Wednesday, June 13, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Expanse' - Holden Learns More of the Secrets from the Protomolecule in 'Dandelion Sky'

Syfy's The Expanse - Episode 3.10 "Dandelion Sky"

Holden sees past, present and future. A ghost from Melba's past threatens her mission. Bobbie struggles to trust an old friend as she leads a group into unchartered territory.

Everyone in the system is currently wandering into the unknown. Earth, Mars and the Belt have all entered the Ring now not knowing what to expect when they go in there. They understand that it is scrambling all of their communication to the outside world. As such, there is the fear that some of them won't return from their perilous mission. Everyone involved knows how dangerous it can be. And yet, they feel the need to keep moving forward in order to show that they are a people of strength as well. It is still a competition between Earth, Mars and the Belt. Earth is the ship that is actually trying to understand the physics of what the protomolecule is doing with the various objects around its nucleus in the Ring. Mars is trying to apprehend James Holden so that he can be charged with his crimes. They see him flying straight towards the nucleus. They have no idea what he's doing. Bobbie is fortunately one of the Martian soldiers sent out in order to arrest him. She understands that there's no way he could have done the actions he's accused of. And yet, she too has to accept that Holden appears crazy right now. He's not acting like his normal self which should cause everyone to panic throughout the Ring. This is perilous territory. It's a scientific discovery that the Belt is now hoping to claim for itself. Drummer and Ashford are continuing to clash as the leaders of the Behemoth. But they are also striving for Belter independence. Their people being able to understand this new structure and laws of the world before Earth and Mars would give it even more power throughout the system. It's a constant competition between these warring factions of humanity. Meanwhile, Holden is just off on his solo journey trying to understand the lessons of the protomolecule as Miller is telling him. He has no idea how any of this is happening or why he is once again at the center of all of this chaos. And yet, he's exactly where he needs to be in order to make a difference in the world. But him listening to the protomolecule is very dangerous because it could easily kill everyone in the system that Holden cares about.

It's certainly ominous watching Holden just floating in space while continuing to talk with Miller. An explanation is given as to why Holden can see Miller but no one else can. The protomolecule chose to appear to him this way for a reason. It was able to stealthily alter his brain chemistry so that he could have a conversation with the material. It's such a crazy idea. But now, Holden is the conduit to better understand the protomolecule. Instead of using that to increase his political profile and bring the entire system together, he's driven to the brink of insanity because Miller isn't making any sense. Their relationship right now is very intense because Miller is seemingly talking nonsensically while Holden pushes back against the conventions that the protomolecule would like him to accept. He has value only because he is alive. Miller is dead. This is simply the form that the protomolecule has chosen in order to appear to Holden. It's a body that has personal significance for Holden and the audience. Miller was a significant character who made the ultimate sacrifice to save the world from the protomolecule. And now, he is the one leading Holden to the greatest mysteries of the universe. Sure, Holden and the audience may not understand what's going on at all. The protomolecule thinks of itself as so much more evolved than humanity. That's an ominous tease as well. It needs Holden's help in order to complete the work that it is currently doing. It needs a human touch. That shows value in further creating a relationship between the two species. But it's also dangerous because the protomolecule is operating so much more quickly and nefariously. It could end the world if anyone makes the wrong move. And right now, all of humanity simply doesn't know the right way to move forward and handle this new threat.

And yes, the system is currently perceiving the Ring to be a threat. It is still absolutely miraculous. The ships have traveled through after determining just how quickly they can move in there without losing control over to the mysterious substance. Once inside, they enter into this completely new world. One that is shifting their perception of reality. The basic rules are still the same. But it appears as if they are interacting with a new version of space as well. Anna is right there on the deck to better understand the world that she is witnessing. She chose to stay aboard the Thomas Prince in order to be a part of this major discovery and exploration. She sees it as a miracle that could change all of their lives. She sees it as this joyous thing just waiting to be understood. She wants to help whenever she can in affecting the judgment of the officers who are currently leading the mission. They are too far behind to really be doing any good with the chase for Holden as he heads to the nucleus. That means they are mostly just sitting back and taking in this world. They are the ones actually talking about what all of this is and how they should approach it for their experiments to better understand it. In doing so though, Anna is too distracted and isn't able to help a lieutenant who really needed it. She only wanted to see the miracle of the Ring instead of the danger. She knows it's scary but she's excited about it. She isn't able to comfort Jordan when he voices concerns about his mental stability. As such, he kills himself. That's such a brutal moment. One that is so completely eye-opening to Anna. She joined this mission in the first place in order to connect with her fellow humans. She has always had such a gift in being able to reach out and understand someone else in this world. She has made some selfish decisions on this trip. She has potentially lost sight of the work that she practices in her life. It takes one death for her to be shaken to her core again. She understands that she still must take the time to reach out and comfort. Yes, it's a miracle to be on this ship helping people understand the changes to the system. But it's much more important to help the people who are afraid and in turmoil because of the unknown of this environment.

