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.
We’re into the homestretch of this season (think of it as stretching out summer just a bit longer). We see the Ganymede attack from a citizen’s perspective, and Tycho station is in a race to find Cortazar before he talks to Dawes. Let’s dive into “Pyre”- – and as always, spoilers within.
1. The Human Face of War
This episode opens with the attack on Ganymede from the perspective of a private citizen and botanist, Prax. It’s a peaceful scene with father and daughter . . . until the attack begins. His next memory is on a refugee ship in the Belt, confused, afraid . . . and then heartbroken when he’s told his daughter is gone.
We’re not in full on Earth-Mars-Belter war yet in The Expanse but we’re certainly on war footing. This is a very human, very painful statement on the consequences of war on everyday citizenry, perhaps right up there with this 2005 UNICEF PSA featuring the Smurfs. (This PSA was so shocking and disturbing it only aired on Belgian television after 9 PM.)
This show is on the side of pacifism, let it be known.
2. Misplaced Trust
In the final minutes of “The Seventh Man,” Anderson Dawes kidnaps Cortazar, the scientist the crew from Thoth Station, and escapes Tycho. It’s a message to Fred Johnson not to take what should be shared with everyone: the secrets of Eros. There may be no more protomolecule on-board Tycho, but there’s the intimate knowledge of it. And it’s a prize Dawes wants. It was only last episode that Fred Johnson had appointed Dawes as an emissary for the upcoming Earth-Mars summit, and no doubt he’s feeling played like the best Stradivarius violin.
And on the topic of trust: the opening recap showed Naomi’s “destruction” of the proto-molecule back from episode six, now hidden somewhere in space. Something tells me that decision is out in the open very soon, and certain people whose names start with “H” and end with “Olden” are not going to like that.
Although: Holden didn’t tell Naomi that Cortazar found signals similar to what an proto-molecule infected Eros was sending out, and she’s none pleased about this revelation. Two wrongs don’t make a right . . . or do they?
Let’s see who breaks the “no more secrets” rule first.
3. “Inners Wreck Ganymede”
This has to be one of the most heart-wrenching and disturbing scenes on contemporary television. Back on the refugee ship, Inners are off to Earth and Mars – – including Prax and Doris. Except: Prax isn’t an Inner, he was born on Ganymede so he’s not allowed to board. He bids a sweet farewell to his friend, promising to get to Mars as soon as he can . . . and then watches his friend and all the others shot out of the airlock to their sudden and inevitable deaths. Why? “Inners Wreck Ganymede,” the Belter overseeing this heinous act tells him.
The genocide is painful and should make you perturbed and squirming in your seat, for the parallels to our current time cannot be ignored. This season aired after the 2016 election (and most likely filmed in the run up to same), so no doubt exists in my mind this is The Expanse’s form of commentary on our current socio-political age . . . and a warning for what will happen if we go too far.
Yup, Ganymede is in the middle of the Rocinante again. Drummer and Naomi’s investigation of the antenna reveals that the signal Cortazar found was coming from . . . Ganymede. Which means there’s proto-molecule there. And Holden and Naomi do some detective work to find the Protogen-Ganymede connection, in the form of one Dr. Strickland, seen in a photo with . . . our botanist and Ganymede refugee Prax. Strickland is not only Prax’s daughter’s doctor, but also a research colleague. He also may have known about what was to happen on Ganymede, moving Prax’s daughter Mei out of harm’s way.Continued below
(I’m so glad I was able to bring this back. I missed Conspiracy Charlie.)
While everyone on Tycho works to help resettle the Ganymede refugees, a group of Belters invade the bridge. It’s not enough that Dawes took away the secrets of the protomolecule; they want the Earth missiles Fred Johnson has on board too. They’ll stop at nothing to get them: hacking into the computers, shooting Drummer and letting her bleed to death. The Roci crew is ignorant of this until Alex and Amos pick up some weird signals that alert everyone to the coup on board. (Hooray for Alex Doing a Thing! He doesn’t get enough airtime, but Frank promises me he’ll be doing a Really Awesome Thing in about 3 or so episodes.) Team work makes the dream work, and Drummer is off to medical, but not before putting some holes in some Belter heads.
– A virtual wall of photos of missing (possibly presumed dead) residents of Ganymede calls to mind the walls of missing posters in Lower Manhattan the days after September 11th.
– Amos has been acting weirder, more of a psychopath than normal. Has he taken some of Cortazar’s advice and already started the brain procedure to erase his humanity.
– “Locking” Prax in his guest room is no way to treat the person who is leading you to answers, Amos.
See you next week for “The Weeping Somnambulist” (it’ll probably take me the week to figure out how to spell that correctly) and tell me what you thought of this episode in the comments!