Welcome back to the Expanse, for our final(?) truncated season! Really, we do have a bit of a debt to Amazon for saving this show when Syfy dropped it after Season 3. The show has had its ups and downs (I thought last season was a bit weak) but honestly more ups than downs and I just can’t imagine if the show had ended with the Behemoth arc.
This season begins several months after the end of the last, as Marco’s Free Navy continues to launch asteroids Earthwards, with the combined Martian/Earthican fleet pinned down shooting them down. More on Earth in a paragraph or two.
The title comes from a short story, set on Laconia. We see a glimpse of that story right at the start, as little girl Cara encounters the alien flora and fauna of her new home, including the titular strange “dog.” I’m curious if they’re going to go deeper into this or not. Without giving away spoilers, there’s a LOT to this story that starts so small. If they circle back to this, it’ll almost certainly take the form of a teaser against the possibility of a future revival.
So this episode is mostly about the solar system dealing with its new paradigm. We’ve got Avasarala on Earth with Bobbie; the Roci crew zooming around; Marco and Filip Inaros on Ceres; and Drummer fighting a guerrilla war.
Of these, I liked the Earth stuff the best because it seemed to be dealing with the damage to the planet on a wider scale than we saw last season. In short, Earth is more or less boned, and considering that it (had been) the source of most of the manufactured goods and food for the solar system… nice job breaking it Marcos.
Chrisjen Avasarala: Secretary-General and fashion queen
One detail I liked was after the asteroids at the beginning got blasted apart, the planet still has to deal with the damage and impact of smaller meteors… all that mass is still pointed at Earth, after all, just in smaller bits.
Moving on to Drummer. Sigh. I love me some Cara Gee, but I’m not really certain that the show knows what it’s doing with Camina Drummer: She’s a bone in Marco’s craw, so there’s that, but especially after last season I’m not sure that her storyline justifies fracturing the narrative into a fourth part. She and Josep are blowing up Marco’s stuff, and their wife Michio, bless her heart, just doesn’t have the soldier’s spirit in her: screwing up an op; costing them a ship; and being given the heave-ho by the fighters. End scene.
On Ceres Station, meanwhile, we get to see that Marco Inaros has absolutely no plans for governing: He’s a destroyer, not a builder, and despite his rousing speech to the Ceresians, the only thing he’s interested in, is maintaining his military, and pointing them at his enemies. So the Belt will continue to rely only on Ganymede for its food supply which isn’t enough. (Missed opportunity for the show to name-drop Prax Meng there, too). Marco’s son, meanwhile is feeling remorse for his role in Earth’s destruction, and is drowning his guilt in sex and murder.
Don’t seem to be any laws or cops on Ceres these days
Okay look. I really will try to be fair and judge this storyline on its merits, but it’s hard for me to invest in such unpleasant characters. Like, Filip’s toxic masculine crap with the bartender: I just don’t like this guy. I don’t like his dad, I don’t like his stupid friend that Filip shoots because he (Filip) is a murderous asshole. And I really don’t like that Marco lets drop that Jared Harris won’t be coming back to this show because apparently Marco had Anderson Dawes killed off-screen. Boo!
Speaking of unpleasant characters, or rather actors, in the re-watch that I’m doing with some friends, I actively dislike Alex Kamal, and I know it’s because of my knowledge of Cas Anvar’s (alleged) terribleness. This also colors how little I connect with the other characters’ dealing with Alex’ absence. Amos, Naomi, and Jim all get moments of missing Alex, and it makes sense for the characters but it leaves me cold.
She’s better at putting stuff away than Prax was!
Apparently, they didn’t keep Bull on the Roci which seems a shame, so we just have the three above, as well as Clarissa. And there’s just… a lot of tension on the Rocinante. Amos and Holden are butting heads about asking for money for kills; Amos and Naomi are butting heads over Peaches (and Naomi comes of as excessively prickly in that scene) and Naomi and Jim seem tense with each other too. It’s a lot, in other words. I sort of wish Bull were there just to cut through the family drama, you know?
Our crew discovers that Marco is using some sort of “spotter ship” to activate Epstein drive cores that his dudes have attached to asteroids, so as to launch them at Earth. So they’ve a goal now, and I imagine that the next few episodes are going to center on the rebalancing of power in the ‘verse, once the Free Navy no longer can keep the Inners’ fleets bottled up with the threat of constant asteroid bombardment.
So what do you all think? Despite my tone, I enjoyed this episode for the most part. I’m very happy to have the Expanse back in my life and looking forward to stupid Marco being paid back for everything he’s done, especially Ashford. Hope you all will join me for the ride through January!