The Expanse: The Monster and the Rocket
April 13, 2017 9:04 PM - Season 2, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Bobbie gets sammiches. Less important things happen.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe (47 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:06 PM on April 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

Yeah Bobbie found her stride here. The mocking of whassisname's little gun, eating all of the little cucumber sandwiches, etc. Good stuff.

Looks like the Roci is gonna have to go FULL UNITED AIRLINES next week and do some INVOLUNTARY RE-ACCOMMODATING.
posted by Justinian at 9:22 PM on April 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Surprise! Whats-his-face is still evil.
posted by Pyry at 10:09 PM on April 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

The look on Bobbie's face when "the old lady" says "Just get to the f'ing point" is priceless.
posted by jimw at 10:57 PM on April 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

(taki, bosmang)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:46 AM on April 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

This week's Toronto architectural feature is...Roy Thomson Hall!

Also- Bobbie and the cucumber sandwiches. Dying.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:59 AM on April 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

I know the cucumber sandwiches part is supposed to add little bit of levity to the show, but it's such a good detail. Like so many little things on this show, it's one of those interactions that just blows my mind with the realism.

Bobbie is going full-nosh on fresh produce, and all these elite, high-class Earther's don't even react, because of either manners, or they totally get it (probably both). Like, there's just no reaction. And it's also a really powerful moment because it illustrates the scarcity of things out in the rest of the system. Bobbi is in a meeting with several of the most powerful people in the system, she should be on guard and paying attention but OMFGSANDWICHES.

The Holden characterization feels like there's some big gaps that I'm not getting at, and especially this past episode, I was kind of like 'whaaaat? Why are you so hellbent on this?' Holden's character doesn't quite make sense to me. I'm really eager to start reading the books, because I'm assuming it's fleshed out a bit more there.

Dear anyone capable of making this happen, just let me know what kind of animal sacrifices I need to make for a minimum of two spinoff's please:
    1. A direct rip off of 'The Wire' on the belt, culminating with Miller becoming the crooked detective we all love and know from the start of season 1. 2. Mars v. Pirates in the belt, with some heavy Das Boot vibes on one side, and less campy Firefly-smuggler* vibes on the other.
Take my money. All of it.

*and don't for one second think I dislike Firefly...The vibe's just all wrong
posted by furnace.heart at 7:52 AM on April 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

I would also be content, since Franck and Abraham dig on the between-book-novellas to have some world adjacent mini-series between seasons.

I want more of this worrrrrrrld in my brain.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:02 AM on April 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Holden characterization feels like there's some big gaps that I'm not getting at, and especially this past episode, I was kind of like 'whaaaat? Why are you so hellbent on this?'

I think it's trauma. They're all reacting to Eros in different ways, and Holden's gone full Warhammer 40K in his response: 'I will never watch that again because I will DESTROY it.' (I guess what I'm saying is that he shouldn't be captain right now, even though his natural talents are suited to it.) It seems reasonable to me given how high strung he seems to be - I'm sure I know people who would handle the situation similarly.

Hm. Other stuff: this was good. Naomi and stick-guy in particular, doing everything they could to save the maximum number of people was a great scene, and a great way to show the pragmatism of people who have suffered all their lives over the venality and wounded pride on display with the likes of Mao and Errinwright. Like, stick-guy is all 'I'm never going home, but my last few minutes will count,' while Mao's all, 'give me back my toys and maybe one day I will help you avert genocide if I feel like it j/k.' This meshes with my expectations pretty well.

Also, I loved Bobbi here, full stop. I guess they've done a good enough job selling her: it was my feeling that if she decided to go through Avasarala's spymaster 'like a door,' he wouldn't have been able to do much about it, even with the gun.
posted by mordax at 8:50 AM on April 14, 2017 [10 favorites]

Yeah, the thing with Holden--and they make this a little clearer in the books--is that he's got some significant protomolecule/Eros-related PTSD going on to the point where he has a panic attack when he sees the evidence of protomolecule use in the lab on Ganymede. In that light, his Ahab-esque determination to kill the protomolecule soldier they find on the surface of Ganymede makes sense.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:10 PM on April 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

The protomolecule is Holden's white whale.

Never go full Ahab.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:36 PM on April 14, 2017 [12 favorites]

Mordax no shit you need to read the books. We of course cried over Naomi's heroic act genuinely working out. Even though she caught a few blows, she triumphed.

It's such a nice visual contrast between genuine, life-saving heroics and bullshit mindgames in this episode. If you had literally ANY doubt what Bobbi was leaving behind, it's shown here. The daily calculations and sacrifices you make living in space (not enough air) vs. finger foods during international war meetings (OMFGSAMMICHES).

