The Expanse (S02E12) “The Monster and the Rocket”


In my last reviewcap, I actually didn’t recap. But, I’ve decided to return to that format. In this episode, the moral is beware what you create. Errinwright was useful to Avasarala her entire career, until he wasn’t. She was right that he was a powerful, determined man, but she seems to have underestimated his willingness to go the full distance, including murdering his Russian UN counterpart and arranging to kill his mentor! Naomi has carried the guilt of leaving the Eros survivors behind and is finally compelled to take action to help clear her conscience. She’s also pretty determined. Holden continued to demonstrate his single-minded determination to eliminate the living hybrid protomolecule, although others around him are becoming aware there has to be more of this stuff. We see the true spirit of the Belters in the decisions necessary to evacuate from Ganymede.

The reviewcap begins here.

Sadavir Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) is using some way old-fashioned tech to shave. (I’m presuming a preference rather than that dipilators don’t exist in this time frame and this also shows in his choice of using a fountain pen to write with). He’s mentally replaying his defense of his actions to Avasarala, and what he perceives as her betrayal. He meets with his son, Jefferson (Gage Munroe), who asks whether Errinwright’s monsters in his sleep were real or imaginary. Errinwright is scaring his son in his attempts to have a heart-to-heart. His son says he doesn’t have nightmares (yet). He advises his son to follow his heart, because that will always be the right call.

In orbit around Ganymede, the Roci glides, hunting for the critter, but the Roci is in stealth mode. Alex (Cas Anvar) says if it really is a human-protomolecule hybrid, they have no future. Alex locates Protomolecule Man (PM) (“acted” by Elias Toufexis) and Holden (Steven Strait) asks for weaponry to be transferred to him. Prax (Terry Chen) looks at a handheld which contains information about “Project Caliban.” Prax implores Holden to not kill PM, because (i) he is still (of course) thinking of his child and (ii) he’s a researcher, so he’s curious about it, as well. Holden doesn’t appreciate being talked down to because he wants to kill it, and says that Prax would feel differently if he had been at Eros. Alex warns Holden that if they are sighted, they will be destroyed. They wait a few minutes and Holden insists that Alex get them to the Ag dome immediately.
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At the UN, Errinwright and Avasarala (Shohreh Agdashloo) meet. It’s clear that Errinwright is being sacrificed and he’s unhappy about what his son will think of him. He hands his medal to Avasarala, instructing her to give it to his son. Avasarala lays out all the good that he’s done, sure that it will help to shield him. Avasarala asks Sadavir if he’s really convinced Mars would use the weapon against the Earth and he sincerely says he’s convinced. He heads into the meeting.
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Back on the ship, Melissa (Valerie Buhagiar) is working to get the Somnambulist returned to working order to rescue as many Belters off of Ganymede as possible. She asks a big dude to help corral all the people. He asks what’s in it for him, and she offers him passage. Naomi (Dominique Tipper) and Amos (Wes Chatham) (looking a lot worse for wear with a bloody bandage) tell Melissa that they don’t want passage, just to help her fix her ship. Melissa calls them “shit magnets,” but allows them to come with her. (In her defense, they kinda are!) On the ship, Naomi is horrified that some tech guy is actually making things worse, and she takes over the repair.
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Bobbie (Frankie Adams) investigates Avasarala’s room, while she waits for her when Cotyar (Nick Tarabay) comes in. Cotyar gives Bobbie a hard time for betraying her oath. Bobbie tells him she’s never initiated a fight, but burn her and hers and she’ll go through him like a door. This clearly impresses him. They exit to go meet Avasarala on a shuttle. Avasarala is exceptionally snarky and Cotyar tells her he was making sure they didn’t lose their luggage. I love that as badass as Avasarala is, Cotyar pretty much gives as good as he gets. They have a great relationship. Avasarala looks absolutely ill. It’s clear she does NOT relish space flight. After some repartee, Bobbie asks WHY she is there. Avasarala says there are still Martians at the UN and she wants to make sure Bobbie’s safe. “I am not a fragile flower.” Conveniently, Bobbie and Cotyar can save Avasarala’s ass if need be. And, thus is born ABC. (I favored Bobbicotsarala, but ABC IS undeniably a briefer acronym.) I love the little smirk on Bobbie’s face at Avasarala’s discomfort. Avasarala knows that Jules-Pierre Mao will never voluntarily leave Earth to not return (Earth’s real gravity).

Sadavir pens a letter to his son, urging him to understand that he’s doing what he thinks is right. I think it’s interesting that Sadavir’s son’s name is Jefferson (rather than, say, Lincoln).
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Back on the Roci, Holden, Alex and Prax chase the PM into a tunnel. Alex doesn’t like the clearance, but Holden is determined. They shoot at the PM, but miss. Alex points out that it might be luring them in, but Holden will not concede.
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The folks outside the Somnambulist are panicking and angry because they can’t breathe. A scuffle breaks out and Melissa and Amos retreat back in to the ship. Amos, clearly hurting, needs a shot of pain relief and Naomi keeps the injector with her. Melissa let’s them know that the station’s air refiller no longer works, so they only have enough air for 52 people. The radios are jammed, so they can’t get help. Naomi suggests loading the ship up and rendezvousing with the Roci, but Melissa won’t risk overloading in case Holden doesn’t come back. Naomi says they aren’t leaving all those people.
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Sadavir and Korshunov (Jeff Seymour) share a drink over having NOT actually signed a peace treaty. Korshunov is adamant that Mars won’t until Bobbie is returned. Errinwright says that she was a witness to a technology that has to be shared between both major powers. (At least Korshunov got some damn fine Scotch before what’s coming).
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MCRN is sending a ship to evacuate the lab (and retrieve the Protomolecule research and “stuff”). Holden points out that now Mars has the Protomolecule. Alex objects and we  finally see a bit of origins division (Earth vs. Mars) in the Roci crew resurface, it’s been awhile.

