The Rocinante heads deeper into the space inside the Ring as the crew continues to flee from their pursuers
In last week’s episode of The Expanse, Holden (Steven Strait) decided to take a huge risk and send the Rocinante into the Ring to escape from the UNN, MCRN, and OPA. What’s inside the Ring? What is it for? We aren’t given all of the answers just yet. But “Intransigence” does give us our first up close look at the mysterious properties on display inside and outside the alien structure. With the Ring imposing a speed limit on all objects entering it, the immediate threat of being scattered into a million pieces is all but eliminated…unless the Roci passes through the barrier on the edge of the region.
The elimination of this threat gives the crew time to figure out how and why the Roci started broadcasting a fake message from Holden. Amos (Wes Chatham) doesn’t waste any time blaming Cohen (Brandon McGibbon), the cameraman that’s part of Monica’s (Anna Hopkins) documentary team. Alex (Cas Anvar) attempts to keep Amos under control while Holden tries to get Miller (Thomas Jane) to appear again for answers. Cohen claims that he doesn’t know exactly what he did and never met his contact. In response, Amos threatens to kill Monica. When neither of them are able to answer his questions to his satisfaction, Amos “gently” spaces both of them by allowing them to put on vac suits first.
With the Ring posing a potential threat to the UN fleet, an evacuation of all civilians is ordered. Anna (Elizabeth Mitchell) attempts to find a way to remain onboard and be part of what is believed to be first contact with an ancient alien race. Tilly (Genelle Williams), a woman from a wealthy family, is able to help Anna stay behind. Melba (Nadine Nicole) overhears Tilly laughing and recognizes her. This triggers a series of flashbacks to a Mao family party. Melba’s identity is revealed to be that of Julie Mao’s (Florence Faivre) sister, Clarissa. Clarissa intends to destroy the man who took down her father (François Chau).
Over on the Behemoth, Drummer (Cara Gee) gives the crew a rousing speech about the strengths of Belters before ordering that the ship follow the MCRN Xuesen into the Ring. Naomi (Dominique Tipper) is indirectly convinced by Ashford (David Strathairn) that her place is on the Rocinante and she leaves to reunite with her family, much to Drummer’s disappointment. A more coherent and self-aware Miller appears to Holden and tells him that what he’s looking for is in the nucleus of the Ring space: an alien station. Holden exits the Roci in a vac suit and starts heading to the center.
With so many major developments again this week, let’s not waste anymore time and get right to discussing “Intransigence” with our guests!
Carlos (@carlostk1) – #TheExpanse contributor and member of the #ScreamingFirehawks
JK Stiffler (@Lyve_Wire) – Some people are couch potatoes. I am a desk chair yam.
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.
Pirate (@OaktownPirate) – Da Pirata im rowmwala ere wowk, Belta ere kori (“Pirate is a bartender at work, Belter at heart”)
1. Anna called the Ring a “miracle” in this episode. Do you think that’s an accurate assessment of the Ring? Or is it premature to be using such strong adjectives to describe it?
Carlos (@carlostk1): Anna may have stated the Ring being a miracle from a religious perspective, which is accurate from her point of view. I wouldn’t call it a religious miracle. More of a technological miracle if you ask me. Truly amazeballs.
JK Stiffler (@Lyve_Wire): As Anna told Tilly, it’s not a miracle-miracle, which I took to mean it’s not the work of a divine agent, but it would be a miracle in the secular sense. Nothing like this, not even remotely like this, has ever happened in the history of humanity. It’s first contact, and as Anna said, it’s not going to happen twice.
Kiddle (@kiddle): I guess it really depends on your definition of the essence of a miracle. If you define a miracle as something we can’t comprehend (yet), then yes, it is a miracle. Even as humans develop understanding of the Ring, it may remain a miracle. But, it could be like a car to an ant. If it squishes you, is it still a miracle?
TJ (@ohplzlol): I wished Anna would realize that the real miracle is at home with her wife and their daughter. And that she would understand, the Ring is tech, and possibly hostile. So, no, I’m not agreeing with her.
Pirate (@OaktownPirate): Ere wa ghazal da lang belta da Nick Farmer, im ta showxa ere “deting nakangikeng.” Mogut fo tili pensa ere ereluf gut and ando xalte wit da amolof to. Mang imalowda du sif pagal ando vedi fo ansa ere da pegunta da gerowsh. (In a Belter ghazal (poem) by Nick Farmer, he spoke about “the unknowable things.” Better to be in the habit of thinking about good air and embracing your beloved. People make themselves crazy looking for answers to the BIG questions.)
