Wednesday, May 9, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Expanse' - Earth and Mars are Presented with Shocking New Information About the War in 'Triple Point'

Syfy's The Expanse - Episode 3.05 "Triple Point"

The search for Prax's daughter comes to a head. Admiral Souther's men plan for mutiny aboard the Agatha King.

Avasarala was successful in sending out her message that revealed Errinwright's treachery at the end of last week's episode. She sent it to two people. The first was Anna on Earth. No update is given in "Triple Point" as to how this new information changes her plans to leave the government and return to her loving family. Instead, the action focuses almost entirely on the second destination of this message. She gave a copy of it to one of the Martian soldiers the Rocinante crew helped last week. It was with the intention that he would share it with his new captain who would then pass it along to Admiral Souther on the UNN Agatha King. Avasarala knows that Souther is an honorable man who will know exactly how to handle himself in this illegal war moving forward after being confronted with the truth. There is so much tension that erupts from the war between Earth and Mars this week in order for Avasarala's plan to work. She is hopeful that the various sides will be able to see the severity of Errinwright's crimes and be able to unify once more ahead of the looming threat against their entire species. But there is still so much deceit and treachery throughout this war. There is still factions within the Earth government that are loyal to Errinwright and are completely willing to use the protomolecule hybrids to complete destroy the Martian troops. It creates such an exciting and tense main story for the week. It focuses on no real main characters of note. It's just an adventure of minor characters needing to make decisions that will completely reshape the story of this war. And yet, that's just as crucial. The Secretary-General is the one making the big picture decisions on Earth. But now, the ships are so far away from the main planets fighting this war. Diplomacy has a different meaning out here. This could potentially be a way to issue a truce and end the fighting. Or it could just be a case of the two sides doubling down on their beliefs that their enemies need to eradicated from this world.

Again, it all hinges around Souther. He is a man who everyone can trust. Avasarala understands that he'll know exactly what to do with this new information. Cotyar trusts him with the truth as well. He also clearly has the love and support from his crew as well. He may have been demoted to his current standing in the Earth fleet. But he still controls a whole lot of ships in the Jupiter region. He's the man in charge for Earth right now in this corner of the world. At least he was until Admiral Nguyen showed up. He's a soldier siding with Errinwright in this conflict and completely redirecting the ship in order to get the weapons that Jules-Pierre Mao promised to Earth. He sees it as a mission to gain the one weapon that can destroy Mars and end this war as quickly as possible. He's a man who sees the world through violence instead of diplomacy. He doesn't strive to reach out and negotiate a peace with Mars. He would much rather kill their soldiers because he has already experienced so much loss because of them. His most loyal man is able to tell the story of how Nguyen was one of the few survivors of a Martian attack when the two sides had no idea what was actually going on. A ceasefire was issued just a few minutes after the battle began. But that proved that Mars simply has far better weapons than Earth. One of their ships could easily take out a number from Earth. Nguyen survived but so many of his crew did not. And now, he's in a position of power where he can continue to exploit this war and the evils of the world to make Mars suffer because of it. This is all extremely personal to him. As such, that makes him blind to the true dangers of this world and the unpredictability of the weapons he is now managing.

It's noble of Souther to stage a mutiny after it becomes clear that Mars is reaching out to establish peace. He is able to covertly get the message from Avasarala through the Martian forces. That soldier was ultimately able to follow through on his mission. He was able to convince his captain that it was a smart idea that would ultimately save a lot of lives. She's only a fairly minor character throughout this plot. She's skeptical of this crazy story this refugee is saying about the many different people he met on the Rocinante. And yet, she still listens to it and seems to be completely aware of how Earth turning against itself will ultimately only be beneficial to Mars in the end. It's their enemy fighting itself instead of them. As such, she's not firing the first shot. She wants to see how this conflict will play out while also knowing that they have the far superior weapons. She even gets confirmation from Souther that this video is real and that this war started for illegitimate reasons. Souther is only able to get that confirmation by speaking with Cotyar once more and asking him specifically what was in this video that Avasarala claimed to have. It serves as a message of hope for Cotyar as he learns Avasarala is still alive and succeeded in her mission. Souther is willing to stage a mutiny to take control of the Agatha King and put an end to this war. It's then so completely tragic when Nguyen shoots and kills him. It's an action that very few people around the ship actually agree with. More are simply loyal to Souther. They will continue to fight to get his evidence out to the rest of the world. But in the end, they are killed or imprisoned as well.

