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The Expanse: The Big Empty

"Water means life. One shipment late, you got protests. Two shipments late, you got dead people in the street. And it's gonna get worse."

The Canterbury survivors fight to stay that way while Miller and Havelock chase after some water bandits.


Since they're all stuck in a shitty tin can and literally going nowhere, this was a golden opportunity for us to learn more about what remains of the crew of the late ship Canterbury.

We learned that Holden is dangerously impulsive especially when he's angry. He was all ready to chase after the ship that destroyed the Canterbury despite everyone else knowing it would be a suicide mission.

We learned that Naomi, not Holden, is the obvious boss here. He might have the rank, but that means feck all now. She's the one everyone listens to and the one who has all the best ideas for saving their backsides.

We learned that Amos is loyal to Naomi and Naomi only. He won't do anything without her say so. That includes killing people, which he seems to be unnervingly casual about. It is seriously possible that he has some psychopathic tendencies.

We didn't really learn all that much about Shed and Alex, except maybe that Alex tends to sing old timey songs and gets extra cowboy when he's hypoxic. Shed did get a heroic moment where he saved Alex by sharing his oxygen, but he still feels like the most underdeveloped member of the group. If he were a Doctor Who companion he'd be Yaz.

Finally, we learned that despite the fact that these five people don't really seem to know or like each other all that much, they do work rather effectively as a team.

Oh, we also learned that Mars is quite possibly responsible for the destruction of the Canterbury. The bogus distress signal device they found was Martian military tech. The ships had stealth tech, which apparently only Mars has. Now the flagship of the Martian navy is heading right towards them. Everything is pointing towards Mars. Which naturally means that it almost certainly isn't Mars because it is never the first and most obvious suspect.

So it ain't great that Holden, impulsive drama queen that he is, has just sent out a transmission telling the entire system what happened to them and that Mars was probably responsible. Well done, Jim. You've probably just started a war.


Tensions are starting to rise on Ceres. With the Canterbury missing, the station's water is being further rationed. Miller can't even enjoy a full shower, he had to steal the water from Julie Mao's place just to finish washing his hair. Now someone is stealing water meant for all the plants in the fancy place where all the Earther higher ups on Ceres work, and the unseen governor wants the cops to put a stop to it. There's some waffle about how important the plants are to the station's air filtration, but this is all really about making sure that the people of Ceres know that Earth is still in charge and in control.

Unlike his partner (who really seems to be overcompensating for his Inner guilt), Miller accepts this assignment without complaint or lip. He didn't even respond to the Earth official's blatant racism. He's been on this beat long enough to know that it wouldn't make a difference. Better just to smile, accept the case and collect your paycheck. No point in making things harder for yourself by pissing off the boss.

The case of the week stuff took up most of Miller's time in this episode, but he still continued to chip away at the Julie Mao case. So far all he's discovered, though, is that she was a crew member on the Scopuli. Which we already knew, so all he's done is catch up with the audience. He does seem to be developing a fascination with Julie, although I can't honestly see why. From what we've seen so far, Julie doesn't seem to be anything more than your typical angry rich girl, rebelling against her father by committing the ultimate taboo of hanging out with poor people. Maybe he's drawn to her because she's as much of a cliché as he is.


Avasarala's continued her interrogation of the Belter smuggler, this time under more humane conditions after getting a telling off from her boss. These scenes honestly felt like there were meant to be part of the previous episode, but got cut for time. The little b-plot ultimately went nowhere since the smuggler committed suicide before they could get a single piece of information out of him. But that was never really the point. This was never about finding out who is smuggling restricted stealth tech, it was about establishing who Avasarala is, what her world is like, who the key players in it are, and further developing the political status quo in the solar system between Earth, Mars and the OPA.


--Sadavir Errinwright, Avasarala's boss, has been given an unfortunate white wash. He's described as being dark-skinned with a British accent in the books.

Notes and Quotes

--When it looks like Holden is going to attack Naomi after she shuts down the ship, you can hear the faint sound of a gun being cocked. No doubt Amos was getting ready to shoot him.

--Nice little detail of stuff floating in the background in the Knight scenes.

--The Moon is always referred to as Luna in the series, most likely to distinguish it from all the other moons in the system with colonies on them.

--As well as being an heiress, Julie also seemed to be the 23rd century equivalent of a F1 driver. 

--Neat trick of Miller's using his terminal to mimic Julie's voice so he could access her files.

--Loved the slogan of the dating app Julie was on: Low Gravity. No Pressure.

--Holden's little thumbs up after he sealed the airlock was adorable.

Amos: "You must think I'm pretty stupid, don't you? I mean, you're right. I can take a core apart and put it back together with my eyes closed. But ask me whether or not I should rip your helmet off and kick you off this bucket, and I couldn't give you a reason why I should or shouldn't. Except Naomi wouldn't like it. Could you pass me the drill?"

Holden: "I gave an order!"
Amos: "You think rank matters now?"

Errinwright: "Cold war is a bloodless war. Mutual distrust and complete co-dependence. Nobody wants to change that. Least of all Mars."

Miller: "Stay away from the aqua. Tell all your friends."

Smuggler: "I don't mean to make you afraid, madame."
Avasarala: "Have I given you the impression I'm afraid?"

Two and a half out of four dull Doctor Who companions.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

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