Always Beta Test Your Mutiny! The Expanse: “Triple Point”

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This is an all-space episode—don’t look for Earth, cause you won’t find it. Also, after several character building episodes, “Triple Point” is just action and tension alllll the way down. There are three threads: The UNN Agatha King menaces the Martian ship Hammurabi, and they, along with the Pinus Contorta crew, converge over Io. Meanwhile Jules-Pierre Mao and Dr. Strickland work on their nefarious plot below.

Come talk about it with us, won’t you?

Ugh, Mutiny

Captain Kirino of the Hammurabi actually listens to Ensign Sinopoli, hears him out, and watches some of that weasel Errinwright’s treasonous message. Despite needling from her #1, she considers a path that might lead to peace…or at least truce. Unfortunately, over on the UNN Agatha King, Admiral Souther has been completely squished by Admiral Nguyen. Nguyen, whom I’ll remind you is firmly in that weasel Errinwright’s pocket, now has a network of goons watching the other Admiral’s every move. Two Souther loyalists offer to mutiny on his behalf, but he tries to talk them out of it at first. He wants to check in with Cotyar, and the two play the pronoun game at each other until Cotyar finally says the right names, and convinces Souther that he’s telling the truth. None of this matters, since the aforementioned goon network arrests Souther on his own ship.

UGH.

And then it really really doesn’t matter, because we see that Admiral Nguyen has received the launch codes from Jules-Pierre Mao. So this guy now has control of a motherlode of weaponized protomolecule—which again, no human can control. Souther tries to be honorable and announce to the fleet that Nguyen is staging an illegal war. I may have stated yelling “Mistake!” at my screen right about then. His two would-be mutineers try to help, but discover very quickly that mutineering is HARD.

There’s lots of shooting, Souther is taken out, Nguyen orders the destruction of a deserting ship, a few more people try to defy him, but again: Nguyen blows up a UNN ship. And the Martians, understandably terrified by the chaos, offer to help anyone who needs it. Nguyen finally goes full Ctrl-Alt-Del on the situation and uses Mao’s codes to launch the freaking protomolecule at the Martian fleet. I’m sure that’s going to go just swell.

The Pinus crew just gather themselves to get ready for whatever awaits them on Io. Honestly this was the only bit of the episode that I think there should have been more of—they’re all acting the hell out of their plot, but I could have done with a little more sense of dread. After all, their best case scenario is finding Mei and rescuing her, and there’s no way everyone coming through that mission alive. And all the other cases are equally worst case, and involve either finding a girl dead, or murdering a child who’s been mutated by an evil scientist.

But still.

 

CONTORTA!

Amos has taken Prax under his beefy wing, and is teaching him to shoot. Alex gets another message from back home, this time his son, who says he’s proud to have a father who’s a warrior. Chrisjen admits that she wants in on that protomolecule action (thus confirming Naomi’s fears) but her confession to Holden has a very “I’m telling you the truth in case we all die” vibe. She also opened up a little bit about her son’s death, and told Holden to quit acting like a child, and I’m here for it. Then poor Holden gets about five minutes of quiet to ruminate before Naomi spilled her guts to him. She finally tells him that she has a child (man, there are a lot of dead and/or abandoned children in this episode?) and while she’ll never be sorry for giving the protomolecule to the Belt, she wishes she’d been more open with her crew. Holden really listens to her, and says that while he’ll never agree with her decision, he respects it, and he can’t hate her. Honestly I like these two better as a painfully broken-up couple than I did while they were together.

Oh, and best of all? Bobbie outfits her suit with some heavy artillery. I’m sure that’ll become a plot point soon enough.

 

Meanwhile, in the Depths of Io

On Io, Jules-Pierre Mao is trying to have a heart-to-heart with Katoa…but the protomolecule keeps butting in and making the boy scream “WOOOORK! FINISH THE WOOORK! SOOON! WOOOOOORK!” etc. The protomolecule is kind of a jerk?

Presumably the work is whatever’s happening on Venus, but before they can get more answers Katoa overloads and proto-Hulks out. Dr. Strickland tells Jules-Pierre Mao that he wont be able to speak again. So I can say it for real now: Katoa is katoast. But now it gets even worse: Jules-Pierre Mao wants to continue the experiments (and who can blame him, really? It’s going so well.) but the best genetic match for bonding with the protomolecule is, obviously…MEI.

