Holden and his crew arrive at Io as the UNN and MCRN fleets come dangerously close to conflict in The Expanse
“Triple Point,” the fifth episode of season 3 of The Expanse, picks up not long after last week’s episode. The UNN and MCRN fleets continue on their way to Callisto while the UNN Agatha King heads for Io. Holden (Steven Strait) and his crew come up with a plan to land on Io in order to investigate Jules-Pierre Mao’s (François Chau) abandoned refinery and hopefully find Mei. They’re uncertain what they will find in the facility so Bobbie (Frankie Adams) loads up her power armor with incendiary rounds from the Rocinante as extra insurance. The ship lands successfully and the crew begins cutting their way into the refinery.
Ensign Sinopoli (Atticus Mitchell) arrives on the MCRN Hammurabi with the evidence of Errinwright’s (Shawn Doyle) activities from Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo). The captain of the ship, Captain Kirino (Krista Bridges), is hesitant to send the information to Admiral Souther (Martin Roach) but she also doesn’t take any hostile action toward the UNN fleet. Multiple crew members who are loyal to Souther are alarmed by Admiral Nguyen’s (Byron Mann) behavior and suggest staging a mutiny to remove him from command. Souther is initially troubled by this but when he receives the footage of Errinwright from the Hammurabi, he attempts to relieve Nguyen.
While Souther is sending a message to the UNN fleet indicating the he’s removed Nguyen for engaging in an unlawful war, Nguyen shoots and kills him. Several UNN ships refuse to join the rest of the fleet. After they fail to respond to Nguyen’s orders, he fires on and destroys one of them. The UNN ships proceed to fire on each other while the MCRN fleet waits it out. Multiple crew members loyal to Souther attempt to seize control of the CIC, are taken into custody, and are killed by Nguyen and other officers who are still obeying his orders. Nguyen then launches all of the hybrids from the surface of Io.
On Io, the protomolecule continues to transform Katoa. While questioning him, Mao and Dr. Strickland (Ted Atherton) learn that the protomolecule is almost done building whatever it’s constructing on Venus. Katoa’s transformation continues to rapidly progress and Strickland has to sedate him. Wanting to know more about what the protomolecule is doing, Mao has Strickland prepare the next most genetically compatible candidate to go through the process: Mei.
“Triple Point” begins a major confrontation both on and above Io. What’ll happen next?! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and instead meet our roundtable guests for “Triple Point!”
MJ (@MjLupin22) – Aspiring artist, world traveler, coffee lover
Kiddle (@kiddle) – Lover of cats, photography and smart (or witty, or simply entertaining) television
Wenche (@WencheBandida) – A librarian, space junkie, The Expanse super fan, sci-fi and VFX fan.
Belinda (@Jetcitygirl1) – Love sci-fi, animals, the universe, underdogs and The Expanse!
Carlos (@carlostk1) – #TheExpanse contributor and member of the #ScreamingFirehawks
1. Naomi gave Holden a lengthy and heartfelt apology in this episode. She also revealed a little more about her history. What did you think of that scene? Were you surprised by the revelations about her past?
MJ (@MjLupin22): I’m really happy that Naomi and Holden finally got to talk through what happened last season. Naomi revealing some of her history to Holden will hopefully allow them to become closer and reconcile their relationship. I was surprised that she never told Holden about her son, though!
Kiddle (@kiddle): I would not have guessed that Naomi had a son prior to this point, but it makes so much sense as to why she has acted the way she has in a much more meaningful way. Holden was so sad, both because of her “loss,” but also because she didn’t confide in him. More trust issues.
Wenche (@WencheBandida): I think it was a very touching scene. Dominique Tipper’s low key grief really broke me. As a book reader, I know her story and I think the writers are doing an amazing job adapting the books to TV! I really hope we get to meet Filip and that *bleeping* ex. That’s reason enough to #RenewTheExpanse for me!
