The Expanse: Congregation & Abaddon's Gate   Show Only 
June 28, 2018 2:59 AM - Season 3, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Things move fast, for everyone being stuck in one place. It's a special double-episode season finale!

UNN and MCRN forces inside the Ring are effectively suborned to the OPA due to the Behemoth's monopoly on medical supplies and spin gravity. The Roci crew is finally back in the same space, albeit scattered: Jim is in the brig with a sedated Clarissa Mao, and Naomi is assigned to grid array modifications.

Ashford becomes convinced that the Ring actively means to harm humanity, and wants to shoot first with an overpowered communications laser; Holden is told by the Investigator that he can lower the fleet's threat level by having everyone power down their reactors. The biggest fight is on board the Behemoth, where complex loyalties tangle: the Roci crew, an exoskeleton-powered Drummer, Anna and the documentary maker Monica Stuart against Bobbi, Clarissa, and most everyone else.

Things get very close, but a few last-moment changes in allegiance results in the fleet powering down and being set free from the Slow Zone. At the same time, the Ring opens up portals to 1300 habitable systems… but why it did so, and for whom those portals are intended, is left as an open question.

Highlights: Clarissa remembers her lesson about power conduits. Diogo gets a mouthful of elevator. Holden gets a passenger. Alex gets A Look.

Quotes: "Okay, I'm going to need those guns back"

I've really enjoyed covering this season, and all your thoughts and contributions. Details for Season 4 on Amazon aren't yet clear, but I hope to have the opportunity to cover that too, whenever it starts.

Books-included Season 3 thread
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (67 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
One thing I really noticed about this finale is how much it was written to be a closing to the series if need be - what with the voiceover, and ending not on a cliffhanger but on a general “There will be turmoil and no one knows what will happen next but we think we kind of have an idea.”
posted by corb at 5:56 AM on June 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


One thing I really appreciate more and more about this show is the optimism that keeps bubbling to the surface. Whether it’s Bobbie and Alex trying to talk it out, Holden dropping his gun rather than storming the bridge, or even Drummer having a drink with Ashford, there’s usually (or at least often) a level of faith in human decency and rationality on display that’s very welcome these days.
posted by Zonker at 6:29 AM on June 28, 2018 [20 favorites]


I love the little details in the show, and how all of them add fun layers to the show and how the show demands you pay attention.

The row of buffers in the Behemoth, they are the same buffers that Clarissa was installing under supervision in episode 7. "Put those in the wrong way, power goes dirty, sends a fault so the next one goes into standby and then the one after that. Pretty soon you got a whole ship powered down, and then we gotta go over here, reset everything by hand." On the Behemoth, she applies what she learnt from the poor man who taught her.

When Bobbie and the marines discover their power armour stolen, I thought "No way the belters know how to use that". Sure enough in the very next shot, three stolen power armoured belters led by Diogo are running towards the reactor, and the guy on the right falls over. PLONK

In the elevator shaft, Drummer jabs at her terminal; as you're wondering why, then she presses her helmet against Holden's and it hits you: she's turned off her comms, she wants to have a private conversation with Holden through physical helmet-to-helmet contact. Holden's all noble-like "awwwww you're trying to help" and Drummer's all "bitch this isn't about you".

OK, actually, all of the Drummer moments this episode are freaking amazing!

Screaming, frustrated and crying Drummer as she lies there with her spine gone because she's feeling useless. Then immediately dragging herself to a mech suit!

Disgusted Drummer, who is visibly recoiling / trying to hold back a barf as she and Naomi are observing Holden. "I still don't understand what you see in him". HAH

Drummer visibly relaxing when the party reaches zero G. It's the same kind of relief you see when you're injured and you finally transfer yourself from your daily mobility aid to your comfortable chair... and for a belter, zero-G is that comfortable chair. Aahhhh yissss that's it

As a book reader I have been thoroughly impressed by how the producers have managed to translate this into TV. I dare say it's better than the books. I cannot wait until season 4.
posted by theony at 8:44 AM on June 28, 2018 [24 favorites]


In times of extreme stress, people revert to the role they are most comfortable with. It's fascinating to see the civilization peel away from Ashford - First it's "Do your fucking jobs or I'll space you myself!", then he casually shoots a guy who hesitated on the bridge. We are finally seeing what he used to be like, and also a hint of how hard he's worked to build himself up into a statesman.

It's sad, really, to see all that hard work undone. I suppose he should get credit for keeping it together as long as he did.

Also, I honestly expected him to say "What's an anthill?" when Holden said "We don't care when we pave over an anthill." :)
posted by Mogur at 9:14 AM on June 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


And, oh, the look on Bobby's face as she walks away from the Marines for the last time. Because she knows that this really is the last time.
posted by Mogur at 9:15 AM on June 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


i bet there are ants in space, Mogur. they travel.
posted by lapolla at 11:25 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I loved the Amos/Anna interactions...

Anna: "Hate is a burden. You don't have to carry it with you."
Amos: "I'm not gonna let anyone hurt you."
posted by Pendragon at 12:34 PM on June 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


yes! i LOVED the Amos/Anna moments.

you know what i love about The Expanse? it tells a story where reason can outshine fear; that shows faith, bravery and duty are positive attributes - but only when hand-in-hand with compassion, wisdom and selflessness. that mistakes can be forgiven and redemption, earned. and that people can work together even when they have deep, fundamental disagreements.

and the special effects are pretty good, too.

Wes Chatham continues to amaze me with how much emotion and meaning he can wring out of a single line, or put into a single glance. And Cara Gee has managed to make Drummer such a vital character! I was once again chanting at the screen, "do NOT kill Drummer! DO NOT" - though, i do hope Diogo survives. he's an ass, but his story is pretty wonderful and his actions, understandable. that is another aspect of this show that i like - all characters have understandable motivation, even the villains. though some are better developed than others - i do think Clarissa Mao's role was a bit one-note, and then her redemption, too hurried. but i look forward to seeing a fuller characterization (than simply DADDY ISSUES KILL HOLDEN). this episode gave some indication of why so many book fans were happy to see her.

