The Expanse: Azure Dragon   Show Only 
December 16, 2021 8:09 PM - Season 6, Episode 2 - Subscribe

With an unexpected passenger aboard the Rocinante, Holden and crew undertake a dangerous mission that could shift the balance of power in the war. Drummer decides to make an uneasy alliance. Filip wrestles with his guilt. (Note: new episodes Friday 00:00 GMT / Thursday 07:00pm EST / Thursday 04:00pm PST)
posted by ShooBoo (23 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When everyone is in identical spacesuits, it can be hard to tell who is who.
posted by ShooBoo at 9:00 PM on December 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I want that tupperware the little girl uses to carry the dead bird-thing.

Also, good for her for not burying the entire thing with the dead animal inside the tupperware; which I'd uncharitably attribute that a bunch of N.American kids probably would.

The identical spacesuits thing, I'm sure there's a tactical and psychological reason for, well, uniforms. I'd kind of expect Belters to have much more individualized kit, and a predilection for customizing their suits - similar idea behind ingrained culture of using hand signals instead of nodding (although I can't recall if this is noticeable previously in the show - the Star Wars franchise seems to intuitively reach a similar conclusion with Mandelorian self expression through armour customization, if for [visual media] practical more than fictional worldbuilding psychological reasons).

The hairstyles have been somewhat inconsistent - for a combination of filmmaking purposes and real-world practicality, I'd have gone for long hair being tied back/ pulled into buns in low-G, let loose at higher G. Or everyone kept hair short, but there is the precedence of Naomi having long tresses (that she used to hide behind).

Nice callback/ reference to Filip and the crocodile skin*/ leather in his friend's footlocker. Anyone catch what brand of brandy that was?

I like the writing for Filip, the conflict between being the scion of famous people, his personal ineptitude and being a total shit, and the feeling of need to present face/ control. It calls out that Marcos might not be quite as put-together as he presents.

I really liked the Monica Stewart (the journalist) character from the books and though Anna Hopkins playing the role looks nothing like my minds' eye, continues to impress.

The budget constraints are showing: the ship to ship duel looks much more generic (though more "exciting") than the more Newtonian effects from the early seasons. Space fights, in my mind, are much more like submarine fights (but much much moreso, maybe even more like MAD ICBM conflict) than fighter jet dogfighting.

I cannot believe Bobby's maneuvers. It looks and feels cool, but disbelief breaking. Shit like that Challenges involved are more than ripe for computational assist.

The wall of text? I still like this show a lot; enough to care.
posted by porpoise at 10:00 PM on December 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Not Tupperware but Rubbermaid.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:36 PM on December 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

This episode feels more like moving chess pieces to get everything and everyone into place for a big battle. Which isn't bad, but does make the episode feel like filler, but hopefully it's something we can look back on at the end and appreciate better.

I remain curious about what's going on with the settlers on the new planet. We heard in the background that military arm or command is blocking communications with the Earth solar system, to the settlers have no idea what's on with Marcos and the war. Not sure what to make of that and this particular story line, but it better have a decent payoff.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:51 AM on December 17, 2021

Bobbie is back on the ship! This is Good News.
Gunny's not led a team into a mission for a while but she's not off her game. Back in her natural environment she's clearly the most competent person in any given room.

"You'd only hurt yourself, Peewee."
I'm not sure why I found her subtle needling of Amos this episode so entertaining, but I definitely did.

The strained interpersonal dynamics aboard the Roci are pretty interesting, I don't think we've seen this much simmering tension since the early days. Naomi is still looking ragged into this episode as well; last week I'd assumed it was just exhaustion, but her freezing up in the airlock probably means there's some PTSD in the mix, which in hindsight I guess should have been obvious.

Maybe it was just me, but I was having a hard time following the comms dialogue when they were taking over the Azure Dragon. I get they're not going for crystal clarity, but I had to rewatch some of those bits 2-3 times to make out what was being said.