Belinda (@Jetcitygirl1): I loved the Naomi/Holden scene! As a book reader, I was not surprised by the revelation. Can’t wait for the next one!
Carlos (@carlostk1): FINALLY! We all know the name of Naomi’s child, Filip. A big heartfelt moment for Nolden fans. You could feel the compassion behind Naomi’s unfavorable decision. No surprises because Naomi asked Fred Johnson that one day she would reveal a name to him so that Fred would locate said person. Now we all know it must be Filip.
2. Jules-Pierre Mao and Dr. Strickland learned through Katoa that the protomolecule’s work is almost done on Venus. Mei is the only other subject on Io that’s a good match. Do you think Mao and Strickland will start the transformation process on her before Holden and crew find her? Will Katoa escape confinement and turn on Mao and Strickland?
MJ: I hope Holden and crew get there in time to prevent Mei from becoming the next test subject. It is quite scary what they’ve done to Katoa! I don’t want that to happen to Mei. I don’t think we’re done seeing Katoa yet – he seems likely to escape and not have a care for who he hurts.
Kiddle: Things are cascading towards Io so rapidly, I’m not sure they will have a chance to convert Mei. I certainly hope not! I honestly hope Katoa breaks free and basically eats their face off. But, you know how Teflon-y Mao is…
Wenche: Oh, they will certainly try! Bobbies got her Goliath on so I doubt they will succeed. The launch of the hybrids was f–ing awesome! Katoas story is profoundly heartbreaking, he is aware, (“What happened to me?”) and he is hurting and JPM and Dr. Strickland are continuing to torture him. I think Katoa will save himself (and maybe Mei?) before his transformation is complete.
Belinda: “CAN’T STOP THE WORK SOON SOON!” I was completely captivated, terrified, AND horrified. Phenomenal work by all! Venus, y’all. Ahhhhh. Further comment would be spoilery. #HurryPrax
Carlos: Just when I thought Mao had a soul. I was wrong. He’s as evil as Dr. Strickland. I think that it’s going to be as close as close can get before the crew can rescue Mei. And that’s the type of compelling suspense that makes me love The Expanse. I believe Katoa will do a Free Willy and justify his contempt of being experimented on.
3. Alex received a surprise message from his son, and what his son said seemed to surprise him. What are your thoughts on that development? Do you think Alex will eventually be able to have some sort of relationship with his son?
MJ: I’m happy for Alex because having a good relationship with your child is really important. His son seems to have formed an image of a hero in his mind. I think Alex will use that to bolster his spirits, and encourage him to do good. Maybe they will have a relationship if Alex can ever catch a break!
Kiddle: This was such a touching moment. I think Alex was convinced that his son would hate him (and he felt he deserved it). It meant the world to Alex that his son loves and forgives him. I worry about him following in his father’s footsteps. It’s hard to see Alex separating himself from his current life and rejoining his son – I’m sure that eats at him, but he’s made a decision about where to stay.
Wenche: I think Alex’s son is a smart kid and he sees his dad as a Martian hero. I doubt that they will meet again; Alex isn’t going to change, he just wants to fly. But I think they will talk again. (I’m not crying! You’re crying!)
Belinda: Loved the message from Alex’s son! I really hope we get that storyline in the future! Great scene!
Carlos: Martians are tough hombres. When Alex’s son told him that he wanted to follow in his footsteps, man that just made me smile. As a father that means everything seeing your son want to be just like you. We all want that. Alex’s relationship with his wife may be on ice but his relationship with his son is a new beginning.
4. Avasarala attempted to convince Holden to get more involved and take a stand in the conflict. Between Avasarala and Naomi, do you think Holden will decide to take more of a stand going forward? Should he take a stand or is trying to stay neutral for the purposes of survival a better plan? Or can he simply not resist getting involved because it’s in his nature to want to help people?
MJ: Holden wants to protect his crew first and foremost. Beyond that, I think he will attempt to do what he can to save people’s lives. It’s in his DNA. If he sees someone in need, he wants to save them.
