The Expanse: The Weeping Somnambulist
March 23, 2017 11:49 AM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Avasarala questions Draper as conspiracies unravel on Earth. The Rocinante crew attempts to avert a disaster.

Quotes

Deputy Undersecretary Avasarala: "Whoever the fuck you are, stand down and let her speak.... Unless there is something you don’t want her to say?"
--
Colonel Janus: “Maybe it’s the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself.”
Dr. Iturbi: “I prefer to think that intelligent life could choose not to.”
--
Dr. Meng: “Your plans always so vague?”
Amos: “This one’s about average.”
Dr. Meng: “You all must be very lucky.”
Amos: “We’ve certainly had our fair share.”
--
Martens: "With all due respect, madam, where are you going with this?"
Avasarala: "Wherever I goddamn like."
posted by zarq (56 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
They are barely making a nod towards masking the "fucks" anymore and I think that's great. This is cable, go ahead and swear. We'll be ok I promise.

I thought the outcome of the Somnabulist storyline was moving and earned. Sometimes your intentions don't matter.

Avasarala was great in this episode.
posted by Justinian at 4:15 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I straight up stood up in my seat and said FUCK YEAH AVASARALA for that "whatever I goddamn like". So good, and her dresses were so beautiful.
posted by corb at 4:37 PM on March 23 [12 favorites]


Are we books-ok here? I feel like it's been ok in other episode threads.

On the off chance we are NOT books-positive, I'll vaguely state that I had a major "wha? they did wha?" reaction to a plot point in this episode and went back to the books to be sure that my impression was correct, and that the series-only plot point was series-only. It had the effect of undermining my trust in the series adaptors because it appears to go against what I have seen as otherwise paralell character development.

That said, the rawness of the final scene was an intended gesture to the airlock scene from the prior episode, I think, and this confrontationality is something about the show I like very much.

Another aspect of the show my wife and I were admiring, reflecting on the casting of the crew of the Somnambulist and others, is the series' commitment to encompassing diversity in the actors seen onscreen. It's entirely in keeping with the spirit of the books as well.

A costuming note that was both of interest to me and mildly distracting was the use of non-embroidered, somewhat shiny, apparently printed service and ship emblems, logos, and nametags. Bobbie's MCRN logo was glossy. One of the Ganymede boarding baddies had a shiny Star Helix badge. The crew of the Somnambulist had multiple badgey doodads that were smooth surfaced and reflective. I may just not have noticed this in the past and it is surely a reasonable production decison from the persoective if keeping costs down, but I was distracted by it.

(N.B. I once made my living by designing embroidered emblems, primarily for local labor unions in the PNW, so my feelings on this matter may be colored by fogeyness.)
posted by mwhybark at 5:16 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


The whole Martian arrival on Earth fascinated me. From using what was clearly a military landing craft to arrive, to all the precautions they had to take just to walk across a parking lot, to the plain concrete of the Martian Embassy corridors.

Also found it interesting that Bobby got a chair for her second round of testimony. I wonder whose idea that was?
posted by Mogur at 5:16 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


Yes, the quick cut of the dropship headed down toward the East River was pretty damn cool, I enjoyed that whole sequence too. Does that place the Martian compound somewhere around Mulberry Street and Chinatown, traditional havens for marginally welcome ethnicities in New York?

I imagine it's probably closer to the UN building, actually, but I enjoyed my brain producing that thought in the moment.
posted by mwhybark at 5:25 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Totally distracted by Avasarala's amazing necklace.

Did I miss the significance of the ship being named "Weeping Somnambulist"? Lady Macbeth?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:45 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


I straight up stood up in my seat and said FUCK YEAH AVASARALA for that "whatever I goddamn like". So good, and her dresses were so beautiful.

I understand maybe a third of what's happening on this show and am mainly watching for Chrisjen, her dresses, and her jewelry.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:33 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


It had the effect of undermining my trust in the series adaptors

Given that both the authors are embedded in the writer's room, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I loved this tweet from Daniel Abraham:
"Whoever the fuck you are stand down and let her speak" is pretty much for any woman in any meeting/seminar anywhere.
Regarding the name Weeping Somnambulist, on the latest episode of the podcast The Churn one of the authors (I forget which) said that it was a description in the books of what it feels like to be in deep grief, but when I search the ebooks the only occurrences of "somnambulist" I'm finding are as a ship name (in Caliban's War).
posted by Lexica at 8:15 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Shohreh Aghdashloo played an awesome badassed book-appropriate C. Avasarala.

fuse theorem - in the books, her character makes effort to choose her outfit to manipulate who she's expecting to meet - and plays this like a professional gambler cultivating fake "tells" - and keeps people guessing. She also has a very rich family/home life with grandkids and a very loving, thoughtful, kind, understanding, and "cool" husband.

