The crew of the Roci and their allies take a stand to save humanity and inadvertently cause 1300 new doors to open
The third season of The Expanse has come to a close, and what an eventful close it is! Holden (Steven Strait) is interrogated by the MCRN in order to find out what happened on the Ring Station. The Martians aren’t satisfied with his answers and he’s handed over to the OPA. Holden attempts to explain the existence of the Investigator/Miller (Thomas Jane) and the visions the station gave him. Ashford (David Strathairn) believes that Holden’s mind was destroyed by the alien station and is now insane. Holden is brought to a holding cell on the Behemoth. Clarissa (Nadine Nicole), who was captured last week by the crew of the Rocinante, is also brought to a holding cell on the Behemoth after Anna (Elizabeth Mitchell) convinces Amos (Wes Chatham) not to kill her.
Naomi (Dominique Tipper) and Alex (Cas Anvar) decide to go to the Behemoth with Amos and Anna to reunite with Holden and check up on Drummer (Cara Gee). Drummer survived her injury but is in serious shape with a damaged spine. Drummer refuses to wait for her spinal regrowth to be completed. Instead, Naomi helps her assemble an exoskeleton to help her walk again. Drummer brings Naomi to Holden. Miller then informs Holden of how to get out of Ring Space.
Kolvoord (Chris Owens), a UN scientist, convinces Ashford and a skeptical Commander Kunis (Sean Baek) to detonate a skiff near the alien station in an attempt to disrupt the energy field holding the ships in place. When that fails, the station sees all of the fusion drives in Ring space as nuclear bombs and begins to charge up a weapon to destroy the solar system. Ashford comes up with a plan to use the Behemoth’s communication laser to destroy the Ring and prevent the station from wiping out humanity. Holden, on the other hand, believes that powering down all of the fusion drives in the flotilla will cause the station to stop seeing humans as a threat.
Alex, Amos, and Anna find Monica (Anna Hopkins) on the Behemoth and start broadcasting a message telling other ships in the flotilla of Holden’s plan. Bobbie (Frankie Adams) is sent to stop the broadcast by MCRN Captain Lucas (Yanna McIntosh) but ends up siding with the Roci crew. Holden, Naomi, and Drummer lead a mutiny on the Behemoth to power down its Epstein drive and stop Ashford from attempting to destroy the Ring. After losing control of engineering, Holden and Naomi make their way to Ashford. Holden surrenders and Ashford orders for the two to be shot. Clarissa turns on Ashford and causes the Behemoth to power down.
As a result, the Ring Station stands down and 1300 gates to 1300 habitable star systems open. Holden questions Miller’s motives and what killed the ancient alien civilization. Miller responds by saying that he’d also like to find out and that he’s “gonna need a ride.” As the Rocinante is leaving Ring space, Holden briefly sees…something in the space between the Ring and normal space.
What a ride! And here to discuss that ride is our final roundtable group of the season!
Kiddle (@kiddle) – Lover of cats, photography and smart (or witty, or simply entertaining) television
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.
Jamie (@jamerz3294) – I did the typing, so you can do the reading
Bean (@Rebell117) – Just a guy who likes spaceships, whether they be from the mind of James S.A. Corey or Jeff Bezos (sorry Elon!). Also likes video games, they allow me to fly spaceships myself. Father of 2 cats.
Wenche (@WencheBandida) – A librarian, space junkie, The Expanse super fan, sci-fi and VFX fan.
1. So much happened in these last two episodes that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Let’s start with something easy(ish). What were your favorite moments and/or scenes?
Kiddle (@kiddle): Oh, let’s not make it HARD or anything! I LOVED the Amos and Anna scenes. Amos is smitten and it was the first time he looked happy in forever. This is awful, but I truly enjoyed seeing Diogo get taken out. It was the equivalent of the unexpected bus whacking a pedestrian scene! “Ok, I’m gonna need my gun back.” “Bobbie? Alex?” The show has a certain blue color, and this episode had several “light” scenes that I liked. Heart the SFX. Finally, Holden at the end and looking forward to season 4.