Can we talk about that look of "aw little one, you're space sick and weak lololol" Bobbi gave Avasarala on the jump ship? LOL damn. She is learning Earther quickly, and getting that cognitive dissonance from being surprised at Avasarala struggling that we see when she's spacewalking around the slums of NY with vertigo.

Ms. Bobbi is a very quick study. She's observing the biggest enemy Mars has right now in the same room, and seeing how Earthers handle their own internal politics in addition to the previous song-and-dance-show they put her through.

I'm glad that someone so guarded is paired with someone so direct. I can't wait to see more of these charismatic and strong women together. There will be no lies going on between them.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 6:37 PM on April 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yay, Bobbie and Avasarala's guy sparring in the shuttle! Yay for the cucumber sandwiches! I am so stoked for the three of them to have adventures together. First, they need to take over Mao's ship....

Yes, Holden having PTSD explains a lot, but I also remember Avasarala talking to one of Holden's moms, and learning how he always wanted to be a hero, but never really figured out how to do that in real life. He was channeling a lot of Ahab there in the hunt, and I'm wondering if some of his early reading and imagining is helping him deal with stuff, to the point where he's looking back for cues on how to act. Just a theory.

Also, the "We'll all die together" threat/speech made me think "I bet he first delivered a version of that speech to a bunch of toy spaceships when he was eight."
posted by Mogur at 6:42 PM on April 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

Mordax no shit you need to read the books.

That'll probably be how I handle withdrawal at the season's end. I'm sort of enjoying having no clue what's coming next on here, but it's going to be so *long* before there's more show, and I want to know more about how this universe works.

I can't wait to see more of these charismatic and strong women together. There will be no lies going on between them.

Yeah, Avasarala / Bobbi is a wonderful pairing. Avasarala's been my favorite character for awhile here - it's rare to get a sympathetic bureaucrat in any story really, much less a female one. I've been sold on Bobbi since... well, it's recent, but ever since she beat the crap out of Martens, and she's awesome in this episode.

It'll be fun watching them kick ass together. :)
posted by mordax at 7:54 PM on April 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

My one issue with the show, they've seen not just the proto molecule which is still hidden from the public but there have been explicit violations of basic physics in the Eros "inertialess drive" which had to have been observed by every astronomer, scientist and engineer. That would be the only topic of conversation, nevermind yesterdays politics. What was every politician talking about August 1945? Eros is the first event bigger.

But yeah I'm on board for spinoffs, all for Wacky Stories of the Martian Marines.
posted by sammyo at 6:29 AM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

That's been on my mind too sammyo. I always thought this would be chocked up to sort of the same centrism we see in the US, doubled with the fact that it's really hard to tell how much time has passed since the Eros Event. I'm assuming it's been in the weeks-to-months range, but it could be less?

In terms of the x-centrism, there might be some equivalent 'blogs' or networks that are discussing this, but it might be relegated to really small slices of the population. To draw a comparison to today, how many people in the United States know what's going on in say, the Seychelles? I bet Eros isn't even on the (metaphorical) radar of the mainstream media in the world of the Expanse (if there is a mainstream media). I bet that universe's equivalent to metafilter is blowing the fuck up mega-thread style over the Eros Incident.

Things are still pretty hazy, information travels relatively slow and even though the Protomolecule is known to the upper echelons, the show has made it a point to state that really outside of the powers that be, the crew of the Rocinante are the only ones who know whats going on, and they don't even really know whats going on.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:40 PM on April 15, 2017

"The Holden characterization feels like there's some big gaps that I'm not getting at, and especially this past episode..."

Book reader here, though long ago, and I've had some trouble with Holden's bloody-mindedness. I didn't recall the PTSD thing from the books, but regardless I don't think the show quite laid the foundation for that during the period between Eros and now. To me, this feels very out of character for him. I'm totally okay with the characterization that his innate stubbornness coupled with the PTSD obsession about the protomolecule would motivate this kind of extraordinary behavior ... I just don't think the show did the groundwork for this.

And, agree on Bobbie. When I first read about the casting, I thought, wow, they really did a good job. But almost all of the screentime we've had of Bobbie has been of her being uncertain and shaky, which is not the Bobbie I know from the books. Again, I don't doubt that it's there in the text, but what we also needed to see on the screen was this tough-as-nails, have-no-fucks-to-give version, too. And we haven't really seen that until now. But it's really nice to see it now, because that's who Bobbie is. It's important, too, because it has a lot to do with her relationship with Avasarala (and no one is more tough than her, a little space anxiety aside).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:40 PM on April 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've read the first book, but it wasn't really doing it for me. For me at least, the adaptation outshines the source material.
posted by Pyry at 6:05 PM on April 15, 2017

I've read the first book, but it wasn't really doing it for me. For me at least, the adaptation outshines the source material.

