Holden continues his journey to the nucleus with the guidance of the Investigator
With Holden (Steven Strait) leaving the Rocinante in last week’s episode of The Expanse, Alex (Cas Anvar) and Amos (Wes Chatham) are left wondering just what he’s up to and what their next move should be. Holden orders them not to follow him to the station at the center of the Ring space but Amos convinces Alex that they’re better off to go down swinging. As Holden continues his extended space walk towards the Ring Station, he begins to question Miller’s (Thomas Jane) motivations and the purpose the station he’s heading towards. Naomi (Dominique Tipper) continues to try to communicate with the Roci and fails.
The MCRN Xuesen prepares to send an MMC team, of which Bobbie (Frankie Adams) is a part of, to the station to apprehend Holden. Bobbie attempts to reason with Holden but fails as Holden continues to seemingly argue with himself. The UNN Thomas Prince enters the Ring and Anna (Elizabeth Mitchell) fails to comfort a fellow Methodist, who kills himself in response to being terrified of the mission they’re on. Tilly (Genelle Williams) accidentally bumps into Melba (Nadine Nicole) and recognizes her as Clarissa Mao. Clarissa, now outed by a friend from home, activates her “super strength” and prepares to kill Tilly.
Tensions on the Behemoth continue to rise as Ashford (David Strathairn) publicly questions Drummer’s (Cara Gee) decision to allow Naomi to leave. Diogo (Andrew Rotilio) later tells Ashford that Drummer isn’t the real captain of the Behemoth. Ashford quickly tells Diogo off for even suggesting that. Later on, however, Drummer confronts Ashford about his very public attempts to cast doubt on her command. Ashford tells her that they have a “problem” and it needs to be dealt with.
Holden and Miller land on the alien station at the center of the bubble of Ring space. An alien circuit appears in front of Holden and Miller tells him to complete it. After questioning whether Miller is truly Miller and the purpose of the circuit, Holden decides to complete the circuit. Bobbie and the rest of the MMC team arrive and fire on Holden to stop him from activating the alien circuit. In response, the station stops all ships and objects inside its space (including the MMC’s bullets) and disassembles the MMC team leader. Holden completes the circuit and is shown an enormous amount of imagery that ends with the destruction of a star. Holden then collapses on the floor with his fate and what he just witnessed unclear.
As usual, The Expanse left us wondering how the hour could possibly go by so quickly and why we have to wait a week (a week!) for the next episode. But let’s not focus on that and instead, let’s meet our guests and discuss “Dandelion Sky!”
Wenche (@WencheBandida) – A librarian, space junkie, The Expanse super fan, sci-fi and VFX fan.
Ann (@AnnAbuse37) – #TheExpanse superfan, devoted member of the #ScreamingFirehawks and #MurderSnuggles fan club.
Seth (@VerseTrek) – Sci-fi fan, Trekkie, Screaming Firehawk, Babylon 5 initiate, casual Star Warsian, if it has spaceships, there’s a chance I’ll love it.
MJ (@MjLupin22) – Aspiring artist, world traveler, and devoted fan of The Expanse
Brando (@trancelot) – A multi-talented marketing professional, space nerd listening to trance music. My imagination is bigger than yours.
1. Holden finally began questioning Miller, his intentions, and what he is. In response, Miller told Holden about what happened between Julie and him when Eros was on a collision course with Venus. Do you think part of Miller really is in there somewhere? Or is the protomolecule still just pressing the right “buttons” in Holden’s brain to trick him? Is there ultimately any difference between the two?
Wenche (@WencheBandida): Tricky question. Thinking about it messes with my brain a little. Miller says that he is just in Holden’s brain but at the same time he says that he is pressing the buttons. I think Millers life and experiences are in there, the protomolecule having absorbed or stored it. Maybe the Investigator is a construct, a manifestation of a detective trying to find something, solve a case.
