The Expanse Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Back to the Butcher

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Well, there's no doubt Fred Johnson means business, but can he be trusted?

The Expanse Season 1 Episode 5 probably lost non-book readers by tackling the Anderson Station incident. However, I loved that the show included material from "The Butcher" novella. I hope more of the short stories are introduced on the TV series.

We're at the halfway point, and The Expanse is easily one of my favorite new shows.

I admit when I watched those dudes impale Havlock, I thought he was a goner. Though I'm still not quite sure how he survived, I am glad Jay Hernandez is sticking around. Didn't it seem odd they would hire a guy like that and kill him off in the first few episodes?

Anyway, Miller got a chance to scold his partner not only about being reckless, but the company he keeps as well. The opening scene didn't do much to endear us to the grouchy detective. Maybe he's just pissed because Havlock's got his someone special. Miller is not a likeable guy, that much is clear.

Holden, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. Man, I can't wait to see those two characters interact, though that's still several episodes away. How nasty was that bone sticking out of Amos' leg? Ouch! The team's really bonded after the MCRN Donnager disaster, only Amos is struggling with Holden's leadership.

Will we learn why he considers Naomi the boss? Did I miss something? Is every ship our heroes end up on going to be blown to smithereens?

Having read "The Butcher of Anderson Station" (a novella about Colonel Fred Johnson), I was ridiculously excited to see the flashbacks to those events.

I was curious to see if those short stories would find their way into the TV series. Still, I wonder if folks that haven't read the books felt confused by those scenes. Please share your thoughts with me below.

Survivors of the Donnager. My name is Fred Johnson, Director of Operations at Tycho Station. I don't know who you are or what your intent may be, but unless you're trying to start a war you need to contact me. I can help you.

Fred Johnson

In case you're still a little confused, Fred Johnson (under orders) took out everyone (kids and all) on Anderson Station. I'm sure the image of the father and daughter floating through space stuck with you. Naomi clearly did not like the guy. He later left the military and became leader of the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA).

We'll learn more about him as the season moves along.

Meanwhile, Miller continued to piece together Julie's connection to the ships blowing up in the belt. I have to say, though I like Thomas Jane, I find myself much more interested in Holden and his crew.

This doesn't surprise me, because while reading the book I kept waiting for the chapters about the Rocinante. Don't get me wrong, Miller's role is crucial to the story. It just seems to be stalling a bit, or perhaps the burn is too slow for my taste.

I do enjoy the scenes between Miller and Dawes. Jared Harris is a fantastic actor.

Julie Mao was one of ours. I want to find out what happened to her just as much as you do.

Dawes

Miller learned a little more about Julie and her OPA ties, but I think I'm just as anxious as the Detective to learn what's become of her. I'm hoping we learn her fate sooner rather than later. We're halfway through the first season, and there's still so much of the book to cover. Do you think they'll leave us hanging until 2017?

While I enjoyed the Anderson Station stuff, I'm not sure it flowed well in this particular installment. If The Expanse Season 1 Episode 4 seemed a tad disjointed, I'd say Johnson's backstory felt far more fragmented and messy. Perhaps the entire episode should have been a flashback?

Again, I'm glad the show covered the material and I'm sure everything will make more sense after a second viewing. Chad Coleman is terrific as Johnson and I'm looking forward to his interaction with our Roci team.

Wasn't it great when Holden chose Rocinante as the ship's new name? That was a wonderful moment and again, it helped solidify our team's connection. How about when he discovered the coffee? I'm already attached to those four characters, I wish I felt that same connection to Miller though. How about you?

What did you think of "Back to the Butcher"? Did you follow the flashbacks? Do you trust Fred Johnson? Should Holden and his crew watch their backs around the Butcher? Who kidnapped Detective Miller? You're up folks, please sound off in the comments below.

Don't forget, you can watch The Expanse online via TV Fanatic at any time.

NOTE: The Expanse Season 1 Episode 6 is titled "Retrofit" and airs Tuesday, January 12.

Back to the Butcher Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (16 Votes)
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The Expanse Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Survivors of the Donnager. My name is Fred Johnson, Director of Operations at Tycho Station. I don't know who you are or what your intent may be, but unless you're trying to start a war you need to contact me. I can help you.

Fred Johnson

Julie Mao was one of ours. I want to find out what happened to her just as much as you do.

Dawes