The Expanse: CQB
December 31, 2015 11:06 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Holden and crew find themselves in the middle of a desperate battle. Miller’s partner goes missing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich (51 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Never say "Well, this shouldn't be too difficult."...
posted by Mogur at 11:29 AM on December 31, 2015


(I think it's actually "CQB".) I really liked this one, up to and including the bit where Holden uses physics to get himself and Naomi back on the catwalk. This show has an actual science advisor, and it shows.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:16 PM on December 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Shed!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:37 PM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


He was a leaf on the wind.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:37 PM on December 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


I am digging the design for Tachi.

And Alex is still the best in all his south Asian via Space Texas glory . Also I like Alex because he is sort of transported in from the Cowboy Bebop universe. How y'all doin'?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:47 PM on December 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh man, the Shed scene. Mrs. Example and I were watching it, knowing something horrible had happened just by the way the camera was showing us the characters looking at an awful thing, but delaying actually showing us the thing...and then the perfectly round hole in the wall where Shed's head used to be. Oof.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:19 PM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


And the freefall blood glob* that goes splat when the thrust comes back.

*I have their first album and liked them before they got cool and sold out
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:05 PM on December 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really thought this episode rocked, what with building up the Martians as a powerful military force and then wrecking them, while leaving who's behind it all a mystery. I could do with less Avasarala, which is pretty much how I've felt the whole show, but all of the space battle, from Shed to the catwalk to the self-sealing armor on both Martians and the boarders... just so cool to watch. I'm impatiently waiting for the next one now.
posted by tautological at 5:30 PM on December 31, 2015


I like the design of the Tachi/Rocinante, but I always thought it was supposed to have intra-atmospheric capabilities. Shouldn't it be somewhat more aerodynamic? The Donnager is perfect, though.


I still think Avasarala needs to be much more sweary.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:37 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I miss Sweary Avasarala but can see how that poses a problem for basic cable.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:39 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I miss Sweary Avasarala but can see how that poses a problem for basic cable.

But "shit" is allowed, as is a bunch of other offensive shit that would pass the censors. I really wish they salted her up a bit.

Other than that, this is the best episode yet. I'm a huge fan of the books, and this is that moment where you finally get past the foundational politics, subtly handled in the show thus far -- though if you blinked you may have missed some things-- and into the action that drives the rest of the story.

Since this isn't a books included thread, it's a bit spoilery to get into the ship at the end of the episode, but :D :D :D!

Also the Holden/Naomi slingshot to stabilize her was really neat. The anti-grav stuff has been really well handled, not perfect, but really good for a basic cable show.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:42 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like the design of the Tachi/Rocinante, but I always thought it was supposed to have intra-atmospheric capabilities.

It does later on.

This show is amazing.
I only wish I hadn't binged on all four episodes so far.
Eh, at least I have the books.

I really wish they salted her up a bit.

I like to think they'll build to all the swearing and ball-crushing language.
posted by Mezentian at 12:12 AM on January 1, 2016


Sorry about the mistake in the show's title. I've written the mods to ask that it be corrected.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:21 AM on January 1, 2016


[Corrected!]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:23 AM on January 1, 2016


Lovely bit of business in the Shed aftermath, when they're sealing the holes. Watch as Amos finishes sealing his hole, then tosses the sealing gun to Naomi... he adds *exactly* enough spin to it that its grip slaps into her hand. She doesn't have to reorient it before she can start using it. Shows the skill and experience, but also a neat signature of those two characters' relationship.
posted by Mogur at 4:32 AM on January 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


So should I be reading the book(s) along with the show? Or now that I've started the show, stick it out until the end of the season, then binge on the books?

Glad I didn't look up the show and Shed specifically on IMDB (I wanted to know what else he's been in), because then I might have spoiled myself on this episode.
posted by ODiV at 12:20 PM on January 1, 2016


So should I be reading the book(s) along with the show? Or now that I've started the show, stick it out until the end of the season, then binge on the books?

Those of us who have read the books seem to be enjoying the show, so I don't think that they will ruin it for you. But since it's already 4 episodes into a 9 episode season that only runs until February 2, I would stick it out and then binge on the books!

