A mysterious ring built by the protomolecule forms on the outskirts of the solar system and the crew of the Rocinante adjusts to life without Naomi as they go to investigate it
After last week’s action-packed episode, The Expanse shifts gears and transitions into a new story arc this week. Not long after the protomolecule launches an object from Venus, it forms a giant ring with an unknown purpose between Uranus and Neptune. Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) is safely back on Earth and attempts to pick up the pieces of the mess Errinwright and the Secretary-General created with Mars. Bobbie (Frankie Adams) has re-enlisted as a Martian Marine. Holden (Steven Strait), Alex (Cas Anvar), and Amos (Wes Chatham) adapt to Naomi (Dominique Tipper) taking a leave of absence from the Rocinante.
Now that the dust has settled and Earth and Mars are no longer at war, the MCRN legally goes after Holden and his crew for taking an MCRN ship. In exchange for paying their legal fees, the crew agrees to allow journalist Monica Stuart (Anna Hopkins) to live aboard the Roci and make a documentary about the crew.
With the formation of the Ring on the outskirts of the solar system, Earth, Mars, and the Belt have sent ships to investigate it. Naomi is now serving aboard one such Belter ship, the OPAS Behemoth (the converted Nauvoo), under the command of Drummer (Cara Gee). Klaes Ashford (David Strathairn), a former pirate, arrives aboard the Behemoth as Drummer’s XO. Due to Ashford’s connections to Anderson Dawes on Ceres and repeated attempts to undermine her authority, Drummer immediately clashes with him. Anna (Elizabeth Mitchell) also adapts to life aboard the UNN Thomas Prince as a member of the UN civilian delegation to the Ring.
A mysterious woman named Melba (Nadine Nicole), who serves on a UNN maintenance ship, begins planting explosives aboard a UNN ship that’s on its way to the Ring. When one of her explosives is discovered by her crewmate, she executes him using greatly enhanced strength to prevent being discovered. A Belter named Manéo (Zach Villa), in an attempt to make history and impress a girl, tries to slingshot through the Ring. When he crosses the threshold, his ship instantly decelerates and his body is crushed into a bloody mess by the immense g-forces. Meanwhile, on the Rocinante, Holden comes face to face with Miller (Thomas Jane), who vanishes after he sees him.
With new characters, a new storyline, and a continuation of the familiar, “Delta-V” gives us plenty to discuss. So let’s get right into talking about the latest episode of The Expanse with our panel of fans!
Carlos (@carlostk1) – #TheExpanse contributor and member of the #ScreamingFirehawks
Kiddle (@kiddle) – Lover of cats, photography and smart (or witty, or simply entertaining) television
TJ (@ohplzlol) – Busy mom, reviewer, loving science and anything science fiction.
Bean (@Rebell117) – Just a guy who likes spaceships, whether they be from the mind of James S. A. Corey or Elon Musk (or am I supposed to say Jeff Bezos these days?). Also likes video games. They allow me to fly spaceships myself. Father of 2 cats.
JK Stiffler (@Lyve_Wire) – Some people are couch potatoes. I am a desk chair yam.
1. “Delta-V” jumped ahead to several months after the events of last week’s episode. What did you think of that transition? Would you have liked to see more of the events that took place between episodes? Was the transition effective at moving the story and characters forward?
Carlos (@carlostk1): I’ve never disagreed with any of the story differences between the books and the show. The writers are so creative with the subtle changes from the books. The time transition is necessary because there’s so much content to cover and only so much time per episode. Feeling left out? The books fill in the gaps quite nicely.
Kiddle (@kiddle): One of the issues with “space stories” is that the reality is it takes a looooong frikken time to get anywhere. This is not something that translates well into TV (Imagine the spinning “loading” wheel for…months). Cas Anvar said in an interview at one point, “you can’t do pages and pages of exposition.” The time jump was initially a little perplexing because the human mind looks for continuity, but I thought it was ultimately handled beautifully.
TJ (@ohplzlol): Well, that transition felt very natural. Maybe we’ll get to see flashbacks showing the “lost” time, but if not, that’s fine by me too.
Bean (@Rebell117): Because of the larger time skip, the introduction of the new main arc (and characters) on the one hand felt a bit more jarring than usual. But on the other hand, that transition was indeed very effective at moving the story and characters forward since almost all the major characters are now literally burning towards probably the most important event in recorded history. An excellent template for the rest of the season I’d say!
