The Expanse: Force Projection   Show Only 
December 23, 2021 9:13 PM - Season 6, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Avasarala, with the Combined Fleet of Earth and Mars, takes the war to Marco. Filip and Marco's relationship is tested. The war becomes more perilous and personal for Holden and Naomi when the Rocinante is suddenly forced into a battle.
posted by ShooBoo (45 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I like the Roci crew but I'm not much more interested in Space Downfall than I was in Downfall.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 9:21 PM on December 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Holy hell, that was a great ship battle. Bobbie figured out which way they’d dodge and dropped a bunch of hot lead right there. Kinda made for streaming — I rewound a few times just to appreciate the one-take.
posted by sixswitch at 5:53 AM on December 24, 2021 [8 favorites]

So many cameos by old faces in this episode.

It feels like Naomi is really thinking about what she's doing on a ship full of Inners fighting against Belters. I'm guessing that if the missile had detonated then she'd be leaving the ship at the earliest opportunity. Still don't know if Holden did it for her or because he didn't want to create any martyrs.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:03 AM on December 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

*clenches fists*
posted by myotahapea at 11:20 AM on December 24, 2021 [16 favorites]

Goddamnit Holden, WTH?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:01 PM on December 24, 2021

I guess Holden’s loyalty to Naomi trumped his desire to stop the Belter War. I was hoping the show would just finish off Marco and Filip.
posted by tautological at 1:20 PM on December 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

As much as it would be great to be done with Marco and Philip, there is a good argument that making Marco a martyr could be bad, or at least it would be more effective to send him to trial for killing tons of belters and others. I think the show gave enough rational for Holden’s choice, even though it was emotionally about not killing Naomi’s son.
posted by snofoam at 2:50 PM on December 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

I honestly thought that was Naomi hacking the missile using Jim's control codes. It's a no-face close-up on a wrist computer gesture, and later on Jim looks sternly at the computer display that says it was deactivated on his command.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 3:34 PM on December 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

I honestly thought that was Naomi hacking the missile using Jim's control codes.

Wow, I like that explanation much better. I will have to re-watch those scenes and check for that.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:39 PM on December 24, 2021

I really enjoyed seeing that cool Martian commander again. She’s awesome.

I loved the Amos-Bobbie interactions the past couple episodes. Too often we don’t get to see characters beyond their scenes with one or two others and I’m enjoying the barbed banter.

Once again I have no idea what’s happening in the battles. For those who understand this, what makes a rail gun so important? I also didn’t get what happened with the deactivated missile. Are we supposed to know that was or wasn’t him? I was so hoping we wouldn’t have to watch more melodramatic crap from Marco.

Hell yeah we fight with you Camina Drummer.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:47 PM on December 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

My understanding is that the rail gun fires a solid projectile at very high speeds. This can do a lot of damage & can't be shot down, but the projectile does not have a guidance system and so can't adjust its flight path after launch. This means that at longer ranges the target has time to see the rail gun shot and dodge out of the way. When the Roci started firing the rail gun, it was a complete desperation move, since the other ships were staying outside the usual effective range of the rail gun. The first hit by the rail gun was a combination of surprise, luck, and extreme carelessness by the ship that was hit.

Marcos was right to be mad after the battle, it should have been an easy win for his side. At this point I will quote from the rule book for the The Expanse boardgame:

Controlling the Rocinante gives two advantages:
1. It counts as a fleet for all purposes, except
that it may NEVER be removed. Any effect
that removes a fleet cannot be used against
the Rocinante.

posted by Balna Watya at 5:27 PM on December 24, 2021 [6 favorites]

Later in the fight, the Pella and Roci are at closer range, and the Pella has enough missiles to eventually win since the Roci would run out of ammo for her defensive guns. At that shorter range, the Pella could see the railgun being fired as the Roci spun around, but couldn't wait long enough to see exactly where the projectile was going before dodging. They were assuming that it was always fired straight at them, and Bobby noticed that they always dodged in the same direction, so she successfully lead the target.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:35 PM on December 24, 2021

Fun episode, they seem to have decided to focus on the big space combat excitement stuff. Still plenty of other plot to elevate the content. Marco's cynical ploy with starving Ceres is truly hideous. (Does this mirror a specific real world event? It's certainly plausible in general.) I also enjoyed the ongoing tensions between Marco and Filip; it may be the most interesting character development left to us in this show.

And what nice doggies on Laconia! They fix all sorts of things; broken drones, broken birds.

