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The Expanse: Remember the Cant

"You will do anything to win. Just like your father. That's what got him killed."

The Canterbury survivors learn each other's secrets, Miller starts kicking over ant hills in his quest to find Julie, and Avasarala stabs a friend in the front and back.

THE DONNAGER

Despite the Donnager's jamming, Holden's message managed to get out and has gone viral. Everyone in the system has now seen it and they all think that Mars destroyed the Canterbury. Unsurprisingly, the Martians are not very happy about this and want Holden to publicly recant his statement and blame the destruction of the Canterbury on Naomi instead. Why Naomi specifically? Well, it all comes down to prejudice and politics.

The Martians aren't interested in who really destroyed the Canterbury. They just want someone they can quickly and easily shift the blame to. They desperately need to put out the fire that Holden has started before it burns the whole house down. Holden himself would actually make the most sense as a terrorist sleeper agent. He's the one who logged the distress call in the first place. He was also kicked out of the military for refusing to fire on a Belter ship, and clearly has sympathy for their cause. But he's from Earth and the last thing Mars wants to do right now is antagonise Earth by blaming one of their own citizens for the Canterbury. That also rules out Amos and Shed. Alex is also out since he's Martian and that would only shift the blame back onto Mars.



Now Naomi, she's a flipping godsend. She is the ideal scapegoat for this. Not only is she a Belter, the official whipping boys and girls of the solar system, she's a Belter who has, according to their files, a "Possible OPA Affiliation". It doesn't matter if that affiliation is nothing more than a cousin who went to a rally one time, just the suggestion of association with the OPA is enough to condemn her in the eyes of Mars and Earth. Whether or not the Martians actually believe she's guilty is irrelevant, they have decided that she's going to be their patsy for the Canterbury.

The Martians are not stupid, though. They know if they just come out and point the finger at Naomi no one will believe them. Far better if her shipmates do it for them. I mean, there's no guarantee that anyone will buy that either, but it looks better for them if their frame job comes with sworn witness statements, just to make it all nice and official. The interrogations everyone was subjected to were less about extracting useful information from them, and more about sowing the seeds of dissent by revealing all the dirty little secrets they've been hiding from each other. And I mean all of the secrets. There didn't seem to be a single fact about these people they weren't aware of. Martian military intelligence clearly does its homework and then breaks into your house to make sure you've done it too.

The manipulation was obvious, but this elaborate game of divide and conquer via Gossip Girl was effective. As soon as they were all put in a room together the accusations came flying thick and fast, followed quickly by the choke holds. If not for the fact Holden's the annoyingly honourable type who won't sell out a friend without hard evidence, even if she is maybe OPA, the Martians might've got exactly what they wanted from them.

CERES

The Miller storyline continues to employ many of the most worn out clich├ęs of the detective genre. We're now at the stage where the Julie Mao case is becoming an unhealthy obsession for him. He's putting it before his actual duties and ignoring his captain's orders to drop it. He's also developing his own romanticised image of Julie as this naive young rich girl from Earth taken advantage of by OPA fanatics like Anderson Dawes.



Dawes is the face of the OPA on Ceres and quite possibly the real power there. Earth might officially control the station, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that the OPA has people everywhere and Dawes is the one pulling all the strings. He presents himself as a peacemaker, someone who encourages his fellow Belters to be magnanimous towards the Martians, to treat them as they should treat Belters. But there definitely a sinister side to him, although that could just be a side effect of being played by Jared Harris, who often plays shifty or villainous characters.

Dawes plays the ignorance card, but it is obvious to all that he knows all about Julie and about Miller as well. Enough to know that he is flexible when it comes to accepting undisclosed donations. Which is why he avoided thinly veiled threats and went right to recruitment. But Miller's far too cynical to ever jump into bed with the OPA. I mean, you can just tell those guys hog the covers and keep kneeing you in the back until you eventually get fed up and just sleep on the floor instead. Yeah, there's a sofa downstairs, but you're tired and the floor is closer and surprisingly comfortable.

