The Expanse, ‘It Reaches Out’: Ratcheting Things Up, Winding Tension Tighter

Last Week, on The Expanse … Oh you already know; what matters is, last week on the show — as in not one of the last weeks on the show — The Expanse has been saved by Amazon. And while thanks, of course, must go out to Jeff Bezos for doing the right and smart thing, we all know who the real heroes are:

The Fans, the cast, and the crew, who worked tirelessly to prove a mistake had been made, and to correct it. The Expanse fan community is loyal like no other, and when we told you the show would not be cancelled on our watch we meant it.

I am so proud to be a part of a fandom so creative, dedicated and driven, and even more proud of what we did this week. I keep thinking about exactly what was achieved here, and being absolutely bowled over by it. Shows have been saved from cancellation before, but to convince a new network to take on a serie of this complexity and, lets be blunt, cost; that’s huge. We have a new season to look forwards to now. Maybe, finally, some really decent merchandise, too!

In the meantime, we have Season 3 to get to;

We open on The Ring (in stable orbit around Uranus, and yes, yes I keep giggling about that, and every mention of ‘We need to probe the Ring!’), and then cut to the nearby UN fleet where Anna and others watch Maneo’s last transmission, and final, spectacular … splat. Anna’s friend from last week (can I get a name?) wants to send probes through at once.

One UN rep, despite literally just watching Maneo’s transmission, thinks the Belters sent him as their own living probe and stays on his high horse even after Anna corrects him. Whatever, Guy.

Over on The Roci, Holden is unconvincingly trying to convince himself he’s just overtired, and definitely didn’t see some sort of ghost of Joe Miller. He’s called up to the bridge by Alex to watch Maneo’s last ride. Alex is wound up and worried alien ships will start pouring through the Ring, imminently. We learn Maneo’s ship did make it through, but never came out the other side. Holden worries and Monica, nearby filming it all, senses he’s holding something back.

On the Behemoth, Drummer, Naomi and Ashford have their own confab about recent events, and UN ships now slowing their approach to the Ring. Drummer points out the Belters were not invited in the first place, and then accidentally turned on the new toy, so may be even less welcome now. With Ashford gone, Drummer expresses her ongoing doubts about the Belter Nation they are trying to build. Naomi believes it could happen, though reassures Drummer she needs to lead them there.

Back on the Roci, a troubled Holden hears that familiar ghostly muttering, as he gets himself a coffee. He turns and there is Miller, or The Investigator, sitting at the table murmuring — we hear ‘bones like chalk’. Holden realises this is happening, even if he can’t understand what Miller is trying to communicate. And then suddenly, Monica is there and Miller is gone. Monica is asking for more access and honesty from the crew, claiming her Masters in Psych helps her intuit she’s not getting the full story. Yes, dear, it’s that. Not just the fact the boys are godawful liars.

On the Seung-Un, Melba is waking up from her adrenaline collapse after killing Ren for discovering her bombs. They’ve been out so long, he’s at least partly in rigor, and now they’re late back to their transport so Melba starts to panic — clearly not a seasoned killer, then. She manages to open a nearby hatch, but after struggling to move his body she has to pop her mouth again to activate whatever device makes her so strong. She crushes his skull (holy shit!), shoves him into the locker, and then cleans up the bloody mess behind her. Melba is not here to play.

On The Behemoth, Ashford — a former pirate — sings a sea shanty before turning up on the bridge to have drinks with Drummer and Naomi, toasting Dawes and Johnson for forcing Chrisjen to let the Behemoth approach, and the memory of Maneo. Drummer and Naomi will only drink to Maneo, while Ashford praises Naomi’s optimism and Maneo’s boldness, for at least making the Ring do something. Drummer gets sick of his voice and takes the bottle to drink alone. GIRL, YES.

On the Roci Amos finds Cohen in engineering, and after the man makes piss poor excuses about trouble sleeping, he once again asks if Amos wants to roll in the Space Hay? Amos gently but firmly throws him out of Engineering and after a moment with Amos, who when alone looks almost sad at yet another offer of sex, we see outside that Cohen was hiding tools on his body, as he was clearly rigging something or spying, like he was last week.