Zach Handlin, over at the AV Club, has a pretty good review of the finale. i don't fully agree with him, but on some points he is not entirely amiss: this arc would have benefited from one more episode (but maybe that's just me, being greedy), because things did feel a bit rushed. but he does go on about Ashford's actions being unrealistic. i did not have that take-away, at all. what i saw was that many individuals were striving to be heroes; when they stopped, dropped their egos, listened to one another and worked together, they succeeded.

this show has some really good lessons, that don't feel like lessons. that are thrilling and compelling and hopeful. so excited, can't wait for season 4 - i think i'm gonna have to read the books, hah!
posted by lapolla at 12:58 PM on June 28, 2018 [17 favorites]


that was a pretty great finale!

I also appreciated the moments between pairs of characters. Anna/Amos, Holden/Naomi, Drummer/Naomi, Anna/Clarissa, Alex/Bobbie, etc. This show really makes each character shine by making everyone a foil to everyone else. Nobody is one-note and you can sympathize for everyone, even for a moment. This was apparent when you see Jules Mao's motivation earlier this season, and then the even Errinwright, with his impassioned but wrong-headed patriotism.

And the possibilities of the next season is so great. If Miller is to be believed, I look forward to a good ol' space mystery.
posted by numaner at 2:18 PM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


The bit between Anna and Amos choked me up.

This season has been excellent. I'm very impressed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:14 PM on June 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Just checking - the Roci went back through the gate to our Solar System, right? I couldn't tell from the close-up. I'm assuming that they'd at least want to get repairs before they went out exploring all those planets.
posted by Mogur at 4:01 PM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I just realized the Nauvoo would have been obsolete before the Mormons ever left. Or, assuming that it never got stolen and the Mormons worked overtime to get it stocked and sent off, at best it would have been a few hundred AU out when it got word that it needed to turn around and come back. Assuming it was insured, Fred Johnson did them a huge favour. :)
posted by Mogur at 4:20 PM on June 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I really really liked how Amos and Anna just immediately understood each other.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:04 PM on June 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Just checking - the Roci went back through the gate to our Solar System, right?
Correct, Mogur: the Roci went through the gate. When it does so, slowly enough that you can see the event horizon steadily passing through the ship and each of the crew, there's a bright flash of something entering Holden the moment the terminator line meets his eye: what I suspect is the Investigator going inside him. Thus my reference to the "passenger" in my show highlights.

It's also notable that the Behemoth remains inside the Ring, essentially acting as a waystation for future exploration.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 8:46 PM on June 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Finally made some time to watch it. Fuck me sideways I needed that. With everything else going on and some other shows really letting me down, it was nice to watch a show with smart writing, believable characters, and just stakes for days.

I just love the attention to detail that gets put into this show, especially when it comes to the zero-g stuff. Everyone having their own motivations and no one carrying the stupid ball at any point is just such a relief when compared to so much television writing. I do think that a bit too much subtext became text in this episode. Specifically the part where Anna explains how to write believable characters to Amos (everyone thinks they're the good guy), and then when Holden explains/lampshades Ashford's reaction in wanting to destroy the ring.

Wholeheartedly agree about how wonderful it is that characters on this show are able to help create positive outcomes through cooperation, compassion, and optimism. Too much of "serious" television is gets wrapped up in being as cynical as possible about the world. I do think that although our heroes "won" that everything is far from rosy at the end. The look in Ashford's eyes when he turns away from Drummer at the end made me think about what was going through his head. He thought he was a hero making a heroic sacrifice, but now he knows he shot one of his own men for basically suggesting that he do exactly what he ended up doing. He looked like a broken Man. Gunny/Bobby too, though I couldn't get a read on her expression at the end, betrayed her comrades and got one of them killed.

Anyway, I almost want the series to stop right now because I fear that I could not take a disappointing fourth season.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:14 PM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


i'm willing to risk it. because,
SPAAAAAAAACE MYSTERY!!!!
posted by lapolla at 9:57 PM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Diogo's shitty "I'm invincible" grin right before his comeuppance, I was applauding.
I was bored with Weaselface (Ashford) thinking the humans' puny laser could affect a ring gate, nevermind selectively believing Holden. And the other stuff which the AV club reviewer noted. I've started to skip bits of episodes whenever they drag things out with same old TV shit. Obviously there will never be a show as smart as a book due to the money involved, producers and so on... Show makes an episode's premise into collective stupidity because of collective stupidity: Film at 11.
posted by yoHighness at 1:25 AM on June 29, 2018


"I'm gonna be needing that gun back"

That is all.
posted by fullerine at 3:35 AM on June 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


Amos/Anna were awesome. Just awesome. That bit where they're arguing in the hallway and Amos just holds her arm for a second longer than he really has to...it's those little bits of nonverbal acting that really elevate this show.

And Drummer has turned out to be my favorite. I was so worried they were going to kill her off. Cara Gee is yet another cast member who has just grabbed her role with both hands and acted the hell out of it. There have been several episodes this season where she was the best thing about the show. She just OWNS that role.

(and can I just say as a Canadian that it makes me SO HAPPY to see SO MANY Canadian actors being all out of bubblegum and just kicking ass on this show?)
posted by biscotti at 4:19 AM on June 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


I'm really, really impressed with how the writers of the show pulled the books apart and re-assembled some stuff into a cohesive and enjoyable whole. I was skeptical but they did a hell of a job - that was some acrobatic work they did with the scripts.

Holden's expository bit about "It was just building a road. It doesn't know or care about us..." that short explanation was excellent.

I would pay Cara Gee to read me the phone book or a grocery list in that voice she uses on the show, which is *nothing* like her speaking voice. She gave an interview where she said she can't do it without having dialogue to prep with because it's difficult - she can't just do Drummer's voice on the fly.

I only have a couple of minor gripes - I still don't think David Strathairn was the right guy to play Ashford, but there you go - I just couldn't buy him as Belter, much less an 'experienced' guy who would put a (clearly) schmuck like Diogo in charge of something as important as security.

