Wednesday, April 5, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Expanse' - Bobbie's Actions Could Ignite a War Between Earth and Mars in 'Here There Be Dragons'

Syfy's The Expanse - Episode 2.11 "Here There Be Dragons"

Bobbie makes a decision that changes her life forever.

Everything seems to be going well for Avasarala at the moment. Errinwright gifted her with all the information he had about the protomolecule. She knows that Jules-Pierre Mao is working with the Martian government to turn the new technology into a weapon to radically change the system. But now, Avasarala seems to have the upper hand. She continues to get new information from a variety of people. Bobbie is willing to give up everything she knows to seek political asylum on Earth and work with Avasarala. Errinwright will have to face questions for his involvement in this entire project - especially in regards to what happened on Eros and how it almost destroyed Earth. Plus, the pressure being put on Mao's family has finally forced him to reach out to her. Avasarala has always been positioned as this all-knowing character who knows how to play the political game better than everyone else. She deserves that recognition as well. She's the one who has maintained peace in this system despite all the major events that could have sparked a war. And yet, she could be throwing all of that away just to have a meeting with Jules-Pierre. Her bodyguard says it has to be a trap. That's very likely true. But she's willing to go nevertheless. It could risk all of the good she has done this season. But it could also provide her with new answers for what's really going on as well.

It's also surprising to see Bobbie make that run from the Mars embassy to the Earth line. She's always been a devout believer of the cause. She's wanted to go to war so she could see the terraforming begin on Mars during her lifetime. That's what she has always wanted. And yet, she found herself in the middle of this political crisis simply because she survived the attack on Ganymede. That has only shown her independent and resilient spirit even more. She struggled taking orders before the attack. But now, she's really just refusing to stand aside and accept the narrative her government is selling. She knows better and demands the truth. She has no respect for the chain of command. She's really not a good soldier at all. That's devastating because all she wanted to be was a soldier. So now, she finds herself in a strange new world. She's found safety on Earth of all places. She's working with their government. She beat up a friend of her father's just to get the information about the protomolecule out to the rest of the world. She's willing to work with Avasarala simply because she told her truth when no one else was. It should be fascinating to see how far this dynamic goes between them. Will Avasarala and Bobbie become close allies? Or are they just bond together by circumstances and the horrible reality that comes from the protomolecule?

The ramifications of all of this are still playing out on Ganymede as well. Last week Prax noted that the station was dying. There was no coming back from this attack that no one understands. He just didn't realize how quickly it was dying until right now. The breakdown of this ecosystem is happening at an accelerated pace. Plus, the Martian no-fly zone and the impending arrival of a black-ops ship would suggest that there's more going on at the station. Of course, Alex is the only person aware of that fact. It's fascinating to see all that he has to do to get down to the station. He can't just send a message warning his friends. They at least get a notification about the no-fly zone. But he knows there's something more sinister coming as well. He just has that feeling. So, it's thrilling to see him work out all of science to use the gravitational pulls of Jupiter's moons to slingshot the Rocinante down to the station. It's a plan that almost doesn't work. It allows for a number of cool space visuals. But it's also so rewarding to see Alex show up on Ganymede in the end able to help his friends as their situation only gets more complicated.

This whole story is bound to end in tragedy when it comes to Prax's daughter, Mei. She's been propped up over the last few episodes as this very special child who is important for some reason. That's a very familiar trope in this particular genre. These sci-fi themes are unsettling enough on their own but they take on whole new feelings when they revolve around children. This episode revolves around the experiments the doctor is running on the children of this station. It's a brutal sight. It does take the episode a little too long to get to that reveal. And yet, it's also powerful and horrifying to watch as Mei is strapped into that chair and injected with the protomolecule. Plus, it's clear that this experiment is very precarious. It's more purposeful than the attack on Eros. It's more contained and scientific. It's not just a bunch of scientists seeing what happens in a controlled environment. They are the ones actually doing the harm for a reason. They pay for that in the end. Holden incinerates one of the remaining test subjects. But an additional one breaks out during this grand confrontation with the scientists. It makes the battle easy for Holden and his crew. Amos is the only one who takes a bullet in the shoulder. And yet, there is still a protomolecule-infused person lose on the station. One similar to the person who attacked Bobbie and her team in the test run. But it seems more than likely that this one is Mei, who will have to tragically be put down in order to save lives. That's just a nice and tragic escalation of tension heading into the final episodes of the season.

Of course, the episode also ends with Holden's crew splitting up. Holden, Prax and Alex will go out to the surface of the station to hunt the creature roaming out there while also evading the incoming Martian soldiers. Meanwhile, Naomi and Amos will return to the main part of the station to help as many people get to safety as possible. It could be a frustrating detail. Naomi just springs it on Holden out-of-the-blue near the end of this quest. And yet, it's deeply rooted in something she's been feeling for a long time. This crew has been weighed down by too much loss and tragedy this season. She sees it as these horrifying actions that have compromised all of them. It's making it easier for them to make these tough decisions. She still wants to do good in this world. She wants to be more conflicted when these difficult choices arise. She sees this moment as an opportunity to do that. She can't just abandon the people on this station who need help. She can't allow this to be another Eros where the protomoleecule kills more innocent lives. It may ultimately be a foolish endeavor. But hopefully, it provides Naomi with more clarity over what she is willing to do and at what cost in this ever-changing world.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Here There Be Dragons" was written by Georgia Lee and directed by Rob Lieberman.
  • The Earth ship exploring the Eros wreckage on Venus is making very slow progress. It's just launching probes trying to get one to land on the surface. They are successful in the end. And yet, that only continues to show that the protomolecule is still growing and evolving there. It didn't burn in the atmosphere at all. So, this remains a huge concern to watch in the future.
  • The glimpses of what happened to Mei right before the mirror fell were a little unnecessary. It was important to showcase the horror of the experiments being done on her. But before then, it followed a predictable pattern of her being scared and the doctor calming her down.
  • Plus, the doctor telling a story to Mei about a butterfly and the struggle getting out of the cocoon was such an obvious metaphor to what was about to happen to her. The show really played its hand a little bit too much.
  • Was the audience aware that Naomi had a child but lost her? She shares that story with Prax so that he doesn't get his hopes up. It doesn't work though. But is this story true? Or did she just make it up to connect with him? It seems true because of the sentiment but it also feels like something that should have come up before.
  • Avasarala wasn't expecting to get help from Bobbie so soon. Nor did she expect a potentially war-igniting incident. And yet, her efforts are still very much appreciated. Perhaps Avasarala will take Bobbie with her to her meeting with Jules-Pierre. She deserves answers about the protomolecule just as much as Avasarala.