Holden and crew try to decide their next move, Errinwright backstabs Avasarala, and Avasarala, Bobbie, and Cotyar fight to escape from the Guanshiyin in the season 3 premiere of The Expanse
After last season’s revelation about the existence of Project Caliban and protomolecule-human hybrids, the season three premiere of SYFY’s The Expanse has a lot of pieces to pick up, and it does it with surprising ease. “Fight or Flight” starts almost immediately where the second season left off. Jim Holden (Steven Strait) and the rest of the crew of the Rocinante work to repair the ship and decide their next move. Naomi (Dominique Tipper) wants to head to Tycho Station for repairs and to more carefully plan what to do next. However, after her betrayal of the crew last season, Alex (Cas Anvar), Amos (Wes Chatham), and Prax (Terry Chen) side with Holden. The next stop? Io, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon, in an attempt to find Prax’s daughter Mei and the rest of the children taken for Project Caliban.
On Earth, Sadavir Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) sells out Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) by blaming her for his own treasonous actions and the United Nations declares war on the Martian Congressional Republic. Meanwhile, on Jules-Pierre Mao’s ship, the Guanshiyin, Avasarala, Bobbie (Frankie Adams), and Cotyar (Nick E. Tarabay) attempt to escape with their lives and the knowledge they have about Errinwright intact. As the ship is about to be destroyed, Bobbie and Avasarala escape on Julie Mao’s ship, the Razorback, and Cotyar and a member of the crew that helped with their escape barely manage to make it off on the UNN dropship.
“Fight or Flight” immediately jumps right into the action and resolves last season’s cliffhangers relatively quickly. The episode is just action-packed enough to keep the suspense high. But it also has plenty of quieter moments to set up the next part of the story and push the characters in new directions.
The distrust on the Rocinante after Naomi gave their protomolecule sample to Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) plays a large role throughout. Seeing Naomi in such a position is difficult as she’s often been one of the ones holding the crew together. Both Fred and Drummer (Cara Gee) get some interesting development as a result of the Belt getting the protomolecule sample too. Will they be able to catch the Nauvoo and turn it into a warship for the Belt? Will the war between Earth and Mars continue to escalate? What will Holden and crew find waiting for them on Io? How will Avasarala take down Errinwright?
The season three premiere of The Expanse keeps us all on the edge of our seats and gives us so many things to talk about that it’s difficult to know where to begin. So let’s just jump in, meet our first guests of the season, and discuss “Fight or Flight,” beltalowda!
Kiddle (@kiddle) – Lover of cats, photography and smart (or witty, or simply entertaining) television
Carlos (@carlostk1) – #TheExpanse contributor and member of the #ScreamingFirehawks
MJ (@MjLupin22) – Aspiring artist, world traveler, coffee lover
Brando (@trancelot) – A multi-talented marketing professional, space nerd listening to trance music. My imagination is bigger than yours.
Pirate (@OaktownPirate) – Da Pirata im rowmwala ere wowk, Belta ere kori (“Pirate is a bartender at work, Belter at heart”)
1. Errinwright didn’t waste any time at all working to sell out Avasarala. Do you think his plan of attempting to turn his own government against her will work out in his favor? How do you think she’ll respond once she finds out that he’s turned on her?
Kiddle (@kiddle): I would NEVER go against Avasarala. She has proven herself to be extraordinarily brilliant in managing the Earth government. Errinwright is a weasel, and while he might succeed in the short run, I can’t imagine him succeeding in the long run. He feels unduly confident because he thinks his plan of getting rid of her is successful (although he now knows it wasn’t…).
Carlos (@carlostk1): Errinwright is a manipulative political genius. He always finds a way of turning the situation around in his favor when it comes to saving his ass from his own mistakes. His biggest mistake is believing that he’s smarter than Avasarala. Once Errinwright is aware that she’s safe, well I hope he still has some of that poison that he used to kill Korshunov with for his own good.
MJ (@MjLupin22): Avasarala knows how to work the system in her favor, so I think she will be able to fight against his attempt. She will use all of her vast resources to fight against him.
Brando (@trancelot): Didn’t even hesitate. Too bad it won’t work in his favor! She had to expect this possibility after how quick she turned on him before. He’s super slick, but she’s a monster. No way she loses this battle. She’s smarter, and the fight within her is beyond compare.
Pirate (@OaktownPirate): Da Errinwright im xunyamwala da Avasarala. Da Sadivir im ta xunyam kowlting ke da Avasarala sasa? Fosho na. Sékrip mi im ere “Torture Granny.” (“Errinwright is Avasarala’s student. Did Sadavir study EVERYTHING Avasarala knows? I think not. My money is on ‘Torture Granny.'”)
2. Bobbie and Cotyar ended up making a fairly effective team. Given their interaction and teamwork in this episode, would you like to see them working together more in the future?
Kiddle: I refer to this team as ABC (Avasarala, Bobbie and Cotyar). ABC is a great team – not only have I enjoyed them, I’m confident after watching this episode that we will see more of them. I loved Cotyar’s semi-apologetic, “When I WASN’T selling you out.” ABC, like most of the characters, are misfits that come together in a satisfying fashion.
