The Expanse Season 2 Episode 6 Review: Paradigm Shift

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Can't you just picture the inscription on a certain mighty Martian marine's tombstone?

"Here lies Badass Bobbie Draper. She was always spoiling for a fight. If she'd only heeded the age-old Earth adage: 'Be careful what you wish for, because you mIght get it," she might've lived a little longer.

No amount of mixed-martial arts or combat training looks enough to save Bobbie — lying wounded on Ganymede's surface with a cracked helmet — from whatever the hell that sentient being is, standing above her and looking seriously pissed off. 

Martian Marine Bobbie Draper - The Expanse Season 2 Episode 6

Bobbie Draper's apparent demise, along with the deaths of her comrades in her unit and aboard the Martian military ship, the Scirroco, was one of several threads featured on The Expanse Season 2 Episode 6

There were so many, in fact, this may have been the series' most ambitious, if not stellar, hour. It went down like an overstuffed burger with everything on it — tantalizingly juicy and delicious looking, but after devouring it, a little too much to digest in one sitting.

The fascinating intermittent flashbacks, about Martian-born scientist Solomon Epstein's revolutionary invention of a drive that opens up the solar system for unprecedented human space travel, was arguably worth an entire hour by itself. That finally begins telling the story about the origins of Mars-Earth tensions.

As Epstein says in his voiceover narration, he pioneered his invention 140 years before the events of the series, when Mars was still a U.N. colony. The seeds for being sown for war even back then. 

Mars had been a colony for a long time and it was filled with the best scientists and technologists humanity had to offer. We were ready to govern ourselves and start a new nation of our own, but everything we built, or mined, or made, was still the property of old mother Earth.
—Solomon Epstein

That war would've ranked equal to the epic throwdown we've anticipated between Holden and Amos, once Holden and Naomi started gettin' their freak on, behind Amos's back. We're nearly sucked all the way in, too, once Holden boldly tells Amos to his face what's up.

Holden: So in the interests of the smooth operations of this vessel and the morale of this crew, I just wanted to let you know that Naomi and I are together...sleeping together.
Amos: When did it start?
Naomi: Just after we got out of Eros.
Amos: I knew it.
Alex: Goddammit! Son of a bitch!
Amos: Ha, ha, ha! I told you. Eros. Didn’t I say it? You lost a bet, man. Gimme that arm!

Had you seen a better played tension-disarming sci-fi moment between spacefarers since "The Empire Strikes Back," when Lando Calrissian breaks out laughing and bro-hugs Han Solo just as it looks like he's gonna punch his lights out?

Well played, director David Grossman. Well played! 

But wait! Hang on!

Aren't we — and the Rocinante crew — still emotionally reeling from beloved character Joe Miller's apparent (yes, we can still cling to the thinnest shred of hope) death? 

Yeah, that street-art portrait of him on Tycho Station was hella cool, complete with the anarchy symbol. Hearing Miller's protege, Diogo, serenade him in Belter Creole, for saving Earth, also was a nice touch. But it would've been brilliant to have had his admirers memorialize him in a kind of "best-of-Miller" flashback hour.

Instead, Miller was reduced to mostly fodder for Holden-Naomi pillow talk.

Naomi: You still wanna destroy our sample?
Holden: Yeah. Now more than ever. Miller wanted to destroy it too, y’know.
Naomi: Miller told me he trusted us to do the right thing...and we did.
Holden: Hmmm...I wonder if he knew that his trip to Eros would be one-way.
Naomi: I think part of him never left that terrible little room we found Julie in. I don’t think Miller wanted to be saved.

But at least Fred Johnson gets off one great, cynical Miller tribute off his chest while talking to Naomi. 

Naomi: I want people to know about Miller. He was a good man.
Johnson: He was a pain-in-the-ass, suicidal ex-cop...who got the job done.

Somehow, in trying to keep up with the Epstein Drive flashbacks, the Miller tributes, the Amos-Holden-Naomi lust triangle, there's still more. So much more, it's arguably too much.

