SyFy’s epic action-adventure/drama The Expanse returned to the airwaves last week. With episode 2, “IFF,” airing tonight at 9:00, it seems like a good time for a brief recap. There were some big changes at the end of last season, so let’s talk about the end of season 2 before discussing the premiere of The Expanse season 3.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 1: Looking Back at Season 2
The crew of the Rocinante are able to rid their ship of the unwanted protomolecule stowaway by luring it outside onto the hull, shaking it loose, and incinerating it with their rockets. The immediate threat dealt with, Naomi reveals that she has given the protomolecule to Fred Johnson, COO of Tycho Station and de facto leader of the belters. With Johnson in possession of the protomolecule, the balance of power has shifted, giving the belters an edge they never enjoyed in the past.
Dr. Prax is no closer to finding his daughter Mei, but it seems pretty clear that Holden will do what he can to help to find her — always good to have a quest.
Errinwright, fearing that Avasarala will expose him and his plot orders Jules-Pierre Mao to kill Avasarala and her staff, but Avasarala and Cotyar find themselves an unlikely ally in former Martian Marine Bobbie Draper, who seeks to defect to Earth. Bobbie uses an armoured battle suit, to great effect, to protect the UN diplomat and her bodyguard from Mao’s private army.
Tensions between Mars and Earth are mounting after the assassination of Martian Defence Minister Korshunov. Mars blames Earth for the murder, but viewers know that Undersecretary Errinwright is really to blame, having poisoned Korshunov back in “The Monster and the Rocket.”
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 1: Fight or Flight
The crew work at purging any remaining protomolecule from the Rocinante. All visible traces gone, they declare the emergency over, but viewers know better when a close-up shows a glob under-decks. After cleaning up, Naomi advises that they rename their ship and invent a new transponder frequency so that they can avoid suspicion from the Martian and Earth military forces.
Naomi suggests going to Tycho Station. She believes that Fred Johnson will help them, but Holden, having pinpointed the origin of a protomolecule signature, wants to go to Io to help Dr. Prax find his daughter. Amos and Alex, still upset about Naomi’s decision to provide Fred Johnson with the protomolecule, quickly agree with Holden’s plan. They make their way to Io with a new registry, Pinus Contorta…not quite as catchy.
Still on Mao’s space-yacht, fleeing attack by Mao’s forces, Avasarala, Cotyar, and Draper find that missiles have been fired at them from Earth. Errinwright, trying to frame Avasarala for the massacre on Eros, wants her dead, but with the help of one of the yacht’s crewmen, Avasarala is able to secure evidence of Errinwright’s guilt.
Avasarala and Draper borrow Julie Mao’s racing ship Razorback, and Cotyar and the helpful crewman are able to board a drop ship just in time. Both ships clear the doomed space-yacht just before the missiles hit, but it’s far from certain that either party is out of the woods yet.
While all of this is going on, something strange is happening on Venus. Trying to get a closer look at what appears to be a protomolecule structure on the green planet, the result of Eros’s crash-landing, a UN science team is en route. But as they approach their destination, the entire ship separates into its different components. The crew appear to be unaffected, caught in some kind of stasis, but their fates are, like just about everyone else’s, uncertain.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 1: Fight or Flight – Final Thoughts
The Expanse is a show of epic scale. With its third season underway, viewers are just starting to get a solid idea of what the show is all about. A truly cynical and dystopian vision of Earth’s future, I can’t help but reflect when I watch it that The Expanse shows one of the truest visions of what humanity could become once we take to the stars.
Rather than a massive cooperative venture built on mutual trust and acceptance, like in Star Trek, The Expanse shows the result of extending colonial values past the borders of our own atmosphere. A vicious scramble to hold on to natural resources, especially water, highlights the desperation and stark reality that The Expanse trades so well in.