The crew has survived the loss of the Canterbury and the Donnager and are contacted by an unlikely ally. Miller, on Ceres, continues his investigation and his thoughts of a conspiracy grow.
This episode shouldn’t have been called Back to the Butcher, it should have been called: A mirage of conspiracies that all interconnect with one another. I’m going to keep this review short because there are so many political conspiracies going on here it would take eons. I’ll give you my take on what’s happening here. Let’s summarise it like this: Detective Miller uncovers a plot that goes further than just the talk of OPA-Mars-Earth conflict that is brewing. Then there’s Anderson Dawes, whom Jared Harris does an incredible job of making him come alive. He too wants wars with the Inners. The Expanse’s story is ¼ of the story is Belters trying to wage war with Mars and Earth. And who can blame them? I can’t. There’s some murky stuff going on here. Spoiler alert: Havelock lives! Miraculously.
You know this episode is a mixture of Holden and his team trying to sort out the mess they’ve created with Canterbury and the Donnager and Detective Miller uncovering a large conspiracy behind Julie’s Mao disappearance and the Scopuli. We’ll talk more about Miller in this episode, as opposed to the other characters because this episode belongs to Miller. He’s my favorite character. Miller is a resourceful man, a man that knows the switches and flicks that a machine needs to do to operate. He’s that well-oiled tool or nail in the system that is very useful. He’s a detective that does his job. But the Expanse is very realistic sci-fi in this version. Miller uncovers a lot more than he bargained for. The case he’s signed on for leads him to places where he doesn’t even want to be in. Thomas Jane that plays him gives him a lot more room for the audience to believe in him. Eventually, episode through the episode you grow attached to Miller. You grow attached to the fact that in this corrupt system of Earth, Mars, and the OPA, when humanity has become so divided, here’s one person trying to do some good. But let’s ask another theoretical question. Is Miller truly a good man? Is Miller doing this out of the kindness of his heart? Or is Miller such a good person that the reason this world exists is that it is built for evil people?
I once read a quote from an Ancient Scholar who said this: The worst thing about society is when smart people are afraid to end up being in politics and that is why they’re ruled by the ones who don’t know anything about politics. Or when there are brilliant people but they expect too many out of ordinary people. I don’t know, man. I think Miller is trapped in conspiracies of webs. The more he uncovers, the more he goes further deep into the rabbit hole. Deep down I think he knows this case isn’t just some random XYZ thing to do. This will be the end of him, one way or the other. This episode is as much about Miller as it is about the OPA, Earth, and Mars combined. With the encrypted data that Miller found on the Broker, he’s hunted down by Anderson’s goons. There goes a good interrogation scene that should have had much more powerful dialogue in my opinion. Jared Harris as Anderson Dawes is a fascinating character. Dawes attempts to show Miller that trying to help the Inners, or Earthers is no good. Every episode is shadowing that the OPA (who Anderson is a part of) are plotting to wage war. You know that the Belters are fed up with the lies that Earth and Mars tell them. You’ll see in later seasons why. To be fair, Anderson is not wrong. But he is a tyrant and a dictator of his kind. This show is every character roasting each other, exposing each other. Miller has this need for justice, which as Anderson points out, there is no real justice. Justice is tricky as declaring someone innocent or a villain in this world.
Then there’s Fred Johnson, the Butcher of Anderson Station, a man that wants the best for Belters. The problem with Fred is, he tries to balance between Belters and Inners. The thing is, he can’t. He’s always going to be compromised because of his past. Because this episode hits home that the Belters are jealous and envious of the fact that Earthers can breathe air and drink pure water. Whereas everything in Medina Station is just artificial. There’s also Crisjen’s character making a brief appearance, showing how far the rabbit hole she’s going down into with blackmailing everybody that is around her. That will cause her downfall than anything else and eventually everyone will desert her. The writing’s not far from the wall. The Martians and the Belters treat each other with disdain, and talk of war is brewing around. With the encrypted data that Miller found on the Broker, he’s hunted down by goons. There goes a good interrogation scene that should have had much more powerful dialogue in my opinion.
We also go to Fred Johnson and Holden and the crew of the Rocinante. Note: This is really where the team begins to emerge and we see an eventual hero quest style structure beginning to emerge in small glints. This show is a grey area. There’s no good and bad. People feel conflicted whether they are an Earther, Belter, or Martian. After this is the only realistic depiction of what colonizing space will look like in the future. We are close if you compare world politics today because the Expanse is eerily close in somewhat of this kind. There’s negotiating, Holden and Naomi are putting aside their differences and having a drink (Oh and Holden loves Coffee! Someone should make a snippet of Holden drinking coffee on the Expanse for all seasons). There’s a lot I haven’t uncovered here, but consider this episode a middle bridge for what will come next!