2. Amos took matters into his own hands this week and went after both Monica and Cohen (the cameraman). This led to him spacing both of them in vac suits without consulting Holden first. Do you think he took things too far or did he show restraint? Was he right to also blame Monica for the actions of her teammate?
Carlos: I’m totally with Amos on spacing them both. I think he was being too nice to the blind guy, though. I would’ve spaced him without a suit for what he did. “Crew comes first.” – Amos
JK Stiffler: It doesn’t appear to me that Amos is blaming Monica for Cohen’s actions. He was literally using her as a means to an end, as a tool. His intent was merely to scare Cohen enough to get him to give Amos the key to fixing the sabotage. When that didn’t/couldn’t work, he went a different route. Sending the documentary crew on a space walk to the Xuesen might have been extreme if it were done by anyone else but Amos. To him it made perfect sense, and he sent Monica along because with Cohen’s hands gloved, he was effectively blind.
Kiddle: Without Naomi, Amos finds it very hard to restrain himself from instinctive actions, holdovers from his time in Baltimore, where likely quick and definitive action saved you. I think Amos saw Monica and the cameraman as being one unit. So even though it became clear she didn’t seem to know about anything, she got tarred by association. It’s debatable whether the guy really didn’t know, but Amos ran out of patience. He could have killed them, and I tend to agree keeping them on the Roci would not have been possible with a limited crew.
TJ: Amos seems to be the only one who can make hard, but necessary decisions. I don’t see why he should have asked Holden first, and I think he was right to also space Monica. Like Amos said, the cameraman is blind, and needs her. I do feel sorry for her, because she does have my sympathy. I hope she comes back, but alone.
Pirate: “Detim da belówt im ere da wowl, sasa kemang to xalte wit?” Da Amos sasa demang im xalte wit. Ere da Belte, im du livit asilik belta; to du xash fo kapawu mi ke? Dansa ere da setara, dzhemang. Da Amos im ta showxa, “Button up.” Im na ta du kuxaku solo da mang demang na kang vedi. Keting mo to wanya? (“When the blood is on the wall, do you know who you hold with?” Amos knows who he holds with. In the Belt, he lives like a Belter. You endanger my ship? Dance among the stars, asshole. Amos said, “Button up.” Amos didn’t space the blind guy alone. What more do you want?)
3. Dominique Tipper, David Strathairn, and Cara Gee were given several scenes to show off their acting abilities this week. What were your favorite scenes involving Naomi, Ashford, and/or Drummer?
Carlos: Sorry, you lost me. Anytime Cara Gee is on screen I lose focus on everything except her as Drummer. I did love the fact that Drummer was aware of Naomi’s intentions of leaving because of Ashford. Exceptionally dynamic acting from all three.
JK Stiffler: Easy answer: All of them. Really, though, the speech that Drummer gave has to be the best moment of the episode. She took command of her crew in the figurative and literal sense. Though I can’t tell if Ashford was being supportive or positioning himself to take control later. Then there’s Naomi’s bittersweet departure. Dummer was noticeably vulnerable, something we’re not used to seeing much of, and in dramatic contradiction to what she projects on the command deck.
Kiddle: I think my favorite scene was between Drummer and Naomi. While I love and generally respect Naomi, I thought that Drummer really demonstrated her care for Naomi and her disappointment that Naomi didn’t trust her. This didn’t necessarily paint Naomi in a favorable light. By the way, that scene reinforced my belief that their relationship went beyond beer and court games. Ashford continues to demonstrate how observant he really is and his knowledge of the pressure points to apply. I love Strathairn (and his singing last week!). Cara Gee’s pep talk was incredible.
TJ: The first scene showed that the chain of command clearly is not working out, and there was so much body language. Loved that. But my favorite scene is when Naomi says to Drummer, “And I love you.” The whole episode I just wanted to hug Naomi and tell her that everything will be alright. That would be a lie though, because I think, things won’t be alright at all.
Pirate: “Mi du ámolof to.” (Mi na crying, to crying.)
4. It was revealed that Melba is actually Julie Mao’s sister, Clarissa, and we learned a little more about her motivations. Were you surprised by those reveals? Were the flashbacks an effective way to give us additional backstory on Clarissa?
Carlos: No surprise for book readers. However, there’s more to come. The flashbacks were so well-scripted. And for Florence Faivre to jump back in the story as Julie Mao was a real treat. It was like she never left.
