With the third season well on its way to the finish line, The Expanse edged along with “Intransigence” dropping F-bombs all the way. And, no, I’m not talking about the Belter curse, “felota.” Depending on where you live and who your TV provider is, you may be getting the censored version but, thankfully, in morally bankrupt Canada I’m getting the good stuff courtesy of the SpaceGO streaming service. This canuck viewer counted three separate uses of the network-banned oath, although technically one of them was “un-f*ck,” so maybe it cancels out one of the “f*cks.”
Of course, the main focus of “Intransigence” wasn’t the coarse language. It was the Ring and what the Ring represents to the various factions racing to understand it. For the Inners, which include people from both Mars and Earth, the Ring represents a new frontier. For the put-upon Belters, the Ring represents a chance to prove themselves to the rest of the system. And for Holden and the crew of the Rocinante, the Ring represents the next step in their peculiar unfolding destinies.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – Never Trust a Blind Cameraman
The Rocinante is safe for now thanks to the unique physics of the Ring. And, having evaded the Belter torpedo fired at them, Holden and the crew try to figure out how the forged message showing Holden declaring war upon the Inners was transmitted from their ship.
An irate Amos grabs Cohen and accuses him, having seen the cameraman snooping around the machine shop in “It Reaches Out.” Under threat of violence, Cohen immediately admits his misdeed, but claims that he was just trying to gain access to all of the Rocinante’s logs and didn’t realize his actions would have the effect they did. So although Cohen may not have understood what he was doing, whomever is pulling his strings apparently did.
Naomi Nagata is having a tough time aboard the Behemoth. She seems to be growing suspicious of the OPA, especially of Anderson Dawes’s influence over it. Naomi wants to determine if the malfunctioning Behemoth did fire upon the Rocinante and if her old ship was destroyed. This elicits a reprimand from Ashford who reminds her that her job as chief engineer of the Behemoth is to fix the malfunctioning ship. Naomi reluctantly agrees to get to work, and, in a surprise move, Captain Drummer apologizes for her order to fire, saying she’s sorry if the crew of the Roci is dead. Well, at least she’s sorry.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – “…for his family.”
But they’re not dead, they’re just in grave peril. On the run from the MCRN and inside a physically unique environment, Holden and the crew of the Roci work on a plan. Unfortunately, the previously helpful if somewhat cryptic undead Detective Miller has gone AWOL. Holden locks himself away and shouts Miller’s name, but doesn’t hear a peep in response.
Aboard the UNN Thomas Prince, an address from Secretary-General Avasarala informs Dr. Volovodov and her fellow academics that because of the attack of the Seung Un and the erratic behaviour of the Ring all civilians are being ordered away from the area.
We see Melba and her shipmates discussing the unfolding events and the apparent death of fellow mechanic Ren. Hiding her guilty conscience quite poorly, Melba lashes out when Stanni suggests Ren was a drunk. Soledad suggests that they clear out Ren’s locker “…for his family,” and Melba agrees.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – Papa-Oom-Mao-Mao
In a different part of the Thomas Prince’s cafeteria, Volovodov discusses the evacuation notice with a fellow member of the clergy. They both dislike being turned back, but don’t think they can avoid it. Tilly Fagan walks up and declares that she will not be going to Titan with the others, giggling in her trademark fashion. Melba hears the annoying laugh, causing a flashback. It shows Melba and Fagan, both in expensive-looking evening gowns, at a very posh party.
In the flashback, Melba overhears Fagan joking with her date, saying that it would be “just like her to ditch her own party.” A brief glimpse of a projection of the Razorback gives a clue to who “she” is. Apparently under pressure to start the party, Melba walks off to “find them.”
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – Sibling Rivalry
Walking through an immense house, Melba eventually finds who she’s looking for. In a grand sitting room, she finds Jules-Pierre and Julie Mao engaged in an argument. Julie plans to go to the Belt, but Jules-Pierre won’t have it, saying he won’t have any daughter of his “whoring around the Belt.”