Yes! I keep trying to read the first book because I miss spending time with the characters, but the book keeps disappointing me. Well worse, it keeps making me want to throw my iPad across the room. I don't want to spoil the books for anyone who plans to read them, so I'm not sure how to discuss them here. I'm not far along enough in the book to spoil the TV show, so no worries there.

So here goes, with potential spoilers for future book-readers.. My first iPad-throwing moment was Miller judging victims of sexual violence and describing Julie Mao as being one of the "good ones" because she becomes badass instead of falling apart. I was also hoping Miller would be redeemed from being a stalker of his fantasy Julie, but nope, it's worse in the books. Don't even get me started on how the relationship arc plays out between Naomi and Holden. Naomi herself has no personality as a character and seems to exist solely to be a love interest to Holden, boo. And her reaction when he reveals he likes her. Gag, I am so done with the tired "if I have sex with him he won't respect me" bs trope. I guess what I'm saying is I get a bro-y unenlightened vibe from the author, which thankfully does not come across *at all* in the TV show, and I just thought we were all past that and could have interesting characters with their own personalities and agency regardless of gender these days, but apparently not in this book.

Book readers: does it get better? I really want to keep reading, but my iPad can't take much more abuse.
posted by antinomia at 2:59 AM on April 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

I would say it gets better, certainly Naomi gets better. I think getting pissed at Miller is a feature, not a bug. Some characters do/think bad things and sometimes they redeem themselves and sometimes they struggle.

I follow both the authors on Twitter and their views on life/politics are pretty damn far from "bro-y unenlightened".
posted by Ber at 10:33 AM on April 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

In the end scene, was that a protodude poking through a hole in Rosi?
posted by monocultured at 4:12 AM on April 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Book readers: does it get better? I really want to keep reading, but my iPad can't take much more abuse.
posted by antinomia at 5:59 AM on April 16 [+] [!]

Yeah, actually, it does. I've read the full series 2x now. I can understand the things you're griping about - and as a first time reader, you need to consider that they're addressing some of this stuff as they go. Naomi's character has a LOT of development over the subsequent books. So does Holden's, in a different way. All of them do, really.

I'm not spoiling anything to say that Holden frequently is the guy doing-the-wrong-thing-for-the-right-reasons quite a bit, and it's the family dynamic of the crew that keeps him in check. Notice that he turned down the Ahab when Alex mentioned that their 'family' is in trouble.

That's a recurring theme/motivation for him. Of the whole crew, he's the only one who ever had a stable family. The idea of the security and safety of family is one of the things that drives him.
posted by Thistledown at 4:49 AM on April 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

In the end scene, was that a protodude poking through a hole in Rosi?

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:05 AM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Without spoiling anything, in the later books Holden in particular has a couple particularly strong epiphanies along the lines of "Wow. I have just been an incredible asshole for a long time," with clearly marked efforts to change following. Everybody does a bunch of growing except maybe Alex, who in the books could be replaced with a Cylon without anybody noticing or indeed caring. My hat is off to Cas Anvar - Wes Chatham may have brought Amos to life, but show-Alex is a house built from literally nothing.

As ever, standard Book-4-is-awful disclaimer applies. Nemesis Games (Book 5) is probably the best in the series; after reading each three times I've firmly come down on the side of it being better than Leviathan Wakes (Book 1). My wife really loves Caliban's War (Book 2), which is pretty strange to me but I like the idea that the series as a whole offers different things to different people.
posted by Ryvar at 12:29 PM on April 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Question then -- can book 5 be read without having read 2-4? I liked but didn't love LW, am enjoying the series, but mostly because it's beautiful.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:50 PM on April 17, 2017

You could in the sense that it's possible and you'd recognize a lot of the characters but... not really.
posted by Justinian at 1:10 AM on April 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

It'd be sort of like reading the first half of A GAME OF THRONES and then jumping back in halfway through A FEAST FOR CROWS. "And then WHAT happened?!?! Why?!!? How?!?"
posted by Justinian at 1:11 AM on April 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really loved the cucumber sandwich bit, both from a "Martian eating produce" perspective, and a "put the enlisted soldier in a room with free food" perspective. It was both the most realistic and the most perfect scene in an episode full of great scenes.

I definitely cried when the Belter switched spots with Naomi though.
posted by corb at 4:58 AM on April 18, 2017 [8 favorites]

I definitely cried when the Belter switched spots with Naomi though.