I continue to find Steven Strait to be low-key irritating. The growly voice he adopts when in conflict sounds so contrived, and there's a world of difference between that performative aggression and Bobbie's controlled, forceful authority that makes me much more confident in her during a conflict.

No idea what Liang Walker's story is, but I was enjoying the hell out of his and Drummer's scenes together and wanted to see more of them.

I wish I could muster up the interest to care more about Filip.

So is it a major faux-pas in this future to read over someone's shoulder? Twice now we've seen Monica in a position to take a surreptitious peek at Avasarala's hand terminal and the sensitive information she has displayed on it, but she hasn't made the attempt. Didn't she have some kind of optical camera when she was locked in that container on Tycho, like Kenzo back in S1? Seems that if Monica Stuart thinks it's a bridge too far it must be a *huge* taboo.

More trivially, I really want to know what sort of styling advances have occurred that allow Belters like Michio, Rosenfeld and Oksana last series to maintain those elaborate hairstyles so immaculately, seemingly for days on end.

I think I'd appreciate the teaser scenes with Cara and Xan on Laconia more if we knew they were going somewhere. There are four more episodes before the show wraps, and unless this is setup for something they're planning post-series taking that time away from the main storyline is frustrating.
posted by myotahapea at 7:22 AM on December 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

So is it a major faux-pas in this future to read over someone's shoulder?

In the first webisode one of the points is that it's a huge thing to secretly read someone else's terminal so possibly it extends to looking over their shoulder to do so. The webisodes are good, I can see why they didn't include them in the main episodes as they don't really advance the main stories, but they're nice character beats that gives you a bit more of what's going through the characters' heads.

No idea what Liang Walker's story is, but I was enjoying the hell out of his and Drummer's scenes together and wanted to see more of them.

I am eagerly awaiting the forming of Drummer's new pirate fleet. I hope they make it, or something better, happen.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:31 AM on December 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

More trivially, I really want to know what sort of styling advances have occurred that allow Belters like Michio, Rosenfeld and Oksana last series to maintain those elaborate hairstyles so immaculately, seemingly for days on end.

I think the main ingredients are 1) advances in hair gel science, 2) zero gravity sleep, and 3) the labour of other Belters. We've seen repeatedly that the Belters find camaraderie and cooperation important. Those braided hairstyles would be absurdly complicated for an individual solitary person to re-do every couple of days (or whenever they clean their hair), but it's less intractable for close friends to re-do them for each other, especially if every person sticks to the same style every time, and everyone's style uses the same general techniques. Then it's all muscle memory, and something you can do while doing something else that doesn't require hands.
posted by confluency at 12:38 PM on December 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

zero gravity sleep

I'm thinking now that everyone's hair in the show should be poofier because unless they're under heavy thrust everyone not on Earth is at lower gravity.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:08 PM on December 17, 2021

Also, good for her for not burying the entire thing with the dead animal inside the tupperware; which I'd uncharitably attribute that a bunch of N.American kids probably would.

Maybe. I'm wondering whether are going to be some knock on ecological impacts of that poisoned chick going into that unidentified dog sized thing.

This felt like it was really short. Thank God for a tv show I am actively enjoying.
posted by biffa at 3:54 PM on December 17, 2021

I nominate the parents of the little girl on Laconia for the Annual Most Negligent Parents in the Known Universe Award. You let your kid wander around unsupervised through an alien ecosystem that you know is probably poisonous to her and home to all sorts of never-before-seen animal life? I am a grown-ass man, and I would have crapped my pants if that lizard head/butthole mouth creature came towards me.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:06 PM on December 17, 2021 [14 favorites]

This may sound strange to say, but I thought the scene with Monica in Avasarala's stateroom didn't involve both actors in the same room. It really looked like they shot their parts separately and were composited into the scene.
posted by Catblack at 5:19 PM on December 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed the scenes between Walker and Drummer as they slowly built a little trust using shreds of shared info, leavened with humour. That fractional drop in tension when Walker mentions the supply ships, hinting at the opportunity; they're both pirates, he doesn't have to say it. Tightly scripted, well acted, good TV.

