These were both good episodes, but, speaking in a narrative sense, it was a bit obvious at times. I thought that Anna’s plea to the ships to power down was too conveniently framed. A wordsmith pastor who has previous experience writing speeches for the leader of Earth and a broadcaster with a chip on her shoulder just happen to be around to give everyone hope and faith during a dark time. It was too much too quickly. That said, I'm very excited for next season so they obviously did a few things right.


Congregation & Abaddon’s Gate

THE EXPANSE Season 3 Finale: Reviewing “Congregation” & “Abaddon’s Gate”

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People on all sides are in pretty bad shape after the events of “Fallen World.” The massive deceleration caused by whatever power controls the Ring left several injured. Although many of the injuries are trivial, a lack of gravity interferes with people’s abilities to heal, and some who would be on the mend are given grave prognoses.

Specifically, Drummer, whose injury would be life threatening even with full gravity, is in bad shape after some heavy equipment crushed her legs and spine. Ashford, as executive officer, assumes control of the Behemoth and orders that they spin up their artificial gravity machine. It works like a charm, and Ashford offers aid to any who need it, Belter or otherwise.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Congregation – Crazy Jim

Ranting about the end of everything and that he’s been talking to a dead detective, the Martians, including Bobbie Draper, think Holden must be crazy. Unsure of what to do with him, they decide to take Holden to the Behemoth. Locked in a cell across from Clarissa Mao’s, Clarissa gets a chance to find out just how much the ordeal with the Ring is affecting Holden, and we see a glimmer of sympathy dawn in her eyes. Holden tries desperately to make contact with Miller, but to no avail.

Holden gets his crazy-sounding story about the end of all life as we know it through to Ashford, but he’s not convinced that Holden is sane. Ashford ignores the weary traveler and starts making plans of his own.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Congregation – “We can rebuild her: we have the technology.”

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Drummer is down but not out. Her physician tells her that she needs to take it easy for a while. After all, regrowing spinal tissue is tough work. Drummer disagrees though. She starts building artificial legs out of some spare parts lying around. The prosthesis building isn’t going so well until Naomi Nagata shows up. The two have a less-than-cuddly reunion, but Nagata offers help to her one-time captain. With Naomi’s superior technical knowledge, the two get Drummer’s robotic legs in working order and set to finding Holden.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Congregation – “Holden, you’re talking to yourself.”

Finding Holden in his cell, Naomi and Holden finally get a chance to see each other, but there isn’t time for canoodling. Drummer and Naomi both want to know what to do next, and Holden works even harder on getting a hold of Miller.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Congregation – “Gotta’ nuke something.”

Proving that nuking things is still in vogue in the future, Dr. Kolvoord, aboard the UNN Thomas Prince manages to make contact with Ashford aboard the Behemoth. Kolvoord describes a plan: detonate a remote-controlled skiff armed with a nuclear warhead to disrupt the field holding the ships in place.

Kolvoord, with the Behemoth’s assistance, manages to detonate the skiff, but the field holding them in place remains. The detonation does provide the Thomas Prince with some interesting data, though, that shows that all of humanity is in danger from the Ring.

Ashford and Kolvoord start working on a backup plan. They determine that, by focusing their communication laser on a specific spot on the Ring, they may be able to destroy the ring. Unfortunately, this will also kill everyone inside the Ring. Crap.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Abaddon’s Gate – “Shut it down!”

Finally able to make contact with Miller, Holden learns that the Ring interpreted the nuclear explosion as a hostile move from the humans…duh. In retaliation, the source powering the ring has started charging up for a massive burst of energy. Holden tells Miller that the exploding skiff wasn’t meant as a hostile move, but Miller and his alien masters aren’t convinced. The intelligence behind the Ring demands a show of good faith, and Holden tells Naomi and Drummer that all ships must power down their reactors.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Abaddon’s Gate – “Luckily, we have a speechwriter/pastor and broadcasting equipment aboard!”

Naomi, Holden, and Drummer work on taking the Behemoth’s reactor so they can shut it down, but Diogo has other ideas. Wearing Martian battle armour, Diogo goes after his former captain.

Amos and Alex manage to convince Anna and Monica to broadcast their message that all ships must shut down their reactors or be annihilated by the Ring. Bobbie’s squad is called upon to stop the transmission, but, showing her true loyalties, Bobbie kills her own men to stop them from killing Amos and Alex.

Anna’s message gets out: she pleads with the ships involved to power down their reactors in a show of good faith to the Ring and the system that controls it.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Abaddon’s Gate – Shafted!

In his Martian armour, Diogo is able to catch up to Drummer, Naomi, and Holden relatively quickly. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t count on Naomi dropping an elevator on him. Crushed to death at the bottom of an elevator shaft, it seems that this on-again-off-again character will now be permanently off. Ashford orders Naomi and Holden killed, but Clarissa, showing that even a Mao can change her spots, decides she’s had enough of crazy jerks bossing her around. She takes matters into her own hands.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Abaddon’s Gate – “Serial murderer on the bridge!”

Even though the other ships have all powered down, Ashford is still bent on killing everyone. He refuses to shut down the Behemoth’s reactor. Having been freed from her cell to help repair the Behemoth’s communication laser, which Ashford plans on using to destroy the Ring, and with the neural blocker that stopped her from using her space-uppers removed, Clarissa takes matters into her own hands. She manages to shut the Behemoth’s reactor down in the nick of time, frees Holden and Naomi, and smashes Ashford’s face into his control panel. Unfortunately, no good super-deed goes unpunished. She takes a bullet, and it seems that this is the end of Clarissa Mao’s ride.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Abaddon’s Gate – The Final Final Frontier

With the Behemoth’s reactor finally deactivated, the Ring powers down and the field immobilizing the ships dissipates. Earther, Martian, and Belter alike all leave the Ring but as they do, they see that the Ring has opened portals to 1,300 different habitable solar systems.

Draper takes up a post on the Rocinante as a pilot, and the tough little ship makes its way out of the Ring. As it leaves, though, Holden has another vision. We see him standing on some alien beach. He appears to be naked, or at least shirtless, for some reason. Holden wonders how the race who created the Rings was destroyed, and Miller appears next to him saying that’s what he’d like to know. The two look up at the sky where they see the activated Rings providing access to new solar systems, and the vision ends.

Just before the Roci clears the Ring and the credits roll, though, Holden sees an energy fluctuation that seems to enter his body. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until season 4 to find out whether the fluctuation is a representation of Miller, the Investigator, or something else entirely.

The Expanse Season 3 Finale: Abaddon’s Gate – Final Thoughts

This two-part season finale was intriguing, but execution needed some work. Throughout these two episodes, I kept thinking about how convenient all the plot points are. Clarissa’s well-timed conversion, Anna and Monica’s team effort to convince the ships to power down, these and other items gave these two episodes a too-convenient feel.

Of course, it’s difficult to find the correct balance between fatalism and random occurrence within the world of a television show, but The Expanse has spent three years walking this fine line, and I’ve rarely felt that the writers missed their target. Season finales tend to suffer from this kind of problem since writers get more concerned with wrapping up loose ends than wrapping them up well.

I look forward to the next season, which will apparently begin streaming on Amazon Prime Video at some point in the future. With the Rings now open, it almost seems like The Expanse is just getting started.

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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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