NO! DAMMIT SHOW. YOU QUIT THAT RIGHT NOW.

And of course Jules-Pierre Mao is all like, “Make it so,” because he’s flipped back to being eee-villl. They’re just strapping Mei down to a bed for an injection when the Pinus crew basically lands on the roof and starts hacking their way into the lab! Yes!

Oh, but then those proto-molecule missiles launch, leaving our crew staring up in dumbfounded horror.

Um, things are not looking great for the human species, guys.

Random Thoughts Floating in the Void of Space

  • AAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH
  • I’m not sure I’m into Mad Praximus, but I am glad he’s deciding to learn to use a gun before the probably battle. I’m also relieved at the idea of Amos having his back.
  • I am still here for Chrisjen as the Tough Love Mom James Holden clearly needs.
  • Oh, Alex. You probably need to drop another note to your family, my dude. I’m all for people following crazy quixotic quests, but your son needs to know his dad cares about him. I’m also wondering why there isn’t more being made of the triangle between Naomi (child taken away by his father), Prax (child straight-up kidnapped by nefarious forces), and Alex (willingly left child for adventure)—I feel like there is some great spikiness that could be wrung out of these three.
  • Not enough Chrisjen cursing this time! You can’t put Mei in mortal blue danger of becoming an FX poster and then also deny me Avasarala swears. This is NOT FAIR, television show.
  • Also no Anna??? Look, I understand that this is a huge, complex story, and that we can’t always check in with every single character. But I need all of you reading this to understand that I love Pastor Anna, and any time the show doesn’t show her I will complain. I hope you’re all OK with this. It may become annoying, and yet my cry must be heard.

Molly’s Book Nerd Notes

Ohhhhhhkay, so, I clearly need to finish Nemesis Games ASAP; I knew Naomi’s child comes up in book five, so it’s not like I’ve been totally spoiled, but I can’t yet speak to how moving the plotline up is going to affect the overall narrative.

I spent a lot of this episode with my hands over my face, because we’re in the part where knowing what’s coming makes it even more stressful. We’ve skipped the part where there are fleets threatening the Roci and gone straight to Nguyen firing on everybody, which, well, I was pleased that his choice to destroy a ship from his own fleet was not met with general delight from his crew. (Those faces. Those incredibly stressed-out faces.) But it’s driving me bananas that we have no idea of Nguyen’s motivation. This is a problem from the books, but the show had a chance to fix it—to give him a story of some sort; to give him a reason for his monstrous behavior. We’ve got nothing. I have no idea what makes this man so murderous. Does Errinwright have something on him? Is he just a stone-cold killer? What gives? The story uses him as a weapon, but forgets to give him a personality (which is not to say that Byron Mann’s performance isn’t great; he’s doing his best to give Nguyen layers).

On the flip side, we have invented-for-the-show Martian Captain Sandrine Kirino, who in the span of a single episode is presented as a complex person—a tough, pragmatic captain, but one who understands that war isn’t just about power, and that there are always other choices. I love all the suspicion in this episode—the doubt about the authenticity of Avasarala’s message; the battle of secrets between Cotyar and Souther, and Kirino’s gradual decision to trust the possibility that’s been put in front of her. (But THERE’S A CYLON ON HER SHIP! Sorrynotsorry; I will never see Matthew Bennett’s face and not think of creepy Aaron Doral.)

But in truly pressing book-related matters: We’re about to meet Larson, who’s reportedly been gender-swapped. I’m so on board with this. I was hoping the character would be seeded earlier, but I knew it wasn’t going to be either of Souther’s would-be mutineers (RIP, you both deserved better). For a few minutes, I thought that plot point might wind up being Cotyar’s last stand, but IMDb says otherwise. (Which is good because I would really like Cotyar to live long enough to be involved in Abaddon’s Gate.) The summary for next week also claims we’re in “the final battle for Earth and Mars,” so … some revelations are on the way. Can we finish out Caliban’s War in one more episode? Is the extent of the protomolecule conversation being stressed as much as it should? Can we get to the last line of the book already? I need [redacted] to show up.

Leah Schnelbach is slightly concerned for Mei’s wellbeing. Come discuss mutiny strategies with her on Twitter!

Molly Templeton is on vacation for the next two Wednesdays so may be FREAKING OUT all by herself, without sharing said freakouts with the internet. We’ll see.

 

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