The Expanse: Doors & Corners
February 1, 2017 9:35 PM - Season 2, Episode 2 - Subscribe

With the help of Fred Johnson and the OPA, Miller, Holden and the crew stage a raid for information on the protomolecule; on Earth, Avasarala learns a truth about Fred Johnson
posted by fimbulvetr (50 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Okay I just wanna say how much I love Chad Coleman's voice, he is such a fantastic casting for Fred Miller because his orations are very stirring. I can completely believe that he led people in the military and then masterminded the OPA insurrections because just LISTEN to him!

I'll admit that I thought that Diogo kid got his brains blown out at first. That whole invasion scene was great because it reminded the audience that Miller is a puker (the Eros station escape) and he's a seasoned cop who isn't going to go off half-cocked on a raid. Of course, watching him shoot a corrupt scientist whose obvious God complex wasn't going to be managed well via Fred's attempt at negotiation reminds us too that there is still some good in Miller. He has a moral compass, and while it's often not pointed in the right direction, he loved Julie Mao and doesn't want all of humanity to suffer the way she did.

My favorite things:

- Avasarala's jewelry and costumes. Bravo to the wardrobe crew for making her as visually formidable as she is intellectually and politically!

- Bobbie Draper's casting here is utterly inspired. Watching Frankie Adams drill through training exercises, hype her teammates for battle and arm-wrestle a robot arm was pretty great. None of that holds a candle to the soft, wistful pain on her face looking at the 100-year terraforming holo for Mars. Bobbie has one true love that drives her forward, and it's hope for a better future (which she very poignantly says she'll never live to see herself).

- They've clearly explained there won't be a love triangle between Amos, Naomi and Holden. I think some shows might cave and exploit that option when the plot's too hard to push forward, but I have faith that the Expanse writers won't fall into that trap. Watching Amos and Naomi silently communicate is such a treat, and though I don't really like her with Holden tbh, clarifying that Amos is closer to a little brother seems both accurate and important. I've read the books and won't spoil anything but one thing Amos is not is possessive of women or people in general.

Let's be real: Amos is a pit bull. Loving, gentle and loyal to a fault. But if you threaten his pack, he'll attack. It's not even personal, and Miller gets that now.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:34 AM on February 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


I admit I laughed when I saw the FedEx logos on the side of the breaching pods. Then they killed 25 guys who never had a chance and I was "Okay, I'm sorry I laughed." Damn this show knows how to knock me around.

Anyway, don't know the books at all, but now the plot is really amping up, and I'm seeing all the pieces now (I think), so let's see what happens next.
posted by Mogur at 4:56 PM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


Just saw the opener and had to post about Avasarala's clothing too. Give that costume designer an Emmy please.

And Bobbi Draper, wow! I didn't think they could find an actress that could do that role justice. Glad to see I was wrong.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:07 PM on February 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


Of course, watching him shoot a corrupt scientist whose obvious God complex wasn't going to be managed well via Fred's attempt at negotiation reminds us too that there is still some good in Miller. He has a moral compass, and while it's often not pointed in the right direction, he loved Julie Mao and doesn't want all of humanity to suffer the way she did.

I don't think Miller's motivations were that complex.

Fred Johnson was convinced by the argument that the real battle is against the extra-solar threat (also unparallelled power!).

Miller didn't care because he just wanted revenge for the murder of his dead not-girlfriend. Otherwise he would have waited for the data to be decrypted before he killed Evil Science Guy.

Hat cop don't give a shit. Hat cop just shoots anyone who annoys him or talks too much.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:11 PM on February 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


Hat cop don't give a shit. Hat cop just shoots anyone who annoys him or talks too much.

Have to disagree. Miller (and also Holden) were waiting to see what Johnson would do. Holden seemed disappointed in Johnson's choice, but willing to see where it went. Miller wasn't willing to take that chance.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:19 PM on February 2, 2017 [5 favorites]


Have to disagree. Miller (and also Holden) were waiting to see what Johnson would do. Holden seemed disappointed in Johnson's choice, but willing to see where it went. Miller wasn't willing to take that chance.