Seth (@VerseTrek): This episode had a lot of pretty awesome scenes/moments, but I’m always happy to see Thomas Jane on screen. The visual of Holden gazing across some strange ocean with many very large rings in the sky, one even looking like a setting sun, was pretty great. Drummer was amazing too. Great fake-out by the writing staff when she had those explosives. Book readers were all girding themselves for a sad grand sacrifice, a’la Bull. Also, “Bobbie?” “Alex?!”
Jamie (@jamerz3294): So many favorites and all the feels! But for me, when Anna talked Amos out of killing someone, that moment truly resonated!
Bean (@Rebell117): Damn, so many sublime moments to choose from, but I’d have to go with that end scene as my favorite. The sheer amount of possibilities for story telling in future seasons that scene represented made me so happy that Amazon saved the show! Also, Steven Strait was really stealing the show with that ending monologue. But I want to also give a shout out to that “Diogo in power armor” scene. Didn’t see that one coming! Not even after having watched that cleverly edited promo.
Wenche (@WencheBandida): Every scene with Drummer! Cara Gee is a force of nature. The elevator shaft was pretty awesome too! And Nolden’s kiss.
2. Anna and Amos shared multiple scenes in these last two episodes. Not many people have been able to hold Amos back from killing someone but Anna managed to stop him from killing Clarissa. How do you think their interaction will affect Amos going forward? How will it affect Anna?
Kiddle: Anna first. This experience has deeply affected Anna. I can only imagine that she will move heaven and earth (nyuk, nyuk) to get back to her wife and child. But, I think this reminded her of her pastoral calling. For Amos, Anna is the new Naomi. She is a person who represents what Amos sees as a pure moral compass. It will be hard on Amos with Anna likely separating to return to her family. The whole team will face big decisions.
Seth: Amos seems to be a bit of a well-meaning sociopath, one who’s aware of his general lack of emotion or understanding when something is “overkill” or not but one who wants desperately to do the right thing, despite his inability to always determine the difference of right and wrong. Anna is like a conscience in human form, especially after losing Tilly and the young suicide from before, this makes them a perfect team. Amos will put her in his top tier of “people who need to be protected” and Anna will learn a whole new layer of empathy.
Jamie: If it affects Amos, you will never know it. Amos does what Amos does. He’s a hammer and if you’re a nail… As for it affecting Anna, I rather doubt that as well. Again, Anna is Anna, and she is a very loving and giving person. Which is why she is so perfect to be a pastor.
Bean: Let me first start by saying that I really loved the synergy between Amos and Anna in these last two episodes! They really make a great pair in a yin-yang kind of way. I’m not exactly sure how much influence Anna had over Amos besides the fact that he now has someone else to protect. I do however believe that the time Anna spent with Amos has already influenced her a bit judging from how uncharacteristically dark she sounded when talking to Melba when she went to visit her in her cell.
Wenche: Anna makes people think. I think she made sense to Amos because she is honest and don’t judge. She understood what needed to be done and I think maybe Amos will bring that with him. Amos telling Anna that he won’t let anyone hurt her made me go AWWWW!
3. Despite Ashford ultimately making the wrong choices for dealing with the Ring and the Ring Station, his reasoning for those choices didn’t appear to come from a place of malice or fanaticism. What are your thoughts on the character overall? Do you think he’ll be playing a role next season? Will Ashford and Drummer continue being at odds or will they work things out?
Kiddle: I believe that Ashford is a redemption story. He referenced making decisions to make up for other horrible acts – which is why he related to Melba/Clarissa. So, I think paradoxically, he was utterly and dangerously blind to the peril the Ring presented. I really can’t imagine Drummer forgiving him or working with him, but it’s unclear what will happen with Dawes’s faction of the Belters. I don’t think that story is complete.
Seth: Not to delve too much into the books here, but again The Expanse writers did an amazing job with changing some very fundamental elements from the novels to TV, Ashford being one of them. I love the TV version and found his motivations to be very true and sympathetic. I hope he continues to be a large presence in the re-shaping of the OPA, and based upon the drink he and Drummer shared at the end, I believe he and she are “frienemies” at the least, and maybe even buddies.