Cannot wait to see what Amazon and Alcon do with it.
posted by Thistledown at 5:32 AM on June 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


What a satisfying end to the season. It definitely felt a bit rushed but mostly because they just had so much great stuff they went through so quickly. Like the Behemoth is beautiful, the sets and the 70s-style matte painting and all. Good stuff.

Is it me or was Cara Gee playing Drummer as if she had some sort of romantic attachment to Naomi? There were hints of it in previous episodes, and in this one she seemed genuinely crestfallen that Naomi had come back for Holden and not her. I like that as a little embellishment on her character. She has to be so tough and impersonal in her job, for her to have a soft spot for Naomi makes perfect sense.

Anna + Amos were fantastic. They are both such great actors. And to be explicit, the two characters are so completely different. I love the part where Anna says something like "I look for people who need help" and Amos was all "same". Nice to see that Anna can slap someone when necessary, too.

The thing that didn't work this episode for me was crazy-Holden somehow convincing everyone that he was right, that they should stage an armed mutiny to shut down the power. I mean sure he rolled a natural 20 on his persuasion check and he has these bafflingly high Charisma and Luck scores. So OK. I can even see how Naomi and the rest of the Roci crew would trust him. But Anna? Drummer? Melba fer cryin-out-loud? That's quite a switch for the hyper assassin. I had to fill in about 10 minutes of exposition of them coming to terms with Holden being the Protomolecule Prophet.
posted by Nelson at 6:52 AM on June 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Diogo's shitty "I'm invincible" grin right before his comeuppance, I was applauding.

"Doors and corners kid, that's where they'll get you -- oh and elevators."
posted by nathan_teske at 7:04 AM on June 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


Man, this might just be me totally projecting here, but when Naomi says 'I'll take Amos and the priest" and Alex instantly corrects her to 'Pastor' and the show just moves on, that looks to me like a micro-writing moment of brilliance, Alex is from Mars and is culturally Texan, and there are a lot of Methodists in Texas, and while I can't speak for all Methodists, that is a thing that annoys me slightly. Just a tiny moment of world building.
posted by neonrev at 7:13 AM on June 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


I can see the point the AV club is making. Due to the constraints of SyFy and network TV, they had to cram all of a rather large book into seven eps and make it work. The writers (with Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) did their best to pull it off. Going to Amazon means that there will be less of that nonsense (not to mention any restrictions on language and nudity are gone).

I think Ashford kept Diogo around because he was young dumb muscle that would follow his orders. Trouble is, young muscle only gets you so far when you are as dumb as a brick.

OK, the acting. Just outstanding. I loved Strathairn as Ashford. I follow the authors on Twitter and someone tweeted, "I'm starting to think that Ashford has a thing for Drummer" and Ty tweeted, "Ya think?!" Cara Gee and David were so solid in their roles, so effective at delivering nuance in what was a really compressed second half of the season. The episode were they were trapped in the cargo bay was killer, and the one earlier where Drummer makes the speech and Ashford brings in that Belter stomp that just gets the whole ship ready to go through the Ring. Sharpness!

Amos/Anna - who would have thought those two would have a meeting of the minds. Elizabeth Mitchell has just been superior throughout this season (loved it when she slapped Melba) but her chemistry with Wes Chatham in those few scenes was incredible. Just two people who, with just a little conversation, completely understood each other.

I have to give another shout out to just science, fucking science. This is not dueling space wizards, this is actually science fiction with credible science and tech. For a long time I lamented the lack of actual science fiction and goddamn, the Expanse has given me what I longed for.
posted by Ber at 8:14 AM on June 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


The thing that didn't work this episode for me was crazy-Holden somehow convincing everyone that he was right, that they should stage an armed mutiny to shut down the power. I mean sure he rolled a natural 20 on his persuasion check and he has these bafflingly high Charisma and Luck scores. So OK. I can even see how Naomi and the rest of the Roci crew would trust him. But Anna? Drummer? Melba fer cryin-out-loud? That's quite a switch for the hyper assassin. I had to fill in about 10 minutes of exposition

Anna knows a miracle when she sees one, and Drummer was following Naomi, not Holden. With Melba, I'm thinking that Anna's lectures finally got through to her about the same time that her obsession with Holden flipped from "he is an evil genius" to "he is a good genius". Note also that Anna took care of 99% of the convincing, and she's already established as a brilliant speechwriter. Within the compressed timeframe that the show had to work with, I'm okay with that.
posted by Mogur at 9:08 AM on June 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Crap. I can't believe I just realized that Ashford's teaching moments may also have played a part in Drummer's decision. Some of that "lets stop shooting everyone. we have to work together and make sacrifices" stuff actually sank in?
posted by Mogur at 9:10 AM on June 29, 2018


See, I think Anna thinks she gets Amos, but doesn't really. She tells him not to give in to hate, but Amos didn't want to shoot Ashford because of hate. Rather, Amos just figures he needs to get shot. Amos doesn't rage, he just calculates what needs to be done. I don't think Anna gets that yet, but I hope she does, because the two of them could really enrich each other's worldviews, and Amos needs a new Naomi.
posted by rikschell at 10:07 AM on June 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


much less an 'experienced' guy who would put a (clearly) schmuck like Diogo in charge of something as important as security

I think Ashford kept Diogo around because he was young dumb muscle that would follow his orders. Trouble is, young muscle only gets you so far when you are as dumb as a brick.

^ this. I'm familiar with David Strathairn from other shows, but it was most notably Alphas (also on SyFy shortly after it rebranded) where he got comfortable with the role of directing people who might not be the best, but they're loyal and hardworking. And doing what he thinks is right and damn the consequences. He embodies those kind of characters and he played Ashford so well in that regard.
posted by numaner at 10:17 AM on June 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


There were a ton of great character interactions in these episodes but I think my very favorte was

Holden: "How're you holding up?"
Drummer: "ಠ_ಠ"
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 11:37 AM on June 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


I'm familiar with David Strathairn from other shows, but it was most notably Alphas...