On the other hand being able to compare/complain/speculater about differences between the 2 in FanFare is also fun. I don't think you will go wrong either way.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:00 PM on January 1, 2016


I just finished the first book - I started it after I'd seen the first two episodes and watched eps 3 and 4 afterward. I think having read the book has made me more engaged, for sure. The political stuff makes a lot more sense. I also think knowing what's coming makes me even more excited to watch, wanting to see how they're going to handle certain visuals.
posted by something something at 1:16 PM on January 1, 2016


I agree that Avasarala hasn't been great, but she has always been one of my least favorite characters in the books too. Everything about the scene with Shed was great. I do find myself wishing for a bit more lighting in some scenes. I know that it is probably more authentic to be dark, but it makes things hard to see occasionally.

TV Amos has really grown on me during these episodes. At first he felt too young and too small, but the actor has a great physicality about him that is winning me over.

Also, it was announced recently that Syfy picked up the show for a second season. That is great news. As far as I can tell, in today's TV landscape an early second season pickup is often a big deal for a show because viewers know that if they invest in it, they will get a payoff. I am excited.
posted by bove at 2:31 PM on January 1, 2016


I started reading the books before the first episode, and I can't help but think I am getting a lot of background details that help my enjoyment (plus, what ActingTheGoat said about the differences).

Also, the books are like crack. Not great literature, and not especially deep, but fascinating.
posted by Mezentian at 4:47 PM on January 1, 2016


I am digging the design for Tachi.

I also liked how Donnager looked like the love-child of Sulaco and a Hyperion-class cruiser from B5.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:35 PM on January 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


TV Amos has really grown on me during these episodes. At first he felt too young and too small, but the actor has a great physicality about him that is winning me over.

Some people brought that up in the Pilot thread and I thought he should have been bigger too. Maybe not Dave Bautista big, but at least Abraham from The Walking Dead sized. But after the first episode I stopped noticing. I think the actor who plays him is solidly Amos and I like the weirdly palpable devotion he has to Naomi.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:23 AM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The casting overall is pretty impressive, given that they have to work with actual Earth human beings and therefore can't be completely accurate with the books' descriptions of how living with or without gravity makes the Belters different from Earthers and so on. I super love Chad Coleman as Fred. My only WTF moment was when I read the book and realized the navigator Holden is sleeping with in the beginning was Nigerian in the book. They had to cast a pretty blonde lady in that role? Come on.
posted by something something at 5:01 AM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's been a little while since I've read the early books, so it might just be my (very) hazy memory, but I feel like the show is making more of how inexperienced / immature these characters are in some ways, and how as a team they're pretty dysfunctional. Which is probably ok. I want to watch them really gel as a group.

There's a bunch of little detail stuff in some scenes where I'm like "how is Alex leaning forward from his headrest under this kind of acceleration", or whatever, but I still think it's telling that you notice these things because they've adopted a posture of "it matters whether the ship is under acceleration". It could be that I've missed things in the last decade or two, but I'm not sure there has ever been a Space Show with this level of commitment to there actually being a more-or-less realistic physics. I'm entirely sure they're gonna fuck it up left and right because this is a TV show, but as long as they hang on to the core conceit that it actually matters, I will be pretty happy.

Miller's plot feels like it's dragging a little, but I think Thomas Jane is doing a good job inhabiting the character in a pretty sympathetic way. Corrupt in a corrupt system, kind of a fuckup, but essentially a guy who tries to order the world around him and keep his community from tearing itself apart.

Without getting into spoilerland, they are definitely telegraphing some stuff that I don't remember emerging in the book-universe until later in the narrative. Which is also probably all to the good.

Could do with more swears.
posted by brennen at 4:48 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]




OMG I am still loving it. It's striking just the right notes of snappy dialogue, earnestness, political intrigue and the knowledge that something really, really unnerving is lurking.

Alex is perfect and awesome and he is my favorite. He is even better in the series than in the books. Cas Anvar is OWNING that role.

The way they handled Shed's death was just exactly right. And they made us like him enough that it was a blow when he died, and the cast really sold the horror and shock.

And I can't even tell you how happy I am about there being a season two....I can't wait for episode 5 on Tuesday...

A+ but needs more swears.

