Quote of the Week- “The station is dead already. They just don’t know it yet.”
SPOILER ALERT-Do not read if you have not seen episode 10 of The Expanse season two.
Episode 10, Cascade, is not driven by action, but instead by an exploration into the inner workings of the characters. This allows us the opportunity to learn why they behave the way they do. We see the redeeming nature of humankind as well as its ultimate failings. Also, some begin to lose themselves in their quests.
The episode opens with a beautiful shot of Ganymede, with Jupiter in the background. It is a stark contrast to what is happening on Ganymede, where the inhabitants are working to put their two remaining domes back together. Others are reduced to eating the plants which are used to make oxygen. As Prax and the Roci crew search for Mei and Strickland, they discover that Mei and Strickland are not listed among the missing or the dead. Prax finds a former colleague who directs them to an information broker, Roma, who might know where Mei and Strickland are.
When they find Roma, they attempt to negotiate goods in exchange for information. Roma refuses to give any information without cans of chicken. Yes, chicken! Amos isn’t having it. He grabs a can of Spam and proceeds to beat Roma into submission. Prax stops Amos. In order to save his life, Roma decides it is in his best interest to help them. Roma’s search for Mei and Strickland is successful. He shows the crew where they went.
The most interesting aspect of the scenes involving the search for Mei and Strickland, is the interaction between characters. Naomi is not happy that Holden let Amos beat Roma. She sees Holden slipping down a slippery slope. Prax is appalled by Amos’s use of violence to get what he wants. Amos tells Prax that some people are bullies and need to be punished which is why Amos attacked Roma. He gives Prax an example from his childhood of pimps who abuse the woman who work for them and the children born to the prostitutes. The women are used while pregnant and put back on the street after giving birth. The children are made into child prostitutes. This exchange between Prax and Amos gives us an amazing insight into Amos’s childhood. This exchange harkens back to Amos’s childhood which is detailed in the novella, The Churn, and the novel, Nemesis Games.
Later, we get an idea into what motivates Prax when he attempts to save the oxygen plants. He says he has to do something to help. However, as he tells Amos, “The station is dead already. They just don’t know it yet.” It is these quiet moments which reveal who these characters really are. They have a moment to reflect on their actions and actually discuss their feelings. Prax even revealed to Amos that a part of him wished Mei had died in the accident because of her disease. The inability to cure the disease made Prax feel so helpless. If Mei were dead, he would not be helpless any longer.
Meanwhile on Earth, Errinwright appears to have a bout of conscience and has a heart-to-heart with Avasarala. He divulges his entanglement with Jules Mao’s machinations and schemes. Errinwright finally realizes that Jules has been playing Earth against Mars. Jules set up a win/win situation for himself with Mars, Earth, and the Belt as losers. Errinwright has deluded himself into believing that he was in control. He was not. He gives Avasarala all the data he has on the Protomolecule.
Bobbie is not faring much better. Captain Martens reprimands her for not sticking to the script. He tells her she is returning to Mars. Bobbie asks if she can see the ocean before she goes. Remember, Bobbie has been fascinated with the idea of an ocean since the first episode of season two. Martens tells her that she cannot see the ocean since she is confined to quarters until she ships back to Mars. Bobbie decides to escape. In a moment of true irony, she uses the purple heart medal to dislodge a window pane and escape.
As Bobbie wanders the streets looking for the ocean, she sees terrible poverty in the shanty town close to the UN HQ. She is horribly disillusioned by what she sees. When she initially asks for direction to the ocean, a poor woman demands money for the information. Finally, one person offers to help her, in return for a specific drug that Martians carry. Bobbie assumes he is a drug dealer, yet he actually wants to sell the drugs to help others. He gives her a quick lesson about life on Earth, which is a contradiction of what she was taught. He helps her cope with her agoraphobia as he directs her to the ocean. Bobbie finally makes it to her goal, the ocean.
It is a transcendent moment for Bobbie when she finally sees the ocean. She takes off her shoes, puts her feet in the water, and just sits, staring at the waves. It is so much more than she ever imagined. Avasarala and Cotyar find Bobbie sitting on the beach. Avasarala tells Bobbie the truth about Mars’ involvement in the fighting on Ganymede. It was Mars’ weapons research with the Protomolecule which led to the death of her comrades. Bobbie does not believe Avasarala. Avasarala does not have time to convince Bobbie because the Martian command has arrived to retrieve Bobbie.
In this episode, many people get answers to their questions but at a cost. Bobbie finally knows what the ocean looks like, however she has been horribly disillusioned in the process. Neither Earth nor Mars are what she thought they were. Prax knows where his daughter is, but he is repelled by what they had to do obtain the information. Naomi is afraid that the James Holden with whom she fell in love might be changing in a bad way. James S.A. Corey (author of the novels on which The Expanse is based) has said that the Protomolecule is Holden’s white whale. His search to find and destroy it is taking him down a dark path. Amos’s answer to Prax’s question about why he does what he does is chilling in its brutality.
How will Bobbie handle her newfound knowledge? Can the team save Mei? Why is Protogen on Ganymede? How far will Holden go to destroy the Protomolecule? Can Naomi save him from his own darker nature? What is the Protomolecule doing to Venus? There are three episodes left this season to answer these questions. If history is any indication, we will get answers to two or three of them, but The Expanse will give us many more questions.
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