Sadly, we’ve come to the last three episodes of The Expanse for season two. It has been an incredible ride, with many twists and turns, great special effects, wonderful character development and a political story line that was actually interesting. (I can’t actually believe I just wrote that) But all is not lost as the show has been renewed for a third season, so let’s enjoy these last few episodes knowing full well The Expanse will return in 2018.
Episode 11: Here There Be Dragons
There are usually numerous things going on during an episode of The Expanse, some very in your face while other things are quite subtle. This week there were many important things in terms of story lines as we edge even closer to the end of the season.
Bobbie finally makes a decision that, for those of you who read the books comes as no surprise and for those that haven’t well, it was still probably not surprising. When a soldier is told that she will soon no longer be a soldier there aren’t many options left. Bobbie has been bubbling with anger and resentment for a while now and Captain Martens and his holier than thou smug attitude was really the last straw. Now, this is where the real fun is going to begin as the fallout from her decision is going to be something to behold.
The events taking place on Venus are also quite interesting and far reaching. The Caliban creature is interesting to be sure, more on that later, but what the proto-molecule is really doing down there is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure and that is it’s not sitting around twiddling its thumbs. A reinforced probe sent down to the surface revealed…something, but what?
Leave it to Avasarala to have her ever roaming eyes keeping track of almost everything going on. This is probably why she is so important, making her a target but smart enough to stay one step ahead of everyone. For now, anyway. Not only is she directly involved with what is going on with Bobbie but the activity on Venus has not gone unnoticed by her as well. Add to that her impending meeting with Jules-Pierre Mao and I see Avasarala taking center stage, and in a big way, in the final two episodes of the season.
The whole alien/human hybrid question was also addressed, but in a wonderful way that left many questions hanging unanswered in the air. What is clear is that children are being used as experiments in this attempted melding of species and the results are either successful, tragic or devastating, depending on who you are talking to.
This was a very story line centric episode that was low on action except for the wonderful little flying demonstration put on by Alex. While I miss the startling visuals in space, this episode was chock full of information and was a great stepping stone to help us prepare for what should be some great final episodes.
Episode 12: The Monster and the Rocket
Many things came to a head this week on The Expanse and for the viewer, it was nothing short of glorious. Friendships were again tested, tentative alliances formed and all the while the proto-molecule continues its march towards transforming and changing into who knows what.
We finally get to see the meeting between Avasarala and Jules-Pierre Mao and it’s as interesting as I thought it would be. Both seem to think they have the upper hand on one other but in a wonderful twist, someone else pulls the rug from under the both of them with a fantastic little misdirect. This makes decisions a lot clearer and battle lines are drawn, which in turn sees Bobbie and Avasarala pushed together more out of circumstances now than anything planned. Fate it seems has its own plans for these two.
The part of the episode concerning the Somnambulist was really well written, putting Amos and Naomi in real peril that had me wondering not if they were going to die but hoping instead at least one of them lived. It is no small feat to convince one or more of the regular cast might die in the next few moments and The Expanse pulled it off this week. The fallout from this was both good and bad, as some familiar faces managed to show up but not before more chaos ensued. Naomi showed off her compassionate side yet again and we are reminded how she and Holden are such a strange couple, seemingly so different in so many ways.
Speaking of Holden, the show has done a great job chronicling his descent into the single minded obsessive state he is in now concerning the proto-molecule. He wants nothing more than to simply destroy it, tuning out all conflicting opinions from Alex, who admires it, and Prax, who wants to study it, while at the same time trying to figure out if this new hybrid their after might indeed be his daughter. Holden seems to have latched on to the idea that not only does this hybrid/proto-molecule need to be destroyed but he has to be the one to do it. Considering all the other parties have shown little to no morals concerning this threat, I have a hard time blaming him when it comes to this.
The final shot of the episode, with its glint of blue, leads me to believe the Rocinante has a new, uninvited passenger aboard. With only one more episode remaining, I think the face-off between the crew from the Roc and the blue eyed hybrid might finally be about to happen. Hold on to your hats, folks. This is going to be one hell of a finale.
Episode 13: Caliban’s War
While must of this episode surrounded a certain creature on board the Rocinante and the back and forth between alien and crew, there were many other moments that showed up the superior human element of the show, the part that has viewers caring about the characters and investing real emotion into what happens to them. It was a wonderfully balanced episode that was well thought out and left the viewer with a lot to think about until the show returns next year.
So let’s get right to it. It turns out the hybrid creature did indeed hitch a ride with the Rocinante, and thus begins an interesting chess match with the creature that ends up with Prax being the unlikely hero. It was both funny and awkward to see Prax and Amos begin this strange bonding. I mean, you couldn’t have picked two polar opposite people in terms of personality. However, the way they bond, over children and devastating truths, does hold some water and seemed, in the end, plausible, at least for the time being.
That is what the hybrid on the ship was about. Although it screamed of Alien and Lord of the Rings (for those who haven’t seen it, the scene with the creature outside the ship all alone should explain the LOTR’s reference) it was actually a great way to investigate other things, such as how certain characters react to the knowledge that they’re going to die or how people can put their differences aside to work together for the common good of well…everyone. Not an easy thing to do by any means but again, The Expanse is becoming very good at making difficult things look easy.
Such is the case with Avasarala, Bobbie and Cotyar, when the negotiations with Mao go wrong. Crisis can destroy people or bring them together and how these three ended up bonding in this pivotal moment was smart writing and executed almost flawlessly by the actors. When everything is said and done, new respect is born, alliances are strengthened, bad guys escape and new enemies make their intentions known. I cannot wait to see what will come of the survivors of this mess next season.
Apologies were also high on the list in this episode, none more real and far reaching than between Holden and Naomi. Holden admits that he has been looking at things the wrong way, sees the error of his ways, although I’m not holding my breath on this, but he is absolutely floored when Naomi not only apologizes for hiding the proto-molecule, something the viewers have known for a while now, but what she then did with it when she thought she was going to die. This revelation was a shock and those shockwaves will be felt all through the system I think when the news gets out.
There is no doubt that no matter what happened this week, the proto-molecule has not come close to finishing whatever it started. This truth can be seen in what has happened to Prax’s daughter, who may be alive but definitely still in trouble.
The Expanse not only improved on the first season but took it to a whole new level here in season two. Well thought out characters, wonderful action and believable CGI, politics you cared about and all woven together in a way that has made The Expanse one of the better sci-fi shows on TV today. Here’s hoping it is part of the television landscape for many more years and I think I speak for many when I say 2018 can’t come soon enough.
Episodes 11-13: Four out of five stars
Season Two of The Expanse: Four and a half stars out of five
My name is Jeff Fountain. I’m 49 years old, married with a son and daughter. I’ve been hip deep in the world of nerds, action and horror for most of my life. Jaws was the film that changed my life, scared me stupid and cemented my interest in both film and stories.
I also write for the entertainment website The GCE (www.geekchicelite.com), covering TV, movies, interviews and whatever else comes my way. In my spare time I read, write (really?) and enjoy spending time with my family, especially when it comes to beating the kids at video games.