That's a common thread throughout "Dandelion Sky" as well. Everyone is afraid that it will only take one action for the protomolecule to kill all of them. They are flying in its space after all. It has the power to kill the humans inside the ships while being able to salvage the technology to use later on. None of the scientists have figured out how it manages to do that yet. But they are working on those theories. There appears to be some orbit within this space that allows things to have a natural order and reasoning to them. The objects flying around the nucleus do so with a purpose. The protomolecule brought them there for a reason. The nucleus also opened itself up for Holden to enter. Once he reached the center, the protomolecule wanted to be very welcoming to him by creating a low gravity environment with its own atmosphere. He could remove his helmet but he chooses not to. He is still afraid of being infected with the protomolecule. He doesn't realize that the protomolecule is already on the Rocinante and that's how it was able to project Miller in his mind even without being inside of the Ring. Before moving forward though, he needs answers from Miller. He needs to know that his suffering wasn't in vein. That there is a purpose to all of this beyond just bringing about the destruction of the world. The Martian soldiers arrive and immediately perceive him as a target. They fire but it's completely useless. This is the protomolecule's world. It can grab all of the bullets and tear the soldiers completely apart if it wanted to. After that moment, it freezes all motion of every ship currently within the Ring. It won't allow anything else to happen until Holden completes this project. It seems pretty mysterious and vague. He just has to finish this connection that quickly appears in this room. He does so just by placing his hand in there. It's a decision that could go wrong in so many ways. But what happens next is completely surprising while also potentially spelling out Holden's worst fears about continuing to interact with the protomolecule.

Holden simply doesn't know how he is always around when the chaos begins in the system. He always happens to be in the right place at the right time to survive and save the world. He has gotten so famous throughout the system. He doesn't have to keep doing this work. But he chose to do so. He knew that things would be very mysterious and crazy while exploring the Ring. But he also had no clue they would get this weird. And now, Miller calls him out for always saying that same line whenever something chaotic occurs. Holden places himself near the chaos because that's where he is the most beneficial to the world. He feels the burden to keep exploring because he's the man who understands the protomolecule the best. He knows exactly what everyone else in this story has done. As such, it's fitting that he's the man tasked with completing this connection for the protomolecule. And yet, that only sends him on this vision quest that seems to spell out the end of the world. Yes, it appears as if the protomolecule is sending Holden on a journey through time. It rewinds through the various events of the series so far - like the Ring being formed, the protomolecule emerging from Venus, Miller and Julie crashing Eros into Venus, etc. But it goes back even further than that too. It shows multiple Rings as well. It's all very confusing and disorienting for Holden. He appears to be nothing but a floating speck in this grand story. It's leading him to the ominous vision of the sun becoming infected with the protomolecule and exploding. That would destroy the entire system. It's something the protomolecule clearly wants him to see. And yet, is it something that the protomolecule wants Holden's help in doing or stopping? That's going to be the question moving forward as Holden will be targeted even more by the mysterious forces of this world.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Dandelion Sky" was written by Georgia Lee and directed by David Grossman.
  • Anna has formed a quick friendship with Tilly, who was another one of the civilian religious leaders on the ship. And yet, she doesn't seem as spiritual or helpful as Anna. She's the reason why Anna got to stay and go within the Ring though. But right now, it's inspirational for Tilly to hear Anna's word and take her advice as well. However, it may be a decision that leads to her being killed.
  • This episode confirms that Melba's true name is actually Clarissa Mao. As such, that's going to be how I refer to the character moving forward. Melba is just the alias she used in order to make it onto this mission and frame Holden for the destruction of an Earth ship. She still wants him dead. There's just no way for her to complete her goal by getting to the Rocinante before anyone else. As such, she's formulating a plan to trigger a meltdown of its reactors from afar. That's dangerous. But she's also discovered by Tilly before succeeding.
  • Ashford is continuing to question Drummer's leadership and decisions as captain. He continues to reprimand the crew loyal to him when they voice similar thoughts of him being a better captain for this mission. He's doing so as a way to build him up as the good guy throughout this entire story. He is being a loyal servant to the captain who will be able to convince everyone that removing Drummer from power is the only sensible action to be done. Drummer is just completely aware of his scheme though.
  • It's not surprising in the slightest that Naomi isn't able to board the Rocinante as quickly as she wanted. Drummer allowed her to go. She had to go be with her people again. She could no longer stay fighting for a cause she could support completely and blindly. But here, the Martians caution her from getting any closer to the ship while the protomolecule stops her in her tracks as soon as it is provoked in the nucleus by the Martians.
  • Holden did record a message for Amos and Alex at least. He wants them to know what he's doing and he is ordering them to stay exactly where they are. He knows that the Martians will come after him and not the ship right away. But he also sees this mission as something he has to do by himself. His brain is being warped by Miller. And that's absolutely terrifying to Amos and Alex because they simply have no idea what to do because things seem very dire for them at the moment.