As a book-ed first person, I'm all about involving the books - but by definition I can't speak for the non-book people here. Has the discrete references to the books been ok, or would you like us to open a different thread? Or is it ok to talk about future book plots here (which I doubt)?

I have no idea if the show will further diverge away from the books like GoT did.
posted by porpoise at 8:42 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


The prior season episode threads here lacked a "books included" flag, as do these. At the conclusion of last season, a books-yes post covering the prior season was opened. So precedent argues for a non-book practice here. Cabal, what say you?
posted by mwhybark at 9:33 PM on March 23


I think contrasting the books and show makes for better conversations in these threads, provided nobody discusses plot points from the books that are in advance of where the show currently is (it's not so far diverged that there's any difficulty on that front, thus far).

So that's my vote.

This episode was a real return to form for me, after being kinda let down by the previous two. I do wish we'd gotten something closer to book-Prax, but there's so much internal monologue in that character that this is probably the closest they felt they could get.
posted by Ryvar at 9:50 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Yeah, at the very least, be diligent about avoiding spoilers. If a non-spoilery but book-alluding discussion here isn't sufficient, then we could have show-only threads. I think it's worked out fairly well so far, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:56 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


It was good to see Avasarala let herself off the leash in this episode, and the actor playing Amos continues to steal the show. That was a great expression when he he told Prax he couldn't leave "because the captain said so" - like a mixture of wide-eyed surprise that anyone would ever go against that, combined with a little bit of worry that if Amos himself doesn't follow what the captain says, he'll slip up and do something bad without thinking about it.

I continue to be a little on the fence about the portrayal of Bobbie on the show. The actor certainly fits the part physically, but she plays Bobbie as pretty emotional and high-strung, whereas my impression of her from the books is as somebody who is fundamentally pragmatic and no-nonsense; she doesn't have a lot of patience for bullshit, but she's not going to waste time by getting all worked up over things she can't control.
posted by whir at 5:52 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


The prior season episode threads here lacked a "books included" flag, as do these.

...but they also lack a "Show Only" tag, and there were arguments about this last season.

My own sense is that there is not enough traffic in Expanse threads to sustain show-only and explicitly-books-included threads. My sense of how we should proceed, following Ryvar, is that "Here is how that went differently in the books" should be kosher but "here is what will happen, which I know from the books" should be haram.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:24 AM on March 24 [12 favorites]


she's not going to waste time by getting all worked up over things she can't control.

She did that in the books -- there was a point where Chaplain had to remind her that she'd just spent all day disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling her weapon over and over again without ever firing it.

They're certainly portraying her ptsd differently than in the books, and corb has indicated not as well so I'll trust her judgment on this, but it's hard to tell what's actually different and what is just the difference between Bobbie as she sees herself, which is what we get in the books, versus Bobbie as others see her or Bobbie as she objectively exists, which is what we're getting in the series.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:31 AM on March 24


"Here is how that went differently in the books" should be kosher

Good, because then I can complain about the plot change!

In the books, when our protagonists use the Somnambulist to get on to Ganymede, it's before they've cut loose from Fred. The Roci actually hauled in the other ship by claiming it from some kid Belta pirates on a specific mission under Fred's authority. Those pirates had killed the original crew to take the ship.

Then when it's decided to infiltrate Ganymede, this is still done under Fred's rubric, and the Somnambulist is used for the gig, essentially because the ship is so old it's nearly scrapworthy and therefore can be used as a burner.

So when the Roci crew make rockfall in the Somnambulist, they are wearing the dead crew's uniforms and nametags. Some of this detail is in the episode - you can see the name "Philips" one of the uniforms, which is a direct lift from the book.

So the big changes on the show are
a) the Roci's crew are now the pirates
b) the firefight replaces a failed shakedown written as comedy
c) the Somnambulist's crew are living when the ship enters the narrative

The fact that her captain is alive and retains control of the ship is another big change that may have implications downstream.

I was initally kind of irritated by the cheap suspense and reveal of the no-logo suits on the boarding party, then actually angry that the Roci would engage in piracy (well, mildly frowny, but you know), and then had an attack of the eyerolls when we got a full-on shootout. That was largely redeemed by the intensity of the aftermath, in the moment.

I still don't buy the change from pirate hunters to pirates, although sure, privateers became pirates historically often enough. That's not the historical parallel depicted here. It's a major shift in the portrayed morality of our protagonists and one that undermines their adherence to Belta codes of conduct in ways that I am resistant to.
posted by mwhybark at 9:21 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Dunno how others feel, but that comment's a little over the book comparison / spoiler line for me.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 10:03 AM on March 24 [6 favorites]


With people prefacing their comments with"In the books", I get a heads-up to stop reading the comment, so thanks for that and maybe that would be a good way to coexist in a single thread.
posted by cardboard at 10:55 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


I also think saying "this will be important later" is over the line. Prefacing it with "in the books" wouldn't help — I read too quickly and take in too much at a glance for that to work. And ROT13 is deprecated on MeFi.

