Holden and crew work to rescue the children on Io while all hell breaks loose with the protomolecule hybrids en route to Mars in this week’s episode of The Expanse
With everything building toward a major confrontation in the early episodes of The Expanse this season, it was only a matter of time before that confrontation occurred. “Immolation” continues from where “Triple Point” left off last week and acts as a second part to the chaotic situation on Io and in orbit. Holden (Steven Strait), Amos (Wes Chatham), Bobbie (Frankie Adams), and Prax (Terry Chen) begin to search the facility on Io for Mei and the other missing children. While looking for the children, the group encounters the mostly transformed Katoa. Bobbie leads the protomolecule hybrid away from the rest of the group to ensure that no harm comes to the rest of them.
Holden takes Jules-Pierre Mao (François Chau) into custody and Prax is reunited with Mei. Prax hesitates when given the opportunity to kill Dr. Strickland (Ted Atherton). Amos tells him that he isn’t “that guy.” Amos turns to the visibly relieved Strickland, says, “I am that guy,” and kills him.
The situation in the AO above Io continues to deteriorate as the UNN Agatha King is infected by the protomolecule and the crew begins to be transformed by it. Cotyar (Nick E. Tarabay) gets free from his restraints and sets to trying prevent the protomolecule from infecting the rest of the fleet. Naomi (Dominique Tipper) and Alex (Cas Anvar) arrive on the Agatha King in the Razorback in an attempt to stop the protomolecule hybrids. Naomi is able to successfully disable a few of them but time suddenly becomes limited when Cotyar announces that he will be destroying the Agatha King to stop the spread of the protomolecule.
Naomi reaches out to Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) and asks him to use the nuclear missiles he stole from Earth to destroy the hybrids. Fred agrees and the hybrids are destroyed. In the moments after the hybrids are destroyed, the protomolecule on Venus launches…something into the solar system. At the end of the episode, Holden brings Mao before Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo).
With so much to talk about this week, let’s get to it and meet our roundtable guests!
Pirate (@OaktownPirate) – Da Pirata im rowmwala ere wowk, Belta ere kori (“Pirate is a bartender at work, Belter at heart”)
Jamie (@jamerz3294) – I did the typing, so you can do the reading
Brando (@trancelot) – A multi-talented marketing professional, space nerd listening to trance music. My imagination is bigger than yours.
MJ (@MjLupin22) – Aspiring artist, world traveler, coffee lover
Gaius Greene (@GaiusGreene) – Lover of nature, SF, fantasy, history, mythology, and too many other things to list. Writer-in-waiting.
1. Anna directly confronted the Secretary-General and showed him the video of Errinwright confessing. While he ultimately did the right thing by arresting Errinwright for treason, he did it to save his legacy and not for any clear moral or ethical reason. Who was right about the Secretary-General, Anna or Errinwright? If given more time, do you think Anna would be able to get through to him?
Pirate (@OaktownPirate): Da Sorrento-Gillis im wa *politician*. Im na mantingwala. Imim showxa to mowsh wamali pagal fo gótemang. Unte dedawang wa ting gut. Da X.O. ere da Cant ta showxa “Milowda ta kom asilik lowng ere da nax; keradzhang milowda na finyish kang leta-kom mo light?” Da nax du mowteng da pagalting da Anna; dewang im tili vedi da *light* ere da nax. (S-G is a politician. He’s not a humanitarian. They say you have to be a little crazy to be a gad-person And… that’s a good thing. The X.O. on the Cant said, “We came so far into the night; why couldn’t we have brought more light?” The night needs Anna’s kind of crazy; the kind that sees the light in the night.)
Jamie (@jamerz3294): Anna clearly had the moral high ground here. And with the confession being on video, it was an easy decision for the Secretary-General to make. So now he has his scapegoat (Errinwright). So this ploy shows he actually has bigger cajones than Errinwright thought.
Brando (@trancelot): Errinwright knew the SG’s dark side, and Anna finally saw it. She also realized he was only happy Errinwright would take the blame and save his legacy. It was in that moment she finally saw the truth of him. I’m not so sure she will get through to him now.
MJ (@MjLupin22): The SG is still a politician. Errinwright was correct about the SG’s desire to leave a powerful legacy. Unfortunately, the SG is still the same man underneath. Anna can try to get him to do the right thing but it seems like the SG is going to do whatever he thinks is best for him, not Earth.
