Wednesday, February 8, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Expanse' - Holden and Miller Try to Make Sense of What Happened During the Raid in 'Static'

Syfy's The Expanse - Episode 2.03 "Static"

Holden and Miller butt heads about how the raid was handled.

"Static" is more of a piece-moving episode than the two episodes that started this season. Everyone is largely just reacting to what went down on the station that was housing the scientist working with the protomolecule. There is a lot to react to though. Miller killed the scientist even though he could have provided more answers as to what was going on. So again, it's a convenient way to keep the characters and the audience in the dark about the true details of this universe for as long as possible. But it also worked as a character moment for Miller considering how invested he had become with the Julie Mao investigation and wanted vengeance for her death. That character brought all of these people together - even though she wasn't all that notable or worthy of such distinction. And now, that story has closure. Of course, the act of murder is enough to create all new tension for the characters as they plot their next moves once they return to Tycho Station.

It's a little annoying watching Miller throughout this episode though. It's understandable that Holden is upset with him because he shot an unarmed man. Holden continues to be the self-righteous person on the show. He wanted to talk things out before making that decision. Meanwhile, it's fine that Fred Johnson just wants Miller off of his ship. He has no personal beef with him. He just recognizes that he'll be a problem if he stays. What happens next with Miller is the show embracing the qualities about him that are very annoying and opaque. He gets drunk and hallucinates Julie Mao. He also spends time with the kid he saved on the mission, who is just way too annoying and broad to take seriously. That's basically what he does in this episode. But it just feels like a waste of time given the other things going on in this world. It's fascinating seeing him flirt with religion as an answer to his problems. But that's just a way to work him back into the main story by the end of the hour. And honestly, he works better as a character when interacting with the other main cast. It just won't be until next week that their feelings are sorted out over the murder of the scientist.

Of course, the death of that man doesn't hinder the show's ability to continue providing new details about the protomolecule. Apparently, there was someone at the station who wasn't killed and has some understanding of what's going on. Of course, he's creepy as well. He's portrayed that way because empathy has surgically been removed from his brain. That's a haunting idea to imagine being possible one day in the future. Who would willingly undergo such treatment? That would likely mean the scientist was conducted immoral experiments long before getting the protomolecule. And yet, all of this mostly just gives the show an excuse to have Amos be in the right about something for once. He's the one who knows how to have a conversation with this man and get the necessary information out of him. Of course, the show really shouldn't be trying to draw a parallel between these two. That would not be something worth seeing. It's just important that Amos knows how to talk with this man in a way that the others do not. Sure, it's still chilling when this guy doesn't care about people dying at all. He only has scientific curiosity of what the protomolecule is doing. That should make him a valuable asset moving forward.

It all sets the stage for the team to travel to Eros station once more. Apparently, things aren't done there just because the protomolecule was unleashed on thousands of belters. It's still growing and evolving in unpredictable ways. Not even the scientist knew everything about this alien substance. That's why he was experimenting on people. And now, the weapon on Eros is building something. Something that needs to be monitored right now before it becomes too big for anyone to contain. That's a terrifying new mystery set up in this episode. Holden and his crew know they have to return to Eros. They don't know what will be awaiting them there. But it's something they'll have to do. Fred and Miller understand that as well. However, they are planning to actually destroy the entire station. They recognize that that will be the best way to get this mess completely over with. They aren't that curious in what the protomolecule is doing. In fact, they need to destroy it in order for the world to make sense to them again. Miller admits he killed the scientist not out of vengeance but out of fear that he was starting to make some sense. That was terrifying to him. So, he acted out of fear. It's hard to exactly buy that considering the other explanation makes more sense. It largely just happens so that Miller and Fred can become allies and plot to use the Mormon station to destroy Eros and everything that is there.

On top of all of that, Avasarala manages to get a message out to Fred asking for his help to prove the conspiracy happening within the Earth government. It should be interesting to see if Avasarala and her new spy are really being as covert as they believe they are. She thought she was being powerful and sneaky last season only to learn she really wasn't in control at all. She learned things about her government that completely changed everything for her. That's her motivation this season. She's taking more risks that could bring more attention to herself. She's talking with Fred Johnson. That's considered treason. Of course, the OPA wouldn't look too kindly on Fred helping her either. To belters, she's one of the public faces of oppression. She's the reason people are suffering in the belt. So, Fred will have to keep this communication a secret. He doesn't have the same views as belters in the OPA. He works with them and provides refuge on his station. But he has his own beliefs. Those could eventually get him killed. Chad Coleman is still just a guest star on the show. But right now, Fred is just plotting an adventure to Eros with Holden and Miller while also sending a message to Avasarala about the stealth ships. He's proving to be the character who connects all the disparate parts together on this show. But he alone won't be able to fix all of the problems in this universe. They are seemingly growing with every passing day.

Some more thoughts:
  • The new focus on the Mars soldiers still seems like a good idea. But right now, it just remains a lot of bickering between them with Bobbie being the only one who stands out in a compelling way. Who really cares about these soldiers making fun of one for being born on Earth - and thus not making him a true Martian soldier?
  • Of course, Bobbie is a flawed character as well. She really wants to go into battle. She's ready for Earth and Mars to go to war already. She doesn't get what she wants though. But the odds are good she'll see plenty of action before the season is over.
  • Earth does retaliate against Mars as well for the destruction of Phoebe station. They destroy one of Mars' moons. The casualties are low. So it doesn't immediately start a war between the two planets. It just shows that things are continuing to escalate.
  • There's very rarely time for fun on this show. And yet, Naomi got to experience quite a lot of it this week. Good for her too. She didn't need to be around mopey Holden all the time. It's great that she got to relax through a playful but competitive game and clubbing. She's actually enjoying herself now unlike everyone else.
  • Meanwhile, Alex is punishing himself for getting 25 people killed in the raid against the station last week. He's trying to find a way in the simulation where he could have succeeded with the mission without losing anyone. It's a hopeless effort. In fact, it's a miracle the Roci was able to survive the battle.
  • The prisoner with all of the knowledge about the protomolecule was obsessively drawing something. Will that become important? Or was it just to showcase that he was different than the other prisoners?
  • But hey, at least Miller is sporting a new hairstyle now.