I did too, even though I could see it coming a mile away and it felt contrived to evoke that kind of feeling in the viewer... still got me tho. So hats off I guess.
posted by some loser at 6:26 AM on April 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Naomi's success was a nice emotional payoff but felt extremely contrived. Pilot dude's periodic southern accent is getting distracting. Holden becomes less compelling as the episodes progress and his grimace grows. The only arc I'm really digging is Amos, who seems to be genuinely suffering due to his condition. Hopefully things get more interesting (and believable) on an emotional level for the rest of the characters as the season concludes.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:03 PM on April 18, 2017

Naomi's success was a nice emotional payoff but felt extremely contrived.

I agree, but the two moments -- "We all did!" and "You not finished yet." were really good. I mean, yeah, crassly manipulative. But good anyway. I liked that I couldn't quite tell whether BigBoy meant putting her back on Somnambulist as a blessing or curse; I could read it either way but lean more towards "You've got a lot more to do to make up for Eros."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:11 PM on April 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

I liked that the big Belter guy who was tapped as enforcer purely because of his size and ability to act intimidating turned out to be remarkably eloquent when the situation called for it. It was a nice touch even though, yeah, the swap with Naomi was contrived and emotionally manipulative (but it worked!)
posted by asperity at 8:40 AM on April 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

Champa's speech to the crowd was awesome. Belters are not only tough, but fatalistic.

"Angry Belter"*, when looking down the barrel of Miller's gun, spreads his arms wide and says "Kowlmang (everyone) gotta die…" When the woman on Eros won't go with Naomi and insists on taking her daughter to the Hospital level, she says "Shukumi"; Fate, destiny. Woulda been great had they thrown that line into Champa's speech as a Belter "Your destiny is written, face it eyes open" touchstone.

What threw me for a moment was the phrase "Where is your pride, beltalowdas?"


That continues to be the most mangled word on the show! Aside from problems with how the writers use it on the show, the suffix -lowda is already plural. On top of that, LB does not a indicate plural by adding an "s". Same with Beratnas. 1 beratna, 5 beratna.

Milowda na anyimal
, "We are not animals".

Never expected to become a conlang geek. I think the reason it bugs me when they make basic mistakes is that not only did they hire a linguist to create an actual working language with grammar & vocabulary & history, he went DEEP on it. Not only doesn't the language do "X", there's a reason it doesn't.

What manner of sf geeks would we be if we didn't dig down deep deep into the thing we love for the "BUT THEY GOT THAT WRONG" moments? ;-)

And if y'all ain't read the books, get ready. They're about to drop a mic HARD on us, then say "See ya next year!"


*I refer to "Gaunt Belter" (he of the welwala speech) & "Angry Belter" as "The brothers". I hope they come back for season 3, & get real names.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:01 AM on April 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

They were clearly trying to lead us to think Errinwright was going to off himself. I really enjoyed that just as they were starting to engender some sympathy for him he got up off the mat swinging. Much more interesting that way.

I wish they hadn't shown him cutting himself while shaving. Using an old-fashioned razor like that would be such a hipster affectation that it read to me as forced. They should have found something else. They sorta kinda supported it with his love of the 107-year-old whisky, but still.

I appreciated the emotional content and plot implications of the scenes where refugees were being kept off the Somnambulist, but one guy repeatedly holding off several hundred people in a situation like that was quite a stretch.

The futuristic building where Avasarala and Errinwright spoke is auspicious. Charles Xavier and Magneto had a scene there in the first X-Men movie. I guess the future looks like Canada.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:12 AM on May 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

The thing about the safety razor is conspicuous consumption. The unregistered living in the gutter that Bobbie runs into, they have digital cook pots and computerized stills. And they don't even have access to basic assistance from the government.

Someone at the top of the food chain is not going to use a powered razor like some unregistered street trash.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:26 AM on May 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

wow, I actually teared up at the scene of Naomi looking through the glass at the Big Belter Guy. This show is so good!
posted by numaner at 10:41 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bobbie getting stuck into the sandwiches was so good.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:39 AM on February 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

What threw me for a moment was the phrase "Where is your pride, beltalowdas?"


"Beltalowda" confused me a bit -- they kept using it as a singular. From context I assumed that was a sort of comradely inclusion thing, like "we're all Belters here." But as season 2 went on it seemed to go further off the rails. And Nick Famer says they've just been using it wrong.

