The Expanse (S02E06) “Paradigm Shift”


How do you follow an episode that could have been a season finale based on its strength? You begin, in earnest, to pursue the story arc of the next book that your series is based upon. And, you throw in the origin story of the space engine drive that makes this intrastellar travel possible (and opened up the possibility of generational interstellar travel). This origin story also links to the current paradigm shift happening with the Protomolecule.  Some have called this episode a filler episode, but that is a function of handling the emotions of “Home” and the unexpected loss of a major character. This episode features one of the best take-downs of an arrogant politician ever scripted and delivered.

Here’s the reviewcap.

The opening recap focuses on the amazing episode “Home.” We open on Mars, with narration of a man who bought a second-hand yacht to tinker with. The pilot was tinkering to improve fuel efficiency. Since he was having difficulty with the voice command interface, he disabled it. “The rest, I guess, is history.” This is Solomon Epstein (Sam Huntington) and we are viewing the story of his invention of the Epstein Drive.

The UN struggles to understand what happened with Eros, how it moved and what happened to it. They note that whatever Eros is, it’s the greatest technological leap since the Epstein Drive. Clearly control of this is essential. Dr. Iturbi (Ted Whittall) joins the council. Avasarala notes that since everyone with any specific knowledge of Eros has gone silent, they will have to be insightful on their own. They plan to investigate Venus to see if there are Eros remains. The council notes they’ve aborted 121 of the nuke missiles and are trying to identify the fate of the rest.

Holden (Steven Strait) sends a message to his mom about his not running from the fight and how he has someone special. Although Holden wonders, Naomi (Dominique Tipper) says she doesn’t think Miller ever left the room where they found Julie, so he was ok never leaving Eros. Cue the fantastic scene where Holden and Naomi tell Alex (Cas Anvar) and Amos (Wes Chatham) that they are having sex. Turns out Amos and Alex had a bet, and Amos won. (Although Amos says Naomi is like a sister, he also says “he’d do her if he could.” Much needed levity.)

Alex pulls Holden aside and they note that nearly 30 nukes are unaccounted for. An unsettling thought. (We see the missiles being captured by a net).

Solomon is unsuccessfully trying to cut off his drive. The increasing Gs make it impossible for him to reach the emergency cutoff. He realizes that if he can’t shut off the drive, he will be crushed to death.

Avasarala (Shohreh Agdashloo) is having dinner with Dr. Iturbi, and she makes it clear that dinner is ALL that it is. She asks why Dr. Iturbi didn’t speak at all during the UN meeting and he explains that it was because of what he has reasoned is happening. He points out that Colonel Janus (Conrad Pla) thinks Eros is a Martian weapon. But, Iturbi points out that it does not make sense that they would test a weapon in an area which is a biohazard area, and he concludes that perhaps the entirety of Eros is their first contact with alien life. Avasarala discusses how she has a 900-page file on what to do in case of a war with Mars. Her plan in case of alien first-contact is 3 pages long and Step One is “Find God.” Iturbi says that he needs to get to Venus, and he’ll be her direct unfiltered contact.

The crew of the Roci meets a hero’s welcome back at Tycho, where Diogo (Andrew Rotilio) is relaying how Miller (Thomas Jane) told him that he was “the future” against a backdrop of a Miller mural. Holden and Naomi explain their nuke concerns to Fred Johnson (Chad Coleman). Johnson and Drummer (Cara Gee) confess that when they got the codes, they disabled the abort codes and overrode the drives, and they need help getting them back to the station. Johnson says that they have no specific plans, but the nukes can be useful. Holden wants to let Earth know that Eros is alien, but Johnson doesn’t want to tell them because he thinks if Earth panics, Belters lose.

Alex is now a chick-magnet because of his story. The boyfriend of one of the groupies arrives and starts slapping her around, Alex goes after the boyfriend and gets slammed into the bar. Amos shows up out of nowhere and puts a serious beat-down on the boyfriend, shocking Alex. Turns out that Amos lives next to the bar.

shocked alexpng - The Expanse (S02E06) "Paradigm Shift"

Johnson tells Holden that he is wondering what they were doing when they cut the motor for 5 hours on their way to Eros. Holden reassures Johnson that they were dealing with some stuff (spacing Semetimba). Johnson tells Holden he’s going to have to pick a side.

Epstein is amazed at the improvement in efficiency, and how long the yacht would keep going, and unsuccessfully tries to use his handheld. The numbers are stunning.

yacht statspng - The Expanse (S02E06) "Paradigm Shift"

We see Cortazar (Carlos Gonzalez-Vio) intensely listening and working on calculations.

cortazarpng - The Expanse (S02E06) "Paradigm Shift"

Naomi suggests that they tell everyone about Miller and Julie (Florence Faivre), and feels at least releasing this story gives some credit to Miller. Johnson agrees to do this.

