The Expanse (S03E04) “Reload”

I had the opportunity to speak to Cas Anvar, who plays Alex Kamal, right before this episode. He was a charming person to interview, passionate about his role and the acting process. He noted that this episode had a lot of action, and boy, was he right.  Check out my interview with Cas: https://tvserieshub.tv/2018/05/10/the-expanse-interview-with-cas-anvar/ .

Spoilers commence after this point.

Last episode, Fred Johnson asked Drummer (Cara Gee) to go retrieve the Nauvoo for the Belter to anchor its fleet. We open this episode with Drummer very capably navigating a Belter fleet, including drones to capture and redirect the Nauvoo. The effects are stunning! And, it is clear that the folks creating the interior of the Nauvoo have seen the inside of a Mormon Temple.

The Roci crew has devised a plan to relieve supplies from the dead Martian ships. The wonderful relationship between Bobbie (Frankie Adams) and Avasarala (Shohreh Agdashloo) is on full display. Bobbie sees Avasarala wearing a Razorback suit, and can’t understand how she can wear it. Avasarala states, “It’s the skin of my enemy.” To which Bobbie says of her uniform, “I guess that makes this the skin of my ex.” Just a few of Bobbie’s wonderful bits of dialog. Avasarala really wants to send out information and needs Holden to give them access to full communications.

The Roci comes upon the Martian ship, the Kittur Chennamma (the KC) and they decide that it is a perfect target. Prax (Terry Chen) is watching Strickland’s Project Caliban briefing (again). He is beginning to think saving Mei wouldn’t be the right move if she is one of the Protomolecule hybrids. Prax says he can’t understand how someone could do this. Amos (Wes Chatham) says Prax must have had a very different childhood. (I imagine!)

The outcome of Dr. Strickland’s experimentation

Alex (Cas Anvar) and Naomi (Dominique Tipper) are talking about the best way to get the items and Naomi is sympathetic to how Alex feels about stripping war dead. She volunteers to make some Red Kibble, Belter food. Alex expresses how nice he thinks the gesture is. Holden (Steven Strait), Prax and Amos are checking the ship out, rejoicing in the ammunition they find, when Holden hears an internal SOS.

Bobbie comes up on deck, angry when she sees what they are doing. But, Alex points out that if they hadn’t been stripping the ship, they wouldn’t have found the survivors. They seal off and open the compartment and save the Martian survivors.

Secretary-General Sorrento-Gillis (Jonathan Whittaker) is delivering what Anna Volovodov (Elizabeth Mitchell) believes is the speech she wrote. Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) compliments her and takes her to sit up front. She is shocked and horrified to find that he has modified the speech to support subjugating the Martians. Errinwright just has to get in a little dig at Anna, “Thanks for your help.”

At Io, Strickland (Ted Atherton) is unhappily preparing to shut down the project. Mao (Francois Chau) directs the doctor to pack up all the info and transfer the children to his ship. Strickland stomps down to where Katoa (Jaeden Noel) is glowing a brighter blue than ever. Katoa sees Strickland’s internal operations in glowing blue.

Back on the Roci, the Martians are being treated, but don’t immediately understand they’ve been rescued by a salvage crew. Once they do, they are extremely angry because they see the Roci crew as thieves. Holden confines them to quarters.

Martian survivors rebel

Watching the video of the SecGen’s speech, Avasarala sees that Anna is in the audience and goes to find Holden.

The Martian soldiers really want to take the “Tachi” back, even though Alex tries to explain that the war is system wide and they aren’t safe. They have a heated discussion, where Alex explains his seniority, but they get the jump on him and, really, beat the shit out of Alex.

Avasarala, explains that she just watched Errinwright speak through the SecGen’s mouth, making SecGen far more dangerous. She explains that Anna is perfect to use – she’s on the outside, and they won’t be monitoring her communications. Naomi tries to restrain Holden from acting, but he agrees to send the Errinwright message to Anna. Naomi questions whether Holden can trust Avasarala, but he fires back about her trustworthiness.

The next scene demonstrates a wonderful balance of everyone’s strengths. The three Martian’s drag Alex up to the deck, and send one of the soldiers (Ranhofer, played by Alain Chanoine) down to the armory – where, intelligently, Holden has hidden the ammo. They have a serious fight, where Holden reminds us, yes, he was a soldier. He sends an emergency signal to the deck and the KC. Holden drags the soldier up and everyone is holding arms on everyone else. Bobbie arrives on deck in a very calm fashion. Her leadership is evident! Bobbie understands exactly what these soldiers are feeling, and between her and the group leader’s conviction, the Martian releases the gun. Right then Amos drags Ranofer up from below deck. “Shit, did I miss it?” HA! Laugh out loud moment, breaking the tension.

Anna arrives and reams the SecGen, and shuts down Errinwright.

Anna Volovodov reams Secretary General Sorrento-Gillis

The Roci crew repairs the KC, making sure it can limp back to the Martian fleet. Bobbie and Holden introduce Avasarala to the Martian leader, Sinopoli (Atticus Mitchell). Avasarala explains that there is a conspiracy, and Bobbie backs her. They ask Sinopoli to bring the recording of Errinwright and ask his CO to hail Admiral Souther to transmit the Errinwright info.

Anna speaks by video to Nono (Raven Dauda). Nono is definitely scared, and although Anna is really upset, she tells Nono she is coming home. Anna is upset that she has played a part in this huge war, which is against everything she believes. Right after she hangs up, she received the Errinwright message sent by Avasarala. She’s horrified.

Bobbie tells Alex that although the Martian sailors were stupid, she doesn’t want them dead. Naomi talks to Holden and it seems like maybe there’s a little thaw.

On Io, Mei (Leah Jung) is frantic to find Katoa or go see her Dad. She is a smart little girl, so she knows Katoa is in one of the rooms. Mao has Strickland open the locked room. Katoa has dismantled his nurse and is rearranging the pieces (well, the Protomolecule was). Katoa and the Protomolecule are “cohabiting” Katoa. Mao realizes that Katoa is communicating with ALL of the Protomolecule, and again is instantly infatuated with this potential power.

Thoughts on the episode: This episode did an excellent job of the pacing required for a complex story. I credit both the writing (by Robin Veith (although Cas Anvar mentioned he thought this episode was written by either Ty and Daniel)) or the direction by Thor Freudenthal. You did not feel unnecessarily jerked about, although quite a lot was happening. A stand-out scene for me was Bobbie addressing Loftis (Kelly McCormack) who was scared and infuriated and wanted revenge. Bobbie was clearly empathetic and I think she got through, at least to Sinopoli, that bigger forces were at play. There was a lovely scene of the Razorback moving in tandem with the Roci – another reminder of the exceptional VFX. Any time I can watch the Nauvoo, I rejoice.

The Expanse airs Wednesday nights on Syfy at 9 p.m. The next episode “Triple Point” airs on May 9, 2018.