JK Stiffler: The reveal of Clarissa Mao is probably the one time I may have regretted reading the books after last season, if only a little. I imagine it was dramatically jaw-dropping, as the flashback was perfectly placed. Tilly laughs in the galley, Melba hears it and recognizes her. There’s the build up: Clarissa in a formal setting, then the Razorback hologram, then finally the Mao family. Again, I wish I hadn’t already known. Great writing. There’s more to the story and I assume we’ll see more, but this was an excellent start.
Kiddle: This is one area where book readers knew who Melba was in advance and I thought they did a good job of not spoiling. I think the flashbacks were the only real way to show that complex family relationship, AND we got to see Florence Faivre again in all her somewhat pissy glory. It is amazing how much damage one person with at least SOME resources can do for the stupidest and shallowest of reasons. It’s all about daddy.
TJ: I thought the flashbacks were very effective, just enough at the right moments. It did cross my mind that Melba maybe is related to Mao, and now I know that she is, I feel for her.
Pirate: Da ‘flashback scene’ im ta showxa fo milowda mo pash Clarissa im wa dowta Mao, unte da we Jules-Pierre Mao showxa fo dowta im. Xitim milowda sasa da Tilly (kopeng da Anna wit walowda walowda sékrip) im finyish bi fo da xom da Mao, unte da Tilly keng imalowda. (The flashback scene told us more than Clarissa is a Mao daughter, and how Jules-Pierre Mao speaks to his daughters. Now we know Tilly, Anna’s friend with lots of money, has been to the Mao home, and knows them.)
5. Drummer gave an inspiring and rousing speech before ordering the Behemoth to enter the Ring. What did you think of that scene?
Carlos: Funny, I spoke about that early this morning with my best friend Christina. I told her I was ready to switch sides because of Drummer’s speech. Christina made me laugh when she said it was better than the speech from Independence Day. She’s right, it was.
JK Stiffler: Extremely rousing and effective. Belter’s live in extreme conditions all of their life. They have to be ready for anything, ready to do anything. Going through the Ring seems maybe a little more dangerous, but I’ll bet to a Belter, not much more. The speech reminded me of a similarly “we can do this” themed one in the Battlestar Galactica miniseries.
Kiddle: It was absolutely riveting and I can’t wait to watch it again. Cara Gee really shines in the role of Drummer. She went from someone we ASSUMED had some leadership background and experience to someone we KNOW has that ability. Her speech evoked Kenneth Branagh’s St. Crispin’s Day Henry V speech, and that’s what she needed to do, because stepping into the unknown is not something everyone is able to do.
TJ: When the scene started I had a split second in which I thought about “We Will Rock You” from Queen. But right after that: goosebumps. I must have been one of the many who raised a fist at that moment while saying, “BELTALOWDA!!” out loud. And Cara Gee, she is so good! Although I think all the acting is brilliant, this moment, it got to me deep.
Pirate: Da tim fo ando du livit asilik towchu im namo. Go beltalowda leva sif xox! (The time for living like slaves is no more. Belters rise up!)
6. Naomi is on her way back to the Rocinante! Do you think she made the right choice by deciding to rejoin her family on the ship? If she had stayed behind on the Behemoth, could she have made a difference? Or is Naomi better off fighting for the Belt in a different way?
Carlos: Naomi may be a bit conflicted but she’s a big girl. I believe she’s doing the right thing. Besides, the tension on the Behemoth is becoming unsettling for her to deal with. It’s best she removes herself from the situation before it becomes volatile.
JK Stiffler: I think Ashford’s little pep talk is what convinced Naomi to return to the Rocinante, and I think it was meant to, though it seemed to mean the opposite. Naomi is/was the one person who could hold sway over Drummer. With her gone, Ashford can exert more of his influence.
Kiddle: Naomi has a remarkable skill set, but I feel she makes a bigger difference on the Roci than she does on the Behemoth. Too bad they couldn’t clone her. She went from being happy that she rejoined her Belter family to progressively more miserable and not in alignment with the Belter group, even Ashford’s vision of a Belter “nation.” I don’t think she ultimately would be of use on the Behemoth because of her unhappiness.
TJ: I have very mixed emotions about this. They need her on the Roci, but she belongs on the Behemoth. Yes, I do think she could have made a big difference. And while typing that, I thought, she can make a huge difference on the Roci too! You see what it does to me?
