Suddenly the saddle on that high horse Capt. Holden has been sitting on isn’t too comfortable.
The Expanse Season 2 Episode 4 develops like a provocative morality play, going heavier on philosophy and lighter on action, giving the feeling that we’re being set up for something bigger soon.
See, it wasn’t too long ago, righteous Capt. Holden was attacking Miller’s morals for blowing away an unarmed scientist many on board the Rocinante think was conducting genocide — or, at the very least they thought he was sitting back and enjoying the show, recording the events.
So now it’ll be fascinating to see how consumed with guilt Holden will be after deciding to destroy a ship full of medical doctors who refused to budge from Eros in a vain attempt to save Protomolecule victims.
Oh, and the doctors also threatened to put on blast to the known universe that the Martians had done the Belters dirty by using biochemical weapons on them.
It’ll also be fascinating to see if Holden will rationalize the shooting as a desperate, species-saving move he was forced to make — even if his pilot questioned aloud his making it.
Will what transpired in the communication between Holden and the doctor on the ship, the Marasmus, endlessly replay in Holden’s head?
Holden: Listen to me, doctor! You have no idea what you’re dealing with here.
Doctor: It’s not a disease, this is some kind of weapon. You Martians have been using these Belters as guinea pigs.
Holden: If any one of you are infected, you could wipe out millions! Turn your ship around! I promise you’ll not be harmed.
Marasmus Doctor: We won’t let you silence us to protect your experiment.
Holden: If you broadcast, people will come here to investigate and we won’t be able to contain it. This is not our experiment.
Speaking of being inside one’s head, even the typically gruff Miller now has Julie Mao, someone so deeply wedged in it, he’s having visions of her.
The show’s creators are taking unrequited love to another dimension considering Miller never actually met her in person.
Well, at least not until he encountered her Protomolecule-ravaged corpse, which had more barnacles protruding from the skin than a rusty, sunken ship on the seafloor.
Instead, Miller sees Julie in a red jumpsuit, smiling as if she’s giving him a wink and a thumb’s up for pursuing the truth about what went down on Eros.
If you remember Battlestar Galactica, it’s not too unlike Baltar having visions of Cylon Number 6.
Naomi may not be seeing “Jumpsuit Julie,” but in talking to Miller, she seems to be the only one who can penetrate the Teflon emotional shell he built around his feelings. It touches her.
She hints as much to Miller when she asks him why he’s leading his new young sidekick, Diogo on a mission to plant explosives on the Eros dock, as part of an attempt to push the infected asteroid into the sun.
Miller: ...I’ve never done a spacewalk before and kid here says it’s better than sex. I dunno if he can really make that comparison, y’know.
Diogo: Y’don’t undastan’ nuteen’. Me crush ass to dust!
Naomi: You’re doing this for Julie? But you know that destroying Eros won’t rid us of all the Protomolecule. You know what we hid out there. Did you tell Fred?
Miller: Nope. This mission, this is on me. But uh, that sample, that’s on you. You make sure you do the right thing with it.
Ah, that pesky matter of the tiny sample of Protomolecule Naomi convinced the crew to hide away under another asteroid, in case it might be used to make a vaccine.
That reminder shows that little covert maneuver hasn't been forgotten and could loom larger down the track.
The exact meaning of “the right thing” in “The Expanse” universe depends on which character you ask and whatever mood they may be in at the time.
Chrisjen Avasarala, the U.N. Deputy Undersecretary, appears to be doing it when she hauls in corporate, super-magnate Jules Mao — Julie’s father to face questions about his company, Protogen’s, involvement in the Protomolecule carnage.
That’s all well and good, but hasn’t Avasarala been lying about OPA leader Fred Johnson’s activities against Earth and Mars for some time now?
And hasn’t she been trying to kiss, make up and become Johnson’s BFF — if he can help her implicate Mao, by supplying information on stealth ships that apparently belong to Mao? And didn’t she hire a spy to help her figure all this out?
It’s just part of a complex, entertaining subplot that makes sharp commentary on covert governmental operations and tricky and unethical relationships between governments and large corporations.
What if Avasarala knew — and it seems like only a matter of time before she learns — Jules Mao isn't the upstanding CEO he seems?
While Mao promised to be transparent and cooperative in the U.N. investigation after it froze Protogen’s assets, he’s plotting with her boss, Deputy Secretary Errinwright, to stoke the Earth-Mars tensions and start an interplanetary war.
There’s some serious comic tension happening when the trio gathers around a table — awkward! — and when Avasarala’s looking at one of the men, the other is giving a sly look to the other man.
Avasarala’s no fool, and it’s fun to see Mao, the anti-Mars zealot, later go off on Errinwright in a phone conversation after Errinwright tries to one-up him.
Errinwright: You need me. You need my government’s resources and my protection.
Mao: I need a patriot who understands the historic importance of what’s happening that can adjust his worldview accordingly. But you’re just trying to save your job, so I’ll let you get back to it.
Back to morality and that tricky “right thing” issue for a moment.
What could be more immoral than private interests seizing a house of someone’s god and destroying it?
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure how the Mormons might react to their space-faring temple, complete with the protruding golden Moroni statue, being used to push Eros toward the sun.
When Naomi quips, “the Mormons are gonna be pissed,” it’s an understatement for the ages.
That followed a testy exchange between the upright Holden, Johnson playing the conversation’s pragmatist and Miller portraying the radical.
Holden: Did you just say you were gonna use the Nauvoo as a battering ram?
Miller: That’s well put.
Naomi: The Nauvoo is the biggest ship ever built — a cathedral. What do the Mormons have to say about this plan?
Johnson: We’re commandeering the ship.
Holden: You’re insane. And you might be, too, for listening to this lunatic.
Loony as the idea is, Holden’s caving into Miller’s schemes has grown seriously fun when we watch The Expanse online. Miller is an instigator extraordinaire and a manipulator who sheepishly looks away as other characters argue about his musings, as in the case of Holden and Johnson.
So off goes the Roci on this harebrained mission, which of course only goes south after Miller finds himself trapped on the dock with a faulty detonator on the Eros dock and the Mormon ship, the Nauvoo rapidly closing in on his position.
At this moment we also see just how connected Naomi has become with Miller: real tears are streaming down her face when she sees Miller about to be smashed by the Nauvoo.
From the pissed off Mormon perspective — or maybe from the perspective of anyone who respects the rights of spiritual people to practice their faith — it might've been poetic justice to see Miller go SPLAT like a bug on a speeding car’s windshield.
Miller, who you get the sense has more than a cat's nine lives and defies death like Rasputin, gets the ultimate reprieve when the Nauvoo missed Eros. Only, it wasn't the Nauvoo that moved (cue suspenseful music here) it was Protomolecule-controlled Eros.
Holden, though, can't escape morality.
Don’t ya just hate it when you’re in space trying to secretly clean up someone else’s hot mess before anyone else finds out and then some annoying humanitarians show up, poking their noses into your business?
That's what happens to Holden.
If the Marasmus' doctors had just not given a crap and obeyed Holden's command to step off, Holden wouldn’t have been forced to blow their ship out of the stars and have their deaths on his hands.
Holden also wouldn’t have to live with the torture that he fired on an unarmed ship — and realizing that perhaps he isn’t as righteous as everyone seems to think he is.
So what happens next? Can Johnson somehow retrieve the Nauvoo and tell the Mormons that a glitch caused the ship to escape?
Will Protomolecule-occupied Eros set a course to punch a hole in Earth?
Will Avasarala and Johnson expose the illegal partnership between Errinwrght and Mao?
Weigh in now and post a comment!
Gil Griffin is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.