Oh man, Alphas... It was X-Men with the serial numbers filed off and it was still better than any X-men property on any screen to date.
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:06 PM on June 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


I have to give another shout out to just science, fucking science. This is not dueling space wizards, this is actually science fiction with credible science and tech. For a long time I lamented the lack of actual science fiction and goddamn, the Expanse has given me what I longed for.

This. So very much this. Yeah, there's a bunch of sorta vague kind of sciency handwaving towards technology (semimagical autodocs, notably), but so much of the show leans on one basic posit: What if we had accessible high-G transportation around the solar system? Throw in a dash of a new potential discovery to shake things up and see what develops!

Loved the ending, agree that it felt sort of rushed, on the other hand another episode or two of Holden being all disconnected and weird would've gotten old. I sorta hoped that maybe Clarissa would get her own protomolecule visitor in the form of her sister during the scene when Holden was describing his visits with Miller.

The show has established itself as willing to kill primary characters, so I was glad all the major story characters seemed to make it. Honestly I sort of expected a couple of times that the solution would involve Holden going back and merging with the sphere or something along those lines. Thanks for coming back, Naomi, but I gotta go be the Star Child, y'see.

I sort of got the impression that Amos attached to Anna from his street upbringing, knowing people like her who put themselves out there to help the helpless, and he saw in her a kindred spirit, just one who moves in different ways.

I'm not sure how Bobbie is riding away on the Roci after what happened on the Behemoth, but I'm sort of hoping she retired and is off to have fun with Amos, Alex, Holden and Naomi.

Nice ending, would have been tolerably satisfying as a series finale, I wonder if they patched in the dark shadow rushing into Holden as they crossed the event horizon after they knew they were picked up, or if that would've been a subtle cliffhanger if they weren't.
posted by Kyol at 9:06 PM on June 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love Diogo for the same reason I loved Dewey Crowe on Justified. He persists in the face of constant failure. He gets his comeuppance immediately, all of his luck is bad, the universe really is against him and he keeps right on plugging along because he’s too dim to know when he’s beat. Above all, he’s enough of an ass that you can comfortably take pleasure in his misfortune.

Amos clicked with Anna because of course he did. With Prax away and Naomi having disqualified herself Amos has been flailing wildly for someone to be his externally-stored conscience; Anna was scratch-built for that role.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:25 PM on June 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


With Melba, I'm thinking that Anna's lectures finally got through to her about the same time that her obsession with Holden flipped from "he is an evil genius" to "he is a good genius".

The flip for Clarissa happened, I think, when she was eavesdropping on Holden and Naomi in the cell next to hers. She realized about then that the villainous version of Holden she'd constructed in her head was nothing at all like the actual Holden, who was still, even then, trying to save everyone no matter what it cost him. I thought Nadine Nicole sold that really well considering they didn't give her much screen time to do it.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:02 PM on June 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


yea, and the "hi, I'm Jim, what are you in for?" line was hilarious. They went for some great subtle humour this season.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:39 AM on June 30, 2018 [12 favorites]


See, I think Anna thinks she gets Amos, but doesn't really. She tells him not to give in to hate, but Amos didn't want to shoot Ashford because of hate. Rather, Amos just figures he needs to get shot. Amos doesn't rage, he just calculates what needs to be done. I don't think Anna gets that yet, but I hope she does, because the two of them could really enrich each other's worldviews, and Amos needs a new Naomi.

I sort of got the impression that Amos attached to Anna from his street upbringing, knowing people like her who put themselves out there to help the helpless, and he saw in her a kindred spirit, just one who moves in different ways.

I sort of got the impression that Amos attached to Anna from his street upbringing, knowing people like her who put themselves out there to help the helpless, and he saw in her a kindred spirit, just one who moves in different ways.


This is what I love about this show, I agree so much and disagree so much with parts of all of this, and it's impossible to tell what is interpreting what is on the screen and what is implied and what we think of the characters, but so much is also shared and so clearly telegraphed. I can disagree and also totally understand where someone is coming from at the same time! Such good stuff.

Anyway, for Anna looking at Amos, I think she sees what he thinks of himself as, and what he actually is pretty much, a profoundly damaged child living in a man's body who has spent most of his life in survival mode. She is not incorrect in determining what he is, she's a pastor, it's her gig, it's just that she is completely incorrect in determining how to help him, at least so far. Amos cannot be saved, at least as he's depicted so far. She's misjudged her target because she is too good a person and has been through far more than someone in her line of work is prepared for. I hope and anticipate some consideration of the degree of at least minor trauma that being kept alive and talking through a firefight would and should cause. Anna is a hardcore methodist pastor and her job is to serve her flock, he's the most lost of all sheep, and she's gonna try and do that until it bleeds her dry.

From Amos's POV, Amos is a being of pure reactive energy, Amos does not make plans except in response to orders or on his own call in a pinch, always to protect the people he considers 'his'. He is a person who acts almost purely to protect others and himself, and from the way he's played I think he might truly only care about himself in the 'rescuers must stay alive' manner of thought, that the only reason he should care about remaining alive is to keep the people he sees as better than him safe. I see him as seeing Anna as tragically misguided, probably recognizing her type from his time in rougher situations, seeing part of him in her, and hating that the remainder of that is missing in him. Amos does not really care about the helpless, more than being someone who is willing to acknowledge them, is from them and is able to help them when he can. Amos pushed to abandon the people on that station over Naomi's objections, even when it became clear she was willing to die over it, he was equally willing to leave her and get back to the Roci and in position to help the rest of the crew.

So, all this is to say, I think Anna sees Amos as a wounded animal that needs healing, and Amos is a wounded animal, but the scars all healed up harder than ever and can't ever go back. I think Amos can tell what sort of person Anna is, recognizes her type from his time in Baltimore, and that is what creates his sort of protective response to her, him promising he would keep her safe near the end of the ep. Anna thinks she has to help Amos with himself, and Amos thinks he has to keep Anna safe from herself in their current situation, and both are probably misjudging each other, but are also both operating under the best and most selfless manner that they can at that point.