Gaius Greene (@GaiusGreene): No. The SG is only an ambition-fueled political slimeball. I’m sure Errinwright was right about him. I’ll just note that at the end of the scene, when he says, “It’s all on Errinwright now,” seems to me Anna clearly knew he was NOT, in fact, “changing for the better.”
2. At the end of the episode, something launched from Venus. How do you think the solar system will deal with what launched? Will there be a system-wide Eros incident?
Pirate: Kowlting fosho kaka xitim. (“Sh-t just got real.”)
Jamie: Ah… What really did launch from Venus? And what is its purpose? The protomolecule does nothing randomly. There is always a purpose to its actions. It’s only when we humans tried to weaponize it, that it became warlike. (In other words, since I’ve read the book, I refuse to answer on the grounds that the protomolecule may incriminate me).
Brando: That was the biggest pimple-pop of all time! Was that Julie and Miller? Is that the brain of the proto-system, or is it a proto-weapon?
MJ: Because I read the books, I’m not sure how to comment on this question without giving away spoilers! You’ll just have to wait and see!
Gaius Greene: The entire system will freak the frak out about what the protomolecule built. As for a system-wide Eros incident? (Editor’s note: a minor spoiler follows.) No. Because I know from the books what it built. On the other hand, the show varies here and there from the books, so I suppose it’s really anybody’s guess.
3. Prax confronted Dr. Strickland and hesitated to pull the trigger. Amos stepped in and told Prax that he “isn’t that guy.” When Amos confronted Dr. Strickland, he said, “I am that guy.” and then pulled a Miller (i.e., he shot him in cold blood). Did Amos do the right thing by killing Strickland for Prax? Was that an appropriate way to get rid of Strickland?
Pirate: Da amos ta vedi da Prax ando go fo da nax da kori. Im ta leta-kom da Prax bek fong da pelesh de. Im na ta gif pasa for da Prax du belówt ere da wowl. Dewe da we da kopeng. Unte ya; du Mila KOWL da scientist da pagal da sabakawala!!! (Amos saw Prax going into the night of the heart. He brought Prax back from that place. He didn’t let Prax do blood on the wall. Such is the way of a friend. And yes; “Miller” ALL the f–king mad scientists!)
Jamie: “I am that guy.” Wes Chatham has been absolute gold this season! And yes, Strickland did deserve to have that exact style of exit. Actually, Strickland deserved a lot worse, so it was an easy out for him.
Brando: Hell yes, he did the right thing. Amos stopped his new friend from having a life of nightmares, but it needed to get done. It wasn’t gruesome or overkill. It happened perfectly.
MJ: I loved that moment! Amos has been worried about who Prax is becoming over the past few episodes. I’m really glad Amos spared him from the terror of killing another person. Strickland absolutely deserved that ending to his miserable existence.
Gaius Greene: Amos absolutely did the right thing killing Strickland for Prax. I also think Amos was getting worried Prax might be becoming like him. YES, that was an appropriate way to get rid of Strickland, who seems to be kind of a “Josef Mengele in space,” in my opinion. Glad that [expletive] is dead. One thing I like about Amos is that doesn’t screw around with torture and such, he’ll just kill somebody who deserves it – especially people who do stuff to kids like Strickland.
4. Bobbie led the protomolecule hybrid, who used to be Katoa, away from Holden and the rest of the crew. All of that led to a direct confrontation that paralleled her experiences on Ganymede. What did you think of that entire sequence?
Pirate: Na du suchok wit da sodzha da rekong! Fo du meyo da Bobbie, gonya showxa im ere “duster”: *Courage is not the absence of fear, but the presence of action despite it*. Unte da hybrid im ta pochuye wa wameku for Venus. Vedi ere ansa “2”. (Do not mess with the recon soldier! To honor Bobbie, I’m gonna say it in Duster… And the hybrid heard a shout from Venus. See answer “2”.)
Jamie: Wow! Bobbie is one of the toughest, most badass characters ever! She never flinches, she never bluffs, and she never gives up! I honestly thought that fall was going to be the end for her, and still she came back to finish the job!
