The Expanse (S02E05) “Home”

There is technical mastery and there is emotional mastery. Last week’s episode “Godspeed” displayed vast technical mastery. This week’s episode “Home” shows that that The Expanse is capable of emotional mastery, as well.

Picking up immediately after watching Eros hop out of the way of The Nauvoo, all hell is breaking loose. Miller (Thomas Jane) decides NOW he’d like off Eros, but Holden (Steven Strait) and Naomi (Dominique Tipper) let him know that Eros is moving and they can’t get to him.

The UN tries to establish why The Nauvoo is heading sunward, and realizes that it was initially targeting Eros. The Mormons tell the UN that the ship was stolen from them. Avasarala (Shohreh Agdashloo) and Colonel Janus (Conrad Pla) try to figure out how a big rock like Eros suddenly turns into a ship.

The crew figures out that Eros heated up, and Naomi thinks it’s waste heat. Alex (Cas Anvar) points out that it’s not from around here so who knows what it’s capable of doing. The ship’s alerts go off and both Miller and Alex see that Eros is speeding up and leaving the Roci behind.

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The UN sees that Eros is changing its trajectory and accelerating.  Colonel Janus figures out that Eros on a collision course with Earth.

Naomi disarms all of the bombs except Miller’s (of course, his has to be special, he says). Panicked to the point of scotch-drinking on the job, Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) leaves a heated message for Jules Mao (Francois Chau) to rein in his goddamned science experiment.

Amos (Wes Chatham) mentions that the heat spike might be the seed crystal. Naomi suggests that Miller take the bomb in to the seed crystal and blow it up.

The UN discusses evacuating the planet, but Errinwright says they have to point all the available nukes at Eros, and they discuss cleaning up the blue goo bits afterward. Avasarala warns them to call Mars to make sure they know it isn’t a first strike.

The crew discusses their idea with Miller, who is all for destroying the crud that killed Julie. He struggles to drag the bomb with him, because the unexplainable gravity that he’s experiencing makes it heavy, and the broken timer makes it a pain in the ass. Shutting comms down, the Roci crew discusses how likely it is that they can get Miller once he sets the switch and hotfoots it back to an external door and Alex points out matching up with it is not going to be easy.

The UN hears back from Mars that they won’t consider the launch a first strike, but that they won’t help either. It’s clear no one knows who’s really behind the development of the weapon (well, except Errinwright).

Miller hears “and gone, and gone and gone” (thrilling all the book readers!). He feels like he’s being watched, and Naomi assures him that they are just echoes of who the people used to be. Miller notes that the goo is not interested in dead people. As Miller watches, the blue fireflies freak out. He asks the Roci crew if something happened, and they confirm that Earth just launched half of its nuclear arsenal at Eros.
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Eros “goes dark” to radar, but the Roci can still see it.

Fred Johnson (Chad Coleman) visits Cortazar (Carlos Gonzalez-Vio) to see if he knows how to stop it. Predictably, Cortazar is just thrilled about events. Johnson calls and says that if Earth gives Tycho the codes, they can use the Roci to guide the nukes to Eros, because the Roci is in visual range of Eros. Avasarala decides to speak directly to Holden. Holden convinces her, and she points out to Errinwright it’s a good thing the assassins missed him. They agree to give the control codes to Tycho. UN Secretary-General Gillis (Jonathan Whittaker) utters, “what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly.” Interestingly, Cortazar could have said this exact same line. It’s fabulous.

Eros speeds up, and the Roci crew work out how long they can survive continuous acceleration.  For now, they chase Eros. The crew knows that this may kill them and they are willing to make this sacrifice. Avasarala has a complicated conversation with Arjun (Brian George), due to emotion and time lag. She tells him she feels she must stay on Earth. Arjun tells her how hard this has been for him. He’s so sad, but it’s clear Avasarala is too committed and too stubborn to leave Earth. Her spy/aide Cotyar (Nick Tarabay) is saddened, and leaves.

Miller comes face-to-face with the goo, and hearing the phrase “Razorback,” Miller concludes that the goo has assumed some form of Julie’s consciousness. Miller convinces the crew that they need to back off because the goo feels threatened and the best shot is for him to convince Julie to stop heading for Earth.

Holden calls Tycho and gives Johnson the bad news and Drummer (Cara Gee) redirects the missiles. (A new naughty gesture is introduced by Drummer.)

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On Eros, Miller is led to Julie by the bird we first saw way back on Ceres. He finds Julie and wakes her up. Miller explains to Julie who he is, because she never met him – although they must have made some psychic contact because she says “the kidnap job.” He explains that she’s controlling Eros and she needs to redirect the ship. She’s lonely and homesick, but he says they can’t go home. He suggests going to Venus instead, but she’s not sure she can do that. He has to make a decision to not detonate the bomb. He tells her that whatever she does, he’ll be with her. This is some of Thomas Jane’s best acting, as he commits to being with Julie, permanently. Julie says the fateful words, “you belong with me.” And, Miller always has. He kisses her and lays his head on her, as they comfort one another.

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Everyone watches the end of Eros, and the Roci crew toasts Miller. Contact, Venus.

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Grade: A

For those viewers who had not read Leviathan Wakes, this was an utter shock. It marked the end of Miller, a character with whom many bonded. For followers of the book, this was masterfully done, and conveyed the crew’s desperation to rescue Miller (almost more than the compulsion to save the planet, which you know affected them, particularly Holden).  It also showed Miller’s sheer determination to muscle that bomb along and accomplish his objective. It’s sad to think of the rest of the season without Miller, but there is equal excitement to watch the next segment of the story which is the beginning of Caliban’s War. Fans of Bobbie should be very happy as her arc escalates. As far as effects go, this episode equaled its previous mastery, both in terms of covering the Eros chase, and particularly in giving life both to the blue fireflies, as well as showing the construction and “animation” of blue Julie. Although brief, the Venus strike was gorgeous. If you have not read “Drive,” a short story by James SA Corey (nom de plume of authors Abraham Daniels and Ty Franck), I recommend that you go read this RIGHT NOW.

Next episode: “Paradigm Shift” airs Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 10 p.m. on Syfy