Ann (@AnnAbuse37): Ultimately the protomolecule has it’s “original mission” (whatever that is/was) but I’m beginning to wonder what happens when you “feed” it good people. Julie and Miller, for all their flaws, were effectively good people, or at the very least, chaotic good. And perhaps Holden was needed to complete the circuit because he is essentially chaotic good too. If Miller had enough control to convince Julie to drive Eros into Venus, I believe in some form, even as a simulation, he is in there.
Seth (@VerseTrek): Big philosophical issue: Living beings are basically just really complex mechanisms (i.e., organic robots). I believe that when Miller was “designed” it was to serve two purposes: 1) investigate and 2) form a connection with Holden to aid in this investigation. The protomolecule has been able to examine/replicate every aspect of Miller, including his memories and experiences, and in replicating that (thousands of times until we have the version we saw last night) so who’s to say if it is the “real” Miller? DNA, life-experiences – that’s what makes up a full person. Designed for a purpose, but still the essence of Miller.
MJ (@MjLupin22): This is a very tough question! I think part of Miller’s consciousness is in there somewhere, but mostly the protomolecule created something that Holden would respond to. He’s more likely to listen to and work with the Investigator if it looks like someone he knows.
Brando (@trancelot): I want Miller’s aura to live on, so I’m rooting for it to be him; however, it seemed more like The Detective disappeared to go research Miller’s memory, now that he’s part of the “network.”
2. Anna blamed herself for the suicide of a troubled crew member that had reached out to her. How do you think that experience will shape what she does going forward?
Wenche: Anna was reminded of her job. I don’t think she will stop being curious but I think she will be more aware of people around her and help them.
Ann: Anna was progressively becoming more selfish, if not insufferably self-centered. It’s my hope that she will use this moment of clarity to remember the role of clergy in society, in all the best examples, is not self-gratification, but being of service.
Seth: Anna might decide that, on a “go forward basis,” when members of her faith are talking to her about their concerns and their fears in the face of ancient alien artifacts, excusing herself to walk 3 meters away might not be the best option. She’ll be motivated to work more toward the spiritual and human healing of all those she encounters and work to be less starstruck by the amazing miracles before her.
MJ: Well, the suicide definitely wasn’t Anna’s fault. But I think difficult situations like that can sometimes open your eyes to what is going on around you. It reminded Anna that she is on this journey to help people, not figure out what the Ring is doing. Going forward, I expect her to try harder to help those around her, and possibly Melba as well (going by the preview for next week).
Brando: I think this really woke her up. She’s not just a regular passenger. She’s a spiritual leader, and she feels she failed. Time to step it up, Anna. You got this!
3. Tilly, one of Julie Mao’s friends, recognized Melba as Clarissa Mao. When Tilly kept pressing her, Clarissa activated her “super strength” before the episode cut to a different scene. Do you think Tilly will manage to get away or is she as good as dead?
Wenche: Clarissa’s super strength doesn’t last long and she crashes badly after so I think Tilly has a fair chance!
Ann: Book reader, but also menopausal and I genuinely can’t remember! Without a quick reread, I’m going to guess it doesn’t end well for Tilly.
Seth: If the Ring space hadn’t apparently put the brakes on everything within it, Tilly would be just another Ren (i.e., dead in a locker somewhere). But with the brakes put on at such incredible speeds (may be slow for space travel, but still 18,000 KPH) I think anyone not strapped into a couch is going to be lucky to be alive. Even someone with magic super powers activated via tongue swirling action.
MJ: I really hope Tilly pulls through. I adore her character and I’m happy that they’ve included her in the TV show. She can be a great friend and help Anna get through to Clarissa.
Brando: She seems like she is both crafty and scrappy! The bubble had its Matrix glitch right as they were about to… Definitely some bumps and bruises, but I think she’ll make it out of this one.
4. From Holden and Miller in the Ring space to Holden drifting through the station itself to the images at the end of the episode, “Dandelion Sky” had a lot of visual effects sequences. What is your overall impression of those? Did the visual effects team do a good job portraying the remnants of an ancient alien civilization? Did it feel alien enough?