All of this highlights the true monstrosity of man. Earth has already lost so many people through this war. It seems like their casualty count is significant higher because the show has explored those ramifications on that side. Meanwhile, things are still able to peacefully exist for Mars. Alex is still getting regular messages from his family back home. Mars has yet to face an attack on their planet. The war is fought for them amongst the outer planets of the system. Of course, they've faced devastating losses as well. That's why their captain is willing to put an end to this war. She wants to save as many lives as possible. Nguyen just wants to get his hands on the hybrids so that he can attack the vicious enemy that provoked this conflict for so long. In the end, he is successful in that mission. It just continues to come at such a personal cost for Earth. The Agatha King under Nguyen's command is the only Earth ship willing to hold true to this war. The rest of the ships are ready to fly away after listening to Souther's message. They trust his perspective on this war and will follow his orders. Nguyen seems to be acting like a madman. He fires on one of his own ships and completely destroys it. That's such a devastating moment because it shows that he's willing to do absolutely anything to win this war. This conspiracy within the Earth government is willing to sacrifice so many Earth lives just to kill all Martians. It's such a brutal conflict. Nguyen believes he needs to do this to get the protomolecule hybrids. In the end, he does get them from Jules-Pierre Mao. He'll set them free to create even more chaos in this war. As such, it seems like peace won't be found around the outer planets. Instead, it will have to come from the government back on Earth with Anna putting whatever her plan will be into motion.

It's horrifying that this war is continuing to be fought even in the face of evidence that it should stop immediately. But it's also destructive because it's so counterproductive to the new threat that is coming for the human race. Jules-Pierre is able to see that threat clearly. He doesn't care about this war and who wins. He just cares about his family and his money. Once they were secure, he could give these weapons to Earth. But he's much more concerned about what's happening on Venus because the new Katoa is able to deliver the message from the protomolecule that the transformation is almost complete. He isn't able to explain what the core objective of the work actually is. It's just a daunting new threat that no one is even close to understanding. Jules-Pierre pushes Katoa to the brink of death just to understand what's happening. He is striving to better understand the protomolecule and the devastation that is about to occur. And yet, Katoa is dying and Jules-Pierre will need a new conduit. It just happens that Mei is the next closest match for the genetic markers necessary for this kind of procedure. However, he may not be able to successfully inject the protomolecule into her and safely learn what is happening to the world at large simply because the Rocinante has finally arrived on IO. They have come with the clear objective of getting answers about Mei. They don't know if she is alive or not. She may have already been turned into one of the hybrids. And now, they are heading into such a precarious and dangerous mission. The audience has long been aware of Jules-Pierre's presence here and the new experiments he is running. It will now become a race against time to save Mei. It should be very intriguing to see what the outcome of this story will be. Jules-Pierre will argue that he needs the children in order to get a sense of the threat that is coming from the protomolecule. The Rocinante crew will then counter that it's completely immoral to be running these experiments on children who have no idea what's going on and will certainly die because of it. It's very tense and that's where the show frequently shines the most.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Triple Point" was written by Georgia Lee and directed by Jeff Woolnough.
  • It's fascinating how the two key women in Holden's life right now - Naomi and Avasarala - are trying to appeal to his emotions by sharing tragic stories about the children they lost. With Avasarala, it's not really in a bid to earn Holden's sympathies. She just casually mentions it to help make her larger point. But with Naomi, it's the key piece of information that reveals the true reasoning why she gave the protomolecule to Fred Johnson.
  • Will the Rocinante crew be able to retrieve a protomolecule sample from IO for Avasarala? She is desperate to collect a sample for Earth. She understands the importance of doing research on this substance that has radically changed the system. And yet, it seems very unlikely that Jules-Pierre and Dr. Strickland will hand it over easily. They may not have the hybrids but they are probably still armed somehow.
  • With Nguyen having control of the Agatha King as well as the protomolecule hybrids, it certainly seems like he is operating from a position of strength in this war. As such, that leaves me very worried about what will happen with Cotyar. He isn't fully aware of everything that has happened. He doesn't know that Souther failed with his mutiny. But he's bound to get hurt because of that failed mission and because of his close connection with Avasarala.
  • Bobbie makes sure to arm her suit with weapons that can actually make a difference should the crew encounter a hybrid on IO. She's preparing for the worst even though the plan is to retreat should anyone encounter one of those creatures. Her making those preparations is basically foreshadowing that it will come in handy at some point during this conflict next week.
  • Prax has really become hardened this season. He has faced death a couple of times already. And now, he is so desperate to either find Mei or make sure those who hurt her suffer. He is taking firing lessons from Amos. It's just enough for him to comfortably be given a weapon during this mission. His priority is finding his daughter. But him taking this dark turn probably means he'll have to make a compromised decision very soon.