while coming out of the sedation is all of us trying to pretty much do anything while on Benadryl.
– “Recant” does not “remember the Cant.” I had a little fun in my head with that wordplay.
– Depressurization is a bitch, to put it mildly.
Frank’s Five Thoughts
A couple of episodes we saw the MRCN Donnager pick up the band of survivors from the Canterbury. The scene was shot in a way so that we could get a sense of just how massively huge the Donnager was. It is (was) a big and important ship in the Martian Navy, feared and respected throughout the whole system. So this explains the insane levels of confidence that Captain Yao has when she finds herself in battle with the unidentified stealth ships. There should not be any ships the size of the stealth ships that could serious take on the Donnager. As we see this is definitely a case of overconfidence.
2. Casual Danger in Space
A recurring motif we have seen (and will continue to see) is how dangerous space can be. Even in the 24th century and with how matter-of-fact space travel has become, there is still an incredible risk to throwing yourself in a sealed metal can across the void of space. Whether it is an ice miner losing an arm during the course of a usual work day (see back to episode 1) or a stray railgun round passing through your ship during a battle (sorry Shed, we’ll miss you, well not really, RIP dude) space is just a dangerous place to be.
And let’s not forget the Slingshotters’ Club. This a group of Belters that flirt with edge of danger by using the acceleration from diving into gravity wells of planets or moons and using the gained velocity to shoot themselves out into space. The racers try to get as close as possible to their gravity well to gather the most speed. If they judge the margin to closely, the go boom, as we saw. So even the entertainment in space comes with a keen sense of danger that everyone just accepts as everyday.
In response to the dangers of living and working in space, spacers have become very competent at making sure their environments remain livable. After the Canterbury survivors get over the sudden shock of Shed’s death, they realize the dire straits they are in as the air in their cell is venting through the holes made by the enemy’s railgun. Both Naomi and Amos remain terrifyingly calm as they break open compartments in their cell and begin patching up the holes. It is clear that they have had a great deal of training in how to handle a situation like this, something that is absolutely necessary when even a tiny hole could be a big problem. We see more confidence on the Donnager’s bridgeContinued below
4. Cold Cases
Miller can’t really catch a break on this Julie Mao case, can she? He thinks he has finally gotten a big break when he finds someone that looks like the guy matched with Julie on her Space Tinder account, unfortunately he’s dead. But when he tries to find out the guy’s identity, he runs into the issue that he keeps getting tossed random IDs that look sort of like the guy. It turns out that this is the result of some seriously expensive covert gear, which raises the questions of who is this guy and why is he on Ceres?
5. Really Holden, another ship?
You can’t take James Holden anywhere. He keeps getting ships blown out from underneath him. Hopefully the Tachi will prove to be a more reliable ride.
– When Holden and Naomi were caught by the thrust-gravity cutting out, I loved how he used Naomi to push off on in order to get back to the ground and activate his magnetic boots. Clearly something he’s learned from dealing with zero G often.
– The scene of the Tachi opening fire with its cannons in the docking bay still remains one of the most striking scenes in a show that already has incredible sci-fi cinematography.
We’ll see you next week for the next episode, “Back to the Butcher!”