I will happily rewatch. It was late and I was two bourbons in. But I note Miller stepped to the side, away from Holden and Johnson and out of their direct line of sight, before Evil Science Guy started waffling. I think he was planning to shoot him no matter what.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:24 PM on February 2, 2017


On a lighter note, Miller's lack of enthusiasm when Holden said they would get to keep their hair during chemo was a nice shoutout to his awful haircut.
posted by cardboard at 8:42 PM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


I mostly just wanted to rave about the use of zero-G on this show. I *love* the space battles - the attention to detail always just floors me. I mean, depressurizing the crew compartment in prep for explosive decompression? Amos getting knocked around? Holes right in the displays from near-misses?

I love this show. I would give them a pass for almost anything if they could keep up the quality there, but I actually like everything else that's going on too: casting's great, I'm interested in the plot. Really looking forward to the next one.
posted by mordax at 8:44 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


I mostly just wanted to rave about the use of zero-G on this show. I *love* the space battles - the attention to detail always just floors me. I mean, depressurizing the crew compartment in prep for explosive decompression? Amos getting knocked around? Holes right in the displays from near-misses?

So great. And how terrifying are space battles in this show?! No wonder everyone is so skittish. Virtually no missile defence, no rail gun defence, and bullets go straight through the armouring. If you get into conflict, chances are your ship is going down.

I'm very sad about how bang up the Roci is getting though. It was so shiny and new!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:01 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


Favorite moment: the look on Fred's own face as he deals with a...dissenting opinion. "I can't believe I'm doing this but I have to" kind of look. Chad Coleman is a fantastic actor - the guy owns nuance. Just owns it.

Miller is a cynic. I can't remember exact lines from past eps, but he mostly has zero faith in humans - Belter, Earther or Martian. He's lost everything - including the one thing that gave him a sense of purpose and hope at redemption once he realized that he was the Star Helix joke of a detective.

He kills the scientist not for revenge, but because he's making a blanket judgment that NO ONE should have the protomolecule data. To him, Fred is just another powerful guy who will exploit the protomolecule for his own ends.
posted by Thistledown at 4:18 AM on February 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


I watched the episodes back-to-back, so am not completely sure which episode this was but..

1) love a show that makes me rethink a scene! Example: when Elder Mao loses his shit at the smarmy UN guy. I first thought "Well, that came out of nowhere" but then I thought -- the entire scene, he's cutting flowers (nice establishing shot, btw, the city surrounding the green) for a memorial to his daughter, and laying them at a tree surrounded by dying flowers from previous memorials so he's been doing this every damn day -- all the while the UN guy is yammering about how this is going to damage the UN guy's reputation. I'm surprised he kept it together that long.

2) mad props to Avasarala looking the smarmy UN guy right in the eye and saying something like "Don't pay attention to what someone says, pay attention to what they do." She's as much as telling him that he's an idiot and she's coming for him, and he completely misses it!
posted by Mogur at 4:27 AM on February 3, 2017


Also we are finally getting Sweary Grandma.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:22 AM on February 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Question: is the swearing censored on SyFy? I'm watching this via iTunes and they are silencing the "-uck". All I hear is the "f", a very brief silence, and a "this" (or whatever).
posted by Mogur at 6:42 AM on February 3, 2017


plot is really amping up, and I'm seeing all the pieces now (I think),

Ha, just wait.

Miller shot the scientist as he knew the both he and the scientist were so far outside any national/world/or solar system rule of law that it was the only rational option. The "scientist" murdered an entire station and wanted to do more horrors, no way would bargaining within his "lair" be safe for them or any human anywhere.

That was probably the first realistic space battle ever 'filmed'.
posted by sammyo at 7:37 AM on February 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Question: is the swearing censored on SyFy?

