FoCC Review -The Expanse: Assured Destruction

by Miclpea

SPOILER ALERT-Do not read if you have not seen Episode 303 of The Expanse
Quote of the Week- “How do you know what it’s like to walk in pumps?”

Both the cast and crew promised that Season 3 of The Expanse would take fans to new heights and Episode 303 is living up to that promise! From the first to the last moments of this episode, the action is non-stop and the tension is palpable. The writing is at times almost surreal but it clearly works as it illustrates both the horrors of war and the absurdities of life. What other single episode could have both a strike from space that kills hundreds of thousands of people and Amos talking about wearing pumps?

Season 3 has gone back to its roots of Season 1 as there are at least 5 different storylines which will converge in the future.

  • Errinwright pushing Sorrento-Gillis into escalating the war between Earth and Mars
  • The illegal Protomolecule research on Io and the effects on the children and those who watch them.
  • Cotyar’s fate as he is rescued by the UN vessel the Agatha King.
  • The ratcheting up of the tension aboard the Pinus Contorta when Avasarala and Bobbie join them.
  • The Protomolecule is doing something on Venus!

On Earth, Errinwright (brilliantly played by Shawn Doyle) seductively plays on Secretary General Sorrento-Gillis’ vanity as he provokes Sorrento-Gillis into launching a preemptive strike against Mars. Unfortunately, the strike is not 100% effective because Mars is able to a launch a strike against Earth which immediately kills over a million people. Errinwright, in his most Machiavellian moment, tries to shift the blame for their deaths to Sorrento-Gillis’ earlier vacillation. The reality is that Errinwright is ultimately responsible because his lies and manipulations have led to this outcome.

Meanwhile, at the research facility on Io, the experimentation on the children by Dr. Strickland is proceeding at a rapid pace. However, this is the first time that Jules-Pierre Mao has had to deal with the horrors of the experimentation face to face. In a departure from the novels, he actually meets and befriends Mei. It appears that Mei might remind him of Julie as a child and he becomes attached to her. When one of the children suffers a seizure, Jules orders Strickland to shut down the research. However, Jules might not have the final word on this.

On board the drop-ship, Cotyar and the surviving crew member from the Guanshiyin receive notification that the UNN Agatha King is rescuing them. Unfortunately for the crew member, Cotyar realizes that under UN interrogation, this poor fellow would reveal everything he knows, which would get him, Cotyar, Bobbie, and Avasarala killed. Cotyar kills the crewman to keep himself and the others safe.

After being rescued by the Agatha King, Cotyar is held prisoner aboard the ship. Admiral Augusto Nguyễn (Byron Mann) arrives to interrogate Cotyar, who has been held incommunicado awaiting Nguyen’s arrival. In Season 2, Admiral Nguyen was a loud voice for war with Mars. Admiral Souther (Martin Roach) realizes that something is wrong, so he secretly questions Cotyar and discovers the truth. Admiral Nguyen takes command of the Agatha King and commands her to head to Io. It appears that he is part of Errinwright’s conspiracy. The situation on the Pinus Contorta is no less tense as it is still on course for Io. Holden has basically told Naomi that she can take the Razorback to Tycho if Bobbie and Avasarala don’t want the ship. This would appear to put the final nail in the coffin for their relationship.

After she recovers, Avasarala initially does not wants to go to Io. She would rather take her information about Errinwright back to Earth to stop the war. But, Holden insists they go to Io. Eventually, Avasarala backs his move to go to Io but for her own reasons. Naomi is not fooled by Avasarala as she has seen brilliant political manipulators like Avasarala in her past. Naomi plans to stay on board to keep an eye on Avasarala, or at least, that is her excuse for staying.

The rest of the crew is getting acclimated to Bobbie and Avasarala, even while they are still trying to come to grips with Naomi’s betrayal. Amos looks to Prax as his new moral compass, since he can no longer trust Naomi. One scene, which is indicative of this new bromance, is when Prax asks Amos how he escaped from Baltimore. This is a very telling moment where Amos reveals that the only way to escape from Baltimore is to die. Amos tells Prax that he escaped by dying. If the viewer has read The Churn, this is a phenomenally revealing moment about Amos and his history.

In this episode, Amos has the best lines. Amos’ interaction with Bobbie and Avasarala is both intense and comedic. It is intense when Bobbie wants to take control of the ship. It is comedic when Avasarala questions Amos about his instructions on how to wear the magnetic boots. Amos’ response to her question is hilarious. Yes, it involves wearing pumps.

But viewers should not forget about the Protomolecule on Venus. It is still active, even after it disassembled the Arboghast over Venus. If the viewer has read the novels, then they know that the Protomolecule is so much more than humankind can understand. One question that a viewer who has not read the novels might ask is whether or not the Protomolecule will destroy humanity before the war does. Only this season will tell us the answer.

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I love going to conventions around the US. I'm an ardent fan of all things science fiction and especially The Expanse. I write for Friends of CC and I have written a science fiction script with a friend.