Wenche: I was, as usual, very impressed by the VFX but at first it didn’t feel alien enough. It’s probably because I have pictures in my head from reading the books. When I watched a second time it felt more right. Beautifully done!
Ann: OMG! No words can adequately express how amazing the visual effects have been not just this episode but for this season! In fact, I’m going to have to default to an interpretive dance of gratitude right now. It’s a pity you’re all not here to see it.
Seth: I was floored like some crazy high-g grav-plating just kicked in. The station itself was very alien to me, and the vision he received at the end, the many Ring gates, the popping out of existence system after system, gate after gate…that beam that turned some distant sun cold…this was one of the most stellar effects shots yet. Pun very much intended.
MJ: I was so impressed with the visual effects. It really felt alien and not human to me. The scene where Holden is seeing different things through the ring was really powerful. Steven Strait definitely conveyed the feelings of pain and fear throughout the sequence.
Brando: I don’t have the words to properly credit the awesomeness this VFX crew creates. They really are rock stars! Thanks to them I have been all over this system, on planets and moons, and now in this Alien Cell-thing. BRAVO!
5. Drummer and Ashford disagreed more strongly than ever before and Diogo even suggested that Ashford is the real captain. Do you think the Behemoth is headed for a mutiny and internal conflict? Would Ashford be willing to violently seize command from Drummer?
Wenche: Ashford is definitely up to something and it smells like mutiny. I think what Drummer said is what’s going to happen; he will seize command because it’s “necessary.” I bet Diogo will be one of the front men on the mutiny.
Ann: Like most of the women on the show, Drummer is a moral lodestar. She has been spot on in every character assessment she’s done, and she has the flexibility and strength to take actions that are seemingly at odds but morally congruent, such as letting Naomi leave. Ashford, on the other hand, is a viper. This can come to no good, but ultimately I don’t think he will prevail over the long haul.
Seth: Ashford seems intent on making sure the Belt stands tall and strong alongside the Inner Planets, he seems to be trying to get Drummer on board with his vision as well as placing himself in the very obvious place of a necessary leader if need be. If Drummer starts acting like he wants her to, I think he’ll be a happy and loyal XO, but it appears with each passing minute that Drummer is more concerned with the real human cost of their actions and is drifting away from the “Beltalowda-First” mentality.
MJ: I’m not really sure what’s going on there! It certainly seems like something is going to go down. There is a lot of tension between Drummer and Ashford that doesn’t look like it will resolve on its own. Ashford may not be thinking of taking over but with Diogo pushing him, something might happen.
Brando: Ashford is old school, and he wants the Belt to be legit. Internal strife is the last thing they need right now. Plus, he wants Drummer to succeed as a leader so he can play behind the scenes. I hope they don’t space Diogo to make an example for would-be mutineers, but I bet they’ll do something of the sort.
6. Bobbie and her fellow Martian Marines arrived on the Ring Station by the end of the episode. While they were initially non-threatening, they responded with force when Holden refused to go along with them. In response, the Ring Station ripped apart one of the marines and appeared to seize all of the objects moving towards the station. Was its response to weapons discharging too extreme? What else do you think the station is capable of?
Wenche: I think the Ring Station has some sort of defense system. Miller seems to have some control over it. Maybe the station is protecting Holden too because Miller needs him to solve the case. You don’t want to mess with the station or the artifacts inside it. It will stop anything that seems like a threat to the mission.
Ann: At this stage, I think the Ring is capable of anything it wants to be! If it can put a disparate group of ships and weapons, along with the people, into a massive time out, it can probably do ever so much worse. It’s like Captain America’s shield. Definitely doesn’t obey the laws of physics!
Seth: The Station that Holden and the MMC landed on is of the same technology that the protomolecule is. So far we’ve seen it turn a massive asteroid into a starship, disassemble human technologies, turn children into killing machines, build a human-analog (complete with memories and emotions) and stop all inertia in a given area. Honestly, this could become a giant green hand and just crush the whole Sol system and I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s that advanced.
