The Expanse (S03E06) “Immolation”

Just when you think it couldn’t actually be any more action-packed, The Expanse manages to exceed itself.  I admit, there was at least on scene that made me cry, and at least one that made me stand up and cheer.

Spoilers ahead!

The UN Council watches and listens to the hot war, and they hear that the UNN ships are attacking each other, AND that the Agatha King destroyed the Jimenez. Gillis (Jonathan Whittaker) is astonished.

The crew breaching the facility at Io watches the hybrid launch with horror.  Alex (Cas Anvar) burns the entire supply of the PDCs that they salvaged from the KC in trying to destroy the launched hybrids.  At least one hybrid ended up smeared across a ship. Wonder what THAT will lead to.  Other ships were firing at the hybrids, but it appears at least 24 escaped.  Avasarala (Shohreh Agdashloo) is convinced that Errinwright would send them to Mars, but the stealth tech makes them impossible to track.

Mao (Francois Chau) and Strickland (Ted Atherton) discuss what they should do since they think that a Martian assault team is after them. Strickland, because he is SO ethical, suggests that they use the children as human shields.  As everyone leaves, Strickland comes up with the brilliant idea to release Katoa. (The graphics of Katoa  visualizing the disassembly of the Arboghast is absolutely incredible, and subtly demonstrates the range of the Protomolecule.  Katoa is portrayed by Jordan Dacol in the containment unit, but by Elias Toufexis in motion – fun fact – Elias Toufexis has now been killed in the show three times, once per season!).

The Roci team on Io detects people, so they go to track them down. The team “whistles in the dark” with an amusing discussion about growing square watermelons.  They encounter a firefight and take them down. Prax (Terry Chen) is pretty cold-blooded about shooting civilians.

On the Roci, Avasarala has Alex and Naomi (Dominique Tipper) show her what is happening in the space around Io.  (Note that Naomi deliberately joins Alex in order to take a step to make-up with Avasarala).  Alex scopes the Agatha King, and along with Naomi and Avasarala is horrified to see that the ship has been hit with a hybrid.  The implications are terrible for the ship’s occupants.

On the AK, Cotyar (Nick Tarabay) wakes up with gravity clearly suspended.  All hell is breaking loose. A soldier runs into Cotyar’s space, chased by an insane crewmember. They fight and Cotyar, even though he is restrained, helps the soldier.  Poor Cotyar has to tell her that she is infected with Protomolecule and will die, but he convinces her they have to do something to stop the infection from going anywhere else.  She shoots off his hand restraints and hands over her gun.  Cotyar suits up, and heads down the hall, seeing Protomolecule and dead crewmembers everywhere.

On Io, Bobbie (Frankie Adams) sees a heat signature of small ones, but then sees Katoa and recognizes that he is a hybrid. She tells the rest of the team to grab the kids and charges after Katoa.  Avasarala tells her this won’t bring back her dead Martians, but Bobbie is committed, “Ma’am, for the first time in your life, please just shut your damn mouth.”  (Bobbie’s antiquated suit makes a wonderful sound as she runs.)  Bobbie shoots, slowing, but not stopping Katoa.

The UN Council continues to monitor the situation around Io.  They note a large launch of weapons, and that everyone but the AK was firing to destroy them.  The UN does not know what was targeted because the missiles are using stealth tech.  (Of course, Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) knows exactly what was launched).  Anna (Elizabeth Mitchell) shows up in Gillis’s office, determined to show him the Errinwright recording.  She tries one last time to resuscitate Gillis’s conscience.  Apparently the first time Gillis used Anna, she walked away, but this time she is not going to walk away.  She shows him the recording.

The Roci team enters a lab with a computer database that has the missing kids’ pictures. They see Mei, and they know she’s close.

Bobbie runs full tilt, with Katoa in pursuit. She uses the thrust function to lift herself and fires again, slowing down Katoa.  But, it’s very temporary.  The team sees the group with the kids heading for the launch bay, so they depressurize the bay.  Alex suggests that Holden try to disable the hybrid pods, but Holden (Steven Strait) figures out that the AK has control and he’s locked out.  Alex is freaking out about the hybrids heading to Mars.  Holden spots Strickland takes off after him.  Alex bolts for the Razorback, and Naomi charges after him to go with – he is determined to get to the AK and find a way to stop the hybrids.  So, Avasarala is the only one left on the Roci.

Bobbie and Katoa run a Parkour course in the factory.  As her thruster depletes, Katoa tackles her, and they both fall several floors to the outside of the factory.