Pirate: Da Naomi im du ámolof da Holden unte da Drummer. Im tenye wa xom ere da Roci, amash oso wit belta im. Keting im wanya? Mi pensa da Naomi im mebi na sasa deting im wanya pash ando vedi fo maliwala im. (Naomi loves Holden and Drummer. She has a home aboard the Roci, but also with her Belters. What does she want? I think maybe Naomi doesn’t know what she wants beyond looking for her kid.)
7. Miller revealed to Holden that the object at the center of the Ring space is an alien space station. The episode ended with Holden heading towards it in a vac suit. What are your thoughts on those developments? What about the visual effects for the space inside the Ring?
Carlos: The only thing at the center of the Ring is the unknown and Holden being the nosy do-gooder that he is, suits up and heads off into the unknown. Now THAT’S how you tell a story. The VFX behind the Ring are a blend of mystery and beauty with a dash of the unsettling fact that it can kill you at any moment. It feels alive even looking at it on screen.
JK Stiffler: The visual effects for the Ring space are mind blowing, and not even remotely close to what I’d imagined. (The effects budget is apparently higher than my imagination’s budget.) It’s beautiful, and it sort of reminds me of a swimming pool. Miller revealed more than the existence of an alien space station, which I’ll reserve judgement about until I see more next week. He also revealed what he was, literally what he was, in detail…detail of which I don’t completely understand, but it was there.
Kiddle: I loved the difference in Miller which was apparently the result of his entity being inside the Ring (and after a gazillion repetitions of becoming himself, he seems to have enough to “stick”). I figure Holden felt they were not in a position to sit around and if they DID give themselves up, what future did they have? I was glad that Miller provoked him into going. SOOOOO nice to have Thomas Jane and Miller back again. The visual effects were suitably eerie. I think I like the Ring better than the interior. The complexity, color and huge dimensions make it fascinating.
TJ: Don’t start with me about the visual effects in The Expanse, because I can talk about that all day long. Makes me wish I had a much bigger screen. Mind-blowing. And Holden, I fear for his life. I didn’t read the books, so I’ve no clue if he will survive. Honestly, it makes me want to skip time till it’s next Wednesday because during the episodes time seems to fly, but in between, it’s like living in the slow zone.
Pirate: Da Ring im ta showxa (wit da bush da zakomang da belta da det) “Go to du push fong da kapawu, xalte to LOWNG fong da kaka da belú.” Keting gonya kang go nagut? (The Ring said, with a dead Belter cop’s mouth, “Go jump off the ship, stay FAR away from the blue sh-t.” What can go wrong?)
The Expanse appropriately slows down a little this week but it doesn’t stop delivering intriguing new plot and character developments
After the suspenseful climax in last week’s episode, The Expanse slows down a little this week. But that doesn’t mean the story loses its forward momentum. Quite the opposite. Now that the Roci is inside the Ring, the show is positioned to finally explore the Ring and all of its mysteries. Visually, the “slow zone” inside the Ring is beautiful yet alien. Intriguing yet dangerous. It should be no surprise at this point in the series that the visual effects team handles this spectacularly.
Nadine Nicole is given a chance to show a different side to her character as it’s revealed that Melba is actually Clarissa Mao, Julie’s sister. In multiple flashbacks, we see more of the relationship that Julie and Clarissa have with their father, and with each other. Florence Faivre, whose character was killed off last season, returns and delivers all of the fire we would expect from Julie interacting with her father. Adding Clarissa to the mix helps to flesh out the dysfunctional family a little more. It’ll be interesting to see how Clarissa continues to develop over the rest of the season. Will she be successful in her mission in getting back at those who took down her father?
While everyone is once again in top form this week, Cara Gee as Drummer definitely stands out the most. She has a commanding, unflinching presence yet she’s still able to display a surprising amount of vulnerability in her scenes with Dominique Tipper and David Strathairn. There’s an enormous amount of depth in her scenes that consistently makes her a stand out performer in an already incredibly talented group of actors. Drummer’s inspiring speech before boldly plunging into the unknown space inside the Ring is especially notable. Where do we sign up to join the OPA?!
The third season of The Expanse continues to impress and leave us on the edge of our seats. Even when the pace of the show slows down, it still keeps us glued to our screens in a way that only the best of shows can. What will Holden find in the nucleus of the Ring space? Book readers will likely be able to answer that question (don’t worry, no spoilers!) but with numerous smart changes to the story and characters, The Expanse should keep even hardcore book fans guessing. Du ferí da Belte!