The Roci team discusses their concern about Fred and what to do about the protomolecule sample. The Roci crew suddenly devolves into their original factions. Alex wants Mars to have it, Amos doesn’t. Holden wants to destroy it. Naomi doesn’t want to destroy it because she thinks that there might be another sample. Holden thinks there isn’t. He thinks they can permanently kill it and Amos agrees. They all seem to agree. We see Naomi by herself at a station launch a torpedo. Holden arrives and we see Naomi launch a torpedo. Draw your own conclusions…

Epstein uses his last few minutes to regret his lost future with Katy, his wife, but also to think about the profound changes this drive will mean for Mars. Because he’s a Martian, first and foremost. The ship will be the first interstellar ship, but Epstein won’t appreciate it.

We switch to Ganymede and Bobbie (Frankie Adams) with her crew. They discuss how well-armed the Earth UN troops are. Lieutenant Sutton (Hugh Dillon) is discussing that they need to be careful because things are so tense between Earth and Mars.
bobbie in uni - The Expanse (S02E06) "Paradigm Shift"
Avasarala arrives in Errinwright’s office to have Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) contact Mao and tells Errinwright that they need Mao’s info. She says if Mao cooperates he can keep some of the life he’s known, confirming she’s willing to cut a deal. We find out that Mao has two sons and another daughter that he adores (store this fact in your show memory for the future).  Avasarala ever so casually says to let them know that if they can’t help, she will rain hellfire down on their family. She says she can because she’s the “fucking hero who saved Mother Earth from the cataclysm that Mao unleashed.” She says the only reason the corporations think they can get away with this is because they think there is some government officials looking for a fat payoff, but AVASARALA is NOT. She will utterly destroy their family. “Make sure you tell them that.”

Fantastic, grade A writing and acting.

Back on Tycho, Amos is “fixing” the Martian flag (to show the destruction of the moon Deimos). Alex sees this and is unhappy. Amos clarifies that he classifies Alex as someone he needs to protect, which makes Alex mad. He points out that he sacrificed a breaching pod with 25 people to save Amos and says he can handle himself.

Naomi meets with Drummer, who is working to disarm the missiles. Naomi provides a suggestion and notes that Belters have to stick together. We see an ID, and it’s a Epstein Drive. There was a lot of actual Belter conversation in this episode, both in the bar on Tycho and between Naomi and Drummer. Nick Farmer has done a sterling job with the Belter language in this show. This past few weeks, Nick provided quite a lot of information on Twitter about how the Belter language is structured. You can follow him here on Twitter (@Nfarmerlinguist). These snippets translate the “hottie” argument in the bar and what Drummer and Naomi say.

epstein drive technologiespng1 - The Expanse (S02E06) "Paradigm Shift"

Back on Ganymede, the Martians continue to patrol. Because the Overwatch ship will be in Ganymede’s shadow and will be out of visual range for 45 minutes, the Lieutenant gives instructions to the team to avoid provocation. They see a drone, and identify that it isn’t Martian or armed. Alarms go off and Bobbie reports that six soldiers appear to be charging them. We see ships firing and the huge Ganymede mirror is destroyed. Cut off, Bobbie instructs her now radio-dead team that if the UN marines break the line, the Martian marines are to shoot. All hell is breaking loose, and Commander Sutton is killed. The Martian marines are devastated and Bobbie, whose suit is damaged, sees a humanoid creature with a blue glow staring down at her. This was a great representation of the chaos which happens during battles, where no one knows what is going on or who started it.

Grade: Aprotogin bottle signed - The Expanse (S02E06) "Paradigm Shift"

An unsung episode, with some great action and information, it will be appreciated later. We find out about how the Epstein Drive was developed but also about how it was a paradigm shift in the relationship between Earth and Mars. This highlights the current apparent paradigm shift which is happening, but not everyone is aware of it. The episode illustrates just how tribal human beings are, and how little it takes for even a close team to devolve back into factions. We get great insight into Avasarala’s ability to discern the big picture, her fear AND her righteous anger at people who would sacrifice humanity for the sake of profit. We see cracks appear in close relationships. And, some decisions being made which will have profound consequences for future events. And, grab your hats, the Ganymede storyline is great. Have a slug of ProtoGin on me.

Next episode: “The Seventh Man” airs on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 10 pm on Syfy