I loved the Amos-Bobbie interactions the past couple episodes. Too often we don’t get to see characters beyond their scenes with one or two others

Be sure to watch this week's One Ship bonus content: "Win or Lose". It answers the burning question we've all had about Amos and Bobbie and what would happen in a certain kind of interaction. (Amazon's UI for this is terrible. I can only do it by watching the show in my web browser, pressing pause, and then navigating to the bonus content.)
posted by Nelson at 8:06 PM on December 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

I honestly thought that was Naomi hacking the missile using Jim's control codes.

On viewing again it is Holden that does it. Naomi closes her eyes and keeps them closed the entire time, the camera cuts to Holden and then pans down to him raising his arm and doing something on a control interface and then the torpedo hits but doesn't detonate.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:53 PM on December 24, 2021 [7 favorites]

Ah, I guess the Laconia stuff is to bring back in Prax Meng and the super-yeast "that can turn waste carbon dioxide into food." Well, yes and no. CO2 supplies The C and O part of CHON - there's still hydrogen and, importantly, nitrogen (for amino acids --> proteins). Sulfur and phosphorus needs to be included (sulfur is required for lots of proteins/ enzymes. Phosphorus is required for cell division (it's in the backbone of DNA)). There are trace elements required, too, as certain proteins and enzymes need (to incorporate) them to function properly.

A more fitting way to say it is that this super yeast can very efficiently convert poop and waste breath into something palatable and provide usable sugars, essential lipids, and essential amino acids - very efficiently. The cool thing is that once you get this base super-yeast, it isn't too hard to genetic engineer yeasts that produce (at usable levels) different kinds of sugars and enrich certain amino acids - all of which contribute to taste. Lipids might be harder, but that might be from a lack of trying (thus far, in real life).

Texture. Texture is still a very difficult challenge.

Now, I thing that bugs me about fiction denigrating yeast as a food source - what do you think makes Doritos and all that taste good? Hydrolyzed yeast extract (basically, "artisanal" MSG). "Nutritional yeast?" Really good stuff. Making a cheese-like substance from yeast isn't hard.

A lot of fiction focuses on algae, but algae need light. Yeast can do it with just heat - and there's lots of waste heat in a nascent spacefaring civilization. The difficult part is partitioning the heat from where it isn't wanted to where it is, in a controlled manner.
posted by porpoise at 9:46 PM on December 24, 2021 [8 favorites]

Bobbie figured out which way they’d dodge

I'm almost certain the show has showed Bobby's "getting inside the opponents head" like this before. It's also a bit of a trope for space militaria fiction. Counting patterns like counting cards or reading tells in poker.

and later on Jim looks sternly at the computer display that says it was deactivated on his command

I swear the show has done this before, in a rather early season. But maybe it's book bleedthrough and covid time distortion. But yeah, Holden's "Paladin" ethos refusing to kill Naomi's offspring despite the "greater good" - and introducing moar drama.

Railguns are cool because they make a projectile move super duper fast. But space is so much bigger than what "super duper fast" can handle. Still, railgun rounds are much faster than missiles, which can be shot down because they're big enough for "radar"/ sensors to detect and computers to calculate their trajectories versus the speed of the PDC (point defense cannon) rounds can reach a given distance. The faster the missile, the closer and less time a PDC has a chance to shoot it down. In the co-evolution, missiles get faster and smaller and PDCs get higher velocity, higher rate of fire, and better sensors/ calculators. Missile tech evolved to jink/ have "randomized" movement/ course directions before hitting a target, have warheads/ payloads that damage an area (ie., "explosions" of various sorts) instead of just the point of impact.

The problem with railgun rounds is that, they have incredible amounts of kinetic energy, but because of their shape/ size/ mass, it's difficult to transfer that energy into destroying a spaceship. They tend to just punch a hole right through one, about the size of the projectile. On Earth, railgun rounds or hypervelocity simple projectiles are much more damaging because of physics (there's the entire Earth to absorb the kinetic energy, whereas a spaceship - the round might just pass right on through like a needle). Tech evolution would favour changing the shape of a simple railgun slug to impart (share) as much of it's energy as possible with what it crashes into - but the problem is that at such high speeds, and the require shape to achieve such high speeds, spaceships aren't durable enough to absorb much of the energy. Think putting a needle through tinfoil versus putting a needle through a granite countertop.

