We’re definitely back on track now. This week’s very suspenseful and exciting episode of ‘The Expanse’ may be the season’s best since Episode 4.
Even more important that the shooting and action, the episode finally converges some major storylines and clears up a bit of lingering confusion in the ongoing plot.
Having gotten past the Martian patrols, the Rocinante arrives at the asteroid where Fred Johnson directed the crew. At first, it appears to be just a dead rock. However, upon closer look, a stealth ship is hidden in a crevasse. Although it shows no signs of life or activity, Holden is wary and wants to take precautions before boarding it. He also insists that Kenzo, the corporate spy, must come with them. He still doesn’t trust the guy and wants to keep his eye on him. Only Alex remains behind to pilot the Rocinante.
Holden recognizes the stealth ship as the vessel that destroyed the Canterbury. When they get inside, they find that all the airlocks were opened and a shuttle is missing. Somebody got away, presumably the “Lionel Polanski” they’re looking for (in other words, Julie Mao). Floating in a hallway is an empty spacesuit marked as belonging to the Scopuli. But this ship isn’t the Scopuli. In fact, viewers will recognize the interior from the beginning of the pilot episode. We even see the room that Julie broke out of. Prior to this episode, I’d assumed that Julie was aboard the Scopuli in that scene, but now it appears that wasn’t the case.
Amos and Kenzo make their way to the flight deck and identify the ship as the Anubis. (We’ve heard about this from Miller’s investigation in the Julie Mao case.) They find a safe but can’t get it open. Amos makes Kenzo cut the whole thing out of the deck with a blowtorch. Meanwhile, he powers up the reactor to get some lights in the place.
Holden and Naomi float down to the reactor room. Naomi says that the reactor had been deliberately powered off before the ship was abandoned. Alex formulates a theory about the Anubis attacking the Scopuli, then using it as bait to lure the Canterbury into a rescue op. However, something went bad aboard the Anubis that either killed the crew or caused them to evacuate.
When the lights come on, Naomi and Holden see that the reactor is covered in weird crystal structures. They react to exposure to light and power, almost as if they were alive. Naomi gets majorly freaked out by this and immediately shuts down the reactor again. Everybody makes the wise decision to get the hell off the ship and back to the Rocinante at double-time. Once they get a little distance from the asteroid, Holden asks Alex to fire a torpedo into it and destroy the Anubis. He says that it “feels like a weapon” and he doesn’t like anything about it. Alex happily complies and blows the hell out of the thing.
Because the shuttle missing from the Anubis would have only had enough range to go to nearby Eros Station, Holden tells Alex to head there next in search of the mysterious Lionel Polanski. Kenzo says that he’s spent a lot of time on Eros and has many contacts there. He offers to help them find Polanski. Nobody particularly trusts him, but they don’t have any better ideas.
Miller is also headed to Eros. He arrives on a transit ferry, where he had a long conversation about “true faith” with a very chatty Mormon preparing for his hundred-year mission aboard the Nauvoo.
Once a vital port, Eros is now pretty much a run-down dump. Miller tries to get some information about the Anubis out of the distracted dock master. Failing that, he assaults the guy and goes through the dock’s logs himself until he finds a record of a Lionel Polanski parking a shuttle from the Anubis. The video feed confirms it to be Julie Mao.
Station security arrests Miller for the assault and tosses him in a jail cell, but Miller has a buddy on Eros who springs him and offers some info that might help track down Julie Mao.
The Rocinante crew arrives at Eros. As promised, Kenzo scores some intel that Lionel Polanski is staying at a particularly seedy establishment called the Blue Falcon Hotel. Holden manages to get Polanski’s room number out of the desk clerk, but Amos senses that something isn’t right in the lobby. Several people milling around seem suspicious. When Amos notices that one of them is carrying a gun, he pulls his own and starts shooting.
Sure enough, pretty much everybody in the lobby is armed. A big shootout erupts. Our heroes take cover behind various pieces of furniture but quickly run out of ammo. Just when it looks like they’re about to be overrun, they receive some unexpected assistance from Miller, who also trailed Julie to the same hotel. He takes out the last of the shooters, but recognizes Holden from the news. “Shit just follows you around, don’t it, kid?” he comments.
Kenzo somehow slipped away during the shootout, and Holden figures out that he must have tipped off these mercenaries to their location. Without much in the way of introductions, Miller joins the others as they all head up to Room 22. They find the room trashed and all the lights smashed. At first they think the place was ransacked, but Naomi believes that the lights were taken out deliberately for the same reason the reactor on the Anubis was shut down. Miller follows a bad stench to the bathroom and finally finds the long lost Julie Mao. She’s quite dead. Her body lies on the floor of the shower, covered in weird crystal growths. Naomi yells for nobody to touch anything.
An Earth vessel called the Nathan Hale approaches Tycho Station requesting permission to dock due to reactor troubles. Fred Johnson doesn’t believe that story for a second. He knows that it’s a U.N. black ops team.
Johnson tries to read the chip he took from Lt. Lopez’s body, but the data is encrypted. He has one of his hackers work on it. Eventually, she cracks it and discovers that it’s a full, real-time log of the Donnager’s final battle, complete with high-res scans of the mystery attack ships. He doesn’t know what they are, which means that they aren’t from the OPA.
This is a really great episode. Not only is the big action climax terrific, the whole episode is filled with interesting little character beats and humorous moments, such as Miller’s conversation with the Mormon or the Roci crew awkwardly waiting around in the hotel lobby before the gunfire erupts.
I finally feel like I have a better handle on the Scopuli and Anubis plot points. However, I’m still confused by the timeline of events. If Julie Mao was originally a passenger on the Scopuli (which Fred Johnson has told us previously), she must have been taken prisoner by the Anubis prior to the attack on the Canterbury. That being the case, when did the opening scene of the series, where we see Julie roaming the empty Anubis, take place? Was that after the destruction of the Cant? I hope this gets cleared up at some point.