Gillis summons Errinwright to confront him about the recording.  Errinwright not only admits it, he’s proud of it.  Errinwright totally trashes Gillis to Anna, describing how he had fought to save Earth but Gillis fought to save himself.  Gillis has Errinwright arrested for treason.  But, Errinwright is right. Gillis is by far the worse of the two.  Gillis tells Anna that Errinwright has sealed his legacy, and he thanks Anna, echoing Errinwright’s same earlier comment.  Anna goes from looking pleased to crushed, as she realizes her betrayal.

Dr. Strickland and a nurse take a back way, leaving the kids behind and Strickland plugs her in the back, just as Prax and Amos find him.  Dr. Slimy reunites Mei (Leah Jung) and Prax. Surely a moment Prax never thought would come.

The Razorback arrived at the AK to see that the Protomolecule is making structural changes.  Alex comments that it seems to have learned new tricks.  (Although it still doesn’t seem to be doing anything with dead bodies).  Naomi finds a utility airlock to allow her and Alex to enter the AK “safely.”

Holden encounters Mao with a guard who makes a fatal mistake of drawing on Holden.  Mao announces he’s unarmed and thinks they came for him, but Holden tells him they only came for the kids.  Mao tries to justify what they were doing as a means to stop Venus.  Holden asks if they can stop the hybrids and Mao concedes they can’t.  They take the data cores and head down the hall.

Prax and Mei are talking and Mei tells Prax that Strickland converted Katoa.  Prax introduces Mei to Amos (Wes Chatham), and Amos herds the kids out as Prax goes back to kill Strickland.  He comes within one millimeter of shooting Strickland when Amos stops him. “You’re not that guy.”  He sends Prax out and Strickland sighs with relief, but it’s short-lived.  Amos says, “I AM that guy” and, satisfyingly, shoots Strickland in the head.

Naomi and Alex connect the Razorback to the AK and board the CIC.  They are horrified at the carnage.  Turning around, they see Nguyen (Byron Mann) holding a gun on them, but he says the critters can’t be stopped.

Bobbie is lying on the ground, and the damaged-but-not-dead Katoa hybrid comes over ready to rip her heart out.  Bobbie shouts at Katoa, and this seems to get through to him OR he is aware that something is happening elsewhere, because he looks away from Bobbie.  She forces her arm up and fires rounds right at the back of Katoa’s head.  (All that arm-wrestling paid off! As awful as hybrids are, I felt bad for Katoa).  Apparently, he was still human enough for this to kill him.

On the CIC, Nguyen goes on a diatribe about how much he hates the Martians and how awful they are.  As they are working to redirect the hybrids, Naomi points out to Alex that it will take a long time.  Cotyar sends a wideband announcement to steer clear of the AK because it is infected.  He is overloading the core to cause a nuclear explosion to take out the ship.  Avasarala recognizes Cotyar, who is infected.  Even though Cotyar didn’t know how long it would take for the breach to blow up the ship, Naomi does. She activates the hybrid pod transponders.  She and Alex burn like hell to avoid the nuclear explosion.

Naomi has a plan.  She mentions that Fred Johnson has the missiles he saved.  If they give him the codes, he can shoot them down.  She wisely says that they ALL have to agree, because the risk is by giving Fred the transponder codes, HE could keep them as weapons for the Belters.  All of them agree to send Fred the info and Naomi sends him the codes.

Panning over the Belt, Alex puts Bobbie in the med unit, Holden drags Mao in front of Avasarala, and Prax give Mei her bear and a huge hug.  And for the Nolden shippers, we finally get to see them get physical.  But, Holden knows that Naomi has to go.  We see Fred Johnson (Chad Coleman) launch the missiles to take out the hybrids.  And then, on Venus, SOMETHING GARGANTUAN AND BLUE erupts from Venus.  In an interesting twist, the closing music changes to reflect the lovely and eerie opening music from the full titles.

Thoughts on the episode:  We covered a huge amount of terrain in this episode!  Errinwright’s angry diatribe 100% validates what Avasarala has been saying about “Bobblehead Gillis.”  I actually now feel sorry for Errinwright, even though he is DESPICABLE.  This reflects brilliant character development and writing.  I rarely actually cry, but Cotyar’s farewell speech got to me, and I’m sad to see him go.  I’m also sad to see the end of Katoa, Basia’s son.  It’s hard to imagine much worse than experimentation on children, so it was very rewarding to see the end of Dr. Strickland.  The eruption of the blue material on Venus portends a big shift in the show, and I’m really looking forward to that.

Images courtesy of Syfy.  The Expanse airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Syfy.  “Delta-V” airs on May 23, 2018.