But the needle is going a bazillion miles an hour - it'll punch a tiny little hole in tinfoil, but will vapourize the granite countertop.

At the proposed technological development, railgun rounds are smaller and faster (and has more kinetic energy) than a PDC can deflect, but at sufficient distance, if the sensors are good enough, it might be enough to deflect the ship to avoid a railgun round.

The contention is that at the current development of tech in-world/ in-show, railgun round detection/ countermeasures aren't great and that at a certain range - a railgun round will strike.

The problem with the ship firing the railgun round is that action-causes-an-equal-reaction; the slug might be a few kilograms, the ship might be a few gigagrams - but F=MA, the faster you accelerate the railgun round, the more energy it has and at the proposed velocity/ acceleration, the entire ship is going to have an opposite reaction - this fucks up PDC calculations on how to shoot down incoming missiles, etc. The simple answer is "recoil" for the entire ship that messes everything else up for a few (mili) seconds.
posted by porpoise at 10:12 PM on December 24, 2021 [6 favorites]

Thinking of which, throwing someone out of an airlock.

It isn't the cold (radiative, rather than conductive) that's going to kill you, it's the explosive decompression.

Lungs still hold about 30% of their max capacity in gas - no matter how much you exhale. There's physical limits to how constricted bronchi can go by exertion of voluntary skeletal muscles. Atelectasis can't be achieved this way.

What ever is in there is going to want to disperse to fill an absence of them - and the spaces between others of their kind are vast. As the laws of thermodynamics observes.

From 1 atm pressure to 0 - explosive decompression.

To reach the point between not-exploding and resembling a frozen corpse-i-pop is far down the curve for dying of asphyxiation, which one would succumb to first.

It's not even just the lungs, there are joints and a surprising amount of gas in the intestines. SCUBA divers get the 'bends' ascending too fast in just the ocean.
posted by porpoise at 10:40 PM on December 24, 2021

I know space battles aren't the most interesting thing in The Expanse, but I love seeing Bobbie in her element. It seems like all Holden does when he's around her is mess up her good tactics, or try to mess up her tactics (like with the Azure Dragon--it was a huge deal to get that data, and Holden was ready to blow it all up! Listen to the competent-as-fuck badass Space Marine, jeez.) At least she gets to have fun scenes with Amos.

I guess Holden was aware that for narrative purposes, Filip has to be the one to destroy Marco, and that there were still three episodes left. It would have been a real shocker moment if they had taken the two out right then. Thanks, Holden, for saving the story arc I guess.

I love Drummer's pirate fleet. I love that Michio-the-cinnamon-roll saw the Earth broadcasts/propaganda and is now feeling sorry for them, and they argued about it. Please more Drummer and less of Holden or Inaros, thanks.

I don't know what to think of Laconia, other than being really anxious because the whole thing is a slow-motion horror movie. Also perplexed at the parents letting their kids wander around the poisonous alien ecosystem with no supervision!
posted by j.r at 10:10 AM on December 25, 2021 [5 favorites]

“The package says it’s food”
“Give him a second, he’ll get around to it”
“That’s the job, Peaches”
Amos is still getting some of the show’s best lines.
Really enjoying the banter between he and Bobbie. It sounds like the bonus content did the heavy lifting of defusing last episode’s tension into this one’s lowkey buddy comedy, which means I may need to make use of that free Prime trial I’ve been ignoring.

Man, I remember Bobbie telling Avasarala on the Razorback that “pilots carry me to kill things”. Watching her spot the pattern in the Pella’s defence strategy and exploit it was as much fun as the ship’s flip-and-fire moves with the railgun. The best bet is always gonna be to hand tactical control over to Gunny and then let her do her thing.
(or, on preview, what j.r. said.)

Clarissa’s ‘Peaches’ helmet nameplate being done up on sticky tape is a nice touch, and reminded me a bit of the ‘Murtry Amos’ duffel bag from last series’ opening.

Fucking Marco. First he goes from telling the residents of Ceres that their station will be the heart of the Belter nation to crippling their home and abandoning them to the enemy, then justifies it by othering them as not ‘real’ Belters. Then when the Rocinante kicks their ass in the fight he picked with them, he flips seamlessly from “They’re no match for the Pella” and “we don’t need either of them” to “it’s not a 3:1 advantage if two of the ships withdraw”. All this grandstanding and goalpost-moving feels like listening to a Boris Johnson speech.

So the explosions on Ceres are sabotage/booby traps left behind by the Free Navy, right?

