The Expanse (S02E13) "Caliban's War"


This will serve as a refresher, as we are just literally starting Season 3, based on the book Abaddon’s Gate, written by James SA Corey (a nom de plume for Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham). Season 2’s finale episode name, Caliban’s War, follows the tradition of the final episode taking the name of the book the season primarily followed.
My recap of this episode (spoilers, duh) will cover the three main threads intact which were followed in the episode, rather than woven, which is how the show was shot. Not a critique, but rather simpler to summarize.
The episode opens in Jules-Pierre Mao’s (Francois Chau) space yacht, with Bobbie (Frankie Adams), Cotyar (Nick Tarabay) and Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) pinned in the main cabin, after Errinwright betrayed them and Mao ran away. Cotyar is shot and is not in good shape.  Entertainingly, and very true to character, Avasarala swears “the motherfucker betrayed me” and even funnier, Cotyar replies, “Language.” While Bobbie pulls up the ships schematics, Cotyar looks thoughtful and then tells Bobbie that she has to go to the hold, her power armor is there. Bobbie wonders why Cotyar brought it, but of course “spy.”  Mao’s henchmen continue to negotiate (they think) with Cotyar, but it’s actually Avasarala coaching him. Finally, the lead henchman notes that the issue is really with Avasarala, not Cotyar. Shockingly, Cotyar contemplates betraying Avasarala. She reminds him he owes her, but Cotyar tells her that he let her son get killed and he’s paying her SON back in taking care of her.  Narrowly escaping being crushed, Bobbie pops out and takes care of several of the guards. Bobbie runs into the hold guard, and they smile as they cut through the back and forth. He lets her in, but asks for her to make it look good. She takes her gear and returns to the main cabin, saving Cotyar and Avasarala. Looks like Cotyar made the right choice.
The second thread is the fate of the Arboghast. Janus (Conrad Pla) and Dr. Iturbi (Ted Whittall) also shortcut their back and forth, understanding that they need to lower the Arboghast. They are concerned that the other ship will get to the surface before them, when the feel a strong disturbance. When they check, the other ship is gone. Very soon after that, a shock wave hits the Arboghast which literally disintegrates into every constituent component. This happens in slow motion so that the crew is aware that this is happening. (In the book, the doctor is actually fascinated by the process, even though he knows he’s being killed). The VFX for this scene are spectacular.
The final thread, and the primary one, is the events on the Roci. The Roci has taken damage, and the viewers saw blue in the hold at the conclusion of the prior episode. Holden (Steven Strait) and Amos (Wes Chatham) return to the Roci, where Prax (Terry Chen) repairs Amos’s bullet wound. Prax thinks that the protomole creature, which I will refer to a Blue Goo Man or (BGM), is one of the children, perhaps his daughter, Mei. Alex (Cas Anvar) and Naomi (Dominique Tipper) are using video to inspect the damaged hold, when Naomi spots BGM. Prax argues for time and wants to try to communicate with BGM, but the crew quickly overrules him. Holden and Amos go into the hold to kill it. While they are there, BGM paws at its chest, rips out a device and throws it out the damaged door, where it explodes. BGM has realized that there was a “failsafe” and got rid of it. Amos and Holden fire on the creature, who responds by throwing a very heavy crate which pins Holden against the bulkhead, crushing his leg. Amos’s helmet is cracked and he must retreat on Holden’s orders.
The team discusses Holden’s predicament and how to get rid of BGM. Amos and Naomi speak. Both apologize and Amos tells Naomi that he’s trying to do a better job of making decisions. Naomi knows that the initial plan they devise to lure BGM off of the ship (by releasing a nuke for BGM to chase) is fatal for Holden and she orders Amos to wait. Alex tries to buy Holden time by turning off the ship’s engine (which has attracted BGM, who is burrowing through the deck to get at it.) But, then BGM notices Holden, and Alex has to restore power.  Amos has a final conversation with Holden, where he says Holden didn’t always make the right choices, but that Amos knew he meant well. Naomi and Holden also have a final conversation, where they reaffirm their love for each other.
Prax and Naomi take the warhead out and remove the nuke element. Prax is holding it and Naomi knows he’s hesitant to throw it because he doesn’t want to kill his child. But, ultimately he does throw the nuke and BGM jumps after it, separating from the ship. Alex, “turns on the barbeque” and we see BGM slowly disintegrate.
After the team congratulates each other, all slapping poor Holden’s leg, Naomi and Jim have time together in private. Naomi tells Jim that they can’t have secrets and she still has one – she’s given the protomolecule sample to Fred Coleman.
Thoughts about this episode: As usual, stunning special effects. On occasion, if you’ve read the book, you can’t help but hope for a little bit more. For me, the fate of the Arboghast was that part – brilliant, and yet the book handled this so interestingly and passionately. In any case, this episode resolved several “personnel” issues which had festered all season, so we will begin Season 3 with at least a partially clean slate, although Naomi and Jim will really have to work to address the Fred Johnson protomolecule betrayal. Don’t forget the Razorback. Episode score? A, of course.
The Expanse airs on Syfy on Wednesdays at 9/8c. The next episode, Fight or Flight, is on April 11, 2018.