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The Expanse: Windmills

"Welcome to the churn."

This felt like an "Oh crap, we advanced the plot too quickly, we need to hit pause" kind of episode.


Chrisjen got the most screen time she's had all season in this episode. She finally got to leave her office, take her best fairy tale outfit out of the wardrobe, and go for a walk in the snow to visit Holden's mother, who was played by Frances Fisher. This meant we got an entire episode of Shohreh Aghdashloo and Frances Fisher playing off each other. Every show should have Shohreh Aghdashloo and Frances Fisher playing off each other.

As great as it was to see these two actresses working together, that still didn't make up for the fact all they did was talk about James Holden. Holden is probably the most divisive character on the show. Many love him, many hate him, and many are just rather indifferent towards him. I'm in the indifferent camp yet lean towards sort of liking him. I definitely prefer the show version of the character to the book version. But he's still one of the show's least interesting characters and it is really difficult to get excited about watching two people spend an episode discussing James Holden. As nice as it is to get some insight into the characters' backgrounds, there are better ways of doing it than this.


This was just pure filler, designed to keep the crew busy for an episode before they could get to more important things later on. Now, being pure filler doesn't mean something is inherently bad. There is great filler and there is bad filler. This was neither. This was mixed bag filler. Some of it was good, some of it was not so good. I'll get the bad stuff out of the way first.

I really did not like the Kenzo plot. I understand why it exists. The U.N. needed a way to know where Holden was going so they could send a black ops team after him. There had to be someone on Tycho to relay that information to them, but I don't see why that character then had to stowaway on the ship. Was he just going to hide in the crawl space all the way to Eros? What was he going to eat? Would his oxygen tank even last that long?

The whole situation just ended up being too contrived for my liking. As soon as they discovered this spy hiding on board the crew suddenly found themselves in a situation where he could prove useful to them. What made this extra frustrating is that everything Kenzo said could've easily come from Alex. He's an experienced Martian Navy pilot who'd previously been in a situation just like this one. Why are they relying on Kenzo to come up with a solution when one of the main characters could do the exact same thing?

So that's what I didn't like, let's move on to what I did like which was basically everything with Amos. This whole situation gave us a better understanding of just how he sees the world. For Amos there is no grand plan to life, no deeper meaning to everything, just people doing everything they can to stay alive when the churn comes. Survival is the only thing that matters. If that means you have to kill some folks then so be it. Nothing personal, that's just the nature of the game.

Naturally, this brings him into direct conflict with Holden. His moral code will not allow for anyone to be murdered on his ship. Those Martians trying to board them may technically be the enemy. but to him they aren't villains, they're just people doing their job and don't deserve to die because of it. But is his moral code flexible enough to allow him to shoot a man in the back? Would he kill someone he knows to save a couple of complete strangers? Luckily for Holden the situation resolves itself before he has the chance to find out, but it still left him unsettled. Not Amos, though. He was completely unfazed by the whole experience, which just left Holden even more freaked out.


Miller is discovering that now he's not cop he's little people. So little in fact that the bad guys no longer seem to care about him. He's no threat to them anymore. He barely even ranks as an annoyance. Dawes has beaten him and beaten him so completely that he isn't worth killing anymore. Hell, he isn't even worth beating up anymore. No point in all those OPA goons getting their knuckles bruised over someone so irrelevant.

Miller's job was pretty much his life and now that it's gone all he has left is the Julie Mao case. He tries to let it go and accept that Julie is probably dead. He even goes so far as to drunkenly record a "I'm sorry for your loss" message to her parents. But he just can't let it go. Like fictional detectives everywhere he cannot leave that last case unsolved. So he breaks into Julie's flat, tearing the place apart in a desperate search of something, anything.

He finds nothing.

But just when it appears all hope is lost a little bird appears and offers him salvation. I think. I'm actually really not sure what this avian apparition is supposed to mean. I think the bird is maybe meant to represent Julie or hope or something. It was really unclear. Maybe I'm just overthinking this and there is no deeper meaning here, just a reminder for Miller to check his Twitter for updates. He'll have plenty of time for that on his way to Eros.


--Kenzo was created for the show. There is no such character in the book.

--There was also no run in with the Martians. "Ubiquitous" being used as a code word comes from earlier in the book. When Fred Johnson first contacted the crew he asked Holden to slip it into his response to show that he wasn't under duress.

--Just as he wasn't killed by the OPA, Charanpal was never a U.N. marine.

--Miller did not leave his hat on Ceres.

Notes and Quotes

--The title is another reference to Don Quixote, which is revealed as being one of the books Holden grew up reading. In the novel, Quixote believes windmills are giants and attacks them. "Tilting at windmills" has since become an idiom for attacking imaginary enemies.

--Some more titbits about Amos' past. He used to live in Baltimore and worked for a crime boss.

--This was the first episode written by Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck, the writers of The Expanse books.

--How very Miller that his life savings was just years worth of gambling chips.

--Holden and Naomi are getting very flirty.

--According to Chrisjen, printer books are rare.

Naomi: "You underestimate my ability to break things."

Alex: "Donkey balls."
Amos: "Did you just say donkey balls?"

Chrisjen: "What?"
Man: "Just checking in, ma'am."
Chrisjen: "No, I wasn't murdered in the last thirty seconds."

Elise: "Can we stop with the bullshit now?"
Chrisjen: "Oh, I had a little left about how charming your home is."

Two and a half out of four donkey balls.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig


  1. I don't watch this show and have nothing really to comment or contribute. But oh my God, that header picture is beautiful. The red against the white snow? Gorgeous.

  2. Fangirl, I'm not a clothing person, but Avasarala's costumes are a highlight on this show. She's also an exceptional character.

    And Mark, I also thought the best part of this episode was Avasarala versus Holden's mom.


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