The Expanse (S02E09) “The Weeping Somnambulist”


In general, I have very few complaints about the adaptation of the novels to the TV show. There is one scene from the prior episode I would have wished was closer to the book, and that was when Gunny sees the Protomolecule on Ganymede. In the book, Protomolecule Man picks Gunny up and in the process of this interaction, it hurls her a large distance, which simultaneously seriously injures her, but actually saves her, too. It reinforces her memory of Protomolecule Man, as well. In the show, in the small snippet of the battle, Gunny sees the UN team FIRING BACKWARDS, but she is prevented from elaborating on this during her questioning by Martens or her testimony to the Earth and Martian diplomats. This might mean that many viewers didn’t completely catch that either. However, I fully trust that the writing and production team will integrate this information into the ongoing story.

The reviewcap begins here:

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It doesn’t take long to find out the basis of the name of the episode. It’s the name of one of the Ganymede relief ships. The ship is crewed by two people, Santichai Suputayaporn (Peter Williams) and Melissa Saputayaporn (Valerie Buhagiar), and they are complaining about Mars’ heavy-handed interference with them delivering their relief shipment. The ship is boarded, and the boarders identify the crew and check the ship. The voices sound familiar…and that is because the boarders who want to impound the ship are Holden (Steven Strait) and Amos (Wes Chatham).  They are unmasked in a struggle. “Well, this is off to a good start.” Amos gets all the great dry lines.

Gunny Bobby Draper (Frankie Adams) receives medications and is caught leaving her Purple Heart behind. She says she left it on accident, but clearly she doesn’t feel she deserves it. A common reaction from battle survivors. The medications are to help her, as a Martian, to survive her time with the much more significant gravity on Earth (although not ALL of them were fully explained). Gunny asks Martens (Peter Outerbridge) what Earth is like, and interestingly, he mentions that the ocean (and Earth) is dirty and has a stench. This would definitely be the impression of people who live in a far cleaner and sterile surroundings. The earth is a messy place. Martens says that it’s one more thing Earth takes for granted. When they land, even Martens is breathless. They exit the ship and stagger the short distance into the Martian compound. Gunny sees a seagull (and she has deliberately left her sunglasses behind).

Avasarala (Shohreh Agdashloo) checks on the status of the Arbogast, sent to check on Venus. Not sure that is such a clever idea. Playing with Venus is playing with fire. She discusses this with Errinwright (Shawn Doyle), and Cotyar (Nick Tarabay) is in the room. Errinwright confirms that he has been receiving information, which he has kept from Avasarala. She suggests she’d like to hear this, as well, but Errinwright says she needs to focus on diplomacy with Mars. After Errinwright leaves, Cotyar asks if Avasarala really believes that Errinwright hasn’t had any contact with JP Mao, and she reminds him that it’s HIS job. He says they are being very quiet and also, that it would be helpful to have information on the Arbogast. She says that’s why she has an inside man. (Side note….Avasarala’s jewelry is so on point and gorgeous…).

On the Arbogast, Col. Janus (Conrad Pla) is clearly annoyed with the “insider” that Avasarala has placed on the ship, Dr. Iturbi (Ted Whittall). They wrangle a bit before an officer detects a Martian ship, which was cloaked. Janus tells Iturbi that when he was young, he thought stars were magic, but then he grew up and learned science.

Holden checks in with Alex (Cas Anvar) and reminds Alex to keep an eye out, which of course Alex was going to do. On the Weeping Somnambulist, Melissa still thinks that the Roci crew people are there to steal the supplies. Naomi (Dominique Tipper) tries to reassure her the supplies will get where they are supposed to but Melissa doesn’t believe her and calls her a Welwalla. It looks like Melissa is wearing some aged uniform (UN?).

Praxidike (Terry Chen) records a message for Doris’ cousin to let them know that she died, but the message wouldn’t send. Prax calls Amos. When Amos finally arrives, Prax says he wants to send the message, but Amos says he can’t. Prax asks if he is a prisoner, and Amos says no. Prax says that he has a right to know why he can’t send the message and he isn’t going anywhere unless he’s told why.

On Earth, negotiations begin, and especially given our current political turmoil, the jockeying for position is literally nauseating, but effective. Earth makes it clear they had the upper hand in locating where they would conduct negotiations. Mars says it doesn’t matter because they are tougher than shit. Avasarala says they should take a moment to remember the loss of lives and they both poke at each other. Errinwright shocks Avasarala by interrupting this solemn moment WAY too early. He wants to get down to brass tacks. One thing Errinwright is not, is subtle.

On the Arbogast, Dr. Iturbi and Janus discuss their concern over what the Martians are doing there. Dr. Iturbi can’t imagine that the Mars ship would do anything to them. Janus disagrees, showing  how mad they are that Mars destroyed several ships and killed over 500 people. The crew looks angry too.

17 telling the martians they are a research shippng - The Expanse (S02E09) "The Weeping Somnambulist"Holden explains to Prax that his daughter was taken by Dr. Strickland prior to the mirror coming down, and they think if they can find him, they will find her. Prax doesn’t believe that they care about his daughter (but Amos clearly does). Amos has told Prax about the Protomolecule (the rest of the crew is shocked, but Amos said that since Prax was helping them, they owed it to him to be straight about what was happening.) Prax explained that Dr. Strickland helped keep his daughter alive and that she has a rare genetic disorder. The crew doesn’t think this is a coincidence. Prax asks how they will find anyone because Ganymede is in such disarray. They are going to wing it. They discuss that since they are going in on a ship that isn’t theirs, they will try to hitch a ride out, but if that doesn’t work, Alex will be lurking, will scoop them up and then max burn away, with a shitton of missiles being launched at them. Sounds like a plan.