NOPE!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:14 AM on February 3, 2017


That was probably the first realistic space battle ever 'filmed'.

Midnight on the Firing Line
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:14 AM on February 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


Damn these two episodes started strong. The production design is just beautiful. All the machinery details. The grimy clothing. The design of Tycho Station.

And yay Bobbie! I'm excited for this actress. There's a great article about the challenge of casting her. So far she can act, which is what I care about most. I don't think they've quite set her up to be the physically imposing presence she is in the books, at least not yet, but they dialed in her no bullshit competence. I also like they went very early with the "I don't use sex as a weapon... I use weapons as weapons" line. That's in the book too but IIRC much later, it's helpful to put it up front so viewers start with the right idea.

I also liked the brief space sex scene, specifically the device framing it in the window as the camera pulled back. I mean it's pandering, but it's good pandering and it's happy sex. I also thought it was interesting how the script was real careful to characterize Amos and Naomi's friendship as non-romantic, like in three different places. Their story together is one of the most interesting things to me.

In the books do they park the protomolecule sample near an abandoned asteroid mine like they do here in the TV show? My memory is they do something different with it and it becomes a major plot point in a later book. But I may misremember. (No book spoilers here, memail me if ya want.)

As to swearing, I watched it on SyFy on DirectV and I heard "f..ck", like all the consonants but the vowel sort of silenced out. It made me laugh, like does that count for not being a swear word?
posted by Nelson at 8:52 AM on February 3, 2017


In the books do they park the protomolecule sample near an abandoned asteroid mine like they do here in the TV show?

They leave it with Johnson --rot13-- Vg'f riraghnyyl fgbyra, V guvax va Arzrfvf Tnzrf, ol gur arohybhf BCN-sevatr/ZPE tebhc naq gnxra guebhtu gur tngrf sbe zber erfrnepu.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:57 AM on February 3, 2017


I heard "f..ck", like all the consonants but the vowel sort of silenced out.

I thought I just heard Aghdashloo saying "fuck." Her accent puts pauses and glottal stops in places where native English speaker might not expect them?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:58 AM on February 3, 2017


- Avasarala's jewelry and costumes. Bravo to the wardrobe crew for making her as visually formidable as she is intellectually and politically!

I know. I wanted some of her stuff and I'm a cishet (and presenting) guy!
posted by Mogur at 9:36 AM on February 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


There's a hilarious tweet from last year about Avasarala's costumes and language.
posted by Nelson at 9:46 AM on February 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also:
In the paper-and-pencil roleplaying game Apocalypse World, a player can have "a gang consists of about 15 violent bastards with scavenged and makeshift weapons and armor, and no fucking discipline at all".

I'm so pleased that Miller wound with one of those. I've always wanted to see what one would look like in action.
posted by Mogur at 11:49 AM on February 3, 2017


Hat cop don't give a shit.

Can I just say how inordinately pleased I am that people are still using Hat Cop? I'm almost as proud of that as I am of Walter Off-White.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:13 PM on February 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yes! Great costuming work on Avasarala - who (in novels) explicitly thinks about appearances and adjusts hers as part of getting people to do what she wants them to do. Subversion/spotlighting the 'one shouldn't comment on a female politician's appearances' trope?

Yes, lol FedEx boxes, but so appropriate (salvaged/reused commodity containers, like how it's 'illegal' to use actual milkcrates for other purposes because they belong to the milk company, like stealing the city's traffic cones).

I feel that the space battles (the maneuvering) is about 10x to 100+x actual speed. Actual space combat would be even more brutally lethal. If you can see it and it can't see you, and they're not actively spending reaction mass for evasive maneuvers, it's dead (for a given distance dependent on the acceleration you can impart into your kinetic projectiles). qv Railgun.

