Episode Grade: B
This feels like a strange episode to review, because I haven’t quite decided how much of it works for me and how much not. On balance, I suppose I liked this week’s outing if I just go plot by plot. But there’s one real sour note for me this hour, and I found that it left things a bit off for me in total. And unfortunately it’s the note that ends the song: Naomi leaving the Behemoth.
It’s like the time I “came home” after my first week at college with Chicken Pox. My parents hardly’d noticed I’d been gone.
Now, Naomi has never been my absolute favorite character, but I liked seeing her in a new environment, and her presence gave the audience an “in” there. More than that, right now, tensions on the Behemoth are at a simmer, but if things bubble up between Drummer and Ashford, it would help having Naomi there, not only as a main character to view the conflict between, but also just to have another power center in the mix: An X-factor for when it all goes sideways.
To see that, look no further than the interplay between Naomi and the other two, individually and together. Naomi’s just so much more interesting among the other Belters than she has been in a long while. That’s not to say that she shouldn’t ever come back to the Roci, but it does mean that I’m feeling somewhat cheated that she left the ship, has spent a grand total of three episodes off of it, and is now headed back. Maybe I’m being overly harsh here, but I’m feeling like I’m going to catch a bad case of the Might-Have-Beens somewhere down the line here.
What we still have though is good, before Naomi takes a powder! I love the Beltalowda getting pumped up to push through the Ring, and I also like how quickly everything’s moving, a tempo largely called out by the Belters.
… So, a crime scene?
On the Rocinante, though, all cylinders are firing. Thomas Jane’s Investigator seems better able to channel his inner Miller now that they’re beyond the Ring, and he and Strait’s interactions are great fun. Last week I poo-poohed Strait’s trying to reach for some emotional notes, but he’s got great comedic timing this time out. I also love that he pretty much got over disbelieving in Miller’s appearance in just about a single episode, and he (and the others for that matter) are just sort of accepting that “yeah, okay a dead guy is giving us tactical advice now). Alex, as usual, is a great straight man to Holden when asking him what the hell’s going on.
And Amos gonna Amos. Refreshing to see how great a handle both actor and writers have on this character: After a couple weeks of seeing his “softer side” in relation to Prax, we’re reminded that this is a man who identifies problems near instantly, and moves to take action against them in the most efficient way he sees. Even if that’s holding a knife to an innocent’s throat.
Before all’s said and done, Holden follow’s Miller’s cryptic advice and blasts off to the station, probably waiving at Naomi as they pass. Hi! Bye!
Lastly, much of the focus of the night shifts to Anna and Melba on the UNN ship. Melba Mao, by the way, not Koh. And I liked the flashbacks we saw, particularly the scenes between Julie and her sister. We know enough of the family’s history to see Julie’s perspective on all this, and certainly her sister does appear way too fixated on social status (and on Jules-Pierre’s approval), but on the other hand? Kind of a shitty way to treat family, Julie.
Still, it’s clear that the surviving Mao sister is going to go on chasing that white whale, trying to gain her dad’s approval, and not seeing him for the monster he is. And we can see that this is what inspires her Holden-killing crusade. And her psychic scars as the girl whom daddy loved second-best do a good job selling that this is (seemingly) still a human underneath the monster, rather than someone wholly irredeemable like dear old dad.
Anna, meanwhile is prodded by another “aging debutante,” Tilly Fagan (an acquaintance of the Maos, no less!) into admitting that she’s really rather selfishly desirous of staying on the ship, and passing through the Ring, though it may mean never seeing her wife or daughter again. It’s a completely believable character flaw for her, the sin of Pride (or is it Greed?). And I’m so glad that the show is now giving Mitchell the opportunity to play off of characters like Fagan and Mao, to whom she seems drawn as a priest would, towards a person in turmoil.
And Mitchell, like the other recent addition of David Strathairn, is a strong enough actress that she seems like she’d be able to dominate any scene she’s in, but also like Strathairn is a generous enough one that she leaves plenty of room for her fellow performers to inhabit the space, from Errinwright to Mao tonight.
Next week: Will Naomi be with Alex and Amos on the Roci, looking for what happened to Holden, and doing all sorts of techy stuff? Or will something more interesting happen? I don’t know, I don’t watch previews! But I know what I’m hoping for.