It's fucking good TV ya'll.
posted by neonrev at 5:49 AM on June 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


So much to like about this episode, but why "I'm seeing Miller" and not "I'm seeing a protomolecule projection of Miller ( and have you read Solaris?)"? Felt like one of those TV things where too much of the drama came from people not saying some thing they'd obviously say.

I guess I'd have found Holden is being manipulated by aliens a more convincing motivation for Ashford than Holden is crazy and hallucinating.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:45 AM on June 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


You and me both, and if there was a good excuse for another episode, it would've been to dive deeper into whether or not the protomolecule was merely manipulating Holden to do the necessary unlocking that would allow the molecule to scorch the system, or if Miller was still human enough to remember and want to try to save humanity. As it was, we were just sort of along for the ride.
posted by Kyol at 9:24 AM on June 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yeah, my main gripe with the last two episodes is that "Miller" explicitly told Holden that he was the proto-molecule just flipping neurons in his head, and Holden didn't tell people that when talking about Miller. People would have been more likely to believe him (they have seen unbelievable tech) instead of everyone thinking he's crazy.

Anyone else have trouble making out Miller's last line? After four viewing of the clip I could make out "Gonna ... ... ride." Transcript seems to be "gonna need a ride", which jives with the shadow/passenger with see with Holden passing through the ring.
posted by 6ATR at 3:22 PM on June 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


it was indeed that. the protomolecule is still on the Roci, so Miller aka the protomolecule is needing that ride with the Roci crew as he/it tries to solve the mystery of how that civilization got wiped out.
posted by numaner at 5:39 PM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


What I've appreciated the most from the show, as a book reader, was how well they were able to streamline a ton of scenes - especially the fight scenes.

The books were professionally written (ie., were pretty streamlined and non-luggage-y already) but I remember the Amos/ Alex/ Reporter v Bobbi and the MMC fight being long and drawn out in the books still had all the tension here but took only a few minutes.

Similarly with the Belters in MMC armour - that was drawn out af but they compressed it down to Naomi dropping an elevator on Diogo (! and the Belter falling down!).

Blending bookBull into Drummer was pretty seamless. It loses a little on the politics side, but not too much.

Also, my headcannon is that Drummer built a walker mech suit from spare parts - there wasn't a mech suit just lying around in storage. She built. a. goddamned. mobility. suit. From. Scratch.

That moment where she gets a bit of relief when gravity went out - brilliant.
posted by porpoise at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, my headcannon is that Drummer built a walker mech suit from spare parts - there wasn't a mech suit just lying around in storage. She built. a. goddamned. mobility. suit. From. Scratch.

Pretty sure that's just canon. She didn't wheel her gurney over to a shelf with cases labeled "mech suit", the cases were labeled "drive trains", "mech supports", and "[something not visible because it's offscreen] enhancers". Plus Naomi wouldn't have needed to point out "This is the wrong kind of power pack assembly" or say "I can make this work" if it was just a matter of assembling an existing thing.
posted by Lexica at 5:36 PM on July 1, 2018 [3 favorites]




holy crap Cara Gee is like an entirely different person
posted by numaner at 2:19 PM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Have you seen the episode of AfterBuzz TV (S03E10) when Cara and Dominique were guests? It's hilarious. She's so bubbly and effusive when not in character.
posted by Lexica at 5:55 PM on July 2, 2018


I'm just hoping I never, ever have to see Diogo again because holy crap I hate that character so much.
posted by sonascope at 6:18 AM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


So here I am, watching it over from the beginning because eh, why not. Two things stand out:

1) You hear about the Razorback in the very first episode.
2) Diogo has been fucking things up this whole time.

And there was a lot more CGI / compositing / set dressing in the first season, S3 was really kind of plain in comparison. More overall sets, less time spent on each one maybe?
posted by Kyol at 8:38 AM on July 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I’m also watching it again from the beginning, and watching Diogo is so much easier when you know he’s been smashed by an elevator later.

Other things I noticed: Miller talking about doors and corners when they first went into the station with the protomolecule research, and Errinwright/ the Agatha King stuff being set up way, way in advance.
posted by corb at 8:46 AM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Re: Anna and Amos...

Whomever said upthread that Amos was (I'm paraphrasing) a project for Anna - the most lost sheep was both right and wrong. Because he's definitely 'lost' in her model of the world, but Amos himself knows he's missing a few pieces. I can't remember the exact line but it was something like this:

AMOS: "I know you want me to feel bad about this but I won't, ever."

Also - the thing about Holden not saying, "I'm being manipulated by the protomolecule..." - I think that was calculation on his part. If he says, "I'm seeing Miller," then he's using something that the people whom he needs to convince can connect to. They can't connect to the protomolecule and he knows that anything he says about it construes death and mistrust....

...but they knew and liked Miller. He was a person to them, and with everything unexplainable they've seen, it's not quite totally out of the realm of possibility that maybe Miller really is still around in some form. Holden has to bet on that.

I think.
posted by Thistledown at 11:22 AM on July 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


And then there's the fact that Miller was able to keep Eros from crashing into earth by communicating with the protomolecule version of Julie Mao, so there is already evidence that some parts of the human consciousness can survive after being taken over by it.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:36 PM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Anna and Amos...

I see Amos as being essentially a just about functional sociopath due to his upbringing... however he wants to do the right thing but doesn't trust himself to know what it is. So he becomes attached to / attracts a person who can help him with this, sometimes directly sometimes just from his observations of the person... Naomi, then - when she was more with Holden - the plant guy, Meng, and Alex a bit, and finally it's Anna.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:59 AM on July 4, 2018


[S]o there is already evidence that some parts of the human consciousness can survive after being taken over by it.

It's also in S1E1 and the prologue of Leviathan Wakes: a disembodied head in engineering says "Help me" to Julie.

