Season Two-Episode Six-Paradigm Shift – “You have to pick a side”
SPOILER ALERT–Do not read if you have not seen Episode Six of The Expanse season two.
For readers of the series, last week’s episode, Home, was essentially the end of the first book, Leviathan Wakes. Paradigm Shift, Episode Six, is in the universe of the second novel, Caliban’s War. This episode concentrates on the aftermath of Eros crashing on Venus with Earth, Mars, the Belt, and the crew of the Rocinante trying to make sense of what happened and determining what their next steps will be. Interspersed throughout the episodes are flashback scenes of the first test drive of the Epstein drive.
Paradigm Shift opens 137 years prior to The Expanse universe with a man in a racing yacht. The man is Solomon Epstein and he is testing his new drive. As viewers, we know it will eventually become the eponymous Epstein Drive. The good news is that the drive is far more efficient than he ever imagined. The bad news is that the high G forces generated from the drive has made it almost impossible for him to move and cut off the drive. The flashback scenes of Epstein trying to shut off the drive are interspersed throughout the episode. For the readers of the novels and novellas, the scenes of the testing of the first Epstein drive are taken from the short story, “Drive.”
*Easter Egg Alert* These scenes are a brilliant juxtaposition of the problems when developing a drive which opens up the solar system as well as the problems of working with the Protomolecule. The Protomolecule has caused a major paradigm shift in System politics and the technological knowledge of mankind.
On Earth, some of their scientists believe Mars has developed a new propulsion system. Earth is planning to send a ship to Venus to determine what happened to Eros. Avasarala of course is ahead of everyone else. She has contacted a scientist who has a radical idea of what happened on Eros. He will be her ‘eyes and ears’ on the ship to Venus. Later, in a very powerful scene, Avasarala lays down the law with Errinwright. She demands that Jules Mao tells all he knows about Eros or she will destroy him and his family. Errinwright reluctantly agrees to try to contact Mao through his connections with Jules’ family.
On Tycho, the Roci crew receives a hero’s welcome. They learn that Fred Johnson has gained control of 30 nuclear missiles which Earth was unable to disarm or destroy. He wants their help to gain control of the 30 missiles they were able to capture. In a bid to destroy all evidence of the Protomolecule the crew of the Rocinante decides to destroy their sample. Naomi decides to simulate the destruction of the sample to delude the crew into believing the sample has been destroyed. No “good deed” goes unpunished.
On Ganymede, the Martian marines are on patrol when their signals are jammed by an unknown force. The marines
prepare to defend their position. The Martian ships are then attacked and eventually destroyed. The final scene is Bobbie in a damaged combat suit seeing a strange creature watching her.
With the crashing of Eros on Venus, one would hope that the solar system would regain some sense of normality. It doesn’t. It actually becomes more insane. Naomi decides her loyalties belong with the Belt, which means she lies to Holden about destroying the Protomolecule specimen. Fred Johnson now has an arsenal of 30 missiles capable of destroying cities on both Earth and Mars. This is a major paradigm shift in power which means the Belt can now demand a seat at the table. Amos and Alex realize they don’t know each as well as they thought. Avasarala gives Errinwright an ultimatum about Jules Mao.
*Spoiler Alert* Personally, I would not underestimate Jules or dismiss the Protomolecule. Jules masterminded this entire drama from the beginning. It would be foolish to assume he does not have backup plans. As for the Protomolecule, it survived a journey through interstellar space to reach our solar system. Would a crash on Venus destroy it?
Solomon Epstein realized an ultimate truth when he said, “That’s the wonderful and terrible thing about technology. It changes everything.” You are so right Solomon.