I noticed on Ceres, this episode, that Marco looked like he was doing the zero-g floaty arms thing even under gravity. I hadn't noticed it before, but it seems like his kind of affectation.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:46 PM on December 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

It's safe to say I'm most interested in Drummer's story arc at this point.

Something in the last two years took the wind out of my sails to see Martian marines be bad ass and guys who don't consider the ramifications of their actions pressing buttons just to see what happens and politically savvy but ultimately ineffectual people battle a megalomaniacal tyrant that's captured the imagination of the downtrodden.

But a strong female lead caught adrift between alliances, feeling out of place and forging new connections to be a space pirate and kick back against the photogenic strongman? I'm so here for it.

Side note: One of the random notes that can pop up in the Amazon Prime player and give info on actors and scenes told me that applying Cara Gee's signature smoky eye takes something like three times as long as the rest of her hair and wardrobe.
posted by kaiseki at 7:26 AM on December 18, 2021 [8 favorites]

Yes, Drummer has been easily the most interesting character for me since about Season 3. All the stuff with David Strathairn, then with her crew last season. Rising even above Avasarala.
posted by biffa at 7:43 AM on December 18, 2021

I managed to pause the episode during the resupply sequence, and am pleased to report that one of those crates contained a sack of PEI potatoes. Nice to know that the Island's main export is still going strong hundreds of years from now (although with global warming, PEI is probably a *lot* smaller than it used to be).
posted by Mogur at 9:11 AM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I am just constantly on edge when I watch this. They've killed off so many people I liked that my stomach is clenched the entire episode now, I miss about half the things people say and have to keep rewatching after I know what happens. I hate this spoiler-phobic culture because I can't manage my expectations like I could back in the day when there were, like, Buffy spoilers or whatever if you knew where to look.

Marco is exhausting and horrible and I think we're supposed to care about sullen, murderous teen Filip but I don't, I just want both of them to implode. I'm so afraid they'll kill off my favorites solely for the sake of being cool. kaiseki hit the nail on the head in their comment.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:58 AM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

i hope james and marco die and no one else. i miss miller.
posted by AlbertCalavicci at 3:49 PM on December 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

I really don't like the "child does something wrong, the child feels guilty and sad" storyline they've got going; it better pay off.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:17 PM on December 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh I love the Laconia sequences at the start. They're telling a nice little story and it's well filmed.

What's not working for me is Marco. Keon Alexander is just putting too much mustard on the hot dog. It's always this threatening, burningly charismatic Performance with him. I gotta think the crew isn't just gossiping about his murdering son behind his back; they're mocking Marco's overbearing earnestness. The way he's always dialed up to 11.

I enjoyed all the action this episode though, good space fun. The boarding of the Azure Dragon scene was really intense for me. And I liked Naomi's panic. The poor woman made an unsuited spacewalk just a bit ago, fully expecting to die sucking vacuum. I wouldn't want to jump out of a spaceship anymore either!
posted by Nelson at 6:46 AM on December 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

Every time Marco comes onscreen with hair down and dark eye makeup, I start humming Purple Rain to myself. He’s giving strong Prince vibe IMO.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:25 PM on December 20, 2021 [7 favorites]

putting too much mustard on the hot dog

I'm loving that phrase, Nelson.

But Marco the character - excessive sloppy mustard is his thing. He's a firebrand ideologue loudmouth, and its believable theatre in order to help the masses overlook not only the human toll of the attacks but the ecological ones, too. Get people too riled up and focused on "killing enemies" and not about the cute hummingbirds and pandas and pangolins that are now likely extinct.
posted by porpoise at 5:33 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Something about the way Marco's ship is lit makes everyone in it look like videogame characters to me. Marco especially, but the rest of them too.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:05 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was shocked at how well Marco handled Filip, actually. That was moderately competent parenting! He didn’t scream ineffectively, he didn’t hit him, he didn’t give him a meaningless punishment…. To this point we’ve only seen him be the worlds worst father, so…. Surprised.
posted by bq at 2:11 PM on January 6, 2022

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