Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Expanse Slowly Turns Heroes Into Villains

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The Expanse brought its tenth episode, “Cascade”, and they truly did something for that nice round number.


Jim and company enter Ganymede station, looking for Dr. Meng‘s daughter. On the way, Jim brushes off Naomi‘s issues with the man they killed from previous episode. He says they simply have to deal with what they did.

Bobbie is taken to her room and gets a dressing down by the chaplain. He then tells her she’s confined to her room, though he tries to pretend it’s because she’s not acclimatised to Earth. She immediately starts trying to escape.

Errinwright listens to the report about what was found on Bobbie’s suit, and is clearly terrified.

Jim’s team continues looking for Dr. Meng’s daughter. At first they have no luck. But then the biologist’s friend tells them about a man who has access to security footage. He provides it in exchange for food. In this case, he will provide it in exchange for Amos beating him up.

As he searches the footage, Dr. Meng examines the plants growing nearby and finds out they’re not getting the minerals they need. They’re going to start dying soon, and then the cascade will begin. The whole station is already dead, he says, people just don’t know it yet.

Bobbie escapes and wanders around NYC, seeing the poor people there and being shocked. She meets an unqualified local doctor, who’s willing to tell her where the ocean is in exchange for some of the pills she was given by Mars. He then disappears for some reason.

Errinwright comes to Chrisjen and confesses his involvement with Mao, and that the zombie terminator was probably a test of a new weapon. He gives Chrisjen all of his information he has on the protomolecule.

The local mafioso finally finds Dr. Meng’s daughter on the security footage, headed to a different part of the station.

Chrisjen learns that Bobbie has escaped her room, and tells her spy to find her.

Alex is chilling on the Rocinante when suddenly he hears that Ganymede is under a no-fly zone. Anyone who flies in will be fired upon.

Bobbie reaches the ocean and just sits at the shore. Not too long later, Chrisjen and her spy arrive. Chrisjen shows an image of the zombie terminator to Bobbie. It comes from Errinwright’s files and is called “Project Caliban.” Chrisjen tells Bobbie that this is no doubt what she saw and that the government of Mars was responsible. Bobbie refuses to believe her, and before Chrisjen has enough time to convince her, she has to leave because the Martians are coming for Bobbie.


This was an absolutely brilliant episode.

It’s been a while since we had such a great one. None of the episodes in this season of The Expanse were exactly weak, but the last few have all been lacking a little in some respects. This, however, more than made up for it.

The absolute high point was Errinwright. Shawn Doyle is a truly excellent actor. When he listened to the report about Bobbie’s suit, his fear was almost tangible. And his scene with Chrisjen…there are no words. I know I will watch it over and over again.

I have suspected for a while that he was about to confess to her, but I never imagined the moment would be so perfect. He also just might replace Fred Johnson as that kind of a fave – namely, a man who made a big mistake and is trying to make up for it now. Of course, Errinwright and Fred have very different approaches, because they have very different personalities, but still. Admitting to a mistake of this magnitude takes enormous kind of courage, more than the kind of heroism Jim does, to my mind.

Chrisjen surprised me when she was so direct with Errinwright, telling him he would have to pay. She is right, naturally, but since she rather needs Errinwright on her side at the moment, I would have expected her to be less open about her intentions. But I suppose she knows what she can afford. And he knows her, too, and would never imagine she would take this lying down.

The two of them together created an acting masterpiece which gave me chills.

Bobbie was another brilliant part of “Cascade”. I finally got the scene with just her and Chrisjen, like I wanted. Of course, given how brief it was and how mistrustful Bobbie acted – not that I blame her – it’s still not quite the dream, but now I trust we will get there one day.

And there was absolutely nothing lacking in her escape from her room, exploration of NYC, and finally encountering the ocean. As someone from an inland country, I could relate to her experience the tiniest bit, and I have to say it was captured wonderfully. Just as her shock at seeing the poverty. That, too, resonated very strongly with my first experience with extreme poverty. So the writing and directing team have my kudos for managing that wonderfully.

Her previous scene, where she balances her military obedience with her justified anger against the chaplain, was well done too. Like Chrisjen, I very much wonder who the so called chaplain actually is, because he certainly isn’t just a common chaplain.

If Chrisjen is right and Mao is working with Mars at this time, it makes me wonder if the fight in the orbit of Ganymede wasn’t actually started by them.

It also makes me wonder why did they risk sending Bobbie to testify. Surely they could have told Earth there were no survivors, and made do with the records of Travis’ rifle to turn him into a sacrificial lamb? Why would they risk their secret getting out the way it did? Did they actually want it to get out – did they want to subtly threaten Earth? That seems too over-complicated.

In fact, what appears most plausible is that either Chrisjen is wrong, or like I deduced previously the conspiracy doesn’t actually involve the entire government of Mars, but just some rogue element, much like Errinwright was. If that’s the case, how does the “chaplain” tie in? He seems to be in the know. Whoever those working with Mao are, they don’t seem to be powerful enough to prevent Bobbie from speaking when the prime minister asked for it, and so they did they best to make her keep the zombie terminator secret at least.

As for the single male protagonist of this story, he’s the least interesting one at this point. But I was very glad to see some development on his front as well. In particular, they finally addressed all of the bad things he’s been doing lately. It’s become clear he’s headed towards an anti-hero, if not towards an outright villain.

That is probably the only significant complaint I have against this episode, too. Not Jim’s direction itself, but its connection to the previous episode of The Expanse. “The Weeping Somnambulist” ended with Jim clearly completely terrified by what just happened. “Cascade” opens just minutes later, and Jim is already brushing Naomi off and pretending to be perfectly comfortable with the death. That didn’t feel right,

The scene where he doesn’t stop Amos from beating up the Ganymede mafioso, on the other hand, was much easier to believe. He’s a man on a crusade, and the mafioso was a bad guy after all. Naomi’s frustration with him is clearly mounting, and I’m expecting things to explode there soon enough.

Oh, and one more detail: Alex’s goofing around on the Rocinante was brilliantly done. Both visually speaking, and because it was such a nice little idea. They could have just had him sitting in a chair. They didn’t. I appreciate that.

We only have three episodes to go before we’re done with this season, something that pains me to say. The next one is “Here There Be Dragons,” which has much potential. It could relate to the section of Ganymede station where Dr. Meng’s daughter was taken. It could relate to the Eros impact crater on Venus. Or both. Or neither, and something completely different. But given that the other two are “The Monster And The Rocket” and “Caliban’s War”, I think it’s safe to say that things are coming to a head, and the last three episodes of The Expanse’s second season are going to be packed.

All images courtesy of SyFy.

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