This episode needed more badass space-pirate Drummer.
posted by myotahapea at 10:42 AM on December 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

My guess for Holden's disabled warhead is that it was all about not wanting to kill Naomi's son. Marco deliberately moved just enough to make Filip visible, so it would be clear that he would die if they delivered a kill-shot to the Pella. Even if Marco doesn't know Holden's personality enough to know that he almost certainly couldn't knowingly kill his partner's child, he does know Naomi well enough to know she'd probably never be able to completely forgive him doing that. So it was a hail-Mary on Marco's part: either they see Filip and choose to let the Pella go, or they kill it and bring more misery to Naomi's life, forcing her to watch her own ship's torpedoes kill her son. Whichever choice they make he's sown the seeds of chaos on the Rocinante, and for him that likely makes it a win-win.
posted by myotahapea at 11:10 AM on December 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Ah, a more charitable interpretation for Holden disabling the warhead is that he thinks there's still a chance to capture Marcos and bring him to trial, rather than die as a martyr in a space battle.
posted by porpoise at 12:14 PM on December 25, 2021

Does Holden know what Filip looks like? I don't remember if/when they've crossed paths in person... (I've forgotten a lot of details from the last 2 seasons. 1-3 I've watched 2x, so I know them fairly well)
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:09 PM on December 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Given Marcos' fondness for speechifying in public, and the way Filip hangs around him, there's probably lots of videos all over the Belt that show Filip in the crowd. Ample time for Chrisjean to get copies and forward them to Holden.
posted by Mogur at 1:26 PM on December 26, 2021

Maybe, but I didn't see any flicker of recognition in Holden -- he seemed focused on Marcos. We've seen his savior complex get him in danger already this season (accidentally setting off the drive attached to the asteroid, later telling Naomi something about getting used to the danger, expecting to make it through, something like that. I think Chrissie/The Old Lady would happily take the risk of making Marcos a martyr to have cut the head off of the Free Navy. Holden wants it to be Right. He wants Marcos to surrender, to see the error of his ways, or at least to face justice and be exposed as a self-important sociopath.

But then again, I could be totally wrong! :D
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:48 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

(damnit, I originally typed "Marco" but then thought it was "Marcos" and used the edit window to change it to the wrong name)
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:53 PM on December 27, 2021

Not to spoil - but the trailer for next weeks episode has plenty of Drummer in it and she is about to bring it big time……

Fuck I love this show.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 5:24 PM on December 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

I scrolled through some of the livetweets from this episode and found a couple gems for the scene with Monica and the Belter, including the page of script of their conversation which Anna Hopkins posted (some of which seems like it didn't make the final cut).
I'm now even more invested in what happens to Monica, Owain and Lucky Earther ...
posted by myotahapea at 2:21 AM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

So when Holden says he thinks he knows someone who can make sense of the disappearing ship data, he’s talking about Elvi, right? Unless they’re pulling in a new character now I can’t think of anyone else it could be. She was the best part of the Ilus storyline and I’d be really happy to see her again.

Glad to see Kirino’s got promoted up. IIRC she only had the one scene during the Earth-Mars war but she was great for that bit of time, and seeing her and Avasarala together at the head of the combined fleet gave me a little happy glow.
Nice little detail of Avasarala, who was introduced by way of her subjecting a Belter to gravity torture, trying to take the high road with a MCRN admiral who lowkey reminds her that actually, ‘coercive methods’ were always Earth’s way, not Mars’.
(Which isn’t to say Mars is blameless or that Avasarala’s character growth is insignificant, just that this is one of her blind spots.)

Seems like the fanatical Martian group Sauveterre and the Barkeith were part of has arrived on Laconia and is positioning its boots on the colonists’ necks. And that ship that came through the Laconia ring gate at the end looked suspiciously … glowy.
Whatever RSRG 6 is doesn’t sound good either.