Did like the depiction of torpedos; they're chucked far enough away from the ship so the drive reaction on the torpedo doesn't damage it, but at a low enough velocity that it doesn't take an unreasonable amount of reaction mass to counter. Hm, counter-balanced torpedo drops would make a lot of sense. Once far enough away, they accelerate at double digit (?) gravities. I guess for narrative purposes that there's a stalemate between the software/sensors/computation hardware/small kinetic projectile acceleration and the speed/maneuverability of torpedos. Edge goes to weight/number of torps vs the defensive ship's weight of fire and pilot's management of the arcs of fire for their point defense cannons (PDCs). Surprised that torpedoes are still 'linear' and not evasive zig-zagging things with variable velocity that then eventually home in on their target.

A bit of an interesting thing that isn't really touched on (until the latest novel, iirc) is that (young 1st) and 2nd generation Martians and Belters having grown up in variably lower 'gravity' withstand acceleration forces much more poorly than people growing up in Earth's gravity well. A space combat vessel crewed by Earthlings can perform much higher G causing maneuvers than an identical ship crewed by Belters or Martians. That said - remote, possibly AI or limited AI, combat vessels would eat any human-carrying one in a space "dogfight."

The 'stealth coating' is an important plot point, going on (if they stay as close to the novels as they have been).

A stealth-coated combat 'drone' with massively redundant drives/thrusters/weapons would be the reasonably projected evolution endpoint of space combat with the givens presented. That and plain old massive kinetic weapons (rocks) against planetary targets.

Miller views evil science dude as a lethal threat and his goal all along was that the threat must be stopped. If Johnson was going to do it, great. But he probably ain't gonna, so Hat Cop does what needs to be done. Like, what is anyone going to do him? Nothing left to lose (and right now, he has no idea how he's going to keep on keeping on anyway - even air costs money).
posted by porpoise at 8:47 PM on February 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Also, everyone is being too harsh on Miller- he didn't destroy all the data, he kept that one scientist mook from the VR room alive, didn't he?
posted by Apocryphon at 12:56 AM on February 4, 2017


Novels: I don't recall Miller pulling this on the scientist, but I do remember he does this to someone more senior.
posted by porpoise at 10:20 AM on February 4, 2017


So now we know whom Anderson Dawes was referring to when he mentioned "street trash and radical factions" not being OPA. And Heikki Sobong denied being OPA in S1E1 when Avasarala interrogated him.

And how about Fred Johnson spacing that guy! That was hardcore.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:02 PM on February 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


> I mostly just wanted to rave about the use of zero-G on this show.

They got something more right here that they got wrong last season: when they were were maneuvering while Amos was still between the ship hulls, and he got tossed around, that's good detail; when they are doing the same and Alex's headphones or Holden's cup fail to do the same, that's a bit lame.

When they dock at Tycho, and Miller is abruptly dropped on the deck at a full-G, that's a bit of BS. For one thing, he'd be strapped in after they made that fast 180-degree turn from braking thrust to a docking pattern, and second, Tycho's spin-gravity wouldn't be anything like 1G; if it was, the Roci would have a lot harder time docking on that moving platform.

This is probably due to some asynchrony between the CGI production and the filming, but, well, let's pretend that people who live on ships prepare for expected events. And stop dropping Thomas Jane! He won't last forever!
posted by Sunburnt at 6:02 PM on February 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


spacing that guy! That was hardcore.

If you're a threat to 'the ship' (or station or whatever) - bet yer ass you get spaced.

That's one of the (rather a lot of) things I liked about the writing in The Expanse series - social norms grow out of necessity and are pruned by experience. The necessity of spacing someone that puts everyone at risk is hyper-rational.

AND that kind of cultural reality is another barrier between 'true scotsman' Belters versus Earthers and Dusters who choose to join the Belter community.