I suggest that book readers keep our comments limited to what's happened up to the current point in the show, being careful to avoid hinting or foreshadowing about what we expect to happen later.
posted by Lexica at 11:20 AM on March 24 [5 favorites]


I think what actually makes sense, given that comment (no offense, this is just an idea) is to make a separate "Expanse Season 2, books included" thread that covers the whole season, thus solving the "too few people" problem, and will allow for speculation.
posted by corb at 11:38 AM on March 24 [6 favorites]




> My own sense is that there is not enough traffic in Expanse threads to sustain show-only and explicitly-books-included threads. My sense of how we should proceed, following Ryvar, is that "Here is how that went differently in the books" should be kosher but "here is what will happen, which I know from the books" should be haram.

As someone who has not read the books, I approve of this plan.
posted by homunculus at 12:39 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


Fair enough. Out of curiosity, what is the specific element in the comment(s) that is over line? I was pretty careful to refer only to specific onscreen elements and to events that have already occurred within the show and the book to the point of the show's plot. Identifying an onscreen character as an important character in the books, maybe? I apologize, as I thought I was coloring inside the lines. Should we request a comment pull? That would be fine with me.

I will be on the road for the rest of the day and may not be able to flag it myself, please feel free to do so.
posted by mwhybark at 12:58 PM on March 24


I see. So just that one comment. I will flag it! Calling all mods!
posted by mwhybark at 1:14 PM on March 24


Yeah, just that one comment. Not a big deal, but the kind of thing it seems to be hard to avoid when bringing in books to TV discussions. I've done it myself.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 1:18 PM on March 24


[Nixed that comment, carry on!]
posted by cortex at 1:19 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


I wonder whose profile is on the Martian Purple Heart.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:34 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Valentine Michael Smith




(kidding)
posted by zarq at 2:39 PM on March 24 [8 favorites]


D'oh, now my reproduction of the vaguely-spoiler-ish bits is still around, flagged my own comment :)

Vaguely on-topic: very glad, as a VOD watcher via Amazon, that they've managed to sync up the releases with the cable ones. Full openings, and no more muted Avasarala cursing!
posted by cyrusdogstar at 2:52 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


So back to a book-vs-show comment that doesn't spoil anybody, one thing I did appreciate is they handled Bobbi a little better in this episode. They've really struggled with her portrayal - I can see the shifts kind of from episode to episode - but in this one it was well done. Instead of bursting out with the truth all over the council, it has her keeping her military bearing until she's out of the council room, and Avasarala being able to get only one tiny outburst, before she shuts up and keeps her bearing again. It's much more military, much more what I like to see. Same with Bobbi and the sun/sky - she doesn't wear her sunglasses, because she's going to prove to herself and to Earth that she's tough, tougher than what happened. The characterization had a rough start, but it's really growing on me.
posted by corb at 3:08 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


I too wish to know who is on the Martian Purple Heart.
posted by mwhybark at 5:13 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


I think contrasting the books and show makes for better conversations in these threads, provided nobody discusses plot points from the books that are in advance of where the show currently is (it's not so far diverged that there's any difficulty on that front, thus far).

Non-book reader, just wanted to vote for this too. I'm curious about the differences in the way the story is told in different media, but don't want to know about future events.

Thanks for the fascinating discussion, all. I don't feel like I have a ton to add to these right now - every so often, I just give a show the benefit of the doubt for awhile and let it go where it wants, and that's kind of where I am with The Expanse right now. All the same, it's really interesting to see what the rest of you are taking away from all this and why.
posted by mordax at 5:30 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


I too wish to know who is on the Martian Purple Heart.

On google, Ty Franck standing in for the (AFAIK unknown and unstated) founder of the MCR.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:21 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


...who I will now just call George Marsington.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:22 PM on March 24 [15 favorites]


I too wish to know who is on the Martian Purple Heart.

I'm rooting for Matt Damon
posted by dis_integration at 6:54 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


And my money was on either Sam Houston or Jawaharlal Nehru.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:15 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Lenin
posted by zippy at 11:11 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I was going to bet on that guy who got smushed discovering the drive.
posted by corb at 11:19 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


oh riiiight! George Marsington, duh! Thank you, ship's mind. I think we all already knew this.
posted by mwhybark at 12:01 AM on March 25


Oh man, I was going to bet on that guy who got smushed discovering the drive.