Not surprisingly, Julie doesn’t respond well and drops F-bombs two and three. She calls her father corrupt and walks out. Jules-Pierre tells Melba the party is over, and says that the racing team will have to wait until next year. He also provides a big fan-theory confirmation when he calls Julie Melba’s sister.
Back in the present, “Melba” gets up and walks out of the cafeteria, Fagan’s vapid giggle echoing in her ears.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – Creative Negotiation Tactics
In the machine shop aboard the Rocinante, Cohen tells Amos that he never met his contact and didn’t know the purpose of his act of sabotage. Cohen removes the chip he inserted into the comm system in the last episode, and offers it to Amos. But, Amos isn’t much of an engineer. He’s more of an ex-mob boss.
Alex doesn’t know anything about engineering either, saying that’s a “Naomi thing.” But Amos wants answers, so he focuses on his strengths: he grabs Monica by the back of the head and threatens to kill her unless Cohen reveals what he knows.
The MCRN Xuesen takes this moment to launch two probes, one which progressively ramps up its speed until the Ring grabs it, and another slow-moving one. Alex tells Holden that the fast-moving probe was traveling at approximately 18,000 km/h when the Ring grabbed it, and Holden describes this as the Ring’s speed limit. The Xuesen increases its speed to match and so does the Roci, Holden declaring he’s not interested in being caught.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – A Good Safety Tip
Although the Ring draws the fast-moving probe toward its center, the slow-moving probe continues on its trajectory and disappears when it hits what Alex describes as the bubble around the Ring. Alex sums their situation up nicely: if they turn then the MCRN boards them, and if they follow their current course then the ring blinks them out of existence. Holden says they have until their collision with the bubble to figure out a viable option for survival.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – Nostalgia Kills
Informed of the MCRN’s progress inside the Ring by a Martian skiff, Ashford finds Naomi and informs her of the transmission. He suggests that since the MCRN is currently in pursuit of the Rocinante, the Roci must still be intact. Contrary to the MCRN’s orders, though, the Behemoth will pursue both ships into the Ring.
After waxing philosophical about the nature of guilt, Ashford suggests that nostalgia makes Naomi long for the good ol’ days aboard the Roci but suggests that, like him, she outgrew her old ship and crew. He says the OPA needs Naomi. Naomi says she’ll fix the Behemoth, but doesn’t say any more than that.
Still on course to potentially be wiped from existence, Holden has heard nothing from the wraith-like Det. Miller. Alex happens upon Amos putting Monica and Cohen in the airlock, and while Monica pleads for help Amos calmly instructs his two captives, who are wearing vac suits, to put on their helmets. His plan is to send the film crew to the Martians in hopes that Monica and Cohen will tell the MCRN the truth about the Rocinante’s falsified declaration of war.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – Blackmail and Miracles
Aboard the Thomas Prince Volovodov asks Fagan how she plans to avoid the evacuation order. Fagan says that the ship’s XO is close to retirement and is seeking employment in one of her mother’s companies. Seeming shocked at first by Fagan’s act of extortion, Volovodov promptly asks if Fagan can also pull strings for her.
When Fagan, who admits to thrill-seeking, asks why Volovodov is so interested in staying aboard, Volovodov says the awakening of the Ring is the only miracle that’s happened in her lifetime. She says she wants to be there when everything changes. Fagan says Volovodov is motivated by a selfish desire to be a part of something amazing, and, dropping her guard, Volovodov agrees.
“Melba” and her two companions clear out Ren’s locker. “Melba” finds a photo of Ren’s family and uncovers Ren’s administrative reports about her, Stanni, and Soledad. “Melba’s” guilt increases when she finds out how reasonable and supportive a boss Ren was.
Another flashback is triggered, this one showing “Melba” telling Julie off. “Melba” is embarrassed by Julie and is disappointed that Julie doesn’t care about embarrassing the family. Julie calls their father a damaged man and tells her sister that she’ll never be enough for him.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – “I was being gentle.”
With no other option available and death staring them in the face, Holden suggests that they surrender to the MCRN and attempt to clear their names. Alex reminds Holden that this will mean giving the Rocinante up to the Martians, but Holden can’t see any other way out of their situation, their only other option being death.