On the Somnambulist, the crowd tries to convince the Big Guy (Champa, played by Gugun Deep Singh) that Melissa is playing them.

Korshunov tries to explain that not all new technology is or has to be a weapon. But, Sadavir makes a point of showing Korshunov that apparently that is how humans are built. If you give an ape a stick, for sure the first thing it would do would be to kill another ape. Power corrupts. Korshunov collapses and they pan to the drink, but Sadavir picks up Korshunov’s drink, downs it and says “no, it was 186 minutes ago” that the poison was administered. Errinwright describes a lethal genetically-modified poison designed to target people, and how it was banned, and yet – it’s still around and available to kill. Korshunov’s pad beeps announcing the arrival of the Karakum to Ganymede, and Sadavir leaps into action pretending to save Korshunov.
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As Avasarala’s shuttle arrives, Cotyar pulls out a handgun, which Bobbie promptly derides. Cotyar notes this is how he survived and, in response to Bobbie’s question, he admits he was involved in intelligence. As they trade barbs – we discover that Cotyar says he was responsible for getting Avasarala’s son killed. Bobbie looks shocked.

They board the Guanshiyin, Mao’s gorgeous ship. They are offered cucumber sandwiches, which Bobbie unrestrainedly enjoys. Avasarala with typical bluntness, tells Mao (Francois Chau) to get to the point.
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On the Roci, Alex tells Holden that the coms have gone nuts because the Karakum has literally gone dead. He says he thinks someone blew it up. On the Somnambulist, “Big Guy” is frustrated with the panicked behavior of the Belters. Parts of the Karakum begin to strike the Ganymede station, causing panic and Melissa orders Naomi to take off. Amos tells her that he understands why Naomi wants to stay but Melissa is right.
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Mao tells Avasarala that if they stop ruining his family’s name and release them, he’ll consider giving them access to the technology that now is going to be in Martian hands. Avasarala points out that he can’t be loyal to both and he’ll of course benefit by being the ultimate controller of the technology. A tightbeam transmission arrives for both Mao and Avasarala. It’s Errinwright, who says that Korshunov is dead and that the Karakum has been blown up and HE gave the order. And, he can kill Mao and Avasarala RIGHT THEN. He says only two men could protect Mao, and Korshunov is now dead. He then turns his righteous wrath to Avasarala, castigating her because she drilled it into him that Earth must come first, but now she is groveling at the feet of Mars. Her betrayal is his worst hurt. He instructs Jules to return to Earth – ALONE – and get the fuck back to work. The message is clear. Kill ABC. When the message is done, everyone leaps into action, guns drawn. Bobbie protects Avasarala and one of Jules’ guards takes him and they withdraw into an elevator.
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On the Somnambulist, Naomi wants to go talk to the people – she still feels extreme guilt over leaving the people at Eros, although she had no choice. Amos tries to stop her and she tranks him, and he looks shocked at her action as he sags into his chair. Naomi opens the door to the crowd. They rush in and Big Guy practically chokes out Naomi. She explains what’s going on with the oxygen. Once he understands, he shoos everyone out. He delivers a stirring speech and calls on their BELTERHOOD. And, they respect him. One of the saddest scenes is him putting Naomi in the ship’s airlock with the other passengers, in his place. This was heartbreaking, but they were so faithful.

On the Roci, Alex sees that the Somnambulist is in trouble, and he tells Holden that they MUST go. The Martians launch a torpedo and after a very tense few moments, the Roci clears the horizon and detonates the torpedo. Holden has Alex basically paint EVERYONE around and tells them if they bug the Somnambulist they will feel the full arsenal up their ass. Alex says someone will test this, but Holden says, no, they are saving their weaponry for each other, and he’s right. On the Somnambulist, Melissa tells Naomi that she did good today, and she did. The very last thing you see, as the Roci escorts the Somnambulist is blue shit in the cargo hold!!

Grade: A-

This episode marked the forging and severing of relationships. Errinwright and Avasarala are clearly done, after all, he implicitly orders her death, and in his eyes, she has betrayed both him AND Earth. Naomi and Melissa bond, with Melissa overcoming her original outrage (even though in my opinion, Melissa’s husband was dead either way, the Roci crew just actually saved her and the Somnambulist). A particularly tender moment was the moment when the Belters were left behind, and were exceptionally civilized. This reminded me of the airlock scene with the FIRST group of Belters evacuated from Ganymede. Pretty stark contrast in behavior, but the emotion was equally wrenching. We witnessed the cementing of Bobbicotsarala, and I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions throughout the show. These actors clearly like each other.

Next episode (and season finale): “Caliban’s War” aired on April 19, 2017 at 10 p.m. on Syfy