On Earth, Bobbie takes her medication and prepares to make a presentation to the peace negotiators. There are some cool effects with the windows, which can be opaque, clear or mirror. Draper looks disoriented when the windows are clear. Bobbie is introduced to the diplomatic group, and tells her story. (And, Errinwright, as usual, is a pain in the ass). Earth disbelieves that Earth fired first. Bobbie’s reiteration is faithful UNTIL she gets to the line where she states that her team mistook a training exercise and that they fired without provocation or permission (because communications were down for everyone). Avasarala is observing this entire dialog like the highly trained hawk that she is, and she detects when Bobbie’s story strays from truth. Bobbie is a very loyal Martian, and is doing what she was commanded to do. Unfortunately, everyone has decided that Private Travis (Mpho Koaho) will be the fall guy for this disaster. But, Avasarala does not believe this is what really happened. Back in her room, Gunny goes wild at Martens, because she hadn’t realized they were going to pin this mess on the utterly innocent Travis. He says that they needed to do this. Errinwright discusses the information with Secretary General Sorrento-Gillis (Ted Atherton), who is thrilled and tells Errinwright to squeeze Mars for all they can get out of it. Avasarala notes that Travis was a perfect scapegoat. Errinwright recaps how this works out for everyone (but it makes the viewers ill and mad, rightfully so).

On the Weeping Somnabulist, Santichai and Melissa hold hands before they go to Ganymede. On the Roci, Alex has whipped up a batch of lasagna for the crew, and you can see the closeness between him and Amos. The team arms itself. They separate and the Weeping Somnambulist heads off to its mission, and the Roci parts ways.

The negotiations continue, with Earth pressing Mars for all its worth. Already paying for a lot, Mars agrees to pay for everything if it can get full authority over Ganymede. Errinwright presses for a statement accepting responsibility, but Mars balks at that. Just as they are about to conclude the session, Avasarala insists upon speaking to Draper again. Avasarala points out that service on Mars is compulsory and asks Draper if she would still serve if it wasn’t so. Draper says she would to achieve the vision of another Earth on Mars. Avasarala notes that a huge amount of Earthers get basic assistance and clarifies that they aren’t lazy, there just aren’t enough opportunities for them to be productive. She notes that Travis’ parents gave up everything. Bobbie acknowledges that Travis was one of her best soldiers. Avasarala asks if Bobbie really believes that Travis would panic or give up everything that was sacrificed for petty revenge. Bobbie becomes very uncomfortable and confused. Bobbie starts to explain about Blue Goo Man, but she’s interrupted by Martens. Avasarala presses, and the lead Martian negotiator, Korshunov (Jeff Seymour) VERY CLEVERLY tells Bobbie “Do as you’ve been instructed,” which of course has TWO meanings. Respond to Avasarala, but make sure it’s the story you were told to tell. Bobbie chokes it down and blames Travis, because she is a loyal Martian marine.

The irony is that Mars wanted control of Ganymede and, by paying for everything, thought it would get it. They went into this negotiation with that express objective. Avasarala sees this, but Errinwright and Sorrento-Gillis don’t have a clue that while they think they’ve won in this negotiation, they’ve actually LOST.

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Earth has actually lost, they just don’t know it yet

The Arbogast notes that the Martians are matching every move they make. Dr. Iturbi shows the Drake equation trying to make a point of what communication or lack of communication with other sentient beings could involve. He’s suggesting that maybe they are deliberately not communicating. Janus doesn’t even really seem to believe there are aliens, and accuses Iturbi of more magical thinking. But, the Drake equation math is on Iturbi’s side. The ship finally reaches orbit and a location where they can scan the Eros impact, and the information is stunning. Iturbi transmits this to Avasarala and notes that what is being accomplished should be impossible. Avasarala notes that just like with an entity on Ganymede without a space suit, this changes everything.

On the Roci, Alex talks to both the moon Ganymede and the Roci. Ganymede is now under Martian control. Santichai tells the crew that the shakedown when they land is perfectly normal. It bugs Holden, but Melissa says she doesn’t want them doing ANYTHING. Leaving the Weeping Somnambulist, Amos and Holden observe armed thugs entering the ship. There’s no way they are going to let the thugs get away with the shakedown. The thugs are so greedy they want the whole shipment and also want the ship, too. Holden and Amos come in to rescue the crew. It doesn’t go well. Although they take out the thugs, unfortunately, Santichai is killed and Melissa goes wild. Although it’s clear that it was NOT the Roci Crew’s fault, Holden always internalizes responsibility for bad shit. It’s sort of part of his DNA.

Grade: A-

As usual, a rewatch is invaluable. Watching once gives the broad strokes, but this show is full of subtlety, easily missed, particularly if viewers live tweet. My recommendation is to watch twice. At a minimum, make sure you watch this show carefully at least once. This episode was all about people being short-sighted. Errinwright and Sorrento-Gillis don’t fully grasp what is going on, and Janus doesn’t understand what is happening on Venus. People’s limited views have really significant impact and this is setting up the continuing storyline. In the meantime, large swaths of people are impacted by events which have been set in motion. I’m looking forward to seeing what action Avasarala will take in reaction to her clear disbelief in Bobbie’s story AND her concern over what is being observed on Venus. Also, what will the crew find out on Ganymede?

Next episode: “Cascade” airs on Wednesday, March 29 at 10 pm on Syfy.