Kiddle: I just can’t see Holden standing by forever. He’s like the scorpion in the story “It’s in his nature.” He’s also a Boy Scout and he can’t erase that natural inclination to make things right. He finally conceded that he loved Naomi even if he didn’t love what she did. But, I’m not sure she can convince him to change his behavior.
Wenche: Holden is Holden. Getting involved is his modus operandi. He just needs to find a new thing to fly by other than “saving the universe and everyone in it.” I think I saw a spark in his eyes when he watched the launch of the hybrids. Without Holden’s idealism, there would be no story. He is and will always be the fire starter.
Belinda: When Avasarala called him “James,” y’all seen the effect it had on him. “It doesn’t become you.” The look on Holden’s face… He knows how right she is. He might hate it but that’s when his mind is made up.
Carlos: Holden has seen enough of his closest friends die. He does his best to avoid conflict. Seeing everyone fight over the protomolecule, he’d rather eliminate it entirely to stop the conflict. But that’s a terrible plan. It’s too late, everyone has it and Naomi or Avasarala can’t change his mind. Plus he’s caffeine deprived so he’s conflicted.
5. Admiral Souther and part of his crew attempted a mutiny against Nguyen. In response, Nguyen shot Souther and proceeded to kill several of the other mutineers. Do you think the actions of Souther and his crew were enough to save lives? Or did they end up dying without having much of an impact?
MJ: First of all, I just have to say that I screamed into my pillow after he got shot! I knew Nguyen was heartless, but killing the mutineers was above and beyond what I thought he’d do! I really think that the captain of the Hammurabi will be the one to further take action and prevent the escalation of the war.
Kiddle: Although Nguyen was injured, he really took out a lot of the “good guys.” I wasn’t sure Souther’s message got through, but it will all depend on if the Hammurabi is destroyed or not. I was actually shocked he killed Souther, although half of me expected it! I think of all the UNN and Martian ships and dead crews, all for sheer greed and assholery.
Wenche: Admiral Souther’s words will spread, he still has people who are loyal to him and his way of thinking. I don’t think he died in vain. And can I just add what a wonderful psychopath Nguyen is? Can I say that? And he doesn’t even know the whole story yet! JFC, I think JPM will seem like an amateur psycho when Nguyen is going full retard! I adore you, Byron Mann! (Sorry, not sorry. LOL)
Belinda: Nguyen’s a straight up lunatic! Ohhh, Souther. R.I.P. He hung onto his soul ’til his last breath. His crew? Heroes! Sadly, it may have been for nothing.
Carlos: I salute the brave souls who died during the totally justified mutiny. Nguyen is clearly working with Errinwright and the crew who died during the mutiny had an impact on the rest of the fleet who decided against following orders. There must be someone with military training writing The Expanse. It’s too accurate to be coincidental.
6. Amos helped Prax learn how to shoot. Prax is determined to either save Mei or get retribution if it turns out that she’s dead. Do you think Prax would be capable of killing in that manner? Should he seek retribution if Mei ends up dead?
MJ: Prax seems to be gearing up for the worst. He’s stealing himself for being too late to save Mei, and for killing Strickland and anyone else who gets in his way. Amos is worried about what Prax is becoming. I am against retribution and killing in principle, but I can understand the needs of a father to protect his daughter.
Kiddle: For sure initially there is no way Prax could kill people. He’s a nice plant guy! And, as Amos noted, his background hasn’t really prepared him for this. (A lot of the folks on Ganymede died because of this “softness” and lack of preparedness.) But, I think him watching the experiment and knowing his child could be dead OR WORSE has permanently altered Prax. I think he’d shoot Strickland or Mao without hesitation. Maybe not anyone else.
Wenche: I think he could be capable to kill in that manner. After all, he had a great teacher in Amos. He is not Amos though so he might not seek retribution if Mei is dead. He’s come a long way since Ganymede but I think he still is the plant guy with a more realistic view of what needs to be done. We’ll see!