Jamie: Ashford! What a thorny ball of contradictions! He’s not all evil, but neither is he wearing a white hat. Now that the Behemoth is “his” ship, he no doubt intends to stick around and play this out. So yes, he and Drummer will have a lot to work out next season!
Bean: I, for one, totally understand where he was coming from. Faced with this threat, the choice between the age old tactic of destruction versus basically negotiating with a guy who in turn is negotiating with a space station that thinks he’s Miller would be a very easy one for a grizzled old ex pirate such as Ashford, I’d imagine. I sure hope to see more of him next season to see where his relationship with Drummer will go from here. I’m putting my money on a playful rivalry instead of animosity.
Wenche: I was thinking he is trying to make up for all the bad things he has done, maybe regarding his daughter? I love the TV Ashford! I hope he will follow Holden to [spoiler]. According to Daniel Abraham, this was just the prologue. He was not taking drinks from Drummer but I think they will be fine.
4. In order to prevent her fellow Marines from killing Amos, Alex, Anna, and Monica, Bobbie turned on them. Both of them ended up dead. Is Bobbie’s time as a Martian Marine truly over this time? Should she join the Roci crew full-time? Go back to Mars? Where would you like to see her storyline go next?
Kiddle: Ha! I turned to Hubby, and literally said, “I think Bobbie’s time as a Martian Marine is at an end.” The look on her face showed SHE understood that, too. Even though there effectively were no witnesses, I don’t know that Bobbie WANTS to go back to the MCRN. There wasn’t time to develop any Bobbie/Avasarala time and I would LOVE to see them working together again. I don’t think Bobbie would be satisfied going back to Mars. Just like Alex, this space stuff is in her blood now.
Seth: I think Bobbie could have returned to the MMC at any point up until the death of the marine at the hands of Amos. Once that happened though, she might be able to prove that she wasn’t a traitor to the duster nation as a whole, but she definitely showed loyalty to the Roci crew over her duties to Mars and her fellow soldiers. They may have been in the wrong, but as a soldier for such a strong authority based group like the MCR Military, it’s not her job to ask why.
Jamie: Bobbie made the correct moral choice, and as such she will pay for that somehow? Where is she going to end up? Hopefully somewhere that lets her use her super powers for good, and not evil. (Ok, yes I have read the books as they came out, but my memory isn’t all that great anyway!)
Bean: She truly went too far this time to be ever reinstated in the Marines I would like to believe. No way are they letting her go back after that! So yes please, I would very much love for Bobbie to be a member of the crew on a more permanent basis, thank you very much! I really missed her on the back end of the season you see. I would also like to believe that Bobbie taking a seat in the co-pilot’s chair at the end of “Abaddon’s Gate” meant to imply just that. So I’m very excited for more Gunny in future seasons!
Wenche: She is done as a Marine. She can’t handle killing her team mates one more time. Besides, she really loves the Roci family I think. Her beside Alex in the crash couch speak louder than spoilers I think.
5. Miller briefly reappeared at the end of “Abaddon’s Gate” and told Holden that he’s “gonna need a ride,” which suggests we’ll be seeing a lot more of him and crazy-not-crazy Holden next season. Now that you’ve seen more of the character, what are your thoughts on Thomas Jane’s portrayal of this version of Miller? Are you looking forward to seeing more of him and the mysteries surrounding the alien species explored next season?
Kiddle: I’m biased. I have loved Miller and Jane’s portrayal of Miller from the very first minute of reading the book and watching the show. Thomas Jane brings intelligence, bite AND vulnerability to this role, and it absolutely MAKES the character. Too pathetic, and we’d want to kill him. Too much bite, and he would just be annoying. He completely sold me on his protomolecule appearance being BOTH some essential Miller-bit, and some entity that is loads smarter than the human he is manipulating. I still think the bird/protobird was a weird way of selecting Miller. Want more Miller next season!