Carlos: Even though they are different, they share a similarity. A soldier’s mentality. It’s the situational awareness that they share from both being soldiers first. That split second thinking you inherit as part of your training. I’m sure we’ll see more of this dynamic duo in future episodes.
MJ: I enjoy their dynamic, and it provides humor in an otherwise hopeless situation. I do hope we get to see more of them together!
Brando: I enjoyed their scenes very much. It was fun bad-assery, and I’d love to see more Team Bobtyar in action again. Chrisjen will need them!
Pirate: Mi deng fo vedi dédawang lik pashang! (“I would most certainly watch that.”)
3. Drummer didn’t take the news of Fred sharing knowledge of the protomolecule with Anderson Dawes very well (to put it mildly). Based on what we know about Dawes, do you think Drummer is right about Fred’s decision? Is sharing the existence of the protomolecule with someone like Dawes a good idea? Can Fred keep it from falling into his hands?
Kiddle: Drummer has a history with Dawes and is aware of Dawes’s willingness to take really aggressive action when he thinks the ends justify the means. I agree 100% with Drummer’s position. I think Fred will do his utmost to try to stop Dawes from releasing something that could be catastrophic. And, no one really knows the full extent of what the protomolecule is capable of.
Carlos: Loyalty first. Drummer is loyal to Fred. Fred is trying to amend his past by working with Dawes. Fred is a military tactician. He’s well aware of the repercussions of working with Dawes and I’m sure he has a plan if things don’t work out. It’s never a good idea working with Dawes or the protomolecule. They both spell trouble.
MJ: Dawes has been shown to be untrustworthy, so I agree Drummer has a right to be upset. Fred believes Dawes will work with him, but it’s a risky decision.
Brando: Drummer knows Dawes better than anyone. They hinted around their past last season, but I’m sure there is more memories coming. I want to like Dawes, so I’m torn where this could lead. I think he’s smart enough not to use it, but can he contain it? Can Fred contain it? What about that little protomolecule splooge on the Rocinante… uh Contorta?!
Pirate: Da Drummer im keng da Dawes. Im keng da we da we da Dawes tili go, deting im wanya. Drummer na xush. Ere xante tu… kéting imalowda ta du showxa ere da imbobo rowm ere S2. Bera imalowda sasa. (“Drummer knows Dawes. She knows the path he travels, what he wants. Drummer is not happy. On the other hand, what did they chat about in the bar in S2? Only they know.”)
4. With Earth declaring war on Mars and the Belt in possession of the protomolecule, it’s difficult to know where the story will go next. Without introducing spoilers from the book series or what’s known about future episodes, where do you think the story is going next? What would you like to see happen?
Kiddle: I suspect that the show will continue what its pattern has been, and that is to follow about three threads each episode. So, I think we’ll see the Razorback with ABC, the “not Roci anymore” go to Io to chase the possibility of rescuing the kids, and Earth/Mars/Tycho political maneuvering. I’m excited to see where this goes, and I think the scope of the story will expand.
Carlos: I’m not sure where the writers are going next. And that’s the beauty of The Expanse. Book readers know what’s going to happen but the writers make changes to the story that just keep me so compelled as to what’s going to happen next. Best drug ever!
MJ: Politically, I expect Avasarala to attempt some damage control to her own reputation and the war between Earth and Mars. I expect some conflict between Johnson and Dawes. I hope that Holden and his crew can do some good while looking for Mei.
Brando: I’m speechless.
Pirate: Mi wanya vedi da sétoriye da Córtazar. Im tenye radzhang “clear”. Oso, wanya vedi kéting da OPA gonya. Namang wanya wow, amash wow finyish kom-go. So leta-kom da feriting oso. Go beltalowda leva sif xox! (“I want to see Córtazar’s story. He has clear motivations. Also, I want to see what the OPA will be. Nobody wants war, but war has come. So take freedom also. Belters, rise up!”)
5. Alex recorded and sent an emotional message home to his family on Mars. What did you think of that scene? What about his confession about loving flying as much as he does?
Kiddle: I thought it was a very sensitive scene, and I plan to rewatch, as there are times when tweeting, etc. can get in the way of fully appreciating the show. Alex hinted last season about his guilt over leaving his family to believe he was dead so he could continue to do what he loved, which is flying. I think this was his way of clearing the air for them if he didn’t make it. I thought he recorded it to send if they DIDN’T make it, so if they do make it, he’s in the same relative position. But, if I’m wrong, then he’s truly confessed.
Carlos: It was heartfelt and Cas is a phenomenal actor. How his message plays out and whether it will work out with him and his family, only time will tell. It always helps when you’re honest so good luck to Alex.
MJ: It takes a lot of maturity to realize why one makes certain decisions. Alex has come to a realization about himself and feels like he owes his wife and son an explanation. I may or may not have cried during that scene!
Brando: Self-discovery is a wonderful, terrible thing. It really hit me when he said it out loud, as if he was just realizing it in the moment. We all have a dark side, things we’re not proud of, history of mistakes, something. Alex is showing us Second (or third) Chancers that you can still find happiness and serve a purpose. Martians are human too.