Reading the novels, I had a totally different look for Fred Johnson in my mind's eye, but Chad L. Coleman is a vision/version of Johnson that I can totally get 100% behind.
posted by porpoise at 6:04 PM on February 4, 2017


I went and watched that spacing again - besides noticing that nobody lifted a finger to help the guy (hee), the camera made a point of showing that he had a gun tucked into the back of his trousers, and also that Fred Johnson saw that gun. I wonder if Fred thought the guy was a more immediate threat? ie that he was working himself up to shoot Fred in another minute or two?
posted by Mogur at 6:08 PM on February 4, 2017


more right here that they got wrong last season

Excellent point (and subsequent points). But most viewers won't care, and most enthusiasts will give the show a pass based on the expense of doing gravity 'right.'

Case in point, my objection that the MCRN powered armour suits are less bulky; the novels posited a certain technological development timepoint for what's going on and that the bulky combat armour is a recurrent plot point when it comes to fitting/moving people/mass around.

Here's hoping that eventually either tech catches up and does depict variable gravity well ("goodly") or that visual footage of actual space travel is prominant/prolific enough that the average television viewer demands better verisimilitude.
posted by porpoise at 6:09 PM on February 4, 2017


I also love how they set up the fact that a: Alex is profligate with the Roci's PDC ammo and b:all alone flying the Roci, Alex has a lot of trouble going against one of the Anubis-class stealth ships. And we know there are more of them out there.

If only they had someone who was qualified to crew the guns and leave Alex free to fly. Someone experienced w/ Martian naval weaponry… ;-)

The way this show sets up ideas early that pay off later on in the season is one of the things I love about the writing.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:18 PM on February 4, 2017


I wonder if Fred thought the guy was a more immediate threat? ie that he was working himself up to shoot Fred in another minute or two?

Sure/yes!

But dude was an asshole who would/might/may cause problems - Fred's got an overarching PLAN - so yeah, space 'm.

That the spaced dude had a deadly weapon who might use it; sure more justification. But this kind of wraps back around to when authoritarianism might be more beneficial to the survival of the entire culture/population ... and whether that is morally acceptable or not.

Fred Johnson has higher ideals, but his immediate ones are to keep as many humans alive and as productive as possible in a terribly hostile and uncaring environment - with an external existential threat looming (UN, MCRN).
posted by porpoise at 6:20 PM on February 4, 2017


Before the Expanse, the zero-G standard for TV and movies comes down to: if there's air in the room, there's gravity. If there's no air in the room, there's no gravity. So I absolutely acknowledge that this one is vastly improved.

Even Star Trek Into Darkness screwed this one up, and that's a show that has artificial gravity and force fields that let people walk around in places where the atmosphere is held in by a thin energy barrier.

One thing I really liked as well on this was when Roci was under fire from PDCs, and those light-trails zipped across the bridge and hung there, the hot particles there suddenly dropped all once when Alex goosed the main thrust. I don't know how much it costs them to do that for 3-4 frames of film, but it was worth it. The visual coding of the lighting on the bridge was probably not practical, but cinematically cool anyway, so I'm good.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:20 PM on February 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yep! The PDC rounds going through the living/working spaces of the ship where sphincter tightening and look damned good. Realistic, too, but.

I walked out of the first Star Trek reboot when young Sulu snapped out his folding katana.

Fuck the new Star Trek.

(I think it was First Contact when the officers were in space suits fighting Borg who were trying to steal their deflector thingy that was pretty good/ok, or Final Frontier with one of the first depictions of blood floating around in null-gravity [which was great, then, but embarrassing viewed de novo now].)
posted by porpoise at 6:27 PM on February 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


Damn, ROU_Xenophobe. Rot13? A BUAF in the thread for part one? Do you know what the current year is? Because I'm getting a 1996 USENET vibe all of a sudden.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:36 PM on February 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


The necessity of spacing someone that puts everyone at risk is hyper-rational.
Or so Robert Heinlein would have you believe anyway. IIRC he heavily emphasised that as a plus point of his imagined libertarian society in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 6:44 PM on February 4, 2017


So I had in fact been on usenet for a few years by 1996 but I want it noted for the record that the only reason I used ascii art is that images are haram here. Had they been kosher, I would have graced this thread with a marvelous picture of Bobbie and a delightful quip and also there would have been blackjack and hookers but now none of you will ever know.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:49 PM on February 4, 2017 [9 favorites]




Not convinced. He spends some time arguing with the guy, possibly for the benefit of the onlookers, and doesn't react physically until he sees the gun.