Epstein?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:29 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Yay another great episode! My favorite part was how they handled Bobbi's testimony at the UN, the lie, her stress about it, Avasarala's intuition and exposing of that lie. Really nicely done. The characterization of the Mars diplomats was good too. We know so little about Mars, but these guys are just as untrustworthy as Earther diplomats. Only a little harder edged.

I watched Avasarala's line "Wherever I goddamn like" about 5 times. So awesome. There's a funny vocal inflection she injects in the middle of that which makes it really land hard. Video clip.

They handled Prax' relationship with the crew really well, his disdain and lack of trust for them. I mean fuck these holier-than-thou guys and their stupid space gallavanting. Think how crazy that would be for a botanist who had witnessed the destruction of his home and the loss of his child. Not to mention a mass murder that he now feels compelled to cover up.

I share mywhybark's frustation that our Rocinante Heroes became space pirates, even if in service of a good cause. I thought having that decision have terrible consequences at the end, no matter how unintended, was a good karmic balance. I particularly liked that Naomi wasn't there for the firefight; this wasn't her fuckup. It's Holden's. Amos is as blameless as a child, as always.
posted by Nelson at 8:17 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I'm rooting for Matt Damon

Babylon's Ashes (the latest Expanse book) mentions a Martian ship called the Mark Ratney. The Martian and The Expanse are now officially part of the same continuity. Welcome to the Martian Cinematic Universe!
posted by elgilito at 2:23 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


... And *now* I get the Matt Damon joke upthread. It does seem plausible that Mark might be George Marsington.
posted by mwhybark at 2:33 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


It's also possible that they're in our future and that there are also Podkayne and Arkady Bogdanov flying around.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:55 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Oh, other pointless thing I noticed: the poor hauler they jacked was Apophis. So weird to hear him without the reverb.
posted by mordax at 5:02 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Yeah, there's also a ship called Gozerian, so unless it's also in the Ghostbusters universe it's probably a reference to the book character Mark Watney, not the Martian historical figure Mark Watney.
posted by Lexica at 11:34 AM on March 26


it's probably a reference to the book character Mark Watney, not the Martian historical figure Mark Watney

It actually is historical! Check out elgilito's link above - the tie-in is official canon.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 8:31 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I dislike any sort of book discussion because I think it all reveals too much information, 'spoiler-free' or no.

If the FanFare thread was any indication, it seems like half of the people watching the show have read the books. I wonder what the actual proportion is?
posted by tjgrathwell at 10:34 PM on March 26


I'm also a non-booker, and would like to say that, for the record, I'm OK with book comparisons as long as they don't spoil anything.

Reading everything you bookers have to say has definitely enhanced my experience of the show. There's so much that's easy to miss, so it's nice that I can come here and read all of your well-informed thoughts.
posted by MsVader at 6:37 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


everything you bookers

Does that mean we have to develop our own patois now?
posted by porpoise at 6:45 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


bookalowdah?
posted by Mogur at 7:04 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


The thing is that -lowda is (roughly speaking) only for pronouns. Milowda, tolowda, inyalowda, beltalowda…

Maybe búkwala or bukmang
posted by Lexica at 7:36 PM on March 27 [4 favorites]


búkwala would be for book-firsters, book-proponents, book-servants, more, right? I mean we've heard -wala used on the show pejoratively, iirc. Even though I enjoyed the books I would have a hard time self-identifying as any of the above - the show does a better job with some aspects of the material that both media are addressing and inventing, with Lang Belta as Exhibit A.
posted by mwhybark at 10:55 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


-wala means person who is involved with, or associated with. So, a wellwala is someone who is obsessed/associated with the (gravity) well, which is (from a Belter POV) perjorative.

Nonperjorative examples of -wala we've gotten include fotowala (photographer), govawala (psychiatrist), maliwala (child), owkwakakawala (barista/coffee vendor), rowmwala (bartender), wéltewala (welder), and I think xúnamwala (student).

Perjorative examples include wellwala, pashangwala, sabakawala, matnawala, and probably some I'm forgetting.

Nick has said that -wala and -mang are basically interchangeable.
posted by Lexica at 9:13 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Re: the Roci crew becoming pirates:

Technically, no. If they were pirates, they would have spaced the crew after boarding and kept the cargo.

What they did was hitch a ride at gunpoint aboard one of the few ships that was able to cross the Martian naval blockade over Ganymede. Not a nice thing to do. But piracy generally involves violence & theft.

And as far as violating belta codes of conduct... most pirates are belters.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:51 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


OMG that was Apophis! I was just saying tonight I hoped some Stargate folks would show up on this. Amanda Tapping as a Martian captain, anyone?
posted by rednikki at 10:06 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


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