Pirate: Mi na sasa wowt for “self-indulgent”. Keting mogut “ex-wife” im du wit da mesach de? ‘To du ámolof kuxaku pash mi, unte pash maliwala milowda. Xélixup. Tenye wa livit gut.’ (“I don’t know the words for ‘self-indulgent.’ What is his ex-wife supposed to do with that message? ‘You love space more than me, and more than our child. Great. Have a good life.’”)
6. Bobbie and Avasarala managed to escape on Julie Mao’s ship, the Razorback. What did you think of that entire escape sequence? Does the Razorback live up to the hype?
Kiddle: The Razorback was breathtakingly beautiful! My palms were sweating when Bobbie did her spacewalk, losing her grip! I’m also wondering about Cotyar’s fate. The design of the ship was amazing, interior and exterior. Bobbie’s line when they take off to avoid the rubble from the destruction of Mao’s yacht was hilarious. We found out that CANADA heard the true Avasarala line about the Razorback, but the USA only heard ‘coffin.’ That’s odd because it seemed like Avasarala was allowed to say “f–k” on Syfy last year.
Carlos: Yeah, that was one incredible scene. The VFX always impress me and seeing the Razorback was something the fans really wanted to see. I loved briefly seeing Julie as they entered. Thumbs up to those guys who designed it and the interior as well. Those VFX guys can make a toaster look sexy.
MJ: The special effects and set design on this show deserves special mention. The interior mechanics were fantastic. The Razorback is definitely a prized ship!
Brando: That ship was sweet! I would like very much to fly it around the solar system for the rest of my life. The whole sequence had my heart racing like I was with them. Thank you, may I have another?
Pirate: Im fosho gúfovedi. Amash im da fosh episot. Du pegunta mi wamotim ere da episot da serí-un-teng. (“It sure is pretty. But it’s the first episode. Ask me again at episode 13.”)
7. “Fight or Flight” had a lot of ground to cover while also setting up the rest of the season. Overall, what are your impressions of the season premiere? Is the season off to a good start?
Kiddle: This was a wonderful start to the season. They did a great, quick recap and immediately jumped in where we left off last year. The pacing was wonderful, the effects were terrific and the story was faithful and snappy. While there was a sense of resolution, there was also a nice build up of the storylines to be pursued this season. I do hope that Amos can put the coffee maker back together before the end of the season.
Carlos: They did promise us that it was going to be their best work yet and they nailed it. The pacing and amount of content was perfect. Enough to satisfy me and wanting more like a well prepared meal. This is without a doubt the best sci-fi TV show that nerds have ever witnessed. The story is far from over and I’m here enjoying this incredible ride that The Expanse has unfolded. I’ll be a fan for life.
MJ: I’m happy with the start to the season. I like the way The Expanse continues the story as if it never stopped. Enough action occurred to keep us satisfied, while leaving plenty of anticipation for next week’s episode.
Brando: I’m blown away at the talent producing this adventure. The humans we see, the humans we don’t see, they take us there. I feel it. It’s real. Episode 1: Mission Complete.
Pirate: Du mowteng mo! Da Daniel Abraham im ta “tweet” [Mi wanya tolowda kang “binge” ere kowl xídwang da nax xiya, desh walowda walowda mo ye ando kom.] Na fosho kang xalte for sikesh diye. (“I need more! Daniel Abraham tweeted, ‘I wish y’all could binge on all this tonight. There’s so much still coming…’ I’m not sure I can wait for 6 days.”)
The solar system is at war, our favorite crew has a new destination, and we’re more hooked on The Expanse than ever!
What a ride! The Expanse starts its third season with a bang and shows us that it isn’t playing around. The stakes are higher than ever in the solar system. Earth declares war on Mars. Fred Johnson makes a deal with Anderson Dawes to protect the Belt now that he has the protomolecule. At the center of it, are two groups of misfits: Holden’s crew on the Roci and Avasarala and her small group of allies on the Guanshiyin.
The production values on The Expanse have always been state of the art and SYFY doesn’t hold back in “Fight or Flight.” Whether Bobbie is going on an extremely dangerous spacewalk in her power armor as UN nuclear missiles are inbound (trust us: you won’t ever forget that scene) or the crew of the Roci is making repairs to the ship in moody lighting, the show consistently looks and sounds like a big budget production. Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby deliver a script that throws in plenty of action, political maneuvering, and quieter character moments. Finding the right balance for those elements can be tricky. Yet the writing duo manages to get it just right. Cas Anvar’s portrayal of Alex when sending a message home to his family is an especially notable scene but the episode is loaded with equally well-written and acted scenes.
With such a strong presentation and equally strong acting and storytelling, the weaknesses of “Fight or Flight” are quite hard to come by. Seeing Naomi at odds with the rest of the crew is somewhat difficult to watch since she’s usually an integral part of keeping them all together. We don’t expect this to be a permanent situation on the Roci but it will take some getting used to in the short-term.
After what may have felt like an unbearably long wait, The Expanse is finally back! The stakes are higher and the story is somehow even more engaging. If the rest of the season is this good, we’re really in for a wild ride! Bring it on, partner!