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The Expanse: Salvage

"James Holden. Shit just follow you around kid."

This was one busy episode that took the crew of the Rocinante right back to where it all started. The search for "Lionel Polanski" has brought them right back to the same ghost ship we first found Julie Mao trapped in. We watched as they took the same steps she took, following them to the same horrible place.

The lair of a monster.


Before he became one half of James S.A. Corey, Ty Franck used to be personal assistant to George R.R. Martin, writer of the immensely successful, and infuriatingly delayed, A Song of Ice and Fire series. It's not difficult to spot the influence of Martin on The Expanse books. Both series have similar structures and deal with magic in much the same way.

Science fiction is full of magic. Or, as Arthur C. Clarke famously put it, technology so advanced that it is indistinguishable from magic. But the world of The Expanse, like Martin's Westeros, is one without magic. There are no teleporters or hyperdrives here. The technology of this series is firmly grounded in what is possible, not impossible. But in the prologue we caught a glimpse of something strange, something terrifying, something truly magical.

In Martin's series this was the White Walkers, the looming supernatural treat that all the human factions ignored throughout the series because they were too busy fighting each other. In The Expanse it is... a thing. A thing that has gone unnoticed because all the human factions are too busy fighting each other. We're still very much in the dark about what exactly this thing is. Literally even, since most of this episode took place on a ship with all the lights turned off.

We know from what Miller unearthed that it was discovered on Phoebe, not manufactured there. So it is very likely this is an alien thing. Apart from that we don't know anything else except that it is obviously alive, completely inhuman, and eats people. Sadly, no one got around to feeding Kenzo to it. It is scary stuff, whatever it is, and the crew wisely votes for the Ripley Solution and nuke the fucker the first chance they get.

The first half of this episode was a full-on haunted house mystery. I appreciate that they resisted the urge to throw in a lot of unnecessary jump scares. Sometimes it is better to just maintain a perpetual atmosphere of unease and dread. I'm actually surprised how quickly they managed to get through all this. They really could've devoted an entire episode to the crew exploring the Anubis. This entire episode was rather short, only 37 minutes, and yet it never felt rushed.


Our two main storylines finally came crashing together in the lobby of the Blue Falcon Hotel. If the first half was a haunted house mystery, this was a mini action movie. The shootout itself was great, but the suspenseful build up to it was even better. Amos sensed it instantly. As soon as the first assassin strolled in and calmly sat down, he knew something was up. The others were all blissfully oblivious to what was about to happen. Alex even sat down between two of the assassins.

I still find the existence of Kenzo questionable. Yes, he was needed so the crew knew where to find "Lionel Polanski" on Eros and so the U.N. assassins knew where to find them, but there are other ways they all could've gotten that information. The assassin could've easily just picked Holden up on surveillance or had someone spot him at the docks and tailed him. That's pretty much what they did in the book.

Miller's search for Julie Mao ended the same way most noir detective stories end, with a dead dame on the floor. Julie might've escaped the Anubis, but she couldn't escape the monster inside. This was disappointing for a number of reason. First of all, it was a rather predictable way to end Julie's story. It also means that, barring extensive flashbacks, she is unlikely to ever become anything more than a glorified McGuffin.


--Miller did not go to Eros looking for Julie. He was looking for Holden to question him about the Scopuli. He was looking at dock logs for Tycho and saw the Roci and figured it was Holden's ship and was about to head to Tycho when he got a tip from Havelock (who'd left Ceres for another job) that told him the Roci was heading for Eros.

--Fred sent the Roci crew to Eros to get Lionel Polanski/Julie. The discovery of the Anubis happened later. They got the location of the ship from Julie's terminal.

--Miller did not get his hat from Semi.

--This episode features the only appearance of Alli Chung as Sam Rosenberg. Sam is a recurring character in the books who works as an engineer on Tycho and becomes good friends with the Roci crew, Naomi especially. After this episode, though, the character is dropped from the show and their role transferred onto a different character for season two.

Notes and Quotes

--Eros really is shaped like a big potato.

--Not much happened in the other storylines. The U.N. is sending a battleship to Tycho to look for stealth ships. Fred's people unlocked the data chip and discovered something shocking. And Chrisjen's sins came back to haunt her with the news that Ambassador Degraef, the man she betrayed back in 'Remember the Cant', has taken his own life.

--Amos, like Miller before him, struggles to say Anubis correctly.

--Kenzo's helmet-camera is labelled as CANARY on Alex's screen.

--The cast and crew were hit by a very serious flu outbreak during the filming of this episode. Some even had to be hospitalized.

--Loved Naomi's little reaction to the beach portraits in the hotel lobby.

--The U.N. ship being sent to Tycho was named the Nathan Hale. Hale was a soldier and spy during the American Revolutionary War who was later captured and executed by the British.

Miller: "Trust your gut before your head gets in the way."

Mormon: "True faith is a risk."

Three out of four Ripley Solutions.

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

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