The Expanse: Change is afoot in ‘Paradigm Shift’ – Review

With one potential disaster seemingly averted, the many unique personalities populating episode 206 of “The Expanse” begin to look to their own wants, needs and desires. Change is afoot in “Paradigm Shift,” which leads us down a path of differing priorities for just about everyone involved. When Eros and the asteroid it was attached to took Joe Miller, Julie Mao and the Protomolecule (remember, we’re going to call it the PMC) into the face of Venus at the end of episode 205, the immediate widespread threat seemed to be dealt with. But in the aftermath of that event, questions of what to do next linger in the air and definitely shape and propel much of the new episode.

“Paradigm Shift” offers us a look at three ladies who are directly involved in some of the changes that may be in play moving forward. We get interesting moments from U.N. bigwig Chrisjen Avasarala, Rocinante crew member Naomi Nagata and everyone’s favorite Martian military darling, Bobbie Draper. Through words or actions, they find themselves in situations that push possible stories for “The Expanse” forward. After last week’s “Miller Time” episode, it was nice to see the ladies have some shining moments this week. What it all will mean – well, that’s the fun of this little sci-fi drama, isn’t it?

But before we delve into what the women experienced, a little summation of what’s going on in the aftermath of Eros putting a large hole in Venus. The Rocinante crew, Fred Johnson, Tycho Station and the surrounding area have gone silent and the militant folks in the Earth government are concerned. An expedition to Venus is planned to see what might be left of Eros and to discover what makes an asteroid steer like a ship. We know what it was, but they’re still in the dark. There are the usual accusations, worries and assorted hints that Mars might have been behind it all. But an expedition will surely go. And there are those who see opportunity in that trip.

THE EXPANSE — “Home” Episode 205 — Pictured: (l-r) Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala, Steven Strait as Earther James Holden, Shawn Doyle as Secretary Errinwright — (Photo by: Rafy/Syfy)

Just a quick note, there is also a fun little sequence of flashbacks to a man named Solomon Epstein and how his work on a high G burn spacecraft changed everything for Mars 137 years ago. It’s an interesting little bit of backstory about how Mars found its footing and eventual split from Earth that floats in and out of this episode. I didn’t mind it.

Meanwhile, on Tycho Station, Fred Johnson admits that the 30 nuclear missiles the U.N. are missing in their abortive attempt at destroying Eros are now in his hands. He plans to use them as leverage down the road. Oh, and the Mormons are suing Johnson for stealing their space station. All-in-all, a normal Fred Johnson kind of day. I enjoy his unperturbed acceptance of it all.

Holden’s big issue is whether to release information on what the PMC is and what it might become. Johnson sees no good use in alarming the universe, but Holden knows (and you probably remember) that there’s a sample of the PMC hidden in an old asteroid belt somewhere in space. Holden is coming to grips with the decisions captains have to make, which is kind of refreshing. It’s been a weight for him, to be sure.

Naomi has a more romantic idea, preferring to tell people about Julie Mao and Miller, an Earther and Belter uniting to save so many lives. Discussions range all over the PMC canvass with Holden adamant that the sample be destroyed, Alex Kamal wanting to give Mars a bit for research, and other opinions. In the end, the whole Rocinante crew agrees that destroying it is the best course.

THE EXPANSE — “Paradigm Shift” Episode 206 — Pictured: Frankie Adams as Bobbie Draper — (Photo by: Rafy/Syfy)

Now, this is where it gets interesting. Naomi programs the torpedo carrying the PMC to travel to the sun to be destroyed. With Holden looking on, the instrument panel shows the trajectory of the missile into the sun. The deed is done. Or is it? Naomi, in a strange little twist, faked the destruction. The PMC sample sits silently right where the crew originally left it. Naomi, who later helps disarm the navigation system of the 30 nukes, appears to be letting her Belter side dictate her actions when she says, “Belters have to help each other. No one else will.” In the end, her decision means the PMC still exists in its original form. What that means long-term is anyone’s guess and makes one wonder about where her loyalties truly lie?

Back on earth, Chrisjen stops by for a chat with Undersecretary Sadavir Errinwright. What kicks off as an amiable chat about Jean-Pierre Mao and his whereabouts turns into Chrisjen unleashing a torrent of threats on Mao, his family, his business interests and, it seems, his ancestors. She wants to see him for questioning in the PMC fiasco and if his family can’t (or won’t) produce him, she’ll “rain hellfire down on them all.”

It’s quite the moment for Chrisjen, who leverages her popularity, her role in avoiding war and her political acumen into a pointed and intense warning. While the threats were targeted for Mao, I have little doubt she was sending a message to the undersecretary, whom I’m confident she knows is complicit in Mao’s work. It was a great scene.

THE EXPANSE — “Paradigm Shift” Episode 206 — Pictured: (l-r) Chad Coleman as Fred Johnson, Steven Strait as Earther James Holden — (Photo by: Rafy/Syfy)

Finally, Martian military badass Bobbie Draper gets to throw down against U.N. troops. Well, sort of. It certainly doesn’t go as she’s hoped or expected. At Ganymede agricultural station, a routine patrol on the Martian side of the zone turns into a battle – both in space and on the ground. The Martian ship comes under attack and that unleashes ground action. Draper deploys her group and awaits the oncoming attack. When the smoke clears and the darkness lifts, we see Draper on the ground, armor damaged, mask leaking oxygen and a strange, non-earthly face staring at her. Things on Ganymede appear to have taken a strange and unexpected turn for Draper – and perhaps for everyone.

Things have most certainly changed post-Eros. Working together to avoid mutual catastrophe on several levels is suddenly no longer a priority and we start to see individual agendas seep to the surface. The tensions between Earth, Mars and the Belt once again take their places atop the flow chart and decisions are being made not for the greater good, but for the good of individual groups or people.What’s waiting on Venus? What was that looking into Draper’s mask? Will Mao show up? What’s Naomi up to?

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