Do You Draw a New Map, or Turn Around? The Expanse: “Here There Be Dragons”

This week’s episode of The Expanse continues the show’s strong streak, jumping back and forth in time to add a level of poignancy to the plight of Mei Meng, and turning Bobbie Draper’s storyline on a dime. Let’s get into it! (Spoilers ahead for the show so far.)

Once again I think its easier to break everything down geographically.

Out on Venus, the Arboghast’s missiles keep disappearing each time they try to send a probe down to the protomolecule. Finally, one gets in! Yayyy. Oh, but wait—the proto-molecule looks like this now:

Suddenly the ship’s feed is cut off, and the lights on the ship dim a bit. You’ve just alerted the proto-molecule to your presence, guys. It might be time to leave Venus.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Captain Martins is yelling at Bobbie Draper. He’s furious with her for breaking out to see the ocean. He tells her she’s soft, just like the rest of the new Martian generation, and when she asks to know the truth of what happened to her team he yells at her to grow up. She’s already clearly done with him lying to her, but then he tells her that she isn’t going home to a parade and that she “isn’t a soldier anymore”. It’s maybe not the best tactical move to openly insult and threaten a soldier who’s already suffering PTSD and probably at her breaking point? So Bobbie’s already furious when they go out to the landing pad to ship her home, but wait! Avasarala Ex Machina! Someone seems to have cancelled all transports because of stuff, so Bobbie doesn’t have to leave yet. Which gives her just enough time to make up her mind.

She tightens up her uniform, asks to see Captain Martins in his quarters, and beats him to a pulp while demanding to know the truth about Ganymede. He makes an even worse tactical decision by insulting her while she’s punching him, which doesn’t exactly dissuade her. He finally admits at least a few things: they were part of a secret project called Caliban; it’s a new kind of weapon; there are many bidders; it’s all for the good of Mars. He plays her the video, and, well, if you thought Bobbie was mad before:

“You were watching? You watched my team get slaughtered? We were a goddamn sales demo???”

She punches him in the forehead and he collapses. Then she takes out his guard, and walks out without a scratch. She keeps walking. And walking. And then sprinting as she’s being chased, until she crosses over into Earther territory. She drops to her knees and asks for asylum.

Avasarala is clearly torn between annoyance at her interstellar incident, and happiness at having her help, which tips all the way into happiness as she realizes that Bobbie stole Martins’ comm as she left. They now have real proof of a secret weapons program. But what will this mean for Bobbie?

Avasarala’s day gets even more intriguey a moment later, when Jules-Pierre Mao calls. He asks for a terribly shady sounding meeting. She agrees. This might not end well.

Finally, out on Ganymede…

We flash back and forth between Dr. Strickland, an EVIL HISSING SNAKE DISGUISED AS MAN, and his associate THE WHITE WITCH, leading Mei Meng through the tunnels under the station, and her poor father tracking through those same tunnels with the Roci crew. Dr. EVIL HISSING SNAKE distracts Mei by promising her surprises, playing botany games with her, and finally just picking her up and carrying her through the tunnels, until she can’t possibly find her way back to her father. He tells her a creepy story about the time he tried to help a butterfly escape its chrysalis only to discover that he’d doomed it when its wings wouldn’t unfurl. Then he and the WW spirit her into a secret room filled with crying children strapped into chairs.

Fantastic.

The Roci crew follow what little trail there is. (At one point, they walk right into a group of refugees from a Denis Johnson story who are stripping wire off the station. I kind of want to follow these guys around for a day.) Naomi tries to talk to Meng about his daughter…and the fact that they might not find her. When he lashes out she explains that she had a child, a little boy, and that she looked for him for years and never found him. “This is not my time to stop,” he replies. When the air suddenly shuts down, Meng starts to explain the Cascade but Amos cuts him off with a succinct: “He means the station’s fucked” which does get the point across. They reach the secret room, and Amos agrees to give Meng a gun, a decision he quickly regrets! Naomi uses Roma’s skeleton key, they kick the door in and find a room full of scientists, and Meng very quickly goes from “Tell me where my daughter is” to “I’m going to shoot most of you for not answering quickly enough.” Obviously, Amos gets caught in the crossfire. “Why am I always the one who gets shot?” he asks, as Naomi bandages him.

The scientists bolt into the next room. Meng finds a cryotube with a child inside, but as he pops the door open he realizes it isn’t Mei.

The child is riddled with proto-molecule. Holden incinerates the tube, which is horrific, but what else can they do? They only have a second to deal with the moral implication, however, because someone from the next room has just chucked a grenade at them? Amos notices it and tosses it back into the other room. They hear an explosion, glass breaking, and a whole lot of screaming.

They find what’s left of the evil scientists and a hole in the station’s airlock wall that has, luckily, been sealed. Clearly something broke out of a cage. The White Witch is bleeding out in the corner, and gasps out that they can control the proto-molecule now! I find this hard to believe. She never tells Meng where Mei is, and dies as she lived, allowing her hubris to lead her to ethically questionable decisions.

So, now what? How are they getting out of here, and where are they going next? Alex ex machine! Alex has used a slingshotting method to pull right up to the busted up airlock, and is space-parked outside. But before everyone can relax, Naomi drops her own bombshell: she’s done. “I wanted to believe we could stop this. We can’t” Instead, she’s going to find the Weeping Somnambulist and help Melissa get people off of Ganymede before it fails. Amos decides to go with her, and Holden wants Meng to go, but the botanist refuses. Holden and Naomi kiss each other goodbye. Just as the pair leave, Alex draws Holden’s attention to a new problem:

What’s that blue thing doing there?

As the monster leaps away, Holden makes a deeply silly decision, and announces: “We’re going on a hunt.”

Oh, Holden.

 

Random Thoughts Floating in the Void of Space

  • So now I also want a comedic remake of Thelma and Louise with Avasarala and Bobbie. The swearing-est road trip.
  • I love that Alex is now talking to Roci, calling her “Hon”, and referring to her like she’s a person when he talks to everyone else.
  • I also appreciated the show’s attempts to make the “Alex figures out a way to rescue the crew” scene more dynamic then showing Alex thinking really hard.
  • How amazing are the backpacks of the future?

  • This was quite a rollercoaster episode for Naomi. First she tells Meng about her own lost child, and then decides to split from the rest of the Roci… I understand her not wanting to continue the search but this seems like a terribly fraught time to leave, especially now that they know the whole station is under a no-fly order. What if they’re not allowed off, as in Eros? What if Melissa refuses to allow her on the Somnambulist?
  • I think sending Amos off with Naomi, then deciding to hunt down a glowing blue super monster, is possibly also a bad tactical decision.
  • I’m really digging the “Caliban Monster as Sasquatch” vibe they created in that last scene.

So what does everyone think? Is Holden out of his Earther mind going after that creature? Is Naomi doomed to die on Ganymede? Where has Strickland gone, and can we please get some close-up shots of him being eaten by a Caliban Monster or maybe an actual dragon, please? And how is Bobbie going to deal with life as a political refugee?

Leah Schnelbach is really worried about Mei. Come share your concern with her on Twitter!

10 Comments

Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in Tor.com's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? Tor.com members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!