I accidentally posted this a couple weeks ago in the S3E11 thread — the Youtube channel Spacedock is doing a series of videos on ships of the Expanse universe. Some of the videos were produced in collaboration with Alcon and are considered official show canon. This playlist has both the canon and non-canon videos.
posted by nathan_teske at 2:47 PM on July 16, 2018


Just getting caught up tonight and holy fuck I can’t believe what a great job they continue to do with this show. Jesus.

Also I love Amos. And Alex. Sexy troubled hairy men mmmmmm


But seriously I cannot get over how well this has translated to the scene bc there is so much exposition and internal talk about emotions and thoughts in the books ....I’m absolutely amazed they continue to pull this off.

This is one of my favorite series ever, both book and tv.
posted by sio42 at 4:26 PM on August 3, 2018


holy crap Cara Gee is like an entirely different person

She plays excellent badasses though -- see her work in Strange Empire (she's the one in the hat doing the narrating).
posted by Mogur at 7:12 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Amos is actually one of the best judges of character on the show. Pretty good for a poorly-educated functioning sociopath. :)
posted by Mogur at 7:26 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've read some of the books and really got into them, characters seem very real, good and flawed, and fleshed out, and moral, and not.

So I've just had a motel with Netflix and watched Expanse for hours ... and was really blown away with the casting - I'd always imagined Amos looked like an old friend of mine who used to go out hunting down skinheads for Friday night fun - And I wasn't let down with Amos! All the characters seem so similar to the book it's almost uncanny.
posted by unearthed at 12:16 AM on August 5, 2018


I just blew through season 3 over the weekend, and OH HEY I forgot just how great this show is. So glad it's coming back.

One thing I wondered a few times through the second half of the season - where is Jules-Pierre Mao's head at now? How does he feel about the ring when it first forms? And how will he feel once he finds out it's a gate to the rest of the universe? Pretty Damn Smug, I'm betting. I sort of want to see that.

By the way, since I saw a few book-readers wondering about this: I completely forgot the show was based on books and I was never confused or lost by any of the events this season, including the big time jump.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:12 AM on August 21, 2018


It is very silly, but I have been so happy to have Thomas Jane back in this back half of S3. Also, it warms the cockles of my heart (for absolutely no sensible reason) that the Roci is so Baltimore-heavy as long as he's there. I mean, what with Jane-the-actor and Amos-the-character both being from Bmore (well, I don't know how long Jane grew up there, but he's from southern MD by way of Baltimore, anyway). Neither of them really sound like it, but that's too much to hope for, I guess!

How come the Belters are so compelling and easy to identify with? I can't be the only one who feels that way. It makes no sense, but somehow they seem the most homey/familiar. I guess because Ceres always seemed pretty comprehensible, and I can understand what Rock Hoppers are doing, whereas Earth and Mars just seem like black boxes. Well, terrifying black boxes. The total lack of (noncriminal) opportunity on Earth sounds like hell, and the Martians are so militarized and macho. Although, if I were an Earther in this universe, I would be on my way to Mars fast as anything, because I would very literally go mad with nothing to do on Earth but consume. Anyway! Much as I loved Drummer's development and was wrapped up in what was going on with the Behemoth, I missed seeing more of regular Belters and their daily life at the stations. I even missed Diogo's apartment filled with girly magazine pictures. I also missed Dawes. He's a crackpot, but I can buy him as a powerful crackpot.

In general, I felt like the crew was too jumped up and too polished all of a sudden. I kind of wanted to go back to the days of Miller instinctively catching his post-radiation throw-up in his hands or everyone bonding over the very emotionally fraught lasagne, and the crew generally just being regular people in over their heads and trying to make the best of it. Even on a macro level, I felt like this part of the season (post-time-jump) was too polished and impersonal. It was phenomenally done in so many ways (there were many beautiful sequences), but it also felt kind of too abstract/overly epic/dry to me.

Anyway, some of that emotional disconnect was probably because I was not interested in either Melba or Anna. Melba's quest for vengeance (for her LIVING father!) was just stupid to me. Nobody actually does that -- carries out vengeance for their alive, rich-ass fathers. And definitely not an embittered party planner like Melba. Like, I can see her trying to do something in response to her father's empire's meltdown -- but given her backstory and character, I would expect it to be more at the level of Go Fund Me "fundraising" events for her father's legal bills and to support herself, not suddenly becoming a murderous electrician. The actress was fine, many of the character's individual scenes were fine or even interesting, but the character arc overall was really chaotic and goofy, I thought.

And Anna drove me up a fucking wall. I know we were supposed to like her, because the show made a big point of Amos liking her, and Amos supposedly is fantastic at picking out decent people. And OK, I believe that Anna is more-or-less decent. But she's also condescending and self-righteous and is always making this little sad face that gets under my skin. And I don't understand why she is involved in any of this, as a nurse/pastor who also used to write speeches back in her activist days. The whole character just seems so contrived to me. And I'm not a fan of either her or Alex abandoning their wives and children. Talk about self-indulgent (at best).

In any case, I can believe that Amos likes her, because Amos is always looking for a moral compass to guide him and that is exactly the role that Anna wants to play in life altogether. And she hit all the right buttons for him, too -- protected Melba from him (showed she had principles), was affected by the death and suffering in the medical bay (showed she had empathy), and tried to reach out to him even after he was frank with her about how scary he is (showed she really can see the humanity in everyone, even him). Amos is super violent, but he's not made of stone. He has a fairly consistent soft spot for woefully vulnerable people who are nevertheless trying to protect others (rather than exploit them). And more power to them if they live by moral principles rather than their own whims, too. That's apparently his definition of decency. And Anna met it a few times over.

I don't know if Anna especially likes Amos or not, though, because she always has that sort of vacant, impersonal, self-contained thing going on. I think overall, she cares a lot more about humanity as a concept than she does about any individual person. I think that was the point of the interaction when she dismisses that guy who's trying to talk to her about God, because she wants to watch their first contact with the Ring on her own -- and then the guy kills himself, and her eulogy is even then not about him as an individual. She can be touched by a particular person's death or whatever, she's not a psychopath -- but at the end of the day, I think she's too caught up in the big picture of the cosmos and her cosmology to care about individual humans in a real way. So Amos is helping her out and stuff, and I'm sure she's friendly toward him because who isn't friendly to the guy who has appointed himself her caregiver/protector, but I don't know that she feels a personal connection toward him like he's feeling toward her. In any case, she's not an uninteresting character (honestly, she could be pretty fascinating), but she's just so grating to me that I really didn't want her around even despite that. Mileage may vary on that, of course.