I also love that SyFy has made the episodes as available as they have, it's like they have people working there who have brains! They know they are competing with Netflix and the like, so they have decided to actually, you know, compete!
posted by biscotti at 7:27 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I haven't read the books, and have been restraining myself since the first youtube episode of this, so I'm not missing the swearing. Avasarala doesn't really seem the sweary type in this incarnation. I am also really enjoying the handling of gravity. It gives the (presumably) CG ships a physicality that TV scifi often lacks; the Cant's emergency manoeuvers in ep1 being a cool example.

I'm not sure I get why the captain of the Donnager decided to scuttle the ship rather than let it be taken though, maybe that's explained in the books?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 9:10 AM on January 4, 2016


Mars seems like it would be pretty protective of their tech. That's all I've got.
posted by ODiV at 10:57 AM on January 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure I get why the captain of the Donnager decided to scuttle the ship rather than let it be taken though, maybe that's explained in the books?

It's too dangerous to let fall into enemy hands. In the books it's made clear that dreadnoughts like Donnager can wreck continents.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:26 AM on January 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


I haven't read the books but felt certain that the captain made the right move; after all, if someone's trying to start a war between Earth and Mars, why give them access to a Martian warship that has 1) already been named to the UN and all ships within broadcast range as the ship that destroyed the Canterbury, and 2) can be used for additional nefarious purposes that aren't direct attacks, like gathering intel from/brainwashing members of the captured crew, repurposing Martian tech for their own use and even using the Donnager as a template to produce other fake "Martian" dreadnoughts?

No idea who the "real baddie" is, obviously, as I'm a show-viewer only... but with an unknown foe that's already cemented itself as formidable and unwilling to negotiate with Martian, Earth or Belter envoys, I'd sure as hell hit the ship's self-destruct button, too.

Props to the Donnager's captain for showing what real leadership looks like when faced with an insurmountable enemy. Watching her wait until she knew Holden and the others were out of range before she detonated gave me chills.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:04 PM on January 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh and about Amos... after reading everyone's comments, I am guessing he's described as both intimidating and muscular in the books? But after seeing all the Belters that look like people who fell into taffy-pulling machines, it totally clicked with me when Amos remarked that he was from Earth and could carry Alex if need be during the "who gets tranked" scene: I see him as a character that's reminiscent of Wolverine.

He does look kind of short and stocky compared to other offworld main characters we've seen, but if he's the only native Earther in Holden's crew, of course he's going to be built differently.

Is it because he's got that rough haircut, but good-looking baby/dimpled face that's throwing the book readers? To me, Amos kind of looks like a Magic Mike casting reject -- but yeah, the "palpable devotion to Naomi" really sucked me into liking his character.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:11 PM on January 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh and about Amos... after reading everyone's comments, I am guessing he's described as both intimidating and muscular in the books?

Intimidating and big but kinda doughy. He's bald/shaved and paunchy and is repeatedly described as looking like a giant baby.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:37 PM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


omg, that's hilarious. Thank you for the update, ROU_Xenophobe :)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:52 PM on January 4, 2016


Avasarala doesn't really seem the sweary type in this incarnation.

Yes. That's what's cool about her (other than that she is smart and actually understands the importance of things), she is a tiny adorable granny in a sari who swears more than sailors do. She isn't supposed to seem like the sweary type.

And yes, Amos is supposed to be huge and older.
posted by biscotti at 6:31 PM on January 4, 2016


repeatedly described as looking like a giant baby.

A giant baby cradling a semi-automatic shotgun.

While we're all waiting for the next episode, some concept art!
posted by Mezentian at 8:24 PM on January 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


A giant baby cradling a semi-automatic shotgun.

It is a bit incongruous. I usually picture him as basically a bald, beardless big-ol'-biker, or as Big Hoodlum from a 1940s movie.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:20 PM on January 4, 2016


NEW EPISODE!
posted by Mezentian at 3:26 AM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Quick question about the battle itself: I know that the Donnager successfully intercepted at least some of the incoming torpedos, but were the Martians also able to damage or destroy any of the enemy ships? I heard a line of dialog "Splash one!", but I don't know if the officer was referring to an enemy torpedo or an actual enemy ship.

