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THE EXPANSE Recap: Earth’s Real Gravity

THE EXPANSE Recap: Earth’s Real Gravity

Fair warning: this recap includes spoilers for The Expanse that may cut you while shaving—don’t say we didn’t warn you ahead of time!

On the penultimate episode of this season, “The Monster and the Rocket,” Captain Holden (Steven Strait) went full Ahab, Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) left Earth for the first time in a long time, and Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) violently put his foot down. So close to the end. Gird your loins.

Let’s start with our bifurcated battle crew on Ganymede. For Holden, it was the Hunt for Red Proto-Monster, a mission that exposed the growing rift between the ever-sterner captain, who took to the hunt like a neck-scratching junkie desperate for a fix, and Dr. Meng (Terry Chen), who thought the weapon beast might be his daughter, or, if not, at least something stolen from humanity, with a soul, confused about what’s happened to it.

Holden’s obsession also rattled Alex (Cas Anvar), piloting through the increasing danger of the busted agriculture building despite Dr. Meng’s ethical warnings and the structural warnings of the building itself. There was no tactic at play besides bloodlust.

Meanwhile, still mourning the death of her husband, Somnambulist captain Melissa (Valerie Buhagiar) unloaded goods and set to ship out, but Naomi (Dominique Tipper) talked her way into rebuilding the drive panel (it’s the least they could do after getting her husband killed, right?) in order to get the doomed population of Ganymede safely off the dying moon. To help with crowd control, Melissa dragooned an imposing brute named Champa (Gugun Deep Singh), whose loyalty only extended to his own survival.

THE EXPANSE -- "The Monster and the Rocket" Episode 212 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gugun Deep Singh as Champa, Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata -- (Photo by: Rafy/Syfy)

Like any group of animals on the verge of a crowded death, panic spread when Melissa wouldn’t let anyone on the ship while they made repairs. Distrust and rumor spread quickly, and a fight broke out that saw Amos (Wes Chatham) trading punches (and with a wounded wing no less). Of course the real fight was between Naomi and Melissa when they learn that the oxygen tanks aboard are trashed, meaning they could only hope to take half of the people scrabbling outside for their lives. As time grew short, and the station deteriorated, even Champa grew suspicious that he was placating the herd solely so that the Somnambulist could blast off without a hitch.

So what’s the one thing you want when a hundred mortally terrified people are all packed together in a mosh pit of space death? A huge object falling from the sky, shaking the station. The second ship sent to secure the Proto-killer fell right out of orbit. Was it shot down? Seems like it.

In the midst of the amped up prisoner’s dilemma where half of the people can sacrifice their lives for the other half, or all of them can die, Naomi defied Melissa and then stabbed Amos full of tranquilizers so that she could reach the docking gates and convince Champa to help save at least some of the damned. His speech rallied the ragged masses, talking about dying a tough death after living a tough life. It was the opposite of uplifting, but it sold strangers on the prospect of saving the person next to them. It was also a perfect, tear-wrenching scene where a small child ran back from the line to his mother, and a wife got separated from a husband who was one body away from being onboard. All in silent order. Even though Naomi promised Champa her spot, he sacrificed himself (his name isn’t in the opening credits, okay?) and stood proudly with so many facing their deaths with dignity.

THE EXPANSE -- "The Monster and the Rocket" Episode 212 -- Pictured: Jeff Seymour as Korshunov -- (Photo by: Rafy/Syfy)

Why does it matter how someone falls? When the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal.

After all that, the MCRN threatened to destroy the Somnambulist for docking, and while Holden’s hunt was largely a bust, he faced the decision of helping his friends as the refugee ship took off or to try again to kill the Proto-weapon.

The MCRN fired a torpedo at the Somnambulist despite knowing they were a refugee ship, but the Roci came to the rescue just in time. Somehow, Holden’s murder fever broke. They locked onto every single frakking MCRN ship and sent out a lone warning that destroying the Somnambulist meant self-destruction for the Martian group. You gotta be willing to die when you threaten to all go down together, but the Martians folded their cards and let both ships through. Crises averted.

Back on earth, Errinwright spun through every human emotion in the span of a day, opening the morning with a strained conversation with his son about making difficult choices (although he was really speaking to a younger version of himself, warning of the paths you have to go down to achieve real change). He then insisted to Avasarala that the UN has to seek peace with Mars because they already have the Protomolecule and wouldn’t hesitate to use it. All the while, Avasarala tried to glean whether Jules-Pierre Mao (François Chau) is planning to scam her during their risky face-to-face meeting.

That mismatched contingent–made up of Avasarala, newly-minted political refugee Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams), and Avasarala’s scuzzy right hand thug Cotyar (Nick E. Tarabay)–blasted off to meet with the wealthy weapons maker. While in orbit, Avasarala theorized that they would have leverage over Mao because he wouldn’t be able to resist Earth’s real gravity: the hold it had over his memories, his life there, and his mental/emotional home. Is this a bit of naivete from the weather-worn diplomat? Seems so.

THE EXPANSE -- "The Monster and the Rocket" Episode 212 -- Pictured: Shawn Doyle as Secretary Errinwright -- (Photo by: Rafy/Syfy)

Errinwright topped off his evening with the golden vial and a 107-year-old scotch. He shared both with the Martian Minister of Defense, Korshunov (Jeff Seymour), but before either could take effect, he argued that their next war shouldn’t be their last, evoking a sense that the Protomolecule is a powerful enough force to obliterate Earth, and offering that there can be no peace if only one entity has the Protomolecule weapon. The question here, too, is whether all technology is just a weapon. What if the Protomolecule is the key to terraforming Mars a century faster? What if Mars really needs its power?

Unfortunately, Koshunov had no time to deliver more rhetorical questions because he fell to the ground, dying of heart failure brought on by an enzyme developed to kill people taking the gravity-aiding drug. The new liver didn’t help him at all. Errinwright’s pessimistic point? That if you give a monkey a stick, he’ll inevitably beat another monkey to death with it. This was also a strong bit of fearful shadowing before Avasarala met with an obviously-scheming Mao.

They had cucumber sandwiches, and Avasarala demanded Mao to get to the fucking point, which is always a delight. They haggled over his family and the questionable loyalty of playing both sides for mutually assured destruction, but none of it mattered, because Errinwright crashed the party with a message of destruction and total victory. He shot down the ship on Ganymede sent to control the Proto-beast. He killed the Martian Minister of Defense. All that’s left for Mao is to work with Earth.

SOME STRAY THOUGHTS:

  • Kushunov should have built up an immunity to Iocane Powder.
  • Turns out the monster from the title…was Errinwright. Fun!
  • This season has done its best to cast a dark pall over even the best of intentions. Naomi’s heroism has brought a lot of light into a dark place, especially as a parallel to Holden’s pointless, mentally debilitating obsession. Destruction cannot be all that these people know.

Images: NBC/SyFy

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