Speaking of spying, his drone cameras spot Holden in the med bay before locking them out. Alone, Holden is scanning himself for any sign of Protomolecule infection. Wait … is that spore still hidden between the hull pieces?? Is it why Holden is seeing Miller?

On the transport back to their own ship, Melba is shocked out and shaking as she pilots, while behind her, Stanni (Ari Millen, who science fiction fans will recognise from Orphan Black) is oblivious how hard she’s working to keep it together, as he prattles on about nothing. Stanni thinks Ren has just run off (Bro … where?! You’re in a fleet in deep space), and Melba gets so distracted remembering what she did, she nearly crashes them into another ship. Stanni leaps up to save the day, and it’s all Melba can do to keep her shit even remotely together.

On the Roci, Holden nearly faints with relief when his scan comes up clean, and then nearly faints again when Miller appears behind him. He’s wearing his old hat and as Holden asks about it, he gets his first direct answer. But then, Miller rambles on again about a rookie cop from years before. Holden mentions Julie and again Miller directly engages, calling himself The Investigator, sent to find things. Afterwards, he’s talking about an unlicensed brothel again, and Holden loses his temper and starts shouting.

So, naturally, Amos walks in and sees Holden yelling at nothing. Miller vanishes, and Holden lies he’s okay. But, Amos is too good and pure, offers Holden an nonjudgmental ear, or suggests Holden just break things if he needs to. ‘Though not the coffee maker’, and the look Amos gives him on this line, somewhere between begging and threatening is pure perfection. Holden promises he is okay, or will be, and Amos doesn’t believe him but he’s not the type to push. Left alone, Holden watches security video of himself and sees that, on camera and to others, he appears alone in the room.

Back on the Prince, a blowhard priest/pastor type is holding court, while Anna whisper-talks with a slightly tipsy Tilly Fagan, who is someone’s wife, who has been dragged along on the trip and is trying to make the best of it. Anna is distracted by the nearby, and clearly struggling Melba. Melba tearfully leaves alone, and Anna follows to offer help and support if Melba should need it. Aaaw, Anna! She’s so nice. I am afraid for her.

On the Roci, Cohen is flipping between cameras to give us a neat little look at what everyone is up to. Holden is frostily giving Monica an interview she is not buying, and elsewhere, Amos is telling Alex about Holden’s weird little episode. Alex asks who amongst us hasn’t talked to ourselves, and Amos stresses ‘Me!’ which made me howl with laughter. Alex explains (because … oh, Amos) that plenty of people have one-sided conversations out loud, and Holden is just stressed.

Alone, Cohen opens a panel and by touch, with his advanced implants, replaces a data card with one of his own. Alex and Amos are still talking, as Amos admits he checked the logs of the scanner Holden used (Alex; What a total breach of trust! What did it say?), and learned he was scanning for Protomolecule infection — thirty-five times. It was negative each time, but they’re worried Holden is going bonkers.

In his room Holden is asking Monica if she believes hope or dreams can manifest physically, and she mentions something called synchronicity — like coincidence, but often with context that leads to much more meaningful and important understanding of events. Picture a person stuck in a dead end but secure job, who is offered a life-changing, though risky opportunity to change their stars. Unsure of what to do, our person goes for walks or drives, and then starts to notice an odd abundance of adverts for a certain sports brand, encouraging them to ‘Just Do It!’. Still unsure, they return home to where their kids have just discovered the Shia LeBouef viral video, in which he marches around a green screen background, ordering viewers ‘DO IT!’. Synchronicity.

This gives Holden an idea, and he asks for Monica’s footage from the last few days. Since he’s so tired, we’ll give him a pass for not already having figured out Miller appeared just as Maneo woke up the Ring, but once he does, he throws Monica out of his room (against her hilarious protests and guys, I think I am starting to love her). Alone, Holden turns to see Miller, and now asks pointedly about the rookie — but this Miller doesn’t appear to be the same one as before — and mutters about exceeding his boundary conditions. Miller says Holden has a ship that goes places, while he is meant to find things, so together, they are tools. Holden tries to touch his old friend, but Miller gives a very aware little shake of his head and Holden backs up. Ooh.