One thing improved a lot in this run of episodes, though -- Holden. I have never liked him as much as I liked him when he was crazy. It'll be cool seeing him with his "passenger" along for the ride. How is that going to affect his relationship with Naomi? The situation is awful for her -- she finally gets to be with the man she's in love with and who loves her, and he's hijacked from the inside out by alien tech?! And by alien tech that has grown and shaped itself via MILLER'S brainwaves, of all people's? Anyway, Holden was more adorable than he's ever been when he was in that livestock holding pen. "I'm Jim, what are you in for?" and his selfless speech to Naomi were both pretty touching. He was more endearing than usual, but I think that Naomi's feelings for him are what are finally bringing me around to him. Despite for the most part having the same reaction to him as Drummer does.

Bobbi didn't have much of a storyline in this little stretch, but I'll be happy to see her jetting through the universe with the rest of the crew. But Alex really was irritating me with his new interest in his family. Maybe I'm being too unforgiving, but hopefully that storyline will eventually get some more nuance and Alex (and Anna?) will grow as characters and as spouses/parents. Because for now, both Alex and Anna can piss off with their sad-eyed messages to their poor wives, who are trapped on-planet with the kids while Alex and Anna have adventures lol.
posted by rue72 at 8:33 PM on September 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


I felt the same way about Anna! And perversely, I think it might be because I felt like the show wanted me to like her too much. She was given flaws and she made mistakes but they were always forgiven so fast (by other characters, by her, by the show itself). If Anna had been allowed to grapple with her flaws more fully instead of flitting around being angelic, I would have liked her a lot more. But maybe we'll see more of that later on?

How come the Belters are so compelling and easy to identify with? I can't be the only one who feels that way. It makes no sense, but somehow they seem the most homey/familiar.

Makes perfect sense to me. Their problems are pretty much our problems. They're the exploited and put-upon underdogs who just want the right to live their lives and also party.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:58 AM on September 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


Melba's quest for vengeance (for her LIVING father!) was just stupid to me. Nobody actually does that -- carries out vengeance for their alive, rich-ass fathers. And definitely not an embittered party planner like Melba.

My god. I just realized that Melba is Tahani from The Good Place.

The actress was fine, many of the character's individual scenes were fine or even interesting, but the character arc overall was really chaotic and goofy, I thought.

Absolutely agreed. In her first episode, where I assumed she was being controlled by the protomolecule somehow, I actually found her waffling between terror and intensity to be very compelling. I like the actress a lot and I'm glad she seems to be sticking around. But it's hard to imagine an actual person doing the things she did for the reasons she did.

The thing that really bothered me about her plan was... if she had only done the first half of it, it would have worked SO MUCH BETTER! Just hire the documentary crew, make the spliced video message framing Holden, release it, and STOP. Don't record a message essentially confessing that you faked the video and leave it in some rando's bag, and don't go off and try to murder Holden. Just let everyone think he's gone evil. That would have ruined him plenty - and been a more sensible character choice for a rich socialite.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:15 AM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


Nobody actually does that -- carries out vengeance for their alive, rich-ass fathers. And definitely not an embittered party planner like Melba.

I think you're overlooking the role her sister played in her motivations here. It's not, in large part, about vengeance - it's about the fact that all her life, Julie was both the badass who would do stuff like sneak on to a crew to be an undercover saboteur, and she was also daddy's favorite. The collapse of the Mao family fortunes was an opportunity for Melba to finally prove (to her dad and to herself) that she could be just as much of a badass as her sister was, save the day, and finally (she hoped!) get her dad to respect her. Sticking strictly to the socialite-type stuff she would've been comfortable with doing wouldn't have achieved all that, because it's not how Julie would've handled things and wouldn't have changed her dad's opinion of her.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:39 PM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


That makes sense. I guess I just would've wanted to see a tiny bit more in the flashbacks of Melba to set this up as something she'd be capable of. I do remember (now that we're talking about it) that there was the one flashback where Melba tried to volunteer to fly the Razorback and her dad blew her off - so presumably she knew how to pilot a racing ship, even if she wasn't as good as her sister. I wonder if that aspect of her character was better established in the books?
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:52 AM on September 6, 2018


Throwing in on the "Melba could totally kill people" side: JP Mao is shady as hell, and lord knows what he's done over the years to get to where he is (I refuse to believe that bio experimentation on children was his first step on the dark side). Melba, as his child and one of his senior people, knows damn well what some of those actions are, so.... she's been raised to think that getting dirty is a virtue, that only the strong can do that, and that's a damned twisted point of view. Granted, she doesn't have the field skills of an Amos or a Julie, but she's bright, very well-connected, has been taught that violence is a virtue, and has the money to buy the short cuts (ie she got some kind of combat drug implant rather than, say, training for two extra years) that she needs.

As I mentioned before, she's not a really *great* field agent (her bomb looks like a bomb and her trigger is clearly labeled as such), but I could see her trying to be one.
posted by Mogur at 7:03 AM on September 6, 2018


My god. I just realized that Melba is Tahani from The Good Place.

Hahaha so true. Although I prefer Tahani's attempt at redemption-through-party-planning to Melba's attempt at redemption-through-war-crimes.

she's been raised to think that getting dirty is a virtue, that only the strong can do that, and that's a damned twisted point of view. Granted, she doesn't have the field skills of an Amos or a Julie, but she's bright, very well-connected, has been taught that violence is a virtue, and has the money to buy the short cuts (ie she got some kind of combat drug implant rather than, say, training for two extra years) that she needs.

At least according to Tilly, all her accounts were frozen along with her father's. So she's broke. In which case, her most impressive feat is that she managed to pay off the Roci crew's legal fees and fund a sham documentary on them, all with no money of her own. She's like a fundraising savant.

