The Expanse (S02E11) “Here There Be Dragons”


Mapmakers of old had a specific warning of known dangerous areas. They would annotate either unknown or proven dangerous territory on maps with the phrase "Here there be dragons." Eros DEFINITELY would have warranted this, if it hadn't been flung into Venus. And, now maybe they need that sign on Venus. Episode 11, in many respects, is about loss. We find out that Naomi had and lost a child. Bobbie loses her faith in Mars. Holden continues to lose his balance between two competing "honor interests."

I’ve generally done detailed recaps BUT, I am reminded that the Syfy website has a lovely recap of its own, so instead I’m going to comment on significant events. Go here for the recap:

During the flashback, it’s interesting that Mei (Leah Jung) seems to like Dr. Strickland (Ted Atherton) and also that he grabbed milkweed. More importantly, it has a chrysalis attached to it.
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Amos (Wes Chatham) recognizes that not only did Holden (Steven Strait) not stop him from killing “Chicken Boy” but might have liked to do it himself. Holden justifies that behavior by what he thinks he is preventing.

It’s a critical plot point that Naomi (Dominique Tipper) actually has a baby boy that she lost.

We get a hint of Bobbie’s (Frankie Adams) complex backstory in her dialog with Martens (Peter Outerbridge), where he discusses how wonderful Bobbie has been (until now) and how proud Bobbie’s father was. But, the generational gap is displayed in Martens disdain for Bobbie’s concern over Mars’ actions and even her appreciation of Earth’s ocean.
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It’s worth wondering about what is “eating” the probes that the Arboghast is launching into Venus. Doctor Iturbi (Ted Whittall) knows that to simply launch the last two probes will not get them any results. He also notes that SOMETHING is happening on Venus. The structures around the impact crater can’t be natural. Colonel Janus (Conrad Pla) notes what sailors of old said, and he clearly is worried about what they might find OR stir up.
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Avasarala’s (Shoreh Agdashloo) discussion with Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) is crucial. Because she still likes Errinwright, she gives him a head’s up. This is a risky action and perhaps a rare misstep in Avasarala’s assessment of people. It clearly bugs Sadavir more than he lets on, that Avasarala won’t “stand up” for him, but she’s horrified at his actions connected to the protomolecule weapons program. We see that Avasarala is making a play to keep Bobbie by interfering with the shuttle. When they left that platform, I wanted to punch Martens in the face for his dissing of Bobbie.

Sometimes Alex’s (Cas Anvar) character, although integral, doesn’t seem quite as significant as the others. This episode allows us to truly appreciate his intuitiveness and his actual brainpower. He figures out that there’s something significant about the ship Karakum, which is being allowed “unmolested” access to Ganymede that no other ship is being granted, and he reasons out quite a clever little  plan to allow him to get to Ganymede to rescue the team. (Note that because the show is extremely concerned with science realism, they actually devoted a blog entry by Naren Shankar, the showrunner, to explaining why the science involved in Alex’s maneuver can’t work within the confines of the timeline. That’s dedication!). Regardless of pure accuracy, the trajectory plotting is graphically awesome.

Dr. Strickland is in many respects one of the most creepy characters, because he seems kind and utterly rational, but what he is discussing with Mei about the Chrysalis is HORRIFYING, especially since he asks Mei “doesn’t she want to change?” And, we know what the protomolecule is capable of.

I love Amos’ ability to cut through the bullshit: “It means the station is fucked. It just doesn’t know it yet.”

Bobbie demonstrates that SHE isn’t the one that is “weak.” Ultimately, she points out that Martens clearly didn’t know her father or her family that well, because the story he relayed wasn’t about her, it was actually her father. And, this means that Bobbie’s father clearly wasn’t all that proud of her. This conversation is critical, because it demonstrates the depth of loss of Bobbie’s faith in what the Martian Congressional Republic actually stands when she sees its willingness to sacrifice her team for the sake of a deadly weapons system. There are critical areas in the book series which show the risk of Nationalism, and in some cases, Worldism (to include the OPA) and Species-ism. Martens demonstrates the influence of the HATE he still carries based on the war that Mars and Earth carried out.

One of my favorite scenes is Bobbie hitting Martens in time to her “What (smack) killed (smack) my (smack) team (smack)!?” That was viscerally satisfying. She gets to the root of the actual circumstances of the Ganymede attack. Martens doesn’t realize how easy he made it for Bobbie to go to the UN, because he strips her of her soldier identity, as well as her faith in the Martian vision. What does Mars hold for Bobbie? She’s disillusioned. I love that the UN building looks like it was built in the 1970s. Love that cement bunker style.

Cotyar (Nick Tarabay) meeting Bobbie for the first time and sizing her up is hilarious. Bobbie: “What the fuck are YOU looking at?” “I’m not entirely sure.” It’s interesting that while Bobbie is horrified at this weapons transaction, Avarsarala doesn’t seem to have the same level of disgust at the UN’s sickening actions, even though they are equally appalling. Bobbie hands over Martens data unit – I liked how it was see through.
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I love that when Alex arrives, he notices that poor Amos got shot again. This is another area in which I which I respect the show, because Amos is not instantly “better” or able to operate magically at 100%.
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Note that we found out more about JP Mao’s (Francois Chau) family, in particular that he has another daughter, Clarissa.

It took a lot of courage for Prax (Terry Chen) to open the container in the incinerator, knowing it might have been his daughter, Mei. And, it was lucky that the energy of incinerating the hybrid child didn’t create a protomolecule creature! And, the thought of a child in an INCINERATOR! ACK. So, yes, I’m glad that Holden let that doctor die, although the loss of any information that she might have been compelled to give up is regrettable.
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Naomi was forced for her own piece of mind to stay behind. She has a point about how much more of the protomolecule there could be, but Holden is locked on target about destroying what he KNOWS exists. And, the look on Holden’s face when he watches P-man look at them and run away is sheer determination.

Grade: A-

Next episode: “The Monster and the Rocket” airs on April 12, 2017 at 10pm on Syfy