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The Expanse: Back to the Butcher

"That's an excellent idea. We'll just roll up in a stolen Mickey Corvette with a dead Martian in the trunk. I'm sure they'll roll out the red carpet."

Miller starts putting all the pieces together while the Canterbury survivors plot their next move.


The last few days have been pretty hectic for the five four survivors of the Canterbury. They haven't had a moments peace since they first came across the wreck of the Scopuli. It has just been one non-stop parade of death and destruction. This episode finally gave them some much needed downtime, a chance to sit back, catch their breath, grab a cup of coffee, and get to know their new ship better.

On shows like this the ship is often a character in its own right, more so if it also has an AI. The Tachi isn't exactly the most homely of ships. It's a military frigate with the cold sleekness of an Apple Store, but compared to the previous ships these guys have been stuck on it is an absolute godsend. Alex loves the engine and Holden loves the coffee maker. Amos is something of a grey area, but I imagine he's happy now that he's found the booze the original crew kept stashed away. Naomi's the only one who hates it. It's just too damn perfect. There's nothing there for an engineer like her to fix. Loved her ripping the wall padding in frustration. I also love that the walls have padding, it's another one of those clever little details that makes so much sense.

It's not just the new ship they disagree on. There's also a lot of division about what they should do next. For the first time since the Canterbury was destroyed, they are master of their own destiny. They have a nice, well armed ship and can go wherever they want. Well, maybe not wherever they want. Their options are still fairly limited. They can't go to Mars because they'll take their ship back and arrest them. They can't go to Earth because the UN will commandeer their ship and arrest them. That only leaves them with Fred Johnson and Tycho Station.

Holden wants to go to Tycho. Alex wants to go to Mars, but will settle for Tycho. As the only Belter in the group, Naomi is understandably reluctant to accept a helping hand from a man famous for slaughtering her own people. Amos sides with Naomi as always. As divided as they are, at least they are making these kind of decisions as a group. No one is trying to insist they are in charge because they're still clinging to some irrelevant concept of rank. Unfortunately, the sides are evenly split and their tie breaker went down with the Donnager. Unless someone changes their vote they ain't going anywhere.

As I said earlier, Amos is the biggest question mark amongst this group. We know next to nothing about him except that he's very casual about murder and utterly loyal to Naomi. Wherever she goes he will follow. But even his loyalty will only go so far. He won't ever disagree with Naomi in front of the others, but he thinks Tycho is their best bet. He knows that, for whatever reason, she doesn't want to go there, but unless she can offer up an alternative they've really got no other choice. They can't just wander around the system forever. A year, maybe two at the most depending on how long Naomi could stretch out the cannibalism for, because let's face it, she would absolutely be the last one standing.

And so everyone is now off to Tycho, but not before giving the ship a nice new name: Rocinante.


Following Havelock's attack, the cops on Ceres are on high alert and out for blood. Not because any of them really give a damn about Havelock. I seriously doubt any of them even know his first name. Like cops everywhere, they need the crooks and OPA troublemakers on Ceres to know that they're untouchable. Hurt one of them and you're dead.

Dawes, an obvious game player, sees a way to turn this to his advantage. He wants Miller to work for him in finding Julie Mao, but Miller isn't interested in being another OPA stooge they'll cast aside without a second thought when he's of no more use to them. Before Dawes didn't have anything to offer Miller except all his hollow talk of Belter unity and independence. But now he has something he thinks Miller wants. He has Havelock's attacker and is happy to hand him over, all gift-wrapped and execution ready, for nothing more than a little bit of cooperation. Unfortunately for Dawes, he's seriously overestimated Miller's affection for his partner.

Miller only cares about one thing and one thing only, and that's bent coppers. No wait, that's Ted Hastings. Miller only cares about finding Julie Mao. This has now become a full blown unhealthy obsession for him. He's putting it before everything else, his job, his partner, even his alcoholism. He's even started to call her "Julie" like she's someone he knows. But it isn't just creepy fixation that is driving Miller. From his chat with Muss, it seems that pride is also a major factor. Miller wants to prove that he isn't just the station joke. Solving this kind of case will show everyone what a great detective he really is.

Admittedly, he is doing a lot better than his book counterpart. Mostly that is because the Julie Mao mystery is far more complex than it was in the book. The show has added a lot more pieces to the puzzle because if they'd done a direct adaption of what was on the page they would've run out of material by episode three. Being better at this than his book counterpart does have some unfortunate drawbacks, though. Namely getting electrocuted and abducted.


This episode was littered with flashbacks to the event that earned Fred Johnson the nickname "the Butcher of Anderson Station". This was a little odd since Fred doesn't even appear in this episode, except in his messages to the Roci crew. In fact, he doesn't even appear in the flashbacks that much. These scenes didn't really contribute anything to the episode except explain the title and pad out the runtime. A single flashback that lead directly into Fred's message probably would've worked much better.


--Miller and Havelock have a much better relationship in the book than they do in the show. They often looked out for each other and Havelock even assisted Miller with his case. For some reason the writers decided to minimise Havelock's role in favour of Muss. I don't really have a problem with this as I like Muss more than Havelock.

--This is slightly spoilery, but we don't see Havelock again after this episode and no explanation for his absence is ever given.

--The crew got Fred's offer of amnesty before they were picked up by the Donnager, not after.

--We see a picture of Alex's wife, Talissa, and their young son. They didn't have any kids in the books.

Notes and Quotes

--The Butcher of Anderson Station is the first of several short stories and novellas set in The Expanse universe.

--Dawes sharing a name with Anderson Station isn't a coincidence. His parents worked for Anderson-Hyosung Cooperative Industries Group, the company that ran the station, and gave him that name to curry favour with them.

--Tech Noir would appear to be a nod to the club of the same name in The Terminator.

--Rocinante is the name of Don Quixote's horse. It's also the name of a space ship driven into a black hole in the Rush song 'Cygnus X-1'.

--Since the new ship hasn't blown up yet, I guess Shed was their Jonah.

Holden: "Do you know what you're doing?"
Naomi: "I fix ships, not people!"

Dawes: "Earthers get to walk outside into the light, breathe pure air, look up at a blue sky, and see something that gives them hope. And what do they do? They look past that light... Past that blue sky... They see the stars, and they think 'Mine'."

Holden: "Patch him up."
Alex: "I'm not Shed, I don't know what I'm doing."
Amos: "Neither did he."

Miller: "You're an idiot."
Havelock: "Nice to see you too."

Three out of four much needed cups of coffee.

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

1 comment:

  1. Maybe because this isn't my first time through, but I very much enjoyed the scene where they named the Rocinante, somewhat suspenseful because the ship could have blown up and they all had to trust that Naomi knew what she was doing.

    Loved the bit with Holden and the coffee, too.


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