To me, the issue wasn't really her literal ability to transform herself into a bloodthirstier knockoff version of her sister. Who knows, maybe she studied electrical engineering in college and came in second in all Julie's Razorback races. It's her motivation to do so that I don't buy. She's an adult woman, and she's suddenly had her finances and her reputation destroyed. Doesn't she have bigger, more immediate problems than sibling rivalry right now? And if she's worried about her father, why doesn't she do literally anything to help his material circumstances? I mean, he's impoverished and in hiding/prison, I'm sure there are many, many things she could do in the short term that would have more of a positive impact on him than this convoluted plan. In my mind, the character development needed to be more grounded.
posted by rue72 at 7:43 AM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I agree that Melba's character doesn't make a lot of sense in the TV show. This is not a books-included thread so I won't say more, but the books do a lot better job giving her a backstory. I think they were just too rushed in the TV show. She's more of a plot device, the necessary antagonist force, not a complex character of her own.
posted by Nelson at 8:33 AM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


There's a bit of news showing up about the new season if you're feeling the lack of awesome space opera action.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:27 AM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]




I finally watched the finale, and I want to say that this show is as thrilling and well-made as ever and I can't wait for the next season.

But I gotta say, the marketing ain't kidding when they say this story is Game of Thrones in space. (Plus- there's the whole personal assistant to GRRM thing.)

And by that, I mean the storyline- whether the books, or how the show chooses to edit them- is emotional manipulative through its use of gratuitous twists.

While GoT does it through ample- and now gratuitous- violent ends to beloved characters, The Expanse does it a subtler, more drawn out, process. Rather befitting for its faintly Canadian sensibilities, a side effect of this show's production.

And by that I mean back in mid-Season 2 the show had its first double-twist: we nearly ended episode 4 thinking Miller was a goner, only that to be a false end, only that save (when Eros dodged the nukes) to be a false start when Miller goes off in the beautiful end sequence of episode 5. Those two episodes were stunning to me, in how the show doesn't just kill off its characters with medieval brutality, but allows their lives to waver, all-Schrödinger's cat and quantum uncertainty and other fancy words to denote its futuristic contrast.

But I think this season, as beautiful and stirring and inspiring as it was, began to seem a little hokey. Just as GoT became a parody of itself with arbitrary brutality and ironic deaths for the sake of gratuity, the ending to this season seemed a little bit as well. And by that, I meant the whole finale's conflict with Ashford going all General Ripper and trying to kill our heroes, just after we saw the rapport he had in the near-death situation with Drummer. I understand the need for tension, and conflict, and misunderstanding leading to it. I just think the motivations weren't made clear enough. Why was he inclined to think that Holden is insane- or manipulated? Why did he become so fearful enough to only think of destroying the ring? It's like he was turned into a supervillain - albeit with semi-understandable motives- for the sake of ginning up the drama.

And to me, that was the gratuitous double-twist. You build up all of this character depth, only to show that the character is fearful enough to turn on the other characters that he had been establishing an understanding and begrudging respect for. After he made the speech that the Behemoth would aid all survivors. Though I did think it was telling that the MCRN and UNN command both sided with him, even though these leaders are supposed to all mistrust and loathe each other! Maybe there's a subtle anti-authority message there, that when push comes to shove, all the military commanders and pirate lords alike would rather band together to oppress the masses they lead.

(On the flip side, the final montage with Drummer at his bedside was tonally weird, too. We just saw him shoot his XO(?), Grigori, a couple of scenes ago to establish how much in control and desperate he is. I get it, it was out of desperation, and even cartoon pirates like Jack Sparrow need to adhere to certain rules of ruthlessness to keep their ships in line. But, that side character seemed like a decent person. So I don't know. I'm still upset that Amos killed Miller's childhood friend Sematimba in Season 1, even if the guy was a bit of a coward and jerk. Miller had only like, two and a half friends before he met the Roci guys.

And on the other flip side, I don't like how Bobbie's asshole subordinate, Jed Trepp, got killed off by Amos. Guy was abrasive, but that just seemed a little too convenient. He was just doing what patriotic Martian marines are supposed to do, his gung ho-ness doesn't seem to warrant the same sort of death that say, the treacherous Admiral Nguyễn did earlier in the season. By the plot, I mean. Of course Amos was justified in shooting him during a firefight, but the plot didn't need to force that to happen.

Speaking of which, despite the totally justified circumstances, shouldn't Bobbie be in admiralty legal trouble for killing fellow marines? And at the very least wouldn't she feel some guilt? Edit: on second thought I guess that's the point, she finally accepted the Roci crew- "these assholes" were her true family, not the MMC. Not to mention the whole portal to 1300 worlds probably means Martian terraforming is a little moot, so there goes her original motivation.)

Back to my main critique, I felt like the finale, while being a perfect capstone to a fantastic season (though not topping the greatness of the mid-Season 2 sequences, imo), felt a little like the show adding emotional stakes and character turns for no reason. The entire plot was based on misunderstandings, and space knows we saw enough of that already earlier this season. The whole Agatha King situation, with the gut-wrenching near-success of the coup against Nguyễn, Cotyar surviving being shot only to sacrifice himself to destroy the protomolecule- in some ways it's not all that different from the ending of this season. And I guess I'm a little critical about this finale is because it sets up a situation based on familiar- but this time not all that convincing- beats. And for a moment, with the good Pastor MD Volovodov making a heartfelt entreaty for the ships to shut off their drives amidst a desperate firefight, while our heroes make their impossible attempt to save humanity- the show felt a little like a parody of itself, an exaggeration of what makes The Expanse's emotional core work, sort of like when Game of Thrones murders a likable character a little too early or bloodily, or most of the twists in the last season or two.

Anyway, this is too over-long a post, and even though I am complaining a lot about this show, I am very happy that it exists, and it's because I love it and find it a compelling drama, in addition to perhaps the best current sci-fi television show on the streams, that I complain about it.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:59 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


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