MJ: Oh man. I am scared of that Ring station now! It didn’t seem to want to hurt anyone, but it is more than willing to protect itself. It’s almost like an organic being instead of a station or even machine. Everyone has to be extra careful now in the Ring.
Brando: I think the Machine responded to protect Holden since it needs him to complete the circuit. It must need organic tissue to control or turn on. This thing is like a giant animal cell, and the “cytoplasm” is protecting the nucleus.
7. When Holden completed the circuit on the Ring Station, he was overwhelmed with imagery of the protomolecule, what appeared to be other rings, and the death of a star. What do you think the station was showing him? The past? The future? A warning? A mixture of all of those things? (Please try to avoid book spoilers if you can.)
Wenche: It seems like it was showing the past, probably the destruction of that ancient civilization? The other rings seems to shut down when something shot through one of the rings.
Seth: It seems that the area that Holden and Miller approached was a “records room,” so I believe it was showing Holden what happened to the builders of the protomolecule/station. I don’t think this was just a historical document as it might have also been provided to Holden to serve as a warning of what may yet happen. It seemed that the station itself was responsible for the destruction of at least one star, so whether the station and the ring gates were built as weapons, or if this was some desperate attempt at self-preservation is unclear. Holden needs to process this, inform Miller and see if he has any input.
MJ: Having read the book, I don’t want to say too much so I don’t spoil it for anyone. I’ll just say that Holden seems shocked and afraid of what he’s seeing. I hope they explain it a little bit more in the next episode!
Brando: Was it a Multiverse? Are we dealing with multiple timelines or wormholes? Maybe this thing shows up before the death of a star, and it’s here to collect all of our solar system’s data before our sun goes out. Maybe it’s here to save our kind? Maybe it’s here to kill us all…
“Dandelion Sky” gives us our first look at an ancient alien space station and skillfully inches us closer a major confrontation inside the Ring
Where do we even begin to describe “Dandelion Sky?” The unbelievable visuals and the amazing work of the visual effects team? Georgia Lee’s tightly written script with razor sharp dialogue? Steven Strait and Thomas Jane’s continued abilities to pull us in and take over every scene they share together? “Dandelion Sky” offers all of these things and more. The number of impressive moments, lines of dialogue, and visuals in this episode are far too numerous to list here.
The entire cast continues to stand out but Steven Strait and Thomas Jane steal the show this week. Holden moving through the space-that-isn’t-space could have been a dull affair. But since this is The Expanse, it’s anything but that. As Holden moves at a slow 17,996 KPH towards the station, Miller appears to keep him company and make sure he continues on his mission. Since Miller is a complex quantum hologram that appears to act as an interface for the protomolecule, he simply floats alongside or in front of Holden, all while presenting an authentic Miller (attitude not sold separately). These scenes are quirky yet feel incredibly alien. They’re perfectly accented by the eerie glow of the alien space Holden has found himself in, which turns what could have been a somewhat goofy looking situation into a far creepier journey.
Once inside the alien station, which feels truly alien thanks to the visual effects team, Strait and Jane don’t let up and instead deliver some of their best performances to date. Strait as Holden continues to be somewhat unhinged but also desperate to find even a tiny part of the real Miller inside the protomolecule’s creation. When Holden completes the alien circuit and is given what we’re assuming is massive infodump, Strait skillfully conveys anguish, curiosity, and terror all at once. Miller’s story recounting his fear as he held Julie’s hand as they fell to their deaths is both inspiring and heartbreaking, and Thomas Jane completely nails it. He’s so convincing that even Holden believes it’s Miller.
“Dandelion Sky” leaves us with numerous questions. Is Holden still alive? What did the station show him? Will Clarissa succeed in getting back at Holden? Will Amos jump off a building with numerous cats and Alex in tow? Why do we only get one episode per week?! With only three episodes left in the season and the story gaining momentum, it’s difficult to know exactly where we’ll end up in the next few episodes. But we can’t wait to find out!