Brando: She is so fun to watch. I really felt her through the whole experience. My adrenaline kicked in as she CHARGED after that blue bastard! The crew made a masterpiece of a sequence on this one. #ScreamingFirehawks That was amazing work!
MJ: The special effects were incredible in that sequence! I think I need to watch that again for the third time!! Bobbie saved those children’s lives by leading the hybrid away like that. A true hero!
Gaius Greene: I frickin’ LOVED IT!!! And, Bobbie seems to have discovered the “new and improved” hybrids – “Mk2” model, I guess? – can be killed by shooting the back of their head clean off. Protocrap-Katoa wasn’t all “glowy” after that! Also, I think Amos was impressed by her decision to lead it away from the kids, from the way he looked right after she ran off to do so.
5. Cotyar gave his life to destroy the UNN Agatha King to prevent the protomolecule from infecting other parts of the system. How do you feel about the character going out in that manner? Do you think Avasarala would have been able to convince him not to sacrifice himself if she could have? Or would he have told her to (not so politely) shut up?
Pirate: Oh, Cotyar! Mi so so teristi! “Xitim ere da tim da ultim, mi na tenye nating *clever* fo showxa.” Kori mi im ta bek. Keting da Avasarala ta kang showxa? (Oh, Cotyar! I’m so, so sad. “Now at the end, I have nothing clever to say.” My heart broke. What could Avasarala say?)
Jamie: I’m going to miss our favorite spy. His interplay with Avasarala was great! Cotyar did the only thing he could to salvage any good out of the situation. In this case, to stop the spread of the protomolecule. Of course, Avasarala would attempt to talk him out of it. But she would quickly realize that there is no good alternative.
Brando: If she had been within shouting range, I imagine she would have tried to talk the protomolecule out of him. He went out like a champ, and it was a good death. He was a warrior. Avasarala understood what had to be done, but she hated it. Cotyar was her Number 1, and I hate that he’s gone.
MJ: I had a feeling Cotyar would not be staying around much longer. He definitely died a heroic death. He turned off his comms because he knew Avasarala would try to talk him out of it. It was a powerful moment between them even though she couldn’t say anything back. I will miss their conversations for sure.
Gaius Greene: I am NOT happy Cotyar’s gone, but the way he went out was worthy, noble, and kinda awesome. This line somehow got some dust or something in my eyes: “Well, Charnapal, I guess this makes us even.” There’s no way Cotyar would have changed his mind. He knew what had happened to him and what was at stake. Although a little conversation between him and Avasarala would’ve been a great one, I am sure.
6. In order to deal with the protomolecule hybrids, Naomi contacted Fred Johnson so he could nuke them using the missiles he stole from Earth. What did you think of Naomi’s decision to have the crew vote on the decision to trust Fred? Was Fred simply making a calculated decision to strengthen the Belt? Can he be trusted? Can Naomi?
Pirate: Da Pinus Contorta im *plant* dewang tenya da livit wamotim efa da *fire*. Da pegunta de, dedawang da “sprout”. Imim kang du fidesh ere da Fred? “Sili milowda mebi kowl welwala, kowmang gonya decho”. Beltalowda ta du Mars séfesowng. So… ando du fidesh ere da Fred ta wa pensating gut. (The Pinus Contorta is a plant that has life again after a fire. That question was the sprout. Can Fred be trusted? “If we are all welwalas, everybody will die”. Belters rescued Mars. SO… trusting Fred was a good idea.)
Jamie: Whoosh! Here’s another nutcracker! Who can you trust? And trust to do exactly what? By having the crew of the Roci vote on this, Naomi actually gains a bit of their trust. But what really motivates her? She is a complex, and many layered person (as is the entire cast). In her message to Fred, she did slip in that this would be a way for the Belt to become an equal partner, not just destroy the pods for altruistic reasons.
Brando: Naomi is earning trust back, and the crew is finally coming back together as a team. Fred can only be trusted to be Fred. As long as the crew stays cautious around him, I think they’ll be fine. Naomi made a mistake, but she meant no ill will to the crew. She can definitely be relied upon.
MJ: Naomi did the right thing on getting the crew’s consensus before asking for Johnson’s help. I do think Johnson can be trusted, because he has been shown to make smart decisions in the past. He wants to strengthen the Belt, yes, but I think he also wants to keep the human race alive! I’ve always trusted Naomi. I’ve never doubted her for a second.