Aboard the Behemoth we see Naomi assign a docked ship for departure. Based on the quizzical look on Ashford’s face, it seems that the assignment is news to him. Drummer takes a moment to give her crew a pep talk, but Naomi doesn’t join in when the rest of the crew erupts in cheers of Belter pride. No matter how Naomi feels about her place in this historic moment for Belters, though, she’s in the felota now: the Behemoth has entered the Ring.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – “At the foot of a false idol.”
The Thomas Prince is being evacuated. Volovodov tries to convince her fellow member of the clergy, Hector, to stay aboard. We see a UNN soldier arrested for desertion while trying to escape along with the civilians. Hector balks and makes excuses to Volovodov about why he can’t stay. Whatever Volovodov is looking for, she’ll have to look for it without him. Later, Volovodov sends her wife a transmission telling her that she’s going through the Ring but promises to come back.
We see Volovodov meet “Melba” on the command deck. Volovodv admits to having some reservations about seeing the trip into the Ring through, and “Melba” says she understands. Volovodov asks why “Melba” chose to stay. This triggers another flashback.
Jules-Pierre asks “Melba” where her sister is, and she tells him that the “b*tch finally left.” He tells his daughter that she shouldn’t call her sister names. “Melba” asks why he continues to defend Julie. Jules-Pierre tells “Melba” that Julie reminds him of what it was like to be young, that she seeks to carry her name into the future whereas “Melba” just plans parties. Ooh, tough dad-burn.
Back in the present “Melba” lies to Volovodov, saying she stayed aboard for the hazard pay, and walks off.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – Hazard Pay
Free of the pastor’s prying eyes, “Melba” riffles through Ren’s bag and finds his futuristic phone. She records a message, giving the dead man’s family a cursory greeting and saying that Ren was a good man. She then uses the rest of the transmission to send a message to her father.
It turns out that “Melba” is a zealot out for revenge. She tells Jules-Pierre that she can’t free him from prison, but she can bring down the man who put him there — read Holden — something Julie could never do. She ends the transmission and hides the phone back in Ren’s bag.
Aboard the Behemoth we see Naomi trying to steal a skiff. After two “Access Denieds” Drummer sidles up behind Naomi and asks her why she’s deserting. Naomi responds that she came back to the OPA for the wrong reasons, and, reinterpreting Ashford’s advice, says that when she left the Rocinante she was just feeling nostalgic for the OPA. Naomi tells Drummer that she hid her plans to leave because she worried Drummer wouldn’t let her go. Drummer responds by unlocking Naomi’s skiff. She allows Naomi to go with a parting warning, “Don’t go too fast out there.” Now that’s an understanding captain!
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – “You seem different.”
Looking damn good in his fedora, Miller finally shows up and asks Holden why he’s slowing down. He tells Holden that they have to get to the middle of the ring. Miller calls it both the “crime scene” and the “nucleus.” He says that he has a crime to investigate and Holden wants the truth. Holden remarks that the previously confused detective seems different, and Miller responds that the signal is better inside the Ring.
We see Naomi aboard her skiff. She hails the Rocinante and tells them she’s coming home. Unfortunately, because the Roci’s comm system is down, no one responds. She tells them to hang on but Holden is doing anything but. We see him in a vac suit on the hull of the Rocinante. The intrepid adventurer takes a look around, locks onto the so-called nucleus, and pushes off toward it.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 9: “Intransigence” – Final Thoughts
This episode did some serious foundation laying for the coming season finale and the story arc that will lead up to it. Although it was good to see Naomi among other Belters for a while, I’m glad she’s heading back to the Rocinante. As proven in this episode, none of the other crew aboard the Roci are much for engineering. It must have been hard for Naomi to leave though. That was a damn fine speech from Drummer.
It was also good to see “Melba’s” story through. The flashback sequences worked well at filling in her motivations.
Wes Chatham in his role as Amos was great in this episode as was Cas Anvar as Alex. I especially liked how Amos described his violent acts of psychological torture as “being gentle.” Both Alex and Amos have grown a lot since the show started, and good scenes between the two have definitely helped.