On the Prince, Melba sets off the bomb she was planting on the other ship. Its reactor is destroyed at once, and the ship is dead in the water. Other crews gather around to watch the half-ruined ship spin wildly out of control, while on the Roci, Holden asks about the Ring’s purpose. Miller mutters that the Ring reaches out but can’t find, so builds The Investigator, builds and kills, over and over until it can find a door that wasn’t there before. Curiously, the Miller-Thing has a reflection.

Holden is like ‘… Okay, so?’ And, The Investigator talks again about the rookie who couldn’t clear a room, forgot to check doors and corners. They’re interrupted by Amos, hammering at the door to call Holden to the bridge to see the exploded ship. In a telling moment, Amos promises to cut the door open if Holden doesn’t respond at once — Amos is taking zero chances their captain has gone crazy. Despite Holden’s attempts, the distraction makes Miller leave.

On the bridge, the crew tries to see what’s gone on, but then their comms are overtaken and a fake, fake, fake video of Holden is blasted out to every other ship in the fleet. As Melba, on the Prince, watches the other part of her plan unfold, No-lden claims responsibility for the bombing on behalf of the OPA, and promises to try again. In another telling moment, Alex asks Holden what he did, and even Amos has to ask if Holden might have gone a little bugfuck nuts?

Holden insists it’s not him, as they frantically try to pull the recording, and on the other ships, panic spreads.

On the Behemoth, Ashford wants to fire on the Roci to show Inners they do not support ‘Holden’s ‘actions. Naomi rushes over to swear it wasn’t Holden, and demand a better examination of the footage, but Drummer is ordering the Roci be hailed and given the chance to retract ‘Holden’s’ words, before the Inners fire on the Behemoth — along with the Roci. They get word the UN is scanning them, and targeting the Roci. Drummer targets the Roci, calls for an open line to the UNN ships, and has a screaming Naomi dragged off the bridge, while she prepares for the worst.

On the Roci, their guns are locked out and they can’t access their own comms. Alex is flying to avoid missiles, though it only makes them look more guilty. Holden rushes down to the airlock, Amos on his tail, and they have a frantic, heated exchange about Holden doing something in the airlock he thinks might save them. Amos is terrified to let him go but has to trust his captain, and destroys another of Cohen’s cameras in his rage.

Just … look I know they are a little distracted, but they already know their ship is sabotaged, and don’t think it’s worth asking the only strangers on the ship, who are media professionals, if they know anything? What I’m saying is, toss Cohen in the airlock, instead.

On the Behemoth a UNN commander on comms is not terribly convinced of Drummer’s claims, but she promises she’ll fire on the Roci. Like Amos has given Holden, Drummer has one minute to make her choice. Naomi, facing losing all her friends, shakes her head. As Drummer yells ‘FIRE!’… the bridge loses power. It will come back on line, but it gives the Roci some time.

On the Roci Alex is using the time well, to get the fuck out of firing range, though he can’t go faster with Holden and Amos out of crash couches. Holden huddles in the airlock, while Amos, anxious, waits outside. We see the Protomolecule spore is likely responsible for Miller’s appearance, as he turns back up. Holden promises Miller whatever ride he needs; Miller needs to help their ship. Miller makes the point he’s been trying to this whole time, ‘You went through the room too fast, kid. The room … beats you’.

And then Drummer’s missiles fire, and as Alex accelerates to combat speeds Amos and Holden make it back to the bridge. Holden orders Alex to fly as hard and fast as he can towards the Ring, leading the missile into it. Alex is like ‘Uuuuh?’, so Holden admits about Miller to Amos, and because he is Amos and The Best ™, he orders Alex to fly for the Ring.

The other crews watch in confusion and horror as Alex flies like crazy, and then pulls off an absolutely incredible turn to try to slow them down before they hit the surface like Maneo did. Everyone onboard passes out under the pressure of the G-Forces, and before we see if they hit, we fade to black.

I thought it was going to end there, and was ready to MURDER. Instead, we fade back up, and Holden comes around to realise the Roci and the missile have … stopped, just outside the Ring.