Seth: Thomas Jane…he IS Miller. He so embodies that character that upon re-reading I can’t NOT see his face. He has also done such an amazing job with this different Miller, with “ProtoMiller”, so close and yet, so different. He doesn’t feel quite human any more, he feels like…well, like an amazing copy with a different mission. The books made it easy for the reader to be able to separate the two Millers, but Jane has subtly made such vastly different characters that I can’t HELP but be excited to see where they go next.
Jamie: Ah, but is this really the Josephus Miller we all know and love? Doesn’t Miller seem a bit different now? I do want to see more of Miller, especially to see if this newly created version evolves over time!
Bean: More Thomas Jane as Miller is always a good thing in my opinion, whether he is corporeal or not. I’m also very curious about non-corporeal Miller’s plan for humanity. So I’m very much looking forward to more #MillerTime! I’m maybe even more excited about learning more about these bright minds who created the ring network. I mean, did they leave anything behind like ruins and artifacts? Could some of them even still be around? Who or what was behind the destruction of their civilization? I have so many questions!
Wenche: Are you kidding me? Thomas Jane is a noire crime god (well, god of everything he does) and his case is not solved yet. The protomolecule wants to phone home and he has to find that phone. His portrayal of Miller is everything a book reader could wish for and more. He is a genius.
6. Last week we were treated to some of the first visual effects shots of the drum in the Behemoth. But the episodes this week took those effects to an entirely new level. What did you think of the visual effects in this episode? Were you happy with how the scale of the ship was portrayed? What about the low-g/zero-g action scenes?
Kiddle: OMG. It’s astonishing how fantastic the effects were. Little, if any, of the effects resulted in being pulled out of a scene thinking that something was cheesy. I can’t even imagine how weird it would be to be one of the actors working in like some warehouse, and then they see the final cut and it would be FANTASTIC! This episode really mastered the low-g action – the utter relief on Drummer’s face with the pressure taken off of her injury. Very believable.
Seth: One of the greatest aspects of The Expanse is how it treats space and zero-g. I’ve seen examples where shows start off with this excellent level of detail and then float away from it. So in later seasons you don’t get these levels of depth first created. The Expanse, in 3 amazing seasons, has not fallen victim to this! Whenever the characters walk in zero-g and then stick to the floor, you hear the mag-boots working, and when they drop things or push off, you feel the float in your bones. Drummer’s reaction when they left the drum and hit zero-g – the relief was tactile. Amazing.
Jamie: Wowzers! What a ride! The production people deserve some special love for what they did! This entire series has been based on a lot of science, and that has been painstakingly portrayed. Last night’s episodes finally gave us a view of the immensity of the ship! And did so in a very real manner, kudos!
Bean: I have seen plenty of huge sci-fi ships in my time, but none of them can convey their scale through interior shots like the Behemoth can! That ship truly is deserving of the name Behemoth! Also loved those “camera swoops towards window” scenes which the show usually can’t do because the ships in The Expanse generally speaking don’t have exterior windows (very smart!). The interior shots of this massive ship also reminded me of a game I play. So that’s also neat I guess.
Wenche: The VFX were outstanding! I watched the drum scenes several times and the scale and details were mindblowing. You could really see what the Behemoth was meant to be. I hope we get to see more interior scenes from the Behemoth later!
7. If Amazon Studios hadn’t saved The Expanse from cancellation, do you think “Congregation”/”Abaddon’s Gate” would have worked well as a series finale? What are your general thoughts on the season overall?
Kiddle: I actually noticed that it felt like they were wrapping it up. That’s not a terrible thing, but I was happy to have that resolution. Some have thought the season was rushed. I’m greedy and like this show so much, I would have appreciated more fuller development of certain storylines. But, some of that is from being a reader of the books. And, frankly, I thought the pacing of the story was fine. I’m truly grateful that we had a group of people (writers, producers, and the production company) that thought enough of the audience to ensure we were not left hanging if no rescue came through. But there is also a whole new direction to go!
