The Expanse: CQB

"I didn't think we could lose."

I'm beginning to suspect that one of the Canterbury survivors might just be a Jonah.

THE DONNAGER

In case you're unfamiliar with the term, a Jonah is someone who sailors believe brings bad luck to a ship, and these five have been seriously unlucky of late. First their ship was destroyed with all their friends on it. This left them stranded on a shitty little shuttle with a broken radio, a missing airlock door, a limited supply of air, and probably no bathroom facilities. When they are finally rescued it is by those they think are responsible for the destruction of their ship, which their idiot leader broadcasts across the entire system.

And now that ship has been blown up too.

One of these guys has got to be carrying around a serious curse with them and for the sake of their new ship, I kinda hope it was Shed.

Oh, poor Shed. That was a pretty horrible way to go. More for his shipmates than for him. He would've been killed instantaneously and not felt a thing. Everyone else, however, was left stuck in a room with his headless corpse, blood spewing out of it like a fountain. And then they had to work around it to seal up those hull breaches. Even Amos seems a little freaked out by the whole experience.



The battle between the Donnager and the stealth ships helped make this the best episode of The Expanse so far. The Martians came to this fight with complete confidence of victory. They had absolute faith in their technological superiority over this unknown enemy. They treated this battle like it was nothing more than a game for them. But after some initial success the tide quickly turned against them and their earlier cockiness slowly gave way to absolute dread as they realised this was not a fight they were going to win.

We're still no closer to knowing who these mysterious aggressors are. All we know for sure is that they are exceptionally well funded and have access to tech that outclassed even the mighty Martian navy. That probably rules them out of being Belters. I know they were trying to get hold of stolen stealth tech, but I'd expect Belter ships to be more cobbled together than these seem to be. That leaves Earth. They're the only ones who probably have the resources to make these stealth ship and hasn't been targeted by them so far. Then again, maybe it is none of them and these ship killers actually belong to some unknown fourth party.

CERES

With all the focus on the Donnager battle, we only got a brief catch up with Miller in this episode as he hung out in the station's morgue picking up his latest clue. This plot is starting to, not so much thicken, as curdle. Turns out Julie's dead Tinder date was not who he was supposed to be. He wasn't a slingshot pilot named Bizi Betiko (RIP). He was an anonymous data broker, which likely means that he got hold of some info for Julie and the OPA (or some other party) had him killed to cover it up.

EARTH

We also got a brief check in with Chrisjen as she observed the Donnager battle from afar. Chrisjen is often stuck on the far fringes, reacting to the things that are happening rather than actively participating in them. Since there is no actual storyline from the first book for the writers to adapt, the Avasarala scenes tend to be more isolated and episodic than any of the show's other storylines. Still, she got a nice little scene in this episode, watching a meteor shower on the roof with her grandson, who is hilariously credited as "Avasarala's Grandson #1". Could they really not be bothered to give him a name?



TYCHO STATION

Finally, this episode introduced a new player, Fred Johnson. He runs a contraction yard where he's building a generational ship for Mormons. The Church of Latter-day Saints obviously came into some serious cash by the 23rd century. Fred's ties to the OPA are making the Mormons nervous, enough that they want someone else in charge of the project, but Fred has mastered the art of threatening without threatening. He makes the Mormon rep well aware that if he goes so will his skilled Belter workers and the could lead to all sorts of "accidents".

Ch-Ch-Changes

--The show's version of Lt. Lopez is a composite of two different book characters. Book Lopez only interrogates Holden and is never seen again. The officer who escorts them off the Donnager and is killed during their escape flight is named Lt. Kelly.

--All the stuff with the dead data broker was created for the show in order to drag out Miller's investigation.

--Slingshotting, an illegal extreme sport where one-person homemade crafts fly through space using only a single thrust and the gravity well of planets and other celestial bodies, isn't introduced until the third book, Abaddon's Gate.

Notes and Quotes

--Bizi Betiko is Basque for 'Live Forever', which is very ironic since both real Bizi and fake Bizi are now dead.

--Hilariously, no one seems to notice or care that Havelock has been MIA since the riots. Even the woman who found him was only interested in picking his pockets.

--The Donnager and the stealth ships both use railguns. Railguns work by firing a metallic, non-explosive projectile along an electromagnetic rail and make a lot of sense as heavy artillery for spaceships.

--Jared Harris and Lola Glaudini are both listed in the guest credits despite not appearing in the episode.

--Before the shooting started we got to enjoy some quiet time on the Donnager that gave us a better sense of the Martian mentality. They're envious of the Earth and all the free air and water, but utterly contemptuous of Earthers and the blatant disregard they show for their own planet.

--There was a nice little moment between Naomi and Amos where he thanks her for looking out for him.

--The battle was very reminiscent of the combat sequences on Battlestar Galactica, which is in many ways this show's spiritual predecessor.

--More mentions of Phoebe. Everyone was killed, their bodies burned and the computer cores wiped.

--Holden's become Che. His face is now all over the walls of Ceres. He'll be on t-shirts next.

--The Mormon's generation ship is named Nauvoo, after the town in Illinois where persecuted Mormons took refuge. Nauvoo is Hebrew for 'beautiful place'.

--According to the coroner, life expectancy on Earth is 123 years and even longer on Mars, but only 68 on Ceres. Bodies on Ceres also get recycled and used as fertiliser.

Alex: "Boss, I don't think I'm in any condition to..."
Holden: "GET US OUT OF HERE!"
Alex: "You got it!"

Captain Yao: "You look nervous."
Holden: "I get that way when missiles are flying at me."

Chrisjen: "I worry about people who throw rocks."

Four out of four Jonahs.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

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