 

Oh my actual god, that was so intense. This show always is, we have established this at length, but it keeps finding ways to ratchet things higher, wind things tighter. This week was a study in image and perception, how we view things, and how we are viewed. PR has always been a big deal in The Expanse-verse, as we saw how in Season 1, Holden was turned into an OPA folk hero, almost entirely against his will, and destroyed ships like The Cantebury, where they made shrines and symbols around which conflicts hinged. It will be curious to me how well Melba’s little plan worked, though. Clearly in the moment and through the lens of their perceptions, its sold both the UNN and Drummer on the idea Holden is a madman and a terrorist, but they’ve always felt that way. Public opinion is a very different animal — Holden stood for the Belters more than once, then he saved Earth from Eros, and his role in saving Mars from the Hybrids is on the record, too. If Melba is hoping to destroy not just Holden’s life, but his reputation, I think she’ll have more of a challenge than she thinks. Melba is not as smart as she needs to be. I don’t see her staying on her path much longer.

Now though, we at least know part of her plan; she planted the bomb to frame Holden in an attack so specific, it’s clearly deeply personal (I’m pretending I don’t know who she is). It’s curious how she’s chosen to go about it, though. Similar to Jules-Pierre Mau, Melba, if-that-is-her-real-name, has no problem sending the entire system into another prolonged conflict, so long as she gets what she needs out of proceedings. I wonder if that particular streak of selfishness came from anywhere in particular.

Speaking of her plan, Cohen the Cameraman just became the most dangerous person on the Roci. Think about it … he was onboard the ship when it was to be fired on. If not for the ‘minutes’ everyone took and that all important power failure on the Behemoth, the Roci was doomed and Cohen would have gone down with it. He’s basically like a suicide bomber whose vest didn’t go off, and now he has to decide how to complete his mission. I’m honestly, genuinely worried for the crew. Moreso for Monica, as she is not a season regular and therefore, perfect cannon fodder, but we’re in the Nobody Is Safe period of TV, so yeah. I’m nervous.

I am loving Captain Drummer, but I hope she and Naomi can still be friends after she just, you know, fired a missile at Naomi’s ship and family. While Drummer might have had good reason to act, that one will be hard to come back from, and I wonder if we’ll see Naomi return to the Roci sooner than any of us expected. She can still be Belter Naomi, though seeing firsthand that the Belters can be just as reactionary and self serving as the Inners, might be enough to change her mind on who she flies around with. Or, maybe Drummer will actually throw her off the ship. Given the need for Drummer to maintain her own appearances for her crew, it’s hard to predict the next move.

In a little aside, I just adored Amos’ wild, terrified concern for Holden this week. These two started out loathing each other, with Amos once calmly explaining the only thing preventing him from spacing Holden was that it might upset Naomi. Not long after, Holden was ready to shoot Amos in the head to prevent the bloodshed Amos was threatening. Since then, they’ve become so much closer, not merely as captain and crew but clearly, in their own way, very dear friends. I love it, so much.

And then we get to Miller. Or, the Thing Wearing Miller, of course, The Investigator, trying to make meaning out of scattered memories and ideas that used to make up Miller’s being. It’s fun watching a million year old alien technology try to use the addled memories of one dead human to communicate to another human. It’s a fascinating exercise, one we first saw when Miller found the Julie Thing at the heart of Eros, back in Season 2. While it’s good to see Tom Jane back in the hat, The Investigator’s presence still isn’t entirely clear to us, other than the fact he’s guiding Holden … somewhere, to find the missing ‘something’. But what?Perhaps it can’t contact its creators. It has been many millions of years since they threw it, after all. Anything could have happened in that time.

Time will tell.

 

The Expanse returns to SyFy next week (for the last handful of times, ever, Syfy!), and Oohlo soon after!

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan is really terrible at the ‘About You’ part of life. Nadine developed her reviewer skills writing epic facebook rants about the details script supervisors forget and trying to explain why Carol on The Walking Dead broke Lizzie by accident. Nadine loves TV, film and books but she wishes someone would pay her to be the continuity editor. She can be found on Facebook and in her forest garden and if she’s not yelling at her TV she’s trying to convince a cat to be an Instagram model and refusing to let 90's fashion die.

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