JK Stiffler (@Lyve_Wire): The jump of several months forward, itself, was fine. It made it feel like it was the beginning of a new story, which of course it was. But I feel there wasn’t as much closure to a couple of the plot lines from the previous arc as there could have been. Maybe that’ll happen in the next episode or two. And now that I think on it, some of those events might be shown as a flashback from the POV of another character.
2. The object that was launched from Venus formed a large ring and positioned itself between Uranus and Neptune. Without getting into potential spoilers from the books, what do you think of this development? Do you think the formation of the Ring will lead to yet another war between the various factions of humanity?
Carlos: Another visually impressive VFX moment. The Ring is hard to describe without spoiling anything. Let’s just say that the Ring represents the unknown and that the curiosity of the factions will place them inside the Schrödinger equation.
Kiddle: Doesn’t everything?! Honestly, humans are the squabbliest things… But I loved the progression of the eruption, to the “blob” to the elongation, to the Ring. As usual, fabulous effects. The Ring seems so ephemeral, but I like where the show is leading. We know the protomolecule is not aimless. And, if humans think there is anything to be gained, they will fight.
TJ: I’ve not read the books because I didn’t want to put myself in a comparing situation, so, no spoilers from me. I can only guess, and I think there is more war ahead. But I also think, the enemy is within. Earthers, Martians, Belters, they might be heading for civil wars, and I hope very much that I’m wrong. Peace is needed to fight the protomolecule…
Bean: The system is safe from all out war for the time being I suspect. Neither Earth nor Mars have the stomach or resources for another sustained conflict I think. Besides, cooler heads seemingly are guiding those governments now. And in my opinion, as long as Fred Johnson keeps leading the OPA, we won’t have to expect any acts of war from them either, even though they are building the biggest warship ever created. I do however suspect that the emergence of the ring will cause a rash of terrorist attacks from radical anti-protomolecule groups.
JK Stiffler: The discovery of the protomolecule on Phoebe led to an arms race of sorts. Imagine what the formation of the Ring will do. Humanity doesn’t even know what it is yet, so they don’t know how they can use it, but once one or two factions have an idea, I think tensions will reignite. I mean, c’mon, it’s humanity we’re talking about.
3. Naomi is taking a leave of absence from the Rocinante and is now serving on a Belter ship, the Behemoth (formerly the Nauvoo). Not only did we hear more of Naomi’s Belter accent in “Delta-V” but she also changed up her hairstyle. Do you think these changes foreshadow that Naomi will revert to her old ways from before she enlisted on the Canterbury?
Carlos: Honestly, I don’t know. And that’s the beauty of The Expanse. Where Naomi’s character will take us and the decisions she’ll be forced to make all leave for some serious head scratching followed by some OMG moments. I can’t wait.
Kiddle: I noticed that her accent was more pronounced! By the way, I had noticed in LAST episode that Naomi’s hair was more “natural” and was intrigued. I figured this was really like going “home” to another place that has a different accent. I think there is an interesting dynamic forming between Drummer, Naomi and Klaes Ashford. Klaes MIGHT be sketchy, but I think he’s trying to bring the best out of Naomi and Drummer for the good of the Belters.
TJ: The first time I got kicked from a school was because I refused to change my hairstyle, a purple mohawk. So I’m talking from personal experience: Naomi is now herself, and she rocks, like only Belters can rock! (There you have it: I picked a side.)
Bean: I think it could go either way. Either her getting caught between the two sides in the conflict between Drummer and Ashford will keep her from reverting back to her old ways or it will push her closer toward it. I’m honestly not sure how it will pan out.
JK Stiffler: I think Naomi is trying to reconnect with her people, but not reverting to her “running with the OPA” ways. She wants to help the Belt rise up to become one among equals with Earth and Mars, and I think, I’m hoping, that she takes more of a Fred Johnson approach than an Anderson Dawes approach. Considering she’s aligning with Fred’s protege, I think that’s a good bet.
4. We learned a little more about Amos’s backstory in this episode. According to Monica, Amos Burton is the name of a mob boss from Baltimore. Not many things rattle Amos but he appeared to come close to snapping. How do you see his history coming into play going forward? Will Holden be able to keep him under control?
Carlos: Amos felt like his privacy was violated and that makes him dangerous. Rattlesnakes rattle for a reason. Clearly Monica’s never seen one. Amos left Baltimore for a reason and it doesn’t look like he wants to visit anytime soon. “The Churn” novella covers Amos’s backstory. Holden can’t control Amos. Nobody can.