This makes a big difference to how scary the unknowns are to me (ie are they scary, or are they really freakin' scary?).
posted by Mogur at 6:03 AM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I could've sworn i saw at least one shot of the railguns totally borking one of the mystery ships. It happened right before they went "OH SHIT THEY'VE GOT RAILGUNS TOO" and started the whole "woah those tiny ships have railguns?" thing.
posted by emptythought at 1:22 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah, that puts them in the 'really freakin' scary but not invulnerable' category, though I wonder how the Donnager would have done with some escorts and/or knowing that the new guys had railguns, too.
posted by Mogur at 4:16 AM on January 8, 2016


My takeaway from that scene is that Mars (and, by extension, also the UN) haven't been in any serious conflict involving enemies with similar capabilities and that they were complacent and unprepared to do so. Up to that point, they are their only peers and Mars and Earth have been in a cold war, not ever engaging in actual direct conflict. They've each done policing kind of stuff against enemies they hugely overmatch. There was some dialogue between Holden and the MCRN Captain about this, about how the ship and crew hadn't ever seen real action.

My impression was that about half of their defeat was the result of hubris. They didn't take the threat seriously until they had less room to maneuver and basically the enemy was always a step ahead of them for that reason. Psychologically, the crew was completely unprepared for a real threat. The show lampshaded this with the Captain's coffee and her near-disinterest in the enemy.

So whoever the enemy is, it's not that they are some super-advanced super enemy, but just an enemy who is very unexpectedly on something approaching (but possibly not quite achieving) an equal footing. Note that there were multiple ships against the one big MCRN ship. Surprise and numbers and the MCRN's hubris did a lot of the work.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:00 AM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


I haven't read the books, but love Avarasala, though I could see how she'd be more awesome with swears I kind of love that she's sweet and adorable and ruthless as hell.
posted by corb at 9:26 PM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Good point about the hubris, Ivan. We also see it in that Martian officer's rant about how lazy and useless the typical Earther is. I'm deeply curious to see how it plays out as the secrets start to emerge - are the Unknowns actually ready for a war? I'm guessing that they either aren't, or aren't ready yet. So, in the meantime, they want to see how much they can pit the other factions against each other.
posted by Mogur at 4:29 AM on January 10, 2016


I like to call her 'Evil Grandma'.
posted by bq at 10:33 PM on January 14, 2016


were the Martians also able to damage or destroy any of the enemy ships? I heard a line of dialog "Splash one!", but I don't know if the officer was referring to an enemy torpedo or an actual enemy ship.

Ships. We just re-watched the episode last night, and the MCRN destroy 4 of the 6 attacking ships.
posted by Lexica at 5:14 PM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was sort of wondering how the attackers were able to sieze control of the ship so quickly. I imagine the Donnager had a pretty hefty complement of Marines, and the attackers didn't seem to be particularly superior to the Martians in infantry combat. The only thing I can think of is maybe one of the two surviving enemy ships was a specialised troop carrier, so the attackers overwhelmed the defenders by attacking in force at too many locations to defend?

The show's doing a good job of keeping the mystery enemies mysterious, but at the cost of making some of these scenes difficult to understand.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:54 PM on February 5, 2016


this level of commitment to there actually being a more-or-less realistic physics

OK, curious about something regarding this. In the scene where the brig is holed to vacuum, and as well, the scene in the Canterbury ship's boat (whose name escapes me) where the airlock is breached, the show makes a clear determination to dispense with the traditional interior effects depiction of atmospheric evacuation - no hurricane of crap, no desperate clawing of characters to not get sucked out to hard vacuum.

In the brig, we further see that atmospheric pressure is easily available to initiate the repairs AND that the pressure differential between vacuum and the room is clearly less than the force required to crumple the covers of a procedural manual binder. I will grant that Martian Navy binders are likely to be made of something other than vinyl-encased 3mm cardboard and therefore may have higher collapse resistance than our own Earthbound varieties.

In both scenes we see characters travel in unsecured zerogee maneuvers and in the brig we see them travel right up to the edges of the breaches, which appear to be producing outward flow equivalent to a strong breeze at best.

Given that we have some evidence of attention to sciencing, can a knowledgeable person discuss this production decision?
posted by mwhybark at 9:51 AM on February 10, 2016


There's a web page, I think either on io9 or linked to from io9, that discusses the Shed-buys-it scene but immediate googling isn't revealing it. Anyway, they did some back of the envelope math and figured that the scene was at least in the ballpark of realistic.

