Miller finds revealing information on a hidden data cube, and Holden and crew are surprised by their hosts’ hidden agenda.
Rock Bottom. Sometimes that’s what we get in life, isn’t it? When life becomes so wild and so mundane it, feels we’ve hit rock bottom. It’s an adequate name for this episode. Characters make decisions that impact them on a scale that changes the entire series arcs and narrative, bearing in mind of course that these episodes are an adaptation from the books themselves. This felt like one of the smoothest episodes I’ve watched in terms of character development, character arc, and pacing of this episode. It felt very structured – yet it hit all the right points. Episode 5 explored Miller’s character as a weary detective trying to take on the system. However, I felt that Miller’s scenes in this episode weren’t needed. There could entirely be a spin-off series with Detective Miller in my opinion. The problem the Expanse has is trying to show so many different viewpoints: at one moment you could be on a ship, the next on Mars, and the OPA. Do you get unique viewpoints as a result? Of course. However, it is the main weakness of this series because you are always keeping up with what is going in one scene and another. Overall though, the Expanse corrects this in the later seasons. In season 1, the problem is that the world-building becomes too much in your face. It can get a bit heavy when you’re trying to actively get invested within the characters you are rooting for.
Let’s talk about a bit between the dynamic between Secretary Errinwright and Chrisjin shall we? The dynamic is that these two are frenemies. They both dislike each other, yet respect each other a lot. They are constantly fighting telepathic mind wars with each other half the time and manipulating each other to commit a mistake that will cost their political careers. I’d compare Errinwright to Hannibal Barca. Both want to save their worlds and, both want war with the enemies they are trying to fight. Chrisjen is Scipio Africanus. She always sees the long-term picture in any conflict. She is one of the most intelligent characters I’ve ever come across. She’s nasty when the situation requires it to be so. She’s kind when the situation requires it to be so. Let us consider that most of her traits and her personality came from her father as well. As a result, Chrisjen is always on the drive to win. That motivation to win scares the other people that she knows and loves. She will drag down the entire political system to become powerful if she must and if that means the disposal of Errinwright, then it will happen. Her ruthless greed for ambition is scaring her most loyal supporters. Errinwright is going down the same path as well and he will make many decisions that will affect the course of where this arc goes. Chrisjen’s like a mother to him, and so he tries to discipline Chrisjen before she goes off the rails. If he allows her to become unleashed, she might as well become a dictator in her own right. Here’s a tease: Forcing Davila to exchange information on Fred Johnson leads to something interesting – which you will figure out in later episodes.
And this is really where the story begins. Fred Johnson keeps the crew of the Rocinante in his headquarters. But, there’s tension. Amos doesn’t trust Fred because, well, Fred has a habit of using people and discarding them. Naomi has a complicated history with the OPA and Fred Johnson. Alex Kamal is the cool dude that wants to be part of a family, but he’s clever. More clever than the other crew members of his supposed family, for now, will give him for. Fred offers this: Help me find a ship that disappeared. I’ll provide you protection because you are the most hated man in the entire galaxy James Holden. Look at it this way: the power stakes are well written. But to be honest, James Holden is an example of a good man. A horrible villain. He’s a villain in actuality. I think, what if there was an alternate time where James Holden did all of these actions so far, but in the way a villain does? Sure this series is showing you all black and grey, but soon it too will become a cliché within the genre as well. Just like the hero’s quest and the chosen one has become a staple cliché in fantasy, so too will grim-dark and characters needing to be punished every second as well.
And to be honest, what choice do they have? The Martians hate Holden, Earth thinks he’s causing the Belters to declare war on them. But let’s be honest here. Holden only set off a chain reaction. The tensions between the Belters, the Martians, and the Earthers are just like the starting stages of WW1. An assignation of the Archduke Charles of Austria-Hungary. That then led to empires and kingdoms declaring war on each other. An attack on the Canterbury leads James Holden to signal out a distress call claiming the Martians attacked the Canterbury. The OPA/Belters attacking Martians within the Belter stations. The Belters grew up without fresh air and water. The Martians are depressed people realizing that their attempt to transform Mars into Earth 2.0 is a failure. Earth is well…Earth. Corrupt and they couldn’t care less. It only needed a spark. Holden did that. And the spark was lit. Nobody could stop the conflict. It was going to happen whether or not Holden and his crew found the protomolecule in the first place or anything else. And then this ties briefly into Dawes and Miller’s relationship. Dawes promises Miller justice, and Miller finds out that Dawes is in a much bigger situation: A elaborate conspiracy to hide the element of war and revolution after Julie Mao’s disappearance of course. Miller discovers that his boss is also a part of this conspiracy and gets fired. Well, so much for justice isn’t it? And oh, Miller’s partner comes just in time to save him. Miller is a lucky man. Very lucky I tell you. Overall, a good episode. Plenty of drama, plenty of conflicts, and just entertaining, to be honest with you.