Gaius Greene: Pretty sure Naomi won’t do stuff without the consent of the crew after that whole “I gave our sample to Fred Johnson” thing. I think Fred did that to strengthen the Belt’s/OPA’s position politically, and didn’t want anyone else exposed to the blue goo. Fred seems trustworthy so far. Still not completely sure about Naomi’s trustworthiness, but she seems to be trustworthy now.
7. What were your favorite moments and/or scenes in “Immolation?” Was there anything that you would have liked to see turn out differently than it did? Was it a satisfying climax for the current story arc?
Pirate: Da Amos. Kowltimg da Amos. Detim im vedi ere da Bobbie ando leta-go da hybrid fo wa chesh. “To na da mang de… mi da mang de.” Babysitter Amos, “Keting sabakawal dedawang?” Kolwting da Amos. (Amos. Everything Amos. When he looks at Bobbie as she takes the hybrid for a chase. “You’re not that guy… I’m that guy.” Babysitter Amos, “What the f–k is that?” Everything Amos.)
Jamie: I have read that the cast all agree that this was their favorite episode of this season, and I can see why! We have so many outstanding performances, and so very well done. This episode does turn a corner in the storyline, but this corner needed to be turned. It’s hard to pick out any single moment as being the best in the episode, but “I am that guy” stands out for me.
Brando: I have too many questions! Did Mei get a blue shot, or did we save her before they could start on her. What’s in the four cases? Is Mao planning to continue? What about that blue goo on the Roci? Isn’t that still a thing? And what was that at the end?! It’s time? Time for what, Holden? Is Naomi leaving, or are we all going? I NEED MORE!
MJ: Prax and Amos working together to save Mei and the children was my favorite moment of this episode. The last few minutes with the piano music, Alex helping Bobbie, and Prax and Mei together were really powerful. I’m also really glad that Holden and Naomi are finally back together but I DO NOT like the fact that she is leaving the crew. I’m happiest when the Roci crew is all together on that ship!
Gaius Greene: ALL OF THEM!!! But Amos and Prax moments, Amos killing Strickland for Prax, Bobbie vs. Proto-Katoa, Cotyar’s speech when he blew up the Agatha King, Sadavir getting arrested, and Holden shoving Mao to his knees in front of Avasarala were among my favorites.
“Immolation” acts as a partial conclusion to the current story arc and delivers some of the best action in the series to date
What. An. Episode! Every week The Expanse seems to top what has come before and “Immolation” is just the latest episode in that trend. There are so many scenes and moments that stand out in this episode that it’s impossible to fit them all in. But it is arguably the show’s strongest episode to date.
Bobbie’s heroic attempt to lead the protomolecule hybrid away from the rest of the crew and the children is especially notable. The visual effects team really outdid themselves to show off Bobbie’s Goliath Powered Armor. The amount of detail that’s put into these types of scenes is breathtaking. Everything from the “Objects are closer than they appear” text in Bobbie’s HUD to the thrusters on her armor firing to compensate for gun fire and gravity is included.
Despite Bobbie not being aware that the hybrid used to be a child, there’s still a sense of sadness in the scenes. Spending time in previous episodes to establish Katoa as an innocent child adds an enormous weight and tragedy to his death that could have been lost in the rest of the chaos.
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Prax reuniting with Mei and confronting Dr. Strickland is beautifully handled. Amos taking the shot for Prax to protect him from killing someone speaks volumes about how much he wants to protect others from becoming like him. When Amos kills Strickland, he doesn’t go overboard. He merely shoots him. It’s a simple yet powerful action. Speaking of deaths, it’s impossible not to mention Cotyar’s heroic sacrifice and the amount of emotional depth Nick E. Tarabay is able to inject into his final moments. We’ll greatly miss Cotyar.
“Immolation” is a remarkable technical and storytelling achievement and it makes the recent cancellation of The Expanse all the more painful. But with another seven episodes left in the season and the hope that someone else will pick up the series, we still have a lot to look forward to. What did the protomolecule build and why did it launch it into the system? With Naomi leaving the Roci, what’s next for her? The cast, crew, and production team have really gone all out this season and we can’t wait to find out what else they have in store for us.