Johnson and Holden  - The Expanse Season 2 Episode 6

Do-gooder Holden chides OPA leader Johnson about capturing a healthy slice of the nukes Earth fired at Eros, while Johnson reminds him that the Belters need all the leverage they can to prevent Earth and Mars from continuing to screw them over.

Somehow Belters Naomi and Miller haven't convinced Holden how bad the Belters have copped it from both planets?

Amos and Alex Bicker - The Expanse Season 2 Episode 6

Then, out of nowhere, what's up with the manhood issues between Amos and Alex? 

Alex suddenly wants to prove to Amos how manly he is by getting his ass kicked. He was practically pouting when Amos didn't punch him in the shoulder after his losing the bet to Amos about whether Holden and Naomi were screwing, and instead gave him a wet Willie.

And Alex whines again to Amos after he saves him from a certain beat-down at the hands of another man at a Tycho Station bar, telling him he can fight his own battles.

Uh, memo to Alex: If you get too beat up, who's gonna pilot the Rocinante?

Having a protector, as Amos tells Alex he wants to be, isn't a sign of weakness. It's damn lucky in Tycho Station's "Wild West" atmosphere.

Still, the hour's not even close to being done with various threads.

Alex, Amos, Naomi and Holden re-open the debate about what they should do about the Protomolecule sample they tucked away under an asteroid. Finally, they settle on destroying it.

Chrisjen and Errinwright at the UN - The Expanse Season 2 Episode 6

And what would it be to watch The Expanse online and not have United Nations Deputy Undersecretary Chrisjen Avasarala bickering with Undersecretary Sadavir Errinwright? 

This time, Avasarala REALLY wants Jules Mao's head for what she suspects is his involvement in the Eros incident. Only it seems like she's been saying this before.

But Avasarala manages to get off a clever line about Earth's unspoken fear about what Porotomolecule really is. She says it in that dry rasp we've all come to love, while an Earth scientist is hitting her up to go to Venus himself to personally investigate the Eros crash site.

Scientist: I believe Eros was infected by an entirely new order of technology...something from somewhere else, somewhere beyond the reach of our species. I believe the Eros incident was out first contact with alien life.
Chrisjen Avasarala: I have a file with 900 pages of analysis and contingency plans for war with Mars, including 14 different scenarios about what to do if they develop an unexpected new technology. My file for what to do if an advanced alien species comes calling...is three pages long. And it begins with Step 1: Find God.

The scientist's words foreshadow what goes down on Ganymede.

Just what is that ship that blasts the Scirroco into a million pieces? Who does it belong to? What's the connection to Protomolecule, if any?

From a character development standpoint, why kill off every significant Martian, just when we were starting to really understand their perspective? The angst within the Martian commando unit and their beef with their Navy commander had great potential.

So back to the "burger with everything on it" analogy for a minute.

We're into The Expanse because it's challenging and the writing never dumbs it down for us, right? Our attention spans can handle the complexity.

But there is such a thing as sometimes as piling it on too thick.

Load that proverbial deluxe burger up too much and what happens when we try to pick it up and take a bite?  The meat and the toppings slip out of the bun, the great taste we're used to gets obscured by the mess and we're left to pick the ingredients back up and put them into place.

Sometimes, with complex storytelling, simpler is better. Spreading the threads out, over time, also works.

With so many hours in a season, why try to cram a boatload worth into one? 

What do you say, fellow viewers? Was there too much to digest in this hour? Too little? Just right?

What are you most looking forward to on The Expanse Season 2 Episode 7? Are you already missing Miller?

Post some comments now!

Paradigm Shift Review

Editor Rating: 3.75 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (29 Votes)

Gil Griffin is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Expanse Season 2 Episode 6 Quotes

Naomi: You still wanna destroy our sample?
Holden: Yeah. Now more than ever. Miller wanted to destroy it too, y’know.
Naomi: Miller told me he trusted us to do the right thing...and we did.
Holden: Hmmm...I wonder if he knew that his trip to Eros would be one-way.
Naomi: I think part of him never left that terrible little room we found Julie in. I don’t think Miller wanted to be saved.

My name is Solomon Epstein and I changed everything.
—Solomon Epstein