Belinda: Prax will/should absolutely kill ANYONE involved down there. But I think Amos will step in and deal out the violence and spare him that. “I got your back.” Such a great scene! Except for Strickland, Amos would absolutely let Prax deliver that bullet to the head.
Carlos: Thanks to Amos, Prax is now a certified badass. But even without Amos’s training, Prax is still a father. And nothing will stop a man from killing a monster who hurts his children. By monster I mean Mao and Dr. Strickland. They’re the real monsters.
7. When the MCRN fleet decided to stand down, Admiral Nguyen launched all of the hybrids from Io in response. Do you think that decision will escalate the conflict between Earth and Mars or will the UNN and MCRN unite against a common enemy?
MJ: I think that the UNN and MCRN will unite in order to destroy the hybrids. If they don’t, humanity would be doomed…
Kiddle: I would like to think that people like Avasarala would cause HUMANKIND to unite against a common and very powerful enemy. But, we have seen again and again that humans are so very tribal. Tribalism is a powerful, powerful thing. And, power corrupts. So…not real hopeful here.
Wenche: The launch of the hybrids is a game changer. No one knows how the hybrids have developed after Ganymede. They are all linked and sharing information. Maybe they’ll just break free and go off to finish “the work?” People don’t change so I don’t think the UNN and MCRN will unite, even with a common alien enemy involved. Some fraction maybe but the goal is to win the war and they will continue to fight to get and control the protomolecule. Which is a totally ridiculous thought. I’m just waiting for the Belt and Fred Johnson to turn up! Go, Drummer!
Belinda: Although writers have spun us book readers this season, I still have too much knowledge to answer. However, I’d like to thank the writers, cast, VFX, wardrobe, production office, and crew for a completely amazing episode and season 3. Shout out and love to the #ScreamingFirehawk family!
Carlos: That’s a tough one. That all depends on how much information is shared. Right now everyone is blind to what or who the real enemy is. I hate to say it but diplomacy is the solution, but saying that kind of defeats the purpose of war. War is the outcome of failed diplomacy. All I know is that this is leading up to one intense moment that I’ll be watching for the rest of my life.
“Triple Point” is an extraordinary blend of suspense, alarming revelations about the protomolecule, and some of the best character moments of the season (so far)
If we thought previous episodes in season three of The Expanse were as intense and action-packed as the show could get, “Triple Point” seems to exist to prove us wrong. Between the attempted mutiny on the UNN Agatha King, Admiral Nguyen going full psychopath and executing mutineers with cold, Terminator-like efficiency, and the protomolecule hybrids being launched from Io, it’s difficult to imagine how the show can possibly top this week’s episode. At the same time, “Triple Point” is clearly just the set up for what’s to come.
Despite the intense situation on the UNN Agatha King taking up a lot of time this week, “Triple Point” still finds time to inject some of the strongest character moments of the season. Naomi (Dominique Tipper) apologizing to Holden and telling him about the existence of her son Filip is an especially notable and heartfelt scene. We’d be lying if we said there weren’t tears during that scene (there absolutely were). That’s only one example of Georgia Lee’s skill when writing these characters. Prax (Terry Chen) and Amos (Wes Chatham) continue to bond as the latter teaches the former to shoot to either rescue Mei or get retribution. Alex (Cas Anvar) receives an unexpected and emotional message from his son to give him a little hope right when he needs it. And there are many more such scenes scattered throughout.
It’s difficult to find flaws in an episode that so skillfully builds on what’s come before while also pushing almost every subplot forward in exciting, emotionally charged, and intriguing ways. Is the episode flawless? Probably not. But if flaws do exist, they must be using stealth technology.
We were on the edge of our seats for most of “Triple Point,” and with good reason. It’s an exciting and completely unforgettable episode. Hopefully, we’ll be able to catch our breath just in time for next week’s episode to take it away again. What a ride!