Wednesday, May 2, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Expanse' - Avasarala and Anna are Horrified by the Response to the Attack on Earth in 'Reload'

Syfy's The Expanse - Episode 3.04 "Reload"

The Rocinante tends to wounded Martian soldiers in exchange for supplies. Avasarala struggles with how to disseminate a key piece of evidence despite being in hiding. 

"Reload" describes this episode appropriately. The Rocinante is simply reloading on supplies. They need bullets and fuel in order to make it to IO to discover the truth about what has happened to Mei. It's just a mission that is delayed for another week because they need to scavenge the debris of a battlefield in the hopes of finding a ship that still has the supplies they need in order to be fully armed in this war. It was such a huge risk for the Rocinante to venture off to IO instead of recharging at Tycho Station. Holden made it a priority to get Prax the answers he needed about his daughter. He didn't want to delay that any longer. And now, it's clear that the show is actually delaying that grand reunion a little bit to force a couple of stories into really climatic moments. It all started with the Rocinante rescuing Bobbie and Avasarala from the Earth forces that were targeting them. And now, they are being pulled back into the war in a genuine way too. Holden was done trying to contain this conflict and keep the world from changing. He has accepted that it has. He doesn't want to be off fighting this battle any longer. That was never going to be a mentality that he kept up throughout the season. It was just important to inform where his head is at right now following the discovery that so much protomolecule already exists in this world and that Naomi gave it to Fred Johnson. Right now, the show is reloading not only on supplies but on its character motivations. Holden is once again finding the drive to help fight this war against the true enemy. That includes Errinwright, Jules-Pierre Mao and everyone conducting horrific experiments with the protomolecule and creating such lethal consequences throughout the system. Holden is recommitting to that cause and it's pretty exciting to watch.

The hour spends a lot of time on this rescue of the three Martian soldiers. They want to look at the world a certain way. It's the way they've been trained to believe. Earth is the enemy because they are always the planet that fires first in conflict. They will always act to suppress Martian independence. It's easy to see Earth as the enemy because the true conspiracy actually resides within the Earth government. That doesn't make everyone from Earth inherently bad though. It also doesn't make everyone from Mars inherently good. This is a story all about this conflict coming up because these Martian soldiers only want to see the crew of the Rocinante as the traitors they have been labeled as. They stole a Martian ship and have been using it to fight this war. They wear the Martian uniforms when they don't deserve to have such honor. Alex and Bobbie are the actual Martians aboard the ship. They are beaten down and confronted about how they could betray their home for these enemies. They understand that the world is so much more complicated than that. They have been thrust into the middle of this conflict over the protomolecule. They've stared death in the face on multiple occasions where their respective governments just wanted them to shut up and be the obedient servants. They both believe they are doing the right thing in order to determine who the actual enemy truly is. It's a noble idea. It just takes these newcomers a long time to actually grasp that subject. As such, it leads to a lot of awkwardness with them trying to take over the ship.

The Rocinante crew has proven time and time again that even though they are frequently outnumbered they are simply far more skilled than so many of the enemies they face in battle. The Rocinante is willing to make the dangerous play in the hopes of it working or dying in the process. Most of the time they have succeeded in that goal. They've largely just been reacting to whatever crazy thing has happened next. Right now, they are split because of personal feelings of betrayal from Naomi. They don't know how to trust her. And yet, they are all able to work in sync to attack this new threat to their ship. They are able to quickly put these Martians in their place simply by pointing out that they are actually trying to save their lives and ensure that this war doesn't continue to be fought the way it has been as of late. They see the monstrosity and manipulation on display. They just need the right tools in order to expose Errinwright for the fraud that he actually is. It's surprising to see Avasarala manage to avoid this conflict for as long as she does. Her presence is known on the Rocinante right now. Naomi doesn't trust her because she's looking to get her hands on the protomolecule to deliver it to Earth. But she's also infamous throughout the system. Earth sees her as a traitor who has fled punishment. That's bound to be causing panic at home. But the Martians still see her as the politician from Earth. She's far away from home because she's on a mission of great importance. As such, she is easily able to recruit them to her cause. She is trying to change minds one at a time. It's not the strategy she would like to be employing. But it's what ultimately proves productive by the end of "Reload."