EARTH

This entire episode is a series of conversations and manipulations. All three storylines centred around scenes where characters sat down at a table and one tried to manipulate or control the other. Avasarala and her old friend Franklin Degraaf, the UN ambassador to Mars, having dinner with their husbands was the briefest and most civil of these scenes, but also the most ruthlessly effective.

The really shocking thing here wasn't the ease with which Avasarala betrayed Degraaf, but that this was clearly something she'd been planning to do for a while. After all, in order for her entire plan to work she had to know in advance that Degraaf was more cosy with the Martians than he really should be. She knew he was only one footstep away from being a full blown traitor, but she just kept quiet about it until she could use it to her advantage. And this was to someone she obviously liked, someone she'd know since she was a child. If this is how she treats her lifelong friends then god help her enemies.



Ch-Ch-Changes

--Muss mentions that their captain has nixed them using riot gear on the protesters. This is a little reference to a subplot in the book about the theft of Star Helix's riot gear from the station. This eventually turns out to be pretty important later on, but I don't think the show really loses anything by cutting it out.

--The Martians weren't as hostile to the Canterbury survivors as they are in this episode. Only Holden was interrogated, everyone already knew that Alex served in the Martian navy, and there was never any suggestions that Naomi is OPA.

--A Martian named Enrique Dos Santos was spiked instead of Havelock.

Notes and Quotes

--One of the riot victims was the man on Julie's dating app. I'd call that an unfortunate coincidence were it not for the fact that on shows like this there are never any coincidences, unfortunate or otherwise.

--The pills Lopez, the Martian interrogator, was taking are called focus drugs. They make you more alert and observant.

--The Martians might not be responsible for the destruction of the Canterbury, but they obviously know more abut this than they're letting now. The Donnager didn't just pick up the Knight by chance. They're investigating something, something to do with a restricted research station on Phoebe, one of Saturn's moons. What were they researching there? Based on what happened to the ship Julie was on, I have a sneaky suspicion that whatever it was it got out and is now loose somewhere.

--I love how all the Avasarala scenes take place in spacious rooms with big wide windows. It's a great way of showing how she isn't affected by the same physical confides as all the other characters.

--At the start of the episode, Havelock gets off at Rosse Buurt Station. Rosse Buurt is Dutch for Red Neighbourhood, as in Red Light District.

--Speaking of which, turns out Havelock is visiting the brothel because he's learning how to speak Belter Creole. Surely there's at least an online course he could've taken instead? Are educational standards really so low on Ceres that a brothel is your best option for further learning?

--Amos is the only one we didn't learn anything new about. Did the Martians just have nothing on him or was it not worth revealing?

--Lopez asking Naomi who she left behind obviously touched a nerve.

--If they'd made this episode today, would they still portray the cops as heroic peacekeepers who swept in to protect the children from the violent protesters or would they go for realism and have them mace the kids instead?

Dawes: "I think that under that ridiculous hat there's a Belter yearning to find his way home.
Miller: "Patron saint of lost causes. I'm all choked up."

Degraaf: "You know what I love most about Mars? They still dream. We gave up. They're an entire culture dedicated to a common goal, working together as one to turn a lifeless rock into a garden. We had a garden and we paved it."

Holden: "What did you guys tell them?"
Amos: "To suck it."
Shed: "Everything. I told them everything. Anything they want to know, I told 'em. I think I even made some stuff up at the end, I can't remember I just kept talking."

Dawes: "Treat them as they should treat us."

Two and a half out of four annoyingly honourable types.

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

1 comment:

magritte said...

I'm enjoying your reviews of the first season...makes me want to go back and watch it again, now that I've also read the books. I also found the interrogation scenes strong and interesting. I think the show makes great use of scenes without Miller, who is the only POV character on the Cant in the book. Your review also reminds me that Avasarala not a very likeable character at this point in the show.

I always felt that the noir-era private detective cliches in Miller's plotline were deliberate. Not that it necessarily makes them a good choice, but I don't think it was done out of laziness or lack of imagination.