Kiddle: It seemed clear to me that Monica’s story was likely a part of Amos’s real history and that is one he has indicated before was something he wished he left behind. I don’t know if it will actually do anything other than illuminate what motivates Amos. But it’s always interesting to put the little pieces together to complete the Amos puzzle.
TJ: I’ve always doubted that Holden could keep Amos under control, but maybe I’ll get surprised. Although I don’t think that Holden can fill Prax’s shoes. Talking about shoes, after Amos’s remark about high heels, I think there is so much we don’t know about Amos, that we should know… My guess is, that Amos is named after his father, and that he is that mob boss from Baltimore.
Bean: Yeah, it looked like he really didn’t want to be remembered of that, now did he? I suspect that when Amos said he died to get out of Baltimore a couple of episodes ago, he meant that he has faked his own death (eye witness protection program?) because some dangerous people are after him. If that’s the case, I’m not sure if starring in Monica’s documentary is the smartest thing to do.
JK Stiffler: It’s possible the show may explore more of Amos’ past in a way the books don’t, at least not directly. Since TV programs don’t normally have novellas published on the side, it would be the only way to get certain information to the viewers. I don’t think Amos will be rattled again like he was here, though.
5. David Strathairn was introduced as Klaes Ashford, a former pirate turned member of the Belter navy. Drummer and Ashford have already started clashing, right down to the latter giving orders over Drummer. Where do you think those characters are headed? Will that conflict eventually become a larger problem aboard the Behemoth or will they find a way to peacefully coexist?
Carlos: Klaes Ashford is the wild card. I can see where this is going but I won’t say anything about it. Thumbs up to David Strathairn portraying Ashford and his Belter accent is perfect. I just hope Drummer as a Belter can remember the old Earth saying, “Never trust a pirate.”
Kiddle: I actually felt like rather than his giving orders over her (which he more or less did), he was intervening to save Drummer from what she would likely have done, which is to be harsh. The OPA has lived a hardscrabble, horrible life – Klaes is trying to use this transition to help the OPA be better. Change is hard and we are going to continue to see that it is a hard pattern to break. I hope that Naomi comes to respect what Klaes is doing.
TJ: David Strathairn, another perfectly brilliant casting!! I can be also very short about the rest. It won’t be peacefully.
Bean: Like I said before, I think that Naomi is going to get caught between those two butting heads and that it will take every amount of effort she can muster to keep the peace. I’m more worried about the relationship between Fred Johnson and Anderson Dawes though, and how it will shape the events and characters aboard the Behemoth.
JK Stiffler: The clashing of Drummer and Ashford is already a problem. I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. I can imagine Ashford attempting a mutiny. Time will tell.
6. With so many changes taking place between last week’s episode and this one, it may take some time to get used to the new situations the characters have found themselves in. What were your favorite moments in “Delta-V?” Based on what has been set up so far, which character arcs/subplots are you most looking forward to? Which one of the new characters is your favorite?
Carlos: Slingshot dude, think his name was Manéo trying to fly into the Ring. HOLY **** That was my favorite moment. I like Drummer’s plot as Captain of the Behemoth. I’d follow her anywhere. My vote for favorite new character has to go to Monica. Man, Anna Hopkins nailed it with her performance. She’s so feisty as Monica!
Kiddle: I’m interested in the cameraman, in Melba, in the rehabilitation of the Nauvoo, in what is happening with the Ring (what happened to that dude?) and I definitely don’t want to lose track of Avasarala and Bobbie! (P.S. I’m not sure Avasarala looked all that happy in her role as the new spokesperson – she likes to be behind the scenes.)
TJ: The whole episode felt like a favorite moment. But I can’t choose a favorite new character yet, because the whole episode is still sinking in. What a rush!!! And every episode the rush gets bigger, so, please, let me take this opportunity to say I believe that if we keep watching on DVR within 48 hours and live watching, tweeting, retweeting and spreading the love, we will get that 4th season (to start with). Looking forward to that!
Bean: One of my favorite character arcs this episode was Manéo’s arc! I mean it had everything. Love! Betrayal! High-g maneuvers! Sad to see it come to such an abrupt (no literally!) ending! But on a more serious note, I think I’m going to dig the main arc about the Ring the most! I’m expecting lots of Star Trek/X-Files like conversations between Ana and that scientist(?) guy!
