By Michael Pea
Season Two-Episode Three-Static
SPOILER ALERT-Do not read if you have not seen episode three of The Expanse season two.
What do a talking space rock, a destroyed moon, possible war between Earth and Mars, treason, a Mormon super-vessel, the first argument between a new couple, two sociopaths communicating, and guilt over unsaved lives all have to do with each other? The answer should be an insane person’s dream, but this is actually from season 2 of The Expanse, episode three: Static. Instead of letting us rest after the unbelievable two-part season premiere, episode three throws us right back into the middle of the fantastic, exciting universe that is The Expanse!
Static opens with Earth destroying Deimos. The Martian Marines, as exemplified by Bobbie Draper, want to go to war with Earth. This is echoed in the Earth government by Errinwright and newly-appointed Fleet Admiral Nguyen. However, Chrisjen continues to work behind the scenes to stop the war. Cotyar, her bodyguard and spy, manages to open a channel to the head of the OPA, Fred Johnson. Cotyar reminds Avasarala that contacting Fred Johnson she is committing an act of treason. But she knows contacting Fred Johnson is a desperate ploy. If Fred Johnson is not the honorable man she hopes he, she will be sent to prison for treason. Fred sees her communique for what it is: a chance to prevent war. He decides to send her potentially explosive information she can use. The most extraordinary aspect of this exchange is that both of these people are willing to put their careers and their lives on the line to save many other lives. How often do we see this level of bravery in our real-world politicians?
Upon returning to Tycho Station, Miller is in handcuffs. Miller’s murder of the lead scientist, Dresden, has made Miller persona non-grata on Tycho Station and the Rocinante. Fred Johnson offers to pay Miller’s passage on any ship leaving Tycho Station while Holden has Amos deliver Miller’s belongings to him in a bar. Miller is joined at the bar by Diogo, the talkative kid from the assault container. Diogo and the other Belters see Miller as their hero for killing Dresden. Diogo offers him a bunk at his place. At Diogo’s place, Miller hears some new music which the Belters are enjoying. Apparently, Eros is emitting static which seems to be gibberish. A Belter composer has taken the static/gibberish and turned into techno music. For the detective in Miller, this sends off alarms. But oddly, Miller appears to seek spiritual guidance next from the Mormon minister assigned to the Nauvoo. In this scene, the minister reveals a display showing the incredible complexity and beauty of the Nauvoo. Without a doubt, it is one the most visually stunning scenes of the series.
Miller’s murder of Dresden spills over into the relationship between Naomi and Holden. They have their first argument. Holden does not believe Miller had the right to kill Dresden. Naomi asks Holden why he has the right to say that Miller was wrong. She reminds Holden that Dresden was responsible for the death of over 100,000 people. This particular scene is one of those moments which seems to be a simple couple’s argument; but, at its root is one of the great questions of a civilized society. Do we want justice or will we settle for due process? Is a vigilante a hero, or a villain?
Holden, Amos, and Fred interview the captured scientist, Cortazar. Holden attempts to reason with Cortazar by appealing to his humanity. However, Cortazar is strangely unaffected by Holden’s entreaty. Later, one of the doctors on the station explains that Cortazar and the other prisoners have been surgically altered to lose all empathy. This explains how he and the other scientists could watch the painful deaths of over 100,000 people as they were consumed by the Protomolecule. The person who finally provides insight into Cortazar is Amos, as he talks about their experience on Eros. As Amos explains in detail what they saw on Eros, Cortazar starts to talk. As Amos explains to Holden later, Cortazar is like a pedophile, show them want they want and they will talk. When they play the static/gibberish spewing from Eros for Cortazar, he explains that Eros is evolving and is counting down to something, but he has no idea to what.
Meanwhile, repairs are being made on the Rocinante after the beating it took securing the relay station. Alex is working tirelessly to improve his piloting. He feels a tremendous amount of guilt that he could not save those who died in the cargo container. While his feelings are truly noble, they are not realistic. The Belters made their choice to take part in the raid, Alex did the best he could, and the personnel on the station destroyed the container. Alex flew brilliantly under the circumstances. Remember, he destroyed a stealth fighter.
In the final scene, Miller visits Fred after leaving the Mormon minister. Miller tells Fred he shot Dresden because he was starting to believe him. This clearly frightens Miller. He also knows that Fred believes Dresden needed to die. But Miller has another reason for visiting Fred: they need to destroy Eros and Miller has an idea. He wants to use the Nauvoo to ram Eros.
Where do we go from here? Eros is talking, evolving, and counting down to something! Earth and Mars are blissfully unaware of the evolution of Eros and continue to saber-rattle. Chrisjen has new information she can use to stop the war. Miller has presented Fred with a crazy plan which might possibly stop Eros. This is why we love The Expanse: it’s real and it’s exciting. To paraphrase an ardent fan, “I want the fourth episode and I want it now. I don’t want to wait!”