Saturday, December 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Expanse' - The Entire System Deals with Ideological Debate About the Need for Systemic Change in 'Retrograde'

Amazon's The Expanse - Episode 4.04 "Retrograde"

Drummer and Ashford confront a dangerous person from Naomi's past. Murtry hunts down a target. Bobbie makes a life-changing confession.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's The Expanse.

"Retrograde" was written by Matthew Rasmussen and directed by David Petrarca

In the first three seasons, any action could seemingly set off a chain of events that led to war. That actually happened. There were huge casualties involved. But now, everyone believes they are operating in a new world. That mentality comes from the existence of the Ring and the introduction of new planets and solar systems to explore. People hope that this will dramatically change their lives to ensure that what has defined them in the past doesn't necessarily apply to their future as well. But again, any small action can lead to potential tragedy. It once again feels informed by the failings of humanity. People flex their influence just to prove a point. The show is always empathetic to its characters though. Everyone is outraged that Murtry is executing people on Ilus. He doesn't have that authority. He is right to be angry that the settlers crashed his ship upon landing which led to the deaths of two dozen of his officers. That probably was a mistake. It was a proactive choice taken by those who fear that the Inners will always come to take away what the Belters have built for themselves. That same belief is held by Marco as he is pleading for his life in front of the leaders of the OPA. His actions shouldn't be seen as controversial or repugnant. He's acting the same way he always has. Now, he is just labeled as a terrorist. Drummer and Ashford are working hard to honor the truce with Earth and Mars. They understand the importance of having the Belt on equal footing with the rest of the system. Any action taken by a violent faction can have devastating consequences. They have to make a point in addressing this situation and assure people that this piracy won't happen again. They can't make any claim to that though. In fact, they may be losing the ideological argument. Drummer operates with the knowledge that a leader has to make the decisions that keep their organization together. There will always be outspoken individuals who lob criticisms just in order to garner noise. She hates this man for what he did to Naomi in the past. And yet, she sets him free because she understands that he represents the threat to their organization and its legitimacy. She believes he won't be able to sit on his hands and avoid any more conflicts. That is a reasonable assumption to make. He has long stirred up trouble in the name of projecting strength for the Belt. More opportunities are apparent now than ever before. But again, there is tragedy happening on Ilus. Avasarala is cursing Holden out because there has been radio silence. However, Murtry has locked down the outgoing communications to ensure that word of what's happening on this planet doesn't explode. He can't control the narrative forever. He can't oppress the people of this settlement without a distinct purpose. His soldiers are more than willing to blindly follow his orders. Only one truly steps out of line in order to question things. Murtry believes himself to be right no matter what. He has to take justice into his own hands because that's the only punishment that can be find in this completely new system. This is the obstacle hindering progress for the human race. He has to eliminate the threat in order to guarantee the flow of research. This may only call into question just how willing he is in sharing those benefits and appreciating everything that happens here. Murtry and Holden have had different interests on this planet. They are forced to collide here. Holden's crew is in direct danger. The Rocinante escapes to space once more with a fugitive Murtry wants to kill. Holden takes over the leadership position. This all has the feeling of importance. He is establishing a better power structure in the region so people can feel safe and protected. It probably won't be that easy though. People are struggling because of just how dire and aimless their lives can be right now. Bobbie is stunned by the number of unemployed citizens on Mars. That makes her embrace the criminal aspects of this world. That's so precarious and makes it truly seem like she's spiraling. That's unfortunate and tragic. It also highlights that there may constantly be the pressure to confine people so that they can serve a distinct purpose. That allows wealth to continually flow to the top and those willing to abuse the system to get it. There are noble men and women striving for justice and to honor the ideals their nations stand for. That diplomacy is just never appreciated as much as the radical crime or power grabs that seem so enthralling and enticing because they speak to an underlying emotion of belief that the system has to be blown up in order to embrace true systematic change.