Patsies Scattered Across Space Like the Stars Themselves. The Expanse: “The Seventh Man”

This week’s episode felt like a deep breath between explosions. Earth and Mars deal with the aftermath of Ganymede, while out in the Belt, everyone’s still dealing with the aftermath of Eros….and then they also have to deal with the aftermath of Ganymede.

Man, the Belt cannot catch a break.

Spoilers below.

If you recall, last week we watched in horror as Bobbie Draper met what seemed to be, for all intents and purposes, a freaking monster. A monster with glowing eyes, who was able to traipse around Ganymede without a suit. Whatever it was, the fighting and explosions left 3,000 dead, many more injured, and destroyed a huge crop. The loss of the system’s space breadbasket is going to affect millions of people.

On Earth, Avasarala convinces the president to hold a peace talk with a Martian contingent rather than just making with the missiles. Ganymede was a clusterfuck, no one truly knows if it was an act of Martian aggression, but, as Avasarala reminds everyone, starting a war will probably mean mutually-assured destruction. She wants to stop that before the survivors are fighting over rubble with rocks and sticks.

Amos and Cortazar in The Expanse

Out in the Belt, all the debates about what to do with Fred Johnson’s missiles have to pause so that the Belters can take in the refugees from Ganymede. I really love how this show seeds political points in almost as wallpaper: obviously it’s the working-class, already oppressed Belt who ends up taking in the traumatized victims of…whatever the hell happened. Unfortunately, a few of them are traumatized further when they end up in Amos’ Refugee Receiving Line. As the rest of the Roci crew hand out packets of food and blankets to the newcomers, and Alex even shows some scared kids a magic trick, Amos gets rough with a woman when he thinks she’s trying to steal extra supplies. Suddenly her son is shoving him and yelling at him, and Amos is launched into a Serious Flashback. Now, we don’t see the Serious Flashback, but it sends him running to the proto-molecule scientist, Cortazar, to ask him some pointed follow-up questions re: That Procedure That Makes You a Sociopath.

Amos!

Amos, do not trust the man who is communing with the alien virus, ok? He talks in maths and he buzzes like a fridge. Back away, or at least discuss your plans with someone outside of your head before you make any brain-altering choices?

Ugh.

Oh hey, Dawes is back!

expansedawes

He shows up on Tycho to invite the refugees to Ceres, but really to inflate his throat sac at Holden and Fred Johnson.

Johnson nominates him to represent the Belt in the upcoming Earth/Mars peace talk, and at first he seems receptive, but he quickly repositions himself by saying that Earth and Mars will never respect the Belt. He suspects that Johnson has a secret weapon… and he also seems to suspect that it’s more proto-molecule. This is given credence when Johnson admits that Cortazar is talking to the P-M again…so now they know it hasn’t all been destroyed. But no one but Naomi knows where it’s stashed, right?

…or is there even more?

Dawes works his way through Johnson’s second-in-command (who seems to be an old flame of his), Holden, Naomi, and Johnson himself before he finally hits pay-dirt with Diogo. The dumb kid helps him kidnap Cortazar, and then offers himself up as a patsy when Alex and Naomi try to chase the scientist down.

So now:

  • Holden and Johnson know they’ve been double-crossed by Dawes;
  • Diogo has been used and spit out;
  • Naomi knows that the scientist who can do hideous things with her secret proto-molecule stash is AWOL;
  • And no one knows where Amos is.
  • (Presumably in a theater being Ludovicoed as we speak.)
  • Ugh.

And now we get to what was, for me, the best thread of the episode, in which Bobbie Draper finally gets a good, sturdy plot.

It begins with blood snowflakes.

Blood Snowflake

As Bobbie wakes up on Ganymede, she sees frozen, perfect snowflakes of her team’s blood floating above her. Bloodflakes? Her suit is failing, she only has moments to live. Luckily a fellow Martian appears, reassures her, and blows her armor off so they can take her up to the ship. We check in with her intermittently throughout the episode, as her physical recovery is entwined with her mental stability and grieving process. She can’t fully remember what happened. When she recounts the attack, she emphasizes that the UN moved first, fired on her team, and that there was a drone above them. At first she says there were six, people, then she remembers a “seventh”. She knows there’s something else wrong, but her mind won’t allow the word “monster”.

She’s interrogated by an officer, who takes the Martian sensory enhancing pill (which I don’t think we’ve seen since last season?) so, he knows she’s telling the truth, but he can also tell that there’s more to the story. He sends a Chaplain after her, and she’s bristly: she put her religion down as none and she meant it. He trots out the “Knew you father I did” ploy, which she rejects, and then finally tells her that they have no record of a drone during the battle, and while he believes that she saw it, he’d like to know why she’s so fixated on it.

She consents to taking a memory enhancer.

expanseinterrogation

Her officer interrogates her again, while the Chaplain watches a feed from another room. The drugs make her relive the battle, and it’s just as terrible: she’s back on Ganymede, and even though Her officer tries to keep her focused, she keeps apologizing to her team as though they can hear her. He reverts to full command mode, and barks orders at her, and this is finally what gets her back. She looks up, “sees” the drone, then forward. She realizes now: the UN soldiers weren’t shooting at her, or her team, they were shooting behind themselves as they fled. She’s confused, and then, she see the monster again!

expansemonster

Even now she can’t handle it, she just blurts out “The Seventh Man—he wasn’t wearing a vac suit!”

The Chaplain tells them to unhook her. He obviously knows more than he’s telling anyone. Bobbie is awarded a Purple Heart for her service. She only gets a moment to feel any happiness, however, because then she’s informed that, as the only survivor from the Ganymede battle: she’s going to give her testimony to the Earthers; she’s going to tell them that her team fired on the UN because of an unfortunate miscommunication; her commander doesn’t want to hear any more about “that thing” that she saw; and, oh yeah, she’s going to have to give her testimony on Earth.

expansepurpleheart

Yeah, that looks like the correct amount of incredulity, Bobbie.

 

Random Thoughts Floating in the Void of Space

  • So Bobbie finally gets to go to Earth, but not as a conqueror, rather as a patsy. After all the water-treading they’ve done with her character this season, I’m glad they’ve finally revved her storyline up.
  • Of course Alex tries to do magic tricks for the refugee space children. I’m waiting for Alex to open a Space Puppy Fostering Program…and then end up adopting all the Space Puppies himself.
  • Avasarala, on why she doesn’t run for office: “I like getting shit done, and I like keeping my head attached to my neck.” #InterstellarWomensDay

expanseavasarala

  • Interesting stuff at the Belter conclave, as Holden and Johnson are respected by the Belters, but also still seen as outsiders. As usual Holden tries to do the right thing according to his moral code, and as usual he seems to do more harm than good.
  • Oh, Naomi. Hm. Your proto-molecule stashing plan is probably not ending well.
  • Seriously, where is Amos.
  • Ugh.

So what did everyone think? Who else wants to give Bobbie a hug? Anybody else want to eject Dawes from an airlock as much as I do?

Leah Schnelbach really wants a better look at that “Seventh Man.” Come talk to her on Twitter!

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