JK Stiffler: Best moment has to be the reappearance of Miller. After that, the whole Y Que sequence. The actor who played Manéo was awesome, and the sequence was beautifully realized. The most intriguing arc that started here was Melba’s story. Who is she and what does she want?
7. Miller is back! Or is he? Soon after appearing in front of Holden, he vanished again. How well do you think his re-emergence was handled? Are you looking forward to seeing Thomas Jane again as Miller? If Miller is back, do you think we might see Julie again as well?
Carlos: Holden seeing Miller briefly might have been from his deprivation of caffeine. Book readers know what happens. This was no coincidence. Seeing Miller might be all well and good but his appearance might be a harbinger of doom if Holden doesn’t figure it out before he goes crazy. He just needs a moment to sort it out. See Julie again? Now that would be epic!
Kiddle: I squuuuuueeeeeed when Miller showed up. It was amazing how quiet the production was about hiding Thomas Jane’s appearance. I knew he had to show up, but not when. I’m thrilled because I really loved this interaction from the book, and well, Miller is my guy! I can’t imagine what Holden thinks about Miller being there!
TJ: I think Miller is back, so I’m looking forward to see more Thomas Jane. I missed him! And I think his re-emergence was handled like it should be, because in this way it keeps us all guessing (I guess). Is Holden just seeing things?? Is someone using Miller’s projection to influence Holden? Or, has Julie such control over the protomolecule that she can produce holograms? It sure left me with a lot of questions.
Bean: Sadly they spoiled it by putting Thomas Jane’s name in the intro! But it was still really nice seeing him again, if only as a non corporeal proto-entity (I really think it was him and not Holden hallucinating)! I suspect that for now we’ll only get to see Miller because Julie is staying “home” doing the work not because of protomolecule gender norms but because Miller is the one with a connection to Holden meaning he’ll get to be the one that gets to project himself before Holden. I do however have a feeling that a physical version of both Julie and Miller exist somewhere, either still on Venus or in that Ring that we’ll someday hopefully get to meet.
JK Stiffler: Yep, Miller seems to be back, which was foretold in the opening credits. But is he really? We know he’s not a hallucination of Holden’s because Miller’s wearing his hat, something Holden never saw. (Miller left it in his flat on Ceres.) But the way he died, and his sudden appearance at the activation of the Ring poses quite a few questions.
“Delta-V” transitions the show into a new story arc while also raising new and intriguing questions about the alien race that created the protomolecule
From the opening moments with Avasarala addressing the system to Manéo’s enthusiastic slingshot (and ultimately, deadly) maneuvers to Miller’s mysterious reappearance at the end of the episode, “Delta-V” does an extraordinary job of transitioning us into the next part of the story. It does all of this without ever losing sight of the characters or important plot threads. While the new story arc is a continuation of what has come before, “Delta-V” almost feels like a season premiere and could potentially work as a place for new fans to jump on-board.
Multiple characters have left the Rocinante and gone their separate ways (for now). New and interesting characters, such as Monica, Ashford, and Melba, shake up existing relationships. Naomi leaving the Roci and enlisting on the Behemoth may come as a shock to book readers but thematically her departure makes sense for the story being told on the show, and we expect things to ultimately lead to a similar destination even if the path to get there is a little different. All of the new characters stand out and the actors themselves are already outstanding additions to the cast.
Manéo’s journey across the system and bloody demise act as a great way to show the passage of time while also enhancing the mystery surrounding the Ring. Using the classic rock song “Highway Star” by Deep Purple during Manéo’s journey is downright brilliant. Manéo could have easily become nothing more than a plot device but Zach Villa does an amazing job adding depth to the character. So when the character becomes a pile of bloody goo when his ship rapidly decelerates, his death is both shocking and tragic (and appropriately gory).
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Dealing with the passage of time is often a tricky thing on television but sometimes it’s unavoidable, and that is definitely the case with The Expanse. As with all time jumps, there’s a short period where we have to get caught up with where everyone is and what’s going on. The show handles all of that exceptionally well but it may be a little jarring at first for some.
The Expanse has transitioned into a new story arc but it still remains as strong as ever. What is the purpose of the Ring? What is Melba attempting to accomplish? How long will Drummer tolerate Ashford? Will Naomi revert to her old ways and when will she reunite with her family on the Roci? There are so many possibilities going forward that we can’t wait to see where the show goes next!