The Expanse Season 3, Episode 2: IFF – Unlikely Friends


This was an exciting and eye-opening episode, but I didn’t appreciate all the actors’ performances. I still can’t get used to Steven Strait’s portrayal of Holden — he seems to have difficulty acting naturally, only mad, sad, or really happy — and with the introduction of Elizabeth Mitchell as Volovodov, I have similar complaints about her portrayal. I hope that both actors settle into their roles a bit more, but time will tell.
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Last week’s episode of The Expanse, entitled “IFF” (Identification, Friend or Foe), kept the stakes and adrenaline levels high. Allowing viewers a couple brief intervals in which to take breaths in a way that was much like the season premiere, ongoing threats of grisly death pervaded the majority of each separate narrative.

The Expanse Season 3, Episode 2: IFF – Anna & Esteban’s Reign of Terror

Speaking of separate narratives, a new development in Secretary-General Sorrento-Gillis’s provided some background information on him and the instrument in his rise to power, speech-writer turned doctor/Methodist pastor Anna Volovodov.

Seeking to bring Volovodov back into the fold, Sorrento-Gillis asks her to once again provide her speech-writing talents to massage his government’s message of interplanetary war. Volovodov agrees but demands a year’s funding for her clinic in return. A small price to pay in return for a war-hungry populace, Sorrento-Gillis agrees to Volovodov’s terms, and the deal is complete. The rekindled partnership, along with Volovodov’s call for restraint, frustrates Under-Secretary Errinwright.

The Expanse Season 3, Episode 2: IFF – “Io, Io, it’s off to work we go…”

Dr. Strickland has his hands full on Io when Pierre Mao visits. Mao is considering shutting down the project, claiming that there’s no way to control the protomolecule. Strickland, though, convinces Mao of the sustainability of the project by telling him that the children from Ganymede, Prax’s daughter Mei among them, are able to harness the protomolecule because of a genetic disorder that only they suffer from.

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Mei sees first-hand how protomolecule treatments have been affecting her friend whose arm fluoresces with blue light at his own command.

The Expanse Season 3, Episode 2: IFF – The Marine & The Diplomat

Rocketing away from the debris of Mao’s space-yacht, Draper and Avasarala must push their bodies to their limits to keep the Razorback out of range of Errinwright’s ship. Employing any and all tricks up her sleeve to keep Avasarala alive, Draper eventually runs out of options and sends a Martian distress call to anyone who will respond. Both know that whomever responds to the call may also be hostile, but with the UN ship closing in options are limited.

The Expanse Season 3, Episode 2: IFF – Pinus Contorta to the Rescue

Currently en route to Io, Holden and the crew of the newly christened Pinus Contorta receive a Martian distress call — one guess who it’s from. Holden and Amos vote to ignore the signal, choosing instead to keep their course for Io, Holden being more concerned with finding Prax’s daughter than investigating.

However, both Alex and Naomi want to investigate so Prax must act as tie-breaker. Surprisingly, Prax makes the call to investigate the distress signal rather than pushing onto Io and possibly news of his daughter.

The daring rescue goes off with only one small hitch: an unsecured locker pops open during maneuvers and sends tools and weapons flying all over the ship. One rogue tool knocks Prax’s oxygen hose loose so Amos, showing some serious Zero-G acrobatic skill, makes his way over to Prax and hooks him back up. He also manages to catch what looks like a power drill right before it buries itself in Prax’s face. A very thankful Prax admits to Amos that he’s scared of what they might come across on Io, but Amos instructs the beleaguered botanist that he shouldn’t give up yet.

While Amos and Prax work on repairing damage to the ship, Alex, Amos, and Holden go to find out who is aboard the Razorback and why they’re running from the UN. But, rather than finding answers, Holden and the crew have even more questions when they find a Martian Marine protecting a nearly dead UN Under-Secretary. All in a day’s work for the crew of the Pinus Contorta.

The Expanse Season 3, Episode 2: IFF – Final Thoughts

It’s always satisfying to see two plot lines converge. In addition to providing the script with a little breathing room between cuts, these convergences allow for interesting combinations of characters.

I don’t think for a second that Avasarala or Draper will be to keen on flying to Io. Instead, the diplomat and her unlikely bodyguard will probably want to return to Earth so that they can work to expose Errinwright as a traitor and conspirator. This disagreement could very well lead to some sparks between the two A-type alphas aboard the Pinus Contorta, Holden and Avasarala.

Whatever the Pinus Contorta’s democratic system comes up with, I hope that Mei isn’t left too long on Io. Both Prax and his science-experiment daughter could use a win, and a happy reunion would be a welcome change of pace from the regular cynicism on display in The Expanse.


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Michael Bedford
Under intense scrutiny by the Temporal Authorities, I was coerced into actualizing my capsule in this causality loop. Through no fault of my own, I am marooned on this dangerous yet lovely level-four civilization. Stranded here, I have spent most of my time learning what I can of the social norms and oddities of the Terran species, including how to properly use the term "Hipster" and how to perform a "perfect pour." Under the assumed name of "Michael Bedford," I have completed BA's with specialized honours in both theatre studies and philosophy, and am currently saving up for enough galactic credits to buy a new--or suitably used--temporal contextualizer ... for a friend.
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