Avasarala listens to the speech given to Sorrento-Gillis to the general assembly of the United Nations following the Martian attack on Earth that killed almost two million people. She understands that the casualty count is already way too high for a conflict that never should have happened in the first place. She is so desperate to convince Holden to get her to send her message out to Admiral Souther to expose Errinwright as the fraud that he is. She also has the grand idea to send her message to Anna. She is the one person in the Earth government who she knows she can trust. She understands that Anna has always acted as the conscience of the Secretary General. She knows that her presence now must be used as a counter balance to the horrible wisdom that Errinwright is steering the world into. Avasarala understands how to play this game and emerge victorious. She already knows that Holden won't be on the sidelines of this conflict for very long. He comes from a family that believes in their values and making a difference whenever they can. He may no longer be able to contain and control the protomolecule. But now, Avasarala is making the argument that he can still do a lot of good in stopping this war to ensure that there are no more senseless deaths throughout this system. Again, this world needs to be in a time of peace in order to actually understand and react to whatever is currently happening with the protomolecule's transformation of Venus. It's a strategy that works. Holden agrees to send these messages to Anna and Souther. It's a change of pace that Naomi appreciates as well even though she doesn't like Avasarala. She hopes that will lead to a renewed spark between her and Holden as they continue to make a difference in the world. But he isn't ready to forgive her just yet.

Meanwhile, Anna is completely ready to walk away from her new position in the Earth government. She doesn't know how someone can be so casually fine with the deaths of millions. She stands in horror to the news coming out of South America. But she's surrounded by people who are already moving on to the next strategy in this war. They don't seem to be phased by this massive loss of life at all. It is so distressing. It proves just how casually villainous Errinwright has become. He has orchestrated all of this in order to be the person in the position of power throughout the system. He wants to win this war with Earth in order to be the man behind the Secretary General making all of these life-changing decisions. It's power that he craves and he finally has it. It's sickening to watch for Anna though. These are such traumatic and chaotic times for her. She was brought on as a speechwriter. And then, her grand speech is completely rewritten to highlight Errinwright's twisted views of this world where the entire system needs to be under the reign of one ruler. The entire human race needs to be united in order to face this new alien threat. It's silly to encourage talk of independence and freedom. These sound like such controlling and fascist views. And yet, the majority of the population support their leader following this speech. Only Anna truly sees behind the facade to know what's truly going on in this world. Of course, she doesn't have access to everything either. She's ready to just return home to her wife after Sorrento-Gillis has betrayed her once again. Then, she receives Avasarala's message which is bound to keep her in this world a little while longer. She has the proof that Errinwright has been conspiring against the Earth government all of this time and started this war for no good reason. It should be very fascinating to see how she utilizes this information moving forward. It seems very likely that she'll expose Errinwright to ensure that peace and justice are restored in the system as quickly as possible.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Reload" was written by Robin Veith and directed by Thor Freudenthal.
  • The hour opens with Drummer successfully leading her ships to recover the Nauvoo for Fred Johnson. He has grand plans for utilizing this massive ship to his benefit in this war. Right now, the war has mostly been fought between Earth and Mars. Nothing has really been said about how the Belt is suffering because of this. But Fred Johnson is bound to exert his influence at some point which also presents a way to radically change this war.
  • Avasarala is eager to send her message to Souther because she knows he commands a ship nearby and that he is trustworthy. She knows that he is a man of principle. And yes, the show has already incorporated him into the story. She also needs as many people as possible to know Errinwright's treachery so that he can get exposed as soon as possible. Sending it to two people ensures that it will get out somehow hopefully.
  • Last week's story allowed more sympathy and understanding to exist for Jules-Pierre. He saw the horror of conducting these new protomolecule experiments on children. He shut it down. But now, he changes back to the cold villain once more after realizing that Katoah isn't dying from the injections but actually forming a stronger connection to the rest of the protomolecule. As such, he can serve as an interface to better understand what's going on elsewhere.
  • Of course, it's surprising that all of Jules-Pierre's research up to this point hasn't realized that the protomolecule is able of communicating with itself across great distances. It probably has and he just suddenly realizes what the benefits of these new experiments can be. But it also comes with such a lethal reveal because it shows that Katoah is eager to kill anyone with enough energy just to see what is lurking within it.
  • Prax is watching a promotional video for Project Caliban showcasing how they were so eager and excited to be injecting humans with the protomolecule to turn them into those hybrid soldiers. He doesn't understand how anyone could ever be okay with something like that. And yet, it also proves that he is changing because he can no longer just be a simple botanist any more. He's deep in this conflict just like everyone else aboard the ship.