But to me it makes sense for a creole to have some inherent incosistencies in terms of plural-s-or-no, and the "Beratnas Gas" logo has been in the show at least since they disguised the Roci.
posted by Foosnark at 11:59 AM on February 26, 2018

Phrases I keep muttering to myself in order not to go bonkers yelling at the screen about how they're screwing up the lang belta:
  • Language drifts. New words are created, old words get dropped, the meaning of words changes.
  • Accents shift. It would be perfectly understandable if the Ceres accent is different from the Anderson Station accent is different from the Eros accent.
  • Looking at existing languages, even native speakers do things that are considered grammatical "mistakes".

posted by Lexica at 2:02 PM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I could care less if the Belter's used the wrong grammer, the hole point is there language has drifted from Earth languages, it easily could of drifted internally to and have it's own dialects.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:32 AM on February 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

The thing about Creole languages is the history of their study and opinions about them are kinda riddled with colonial assumptions and racism. They're actually more regular than people expect. And those anti-creole prejudices have real-world effects today.

In a TV show that has gone so far in depicting a multi-ethnic society of oppressed, politically marginalized colonial subjects speaking a creole, And went far enough to hire a linguist to create a full language for them, it would have been great if they had not been sloppy with it at the edges.

I mean, with all their copious free time producing the show.

As a New Yorker, I hear the phrase "Hey, youse guys" and I think "Mid-20th Century caricature of an outer-borough working class accent." But "Youse guyses" sounds completely out of place because that's just not something people say.

"Beratnas Gas" could easily be a case of "We didn't consult the linguist we hired to give it a final once over before we locked it in".

That happens.

Personally, I choose to think of "Beratnas Gas" as specifically "Beltlish", neither fully English nor Belter. The OPA intel group created the name specifically so that Belters will loook at it an probably think "Was named by an inner who doesn't speak well". Martians and Earthers won't know the difference or care.

"Beratnas Gas" is like a Mediterranean restaurant calling itself "House of Homos"; Yeah, the chickpeas are off the hook, and I see what you're getting at, but that's not how we spell it."

The reason it matters for Beltalowda/Inyalowda is that those two words are pronouns. Belta, Inya are the adjectives. The Belters/Inners dichotomy is so central to their experiences it's baked into the language

At the last Lang Belta setup in Oakland, Nick Farmer was saying he was hoping the show had gone with more spoken "Beltlish". Belter is English-based, so it's quite easy to drop in and out of in the middle of a sentence. It Would have gotten more Belter into the show without subtitles, in a way that would have been easier than memorizing full LB.

"Why you pensa" is a perfect example of Beltlish.
English: "Why do you think so?"
Belter: "Kéradzhang to pensa?"

When Miller hits up Vargas on the train because he's late with his bribe, Vargas replies "Detective Miller; Mi ta ando... ("I was...") been looking for you everywhere."

Dawes, Drummer, Diogo, they should all be speaking in Beltlish all the time. Just enough to add flavor while not getting in the way of the storytelling.

But they didn't go that way.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Everyone has a different threshold for how much obscurity they can take. Over two seasons, I’ve gotten used to having to guess what Belters are saying, as well as parsing some strong accents. And I’ve grown to enjoy it as a big part of the show’s world building. But I struggled at first, and I think the producers are right not to push it too far.

I get what you’re saying about creoles not being as sloppy as we think. But language is always sloppy, and the belt is a lot of small insular communities far away from each other
posted by rikschell at 5:18 AM on April 6, 2018

Yes. and the Belters ancestors left Earth with cheap and easy video/voice communication. People may have to have conversations via message tag rather than a live link when the distances become immense, but you’re seeing & hearing people speak rather than just reading the words.

Creoles evolve when linguistically imcompatible groups suddenly find themselves living/working in close proximity to each other. And it’s gotta happen comparatively fast, so they evolve towards regularity.

Even if three tonal languages come together to form a creole, that creole will not be tonal because tonality (using pitch/inflection to convey meaning) is a complex linguistic thing. Both I and my neighbor may speak tonal languages, but the way she uses tones might be completely different from how I do, and so tonality gets dropped from the language.

My inclination is towards accents and vocabulary having greater variation than basic grammar.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:25 AM on April 6, 2018

“Don’t talk down to me, plant guy!”
posted by greermahoney at 8:26 PM on April 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

posted by sixswitch at 8:48 PM on February 23, 2021

Re: lang belta and the occasional bigfail, I remind myself that

a) these actors are all performing in a second language but getting paid the same rate, and

b) there are a lot of reasons a take with a flubbed word might get chosen: the performance might be superior, it might fill a gap in coverage or cover a worse error elsewhere.
posted by sixswitch at 8:25 AM on February 24, 2021

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