As I watched Ep. 211 of The Expanse unfold, I was reminded of the lyrics from an Iron Maiden classic when Bobbie Draper did the unthinkable, “Run to the hills, run for your lives…” Emotionally beaten down, the honor she thought was hers by duty and deed ripped asunder, she did something that was more than a little shocking – she changed sides. That’s right, little Bobbie Draper, fed up with the overt deception and politicking of her own government, decided to kick off “Here There Be Dragons” with a little beat-down of Sec-General Gillis that netted her some vital information on the protomolecule plot (Project Caliban) and forced her to run into the arms of Earth’s government.
Quite the twist and turn for our Ms. Draper, eh? And honestly, I loved every second of it – from slapping Gillis around to get a confession from him (There’s something satisfying about talking while punching someone), to trying to calmly walk through the Mars consulate (“Nothing to see here, folks. I’m just strolling out of the building, pay me no mind), to finally a dead sprint across the border into Earth’s tender embrace. It was unexpected, it was a big twist and it was satisfying – but it wasn’t the only big thing that happened in “Here There Be Dragons.” A lot going on in Ep. 211.
Oh no, my friends. There were still bigger surprises in store from this week’s episode, which has to rank up there as one of my favs. While Draper was making a run for redemption on Earth, there was about to be some big revelations on Ganymede as well. Captain Holden, Naomi, Amos and Dr. Meng made it to the older part of the station in search of Meng’s daughter, Mae. Slowly they crept, step by step they inched forward, gaining access to more wings and discovering little clues that someone had, indeed been there (Nice touch with the discovery of some guys ripping off wire to sell. Heightened the tension).
Spotting shadows under a door, they readied themselves to pounce on the unsuspecting folks in the next room. With precision timing, and the tension building, they pop the door, explode into the room with guns drawn to find a team of scientists and hirelings – having pizza. That’s right, the evildoers were sitting down to a little sustenance and even invited the intruders for slice – then all hell broke loose. And that makes sense, right? Bad guys and evil scientists need to eat to maintain their energy for the day’s – evil doing.
This scene was chuckle-worthy on many levels. In a moment of tense anticipation, everyone was a little stunned with coming face to face like that. The quip about sharing a little pizza was funny and broke the tension just long enough for everyone to remember it was time to start shooting. We get some casualties, including Amos (Why does he always get shot?), and the rest of the baddies make an escape into another room and seal the door. And this turns out to not only be a bad move, but a move that eventually breaks the PMC mystery open a little wider. Remember, Holden and crew are there to not only find Mae, but search out more PMC info.
It’s in this period that Dr. Meng finds his daughter’s backpack in a pile of children’s effects. He grabs it and will carry it the rest of the episode. We also find a different child in a pod. The child has had the PMC introduced into them and this forces Holden to incinerate the pod. You start to sense that the children were central to the PMC experiment and a cloud of foreboding comes over the group. What happened to the kids, including Meng’s daughter?
Could it have something to do with what Draper saw earlier? Why, yes it could. We find this out a few moments later when the remaining baddies toss a grenade into the room where our heroes are making discoveries. Unfortunately for the baddies, Amos pounces on the grenade, reopens the door and tosses it back from whence it came. We hear an explosion…then screams and plenty of chaos. Sounds like, I don’t know, something got loose, perhaps?
Once Holden and crew breach the door and get in, everyone is dead, the room has been sealed and there’s a massive hole in the air lock, like something ripped it apart. It’s an interesting moment for Holden, Naomi, Amos and Dr. Meng. There’s continued hope they can find the answers they seek, but increasing realization that the answers may not be very pleasant. Each step forward seems to bring with it revelations that push them back a bit. They push on, but you get the feeling they’d wish they didn’t have to – but know they must.
While all this is going on, we get some time with our Rocinante flyer Alex Kamal. As you recall, he’s been waiting on the far side of a moon where he’s been doing a little talking to himself and the ship. But once the Martians create a no-fly zone over Ganymede, he knows he needs to get down there. We get a nice little period of time with Alex as he plots, plans, then executes a series of slingshots around the various moons to get to Ganymede undetected. I enjoy this character, though he hasn’t had a lot to do of late, so that was a fun interlude to spend some time with him.
He also scares the hell out of Holden and the gang in the damaged area we just left our intrepid explorers in. Bodies lying around, scientific equipment in taters and a hole in the wall that indicates something got out, rather than tried to get in. Alex shows up in the air lock in his Vac-suit and wishes the troops a “howdy.” Moments later, he gets their attention again and we see, off in the distance, a bi-pedal being staring back at them. Bobby Draper’s nightmare is alive and well – and now loose on the surface of Ganymede. Answers to questions, yet more questions that need answers. Seems that’s what this season has been about, hasn’t it?
Holy Big Foot/Sasquatch sighting, my friends. It’s that view from the damaged air lock that confirms the PMC is now mobile and very dangerous. How dangerous? I’m sure we’re going to find that out. And how do the children figure into all this? It’s a little unsettling to think about, but there it is. Holden has a nice line here when he tells them to suit up, they are going “hunting.” Holden’s commitment to destroying the PMC is written all over his face, even as the unknown appears fairly terrifying. There’s also a tough moment between Holden and Naomi, so that’s a little twist we’ll have to keep an eye on, too.
This episode has a lot of stuff going on, which is fun. The hour goes ripping by quickly and enjoyably. Draper has given U.N. heavyweight Chrisjen Avasarala the information she gleaned during her assault on Gillis. We get a nice surprise when Jules-Pierre Mao contacts Chrisjen to bargain for a reduction in the financial restrictions that are hurting his family. He’s arrogant, confident and dictates terms to Chrisjen and while see agrees to a meet, you get the sense she’s played out several scenarios in her mind. But she wants answers and Mao has them – lots of them.
We also return to the Venus survey where Martens (Chrisjen’s eyes and ears on the project) and project commander Colonel Janus, through several failed attempts, finally get a probe to land safely near where Eros impacted the planet. What they find there is both amazing and somewhat terrifying. The PMC is alive and well – and building. And that seems to be the theme of The Expanse in season 2 – building. I think the writers have done a very nice job of building toward who-knows-what at the season finale. The show feels like it’s building up, not just simply dialing up episodes to get the viewers amused. And I like that. It offers a little pleasant tension as bits and pieces are revealed moving the story forward. Well done, writers.
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