The implied progression in Cara’s storyline with those creatures is pretty ominous as well. There’s a whole undercurrent of dread around the Laconia storyline.
posted by myotahapea at 2:35 AM on December 28, 2021

Isn’t the person who can make sense of the data Naomi?
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:59 AM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh, wait, or do you mean after that? Never mind.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:02 AM on December 28, 2021

The belters are straight-up wearing fetish gear now, aren’t they?
posted by schmod at 8:59 AM on December 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

Isn’t the person who can make sense of the data Naomi?
Yes. The show doesn’t make this quite as clear as the books, but Naomi is an actual genius. “Make sense of this mountain of data” is very much Naomi’s jam, and also something she is uniquely qualified to do.
The implied progression in Cara’s storyline with those creatures is pretty ominous as well. There’s a whole undercurrent of dread around the Laconia storyline.
I’ll avoid too many book comparisons here, but the show’s made a very interesting narrative choice in terms of how Laconia is being shown to us (through the eyes of a child who is effectively a background-character). We’re only seeing bits and pieces of how Laconian society is structured… but what we’ve seen is creepy! The scene in the classroom spoke volumes about the society, with very little exposition.
posted by schmod at 9:05 AM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Laconia: Would you Like to Know More?
posted by Nelson at 9:24 AM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

It seems like the Martians are using the Laconian colonists as test subjects for whatever project they are building in space, which I guess Marco is helping with? I expect nasty things will happen to them.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:27 AM on December 28, 2021

“Make sense of this mountain of data” is very much Naomi’s jam, and also something she is uniquely qualified to do.

True, and sorry for my imprecise phrasing. Naomi does indeed make sense of the data, and more or less works out the ‘how’ of the ship disappearances, but says she can’t give the ‘why’ because she doesn’t know enough about the ring tech. That’s when Holden says he might know of someone, which is what makes me think he’s talking about Elvi — she spent a lot of time studying the artifacts on Ilus, and IIRC we haven't met another character who's got that kind of experience with the protomolecule constructs.

The scene in the classroom spoke volumes about the society, with very little exposition.

Someone said that the Laconian teacher has a lot of Youth Pastor Energy and I couldn't agree more.
posted by myotahapea at 11:43 AM on December 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

So what does a post-Inaros Belt even look like? Factions everywhere, of course - we've already seen how much the Belters rely on them...but where does Belt society go from here? I do *not* see Drummer as the bosmang of the Belt - for one thing, a single path forward for all Belters goes against pretty well everything she believes in - but who else is left?

I've read no books nor looked ahead in the show, so this is pure conjecture, but what if Drummer's role is to use her social standing and prestige to really free the Belt - both from the Inners and from people like Inaros? Here is my prediction: Camina Drummer will be the spiritual leader of the Belt, while adamantly refusing to ever refer to herself as such (and occasionally punching people who try to fawn over her).

It's a bonus that "camina" can be translated as "walk" or "path". :)
posted by Mogur at 8:13 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

but who else is left?

Drummer has some leadership history, she was Fred's number 2 on Tycho and ran Medina Station after all, but we've only been given a really small glimpse into the Belters and their factions so its easy for us to say that only Drummer is left when there are likely lots of other candidates out there. Like fine, Anderson Dawes was killed off-screen so it won't be him but there would have been any number of capable lieutenants in the OPA who could fill the void. Or in the other factions that we've seen even less of. Maybe it'll be Diogo, making good on his "legend" like Miller said. OK, probably not Diogo.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:29 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Naomi kinda dropped an elevator on Diogo, so I expect they had to sponge him off the chunks of his armor. (which is prolly what you meant)
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 12:16 PM on December 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'd forgotten all about that. Ok definitely not Diogo (RIP). Although if we haven't seen his body maybe he isn't dead yet.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:35 PM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nico seems like an obvious fit, given that they’re already a politician and all...
posted by schmod at 3:45 PM on December 30, 2021

And they seem more interested in actually helping their people as opposed to satisfying their ego or using them as pawns in some greater scheme. Although I guess there's still 2 episodes for Sanjrani to perform a heel turn.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:49 PM on December 30, 2021

D'oh! Yes, Nico is the obvious choice. Far superior as administrator and diplomat than Drummer. Still wonder what Drummer will do when this is all over.
posted by Mogur at 8:33 AM on December 31, 2021

I guess I was totally wrong about Holden's motivations :)
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:43 PM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Watching this late (waited for all episodes to drop so I wouldn't have to cool my heels for a week at a time). But the Laconia storyline is basically Pet Sematary now, isn't it?

Also, didn't the teacher specifically ask the kids to tell them about things that have changed in the last few weeks? Somebody's up to something over there. I mean they must be filming this stuff and putting it in the show for some reason, even that reason is still completely unclear halfway through the season.

And shit, soccer must be some serious business on Laconia. What the hell happened?
posted by Naberius at 12:02 PM on January 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

"and all the brothels are union," I love Amos so much
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:36 PM on December 5, 2022

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