The Expanse (S03E01) “Fight or Flight”

Warning, this review is a recap, with commentary; therefore, it is ONE GIANT SPOILER if you haven’t seen the episode.

The Expanse is BACK! Seems like forever, doesn’t it? But, we take up right where we left off. There is a news report about the disintegration of the Arboghast over Venus, and the march to war. Things are escalating. There are actual battles being fought. Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) is not as good at handling the Secretary-General as Avasarala, but he keeps piling on, and convinces him to declare war.

Meanwhile on the Roci, the crew is burning off all remnants of protomolecule. Holden (Steven Strait) goes in from the hull, but Alex (Cas Anvar) and Amos (Wes Chatham) talk. Prax (Terry Chen) is repairing the hold and fighting PTSD. Amos wants to go to Ceres. Alex wants to keep the “family” together, but Amos thinks it’s already disintegrated. Amos concedes that Naomi isn’t the person he thought she was.

Naomi (Dominique Tipper) advises Holden that the UN has declared war – Holden accurately states the ship would be a prize for either side, so they need to change her disguise again. He burns off the Rocinante image (tears flow in the audience!!).

On the Guanshiyin, Avasarala (Shohreh Agdashloo) is working very hard to save Cotyar (Nick Tarabay). Bobbie (Frankie Adams) arms Avasarala and goes out on a mission. She saves the Guanshiyin’s tech in order for him to take control of the ship, “today you get to be a hero.” (He ought to be grateful because she saves his life by doing this.)

Naomi asks Prax to rename the ship. He chooses Pinus Contorta. In order for the tree to survive, they have to die by fire. Naomi smiles and enters the new name for the Roci.

Fred Johnson (Chad L Coleman) sends a message to Dawes “the more you share, the more your bowl will be plentiful.” He tells Dawes about the protomolecule to get Dawes’s help in using it.

Cotyar and Avasarala are rapidly becoming my favorite team. Cotyar wakes up from being repaired by the ship’s med kit. They discuss that Errinwright is a problem and that since the guy who was to confirm her death is dead, they know Errinwright will send option B. As Bobbie returns, Avasarala shoots at her, thinking she’s one of Mao’s henchmen. Bobbie looks impressed and amused. “Well done.” Bobbie introduces the tech, Theo (David Tompa).

Then we are treated to Errinwright playing “Two Truths and a Lie.” Errinwright tells the Secretary-General (Jonathan Whittaker) that Chrisjen runs a shadow government (true), Chrisjen worked with the Martians (true), and she was working with Mao on the protomolecule – EEEENNH. One BIG lie. Acting contrite, he asks the S-G what he wants done. S-G says to apprehend her. My skin crawled listening to Errinwright. What a liar!

On Tycho, Fred brings in Drummer (Cara Gee) and tells her about the Protomolecule and … Dawes, and Drummer loses her shit, justifiably.

Naomi goes to talk to Amos and Alex. The room is very frosty. They are extremely mad. Alex was mad, he says because when he wanted to give the Roci to Mars, the group said not to, so why does Naomi get to decide this? She wants to go to Tycho, she says they never have to see her again. By the way, “arm gun” alert in THIS scene. Both Amos AND Alex have been working out. But, horror of horrors, we see some blue goo is still in the hold.

Avasarala, Bobbie, Cotyar and Theo reach the control room. They see two “we’re just the flight crew” guys but, they’ve rigged an electrical grid to disable Bobbie’s suit. Cotyar takes them out.

Amos tells Holden that they should go to Tycho – that even though they are pissed, she’s right. Naomi wants to get close to Holden, but he’s pissed. She leaves and he crushes the coffee maker. (NOT THE COFFEE MAKER!). Which then sprays water all over Holden. Prax – “you should try tea.” Glad the one liners are still coming this season. We see the UNN escort ship firing off some missiles. Cotyar makes sure Bobbie is ok after being electrocuted. They figure out that the UNN missiles are headed their way. Avasarala insists that they get the comms, because without proof of Errinwright’s deception her life is worth nothing, and after jockeying around, Cotyar remembers hearing “when he was NOT selling her out” that Mao kept his kid’s racing ship on board. So, tech dude works on getting the comms, everyone else goes to check out the racing yacht.

Prax and Holden discuss taking on impossible tasks and how Prax will never know the fate of Mei and he’ll have to live with that. Holden thoughtfully watches Prax walk out with a duffel that has Mei’s backpack.

Cotyar and Avasarala get to the racing yacht, but realize it is a 2-seater. There is space in it, but people not in the seats will be wrecked. Worse, the hangar is locked. Bobbie determinedly steps away.

On the Roci… Alex records a message for his family. Alex is more or less brutally honest about how the draw of being part of something bigger was stronger than that of being a good husband or father. But he says it never meant he didn’t love them.

Holden examines some data. Bobbie cuts through the hull and is attempting to get to the hold from the outside. She is nearly brushed off the ship when her hand maglocks release because her suit is still buggy. Avasarala injects Cotyar and they discuss why Cotyar has to go in the escape pod. He can’t go in the racing yacht, because his injury will break open under high gee. The UN won’t fire on the escape pod unless they know Avasarala’s on it. Bobbie continues her running bug walk along the hull, and finally opens the bay from the outside.

Going to Io

Holden shares with the team about his research, which shows that Io had a spike in activity when the protomolecule did its Venus thing. So, Holden wants to go to Io to live up to their promise to Prax. Alex and Amos agree, and off they go. On Tycho, Drummer is drinking, “more ships, more war, more death. You and Dawes want to join that party?” Drummer explains why she had came to Tycho, that they share Tycho as a way forward for the Belters. Fred wants Drummer to bring the Nauvoo back. Drummer is awesome. Pissed, but awesome. And, she agrees to go. “Can I finish my drink first?”

Avasarala and Cotyar say goodbye (bringing a tear to MY eye).  Bobbie removes her suit and makes sure that Avasarala removes tinsel that will KILL her under high gee. Cotyar sets his and Theo’s pod to gently drift away so won’t attract the missiles. Bobbie slowly moves away from Mao’s yacht, so as not to tempt a missile. “Hitch your tits and pucker up! It’s time to peel the paint!” Now THAT is an awesome line. The Guanshiyin explodes and we see the Razorback fly off into the dark.

hitch your tits

Grade: A

Thoughts on this episode: The special effects were fantastic! We waited for two whole seasons to see Julie’s Razorback and it did not disappoint. According to Bob Munroe, The Expanse’s Producer/Senior VFX Supervisor, most of the Razorback that we see (all external) is VFX. And, that’s amazing. The emotions between Cotyar and Avasarala were so intense. They truly love each other (even if he WAS gonna sell her out). I think the Drummer/Nauvoo storyline will become much bigger as the season goes along. And Cara Gee did a perfect job of expressing her utter disappointment about the failure of the vision for the Belters she thought would be achieved by building Tycho. Pacing was wonderful and the shifts between plot lines were deftly handled.

The Expanse airs on Wednesdays on Syfy at 9/8c. The next episode, IFF, airs April 18, 2018.

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