Seth: This was the first season of The Expanse that really “wrapped things up” as much as it did. There would have had a Firefly-effect if this was the end; people would be screaming for more. While a lot of elements were closed – the 1300 worlds, the ride for Miller – the show was yelling at the top of its lungs that it had more story to tell, more yarn to weave. The ending would have been better than Deadwood (ended on a cliffhanger), but people would have been burned still. This season was the best so far, as all the seasons have been, and I’m so happy to get to look forward to 4!
Jamie: Actually no, I think that last night’s episodes left us with many questions. So no, it would not have worked as a series end! But for a season finale, it was incredible! And this truly was the best season in the journey thus far. Which is a part of why I am so very happy that Jeff Bezos and crew picked up the show. There is still a lot to explore! In closing, let me just say that this journey is an incredible ride! And the most incredible part? It’s the family that I now have all over the system! #ScreamingFirehawks, yam seng, beltalowda! Ad astra!
Bean: I chose that ending scene as my favorite because I legit cried a little during it because of the real life struggle of the show’s cancellation and subsequent saving by Amazon. The realization that the story almost ended on the moment that literally more than a thousand doors to a near infinite number of storytelling opportunities opened really hit me hard at that point. I really loved how the show handled this trope of interstellar travel in it’s own unique way in the back end of the season, by the way. The first part of the season was obviously also great, since it had space battles and “I am that guy” in it!
Wenche: Nope nope nope. Please space me. It’s not that kind of show. It would feel unnatural and extremely frustrating. Thank the Holy Screaming Firehawk for Amazon!
The two part season (that’s right, not series) finale of The Expanse not only delivers some of the best payoff and action in the series to date but it also opens the door (or should we say, gates) for near-infinite storytelling possibilities when it returns on Amazon Prime
The two part season finale of The Expanse has it all — suspense, action, drama, zero-g, exoskeletons, power armor, alien space stations, and even a bit of romance. From start to finish, “Congregation” and “Abaddon’s Gate” mix smart character development with exciting action sequences and new questions about humanity’s place in the universe. Without even getting into the quality of the story being told, the episodes look amazing. From the wide shots of the Behemoth’s drum to the Ring space to the zero-g action, everything in these two episodes is gorgeous yet grounded.
Adapting the material at the end of James S.A. Corey’s Abaddon’s Gate, the third book in the series the show is based on and the part of the story the second half of the season covers, was never going to be an easy task. But together, Naren Shankar, Daniel Abraham, and Ty Franck (the latter two make up the James S.A. Corey pseudonym) deliver two of the strongest scripts in an already strong season. The action might be dialed down compared to the action at the end of the novel, but none of the scope or intensity is lost in the translation. The end result is a captivating, breathtaking pair of episodes and a great place to end the season and leave viewers wanting more.
As is usual for The Expanse, the characters are consistently front and center in episodes that could have easily been taken over by the spectacle of the mutiny and the opposing plans for saving humanity. But “Congregation” and “Abaddon’s Gate” never lose sight of the show’s characters and the complex bonds that have formed between them. Cara Gee is once again a force of nature in all of her scenes, delivering just the right amount of strength, vulnerability, and dark humor. David Strathairn’s Ashford has clear and understandable motives. He remains sympathetic throughout despite his character’s actions.
But the whole cast is in top form. Elizabeth Mitchell and Wes Chatham’s scenes together are some of the best scenes of the series. Nadine Nicole helps make Clarissa sympathetic and vulnerable despite her violent and despicable actions. Dominique Tipper is once again able to convey a great deal of complexity in Naomi through simple changes in body language and facial expressions. Steven Strait and Thomas Jane continue to play off each other brilliantly.
The one minor weakness is the speed at which Clarissa goes from hating Holden and wanting to kill him to trying to redeem herself. Her sudden change of heart is believable but it does happen rather quickly.
“Congregation” and “Abaddon’s Gate” act as shining examples in a season of strong episodes of why The Expanse deserved to be rescued from cancellation. It’s unclear when the series will return for its fourth season on Amazon Prime, but we know it’ll absolutely be worth the wait. Holden and crew are just getting started, and so is The Expanse.