Anyway, people usually got spaced in TMIAHM for being rude, not because they threatened the whole colony.
posted by Mogur at 10:08 PM on February 4, 2017


Personally, I can't get enough spoken belter creole on this show. I'm disappointed w the producer's decision to not subtitle the line spoken in lang Belta , because that would mean more of it. but they're throwing in just enough to Keep me happy.

Here's a great article by the show's accent coach on the sound of Belta, & the efforts to banish the ghost of Jar Jar Binks.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:17 AM on February 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


Good point about Belter creole. I recall in the novels that there are examples of 'code switching' by characters either turning up/down the accent or dropping in common Belter words that they wouldn't normally use.
posted by porpoise at 9:49 AM on February 5, 2017


What's killing me is Lexica & I are homies w/ Nick Farmer, the linguist hired to create the language for the show. But the Belta in the books is absolute GIBBERISH. Frank & Abraham have said as much; they're authors, not linguists.

But going from the show which has an actual grammar & vocabulary to the "just throw some sounds out there for flavor, then switch to English" of the books gets difficult sometimes.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:08 AM on February 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


BTW, when Naomi refers to Dresden as "The dzhemang behind it all", she's calling him a "man w/ a bent penis".
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:15 AM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Good point about Belter creole. I recall in the novels that there are examples of 'code switching' by characters either turning up/down the accent or dropping in common Belter words that they wouldn't normally use.
porpoise, I noticed that Fred Johnson's 2IC did exactly that in the raid, speaking clear Standard English when hailing the research station, and talking Belta before and after...
posted by prismatic7 at 4:54 PM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


The scenes on Anderson Station also give good examples of the code-switching. Marama Brown speaks standard English when he's on the radio with the MCRN, but switches to Belta when talking with the other people in the room. (I'm amused by the exchange "They're not listening." "What do you mean?" "Imalowda na listening!")
posted by Lexica at 10:38 AM on February 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


I thought this episode really reinforced the loose/spiritual Game of Thrones ties, in that Fred Johnson spacing the OPA Black Spy dissenter was very much like when Tormund kills the Lord of Bones. Also the whole "otherworldly all-consuming Outside Context Problem renders man's petty political struggles moot" thing.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:29 PM on February 6, 2017


One thing that bothers me is the resident evil grade mad science which consists of combining the t-virus protomolecule with other things at random. It's hard to take head science guy seriously as a seductive moral hazard when his research methods boil down to "lets infect stuff for shits and giggles".
posted by Pyry at 1:08 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


Without getting into book spoilers, I think the novella The Vital Abyss gives insight into why Dresden and the other scientists behaved the way they did.
posted by Lexica at 8:52 PM on February 8, 2017


I think Dresden's speech to Holden and Johnson came off as way more convincing in the books than it did on the show, to the point where you could believe he had talked them into seeing it his way, which also made Miller's actions more understandable.
posted by whir at 3:58 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


My mom was an elementary school teacher (in Canada) and she wore saris to school pretty much every day so it's kind of natural for me to see Avasarala always wearing one, although Avasarala's have a fair bit more brocade on them. Apart from the saris and jumpsuits the rest of the costuming seems too ... safe to me. It's the future, we have new materials and new cultures, so the clothes should look and act more different. Like as a cop Havelock's clothes ought to have some body armour component such that he couldn't be so easily impaled. Maybe we'll have a scene later on where we find out that Avasarala's sari is made of some super fabric.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:15 PM on September 9, 2020


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