I am very far from being a spaceship-venting physicist but I gather that the big thing is less the pressure difference than the area it's expressed over. On Earth, air-supported stadiums are supported at *googles* about 0.04psi. So if you poke a finger-size hole in it, it would be like someone lightly blowing on you, but if you open one of the regular non-spinny doors that same pressure difference is difficult to stand in because MOAR INCHES.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the biggest thing is the area of the breech -- if it's just one square inch, at one atmosphere that's only fifteen pounds.

It's true that this would be quite a bit of air moving through an open airlock, but there would also be a steep velocity gradient inward from the breech and that's why with something like the stadium door example you'll feel the wind right in the door, but you won't much feel it two steps to the left of the inside of the door or four steps back directly from the door.

So depictions of decompression of spaceships in TV/movies is generally quite unrealistic -- you'd have some very localized high winds very near the breech/lock, but if the whole volume is relatively small, like a sealed room (as in this example), and it was a large breech (like an open airlock), then it would also be short-lived and most of the high wind would be near the open airlock. If it's a large volume that's being evacuated, it would go on longer but still the high winds would be localized to near the breech. Most of the rest of the volume would experience a much lesser wind/breeze in that direction as the pressure dropped.

Generally, one atmosphere of pressure just isn't that much. TV/film science fiction tend to make a big deal about it when it's not actually that big of a deal. A person can easily survive an exposure to vacuum that isn't so long that they'd have asphyxiated, anyway. You won't explode and your eyeballs won't burst. You'd have some burst capillaries and subsequent bruising, maybe a mild case of the bends if you had been breathing a normal atmosphere and depending upon how long you spend in the vacuum; and if you attempted to hold air in your lungs, that would cause some problems. But spaceships aren't really holding in that high of pressure, relative to other kinds of pressure and stress that such machinery has to deal with. (The real concern isn't supposed high pressure, it's that you don't want to lose any of that atmosphere at all. So it's any slow loss whatsoever that all the engineering has to prevent.)

And, looking at this the other way, it's a very small amount of pressure compared to pressures at water depth -- it's equivalent to being about 33 feet underwater. Any diver or submarine that's 70 feet under water is dealing with twice the amount of pressure as a spaceship is containing. And that's external pressure, when a spaceship is dealing with internal pressure, and so BTW the idea of a spaceship surviving submergence at depth is also pretty insane (that tope appears here and there).

Another way of looking at it -- a typical car tire is inflated to nearly twice atmospheric pressure (relative to atmospheric pressure), a bicycle tire anywhere from two to ten times atmospheric pressure. And what kind of explosive decompression do we expect from them? If you knife a tire -- which, full disclosure, I've never actually done -- I think you'll get a mild pop and quick deflation, but it's not like some big explosion. And that's probably twice the pressure pushing on the interior surface of the car tire as what's pushing on the interior surface of a spaceship.

And, finally, another way to think about this -- and the most fundamental thing -- is that it's false that "nature abhors a vacuum" or, indeed, that anything, including a vacuum, "sucks". Nothing sucks. The only thing that ever is happening is that something is pushing. I think that people's intuition about the vacuum of space is misled by this common intuition about "sucking" -- there's possibly this sense that because our naive physical intuition is that things are "being sucked out into space", and because space is BIG, then, like, wow, a spacecraft hull breech must be super dramatic and powerful. But, again, it's only one atmosphere of pressure. We deal with pressures much, much higher than that all the time.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:31 PM on February 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


were the Martians also able to damage or destroy any of the enemy ships? I heard a line of dialog "Splash one!", but I don't know if the officer was referring to an enemy torpedo or an actual enemy ship.

Ships. We just re-watched the episode last night, and the MCRN destroy 4 of the 6 attacking ships.
- Lexica

Thanks, Lexica! This puts them firmly in the "dangerous-but-not-invincible" category. Interesting! I wonder how many gunboats they have total -- this may be revealed in later episodes -- as this will tell us how important it was to kill the Donnager.
posted by Mogur at 6:06 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Even though I knew it was coming from the books, the show couldn't have done more to signpost that Shed was gonna get killed very early on. I don't remember having an opinion one way or the other about Shed from the books, but the show did everything in its power to make him simultaneously forgettable and obnoxious.

[And, for that matter, I find all of the characters to be less likable. Avarasala has been upgraded from Badass Grandma to War Criminal Grandma]
posted by schmod at 9:35 AM on September 15, 2018


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