FoCC Review: The Expanse – Immolation

by Miclpea

SPOILER ALERT-Do not read if you have not seen Episode 306 of The Expanse
Quote of the Week- “You’re not that guy.”

This episode was directed by Jeff Woolnough and written for television by Alan DiFiore.

For those fans who have read the books, this episode coincides with the end of the second book in the series, Caliban’s War. There is a bittersweet quality to Immolation as the viewers say goodbye to a favorite character and witness the successful end to a search. Bobbie confronted her demon while Jules Mao, Errinwright, Strickland, and Admiral Nguyen received their just due. And finally, the Protomolecule completed whatever work that it was doing on Venus.

Immolation opened on Earth in the UN command center. The command center was in a state of shock as the Secretary General and his command team digested the news about the mutiny on the Agatha King. Sorrento-Gillis was outraged that UN ships were firing on each other. The problem for the UN Secretary General and his command staff was physics. It takes 39+ minutes for a message to travel from the Jovian system to Earth and another 39+ minutes for Earth’s response to reach the Jovian system. This is the beauty of The Expanse; the series uses real physics to help drive the story as well as to heighten the drama and tension.

On Io, Jules Mao wanted to give up when he and Dr. Strickland saw the assault team in their facility. Strickland instead suggested that they escape in their own ship using the children as shields. To aid in their escape, Strickland released the Katoa/Hybrid to stop the assault team while Mao ordered his people to fight for their lives against what they believed to be a Martian assault team.

While Mao and Strickland planned their escape, the assault team progressed farther into the base. They came upon the Protomolecule hybrid which Bobbie offered to lead away from the team by acting as a decoy. This allowed Holden to use the monitoring system to find the children and Strickland. He also used it to locate Jules Mao and his assistant.

This is the kind of scene that makes The Expanse such a tight drama. There is a logical and necessary split of the forces here. Bobbie needed to confront and face her demon that is the Protomolecule hybrid. Prax had to go after Mei and Strickland. Amos needed to stay with Prax because of his promise to Prax, and to possibly stop Prax from doing something he would regret for the rest of his life. This left Holden to go after the person responsible for everything, Jules-Pierre Mao. Holden’s encounter with Mao allowed him to confront and exorcise his demons, since it was Holden who knocked over the first domino when he logged the distress call in Season 1.

Bobbie finally came face to face with her demon on the surface of Io. Here she fought the hybrid in a brutal battle before they fell from the girders of one of the structures. The hybrid was about to kill Bobbie when it peered away into space, communing with the Protomolecule on Venus. Bobbie took this opportunity to fire her last rounds into the hybrid and killed it.

In the interior of the base, Prax and Amos found the children and Strickland. There was a heartwarming moment when Prax finally was reunited with his daughter. After Prax had Amos take the children away, it appeared that Prax was ready to kill Strickland. However, Amos had been watching Prax for some time and he was ready for this moment. He stopped Prax from making a mistake that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Instead, Amos shot Strickland. This scene between Amos, Prax, and Strickland was incredibly powerful  and moving as Amos quietly talked Prax off of the moral precipice. Strickland’s demise was perfect.

Meanwhile, on the Rocinante, Avasarala told Alex and Naomi that the hybrids were aimed at Mars. In order to stop them, Amos and Naomi took the racing yacht to the Agatha King to try and take command of the hybrids. They were only able to stop one hybrid vehicle before a new problem developed. Cotyar overloaded the active core of the engine, which set the ship to explode in minutes. Unfortunately, Cotyar had been infected with the Protomolecule. Naomi and Alex escaped the Agatha King before it exploded, but Cotyar stayed on board and was destroyed with the ship. Before she left the Agatha King, Naomi had turned on the transponders, which allowed the hybrid vehicles to be tracked.

On the way back to the Rocinante, Naomi suggested to the crew that there was only one way to destroy all of the hybrid vehicles. She wanted to give the transponder codes to Fred Johnson, which would allow him to use his nuclear missiles to track and destroy the vehicles. Holden, Alex, and Amos all agreed that this was the only way.

Events on Earth were also headed to a denouement. Anna revealed the evidence of Errinwright’s perfidy to Sorrento-Gillis. When Sorrento-Gillis confronted Errinwright with the evidence, instead of denying it, Errinwright took the opportunity to show his utter contempt for Sorrento-Gillis. Errinwright intimated that Sorrento-Gillis was just a coward who did not care about Earth, just his personal legacy. Errinwright is a truly great villain, who has never wavered in his belief that his cause was just and the cost was irrelevant. Sorrento-Gillis, on the other hand, is the worst sort of politician. He is an empty suit that is easily manipulated. Anna realized this at the end as Sorrento-Gillis told her that he planned to place the blame for all of the deaths on Errinwright.

The actors who play Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) and Sorrento-Gillis (Jonathan Whittaker) are superb. Doyle plays Errinwright as a nuanced character who truly believes that he is doing is best for Earth. Whittaker plays his character as a man who looks the part of a great politician but who is an empty suit moved and influenced by those who are smarter than he. His only concern is his legacy, not the people whom he governs.

In the end, Errinwright was exposed. He and Jules Mao will be tried for treason. Strickland was killed. Fred Johnson used his missiles to destroy the hybrids. Admiral Nguyen died aboard the Agatha King along with a true hero, Cotyar Ghazi. Prax found Ming and Amos stopped him from becoming a murderer. Naomi and Holden became a couple again, however, Naomi planned to leave the Rocinante. It would appear that all is right in the system, except that the Protomolecule chose this moment to launch itself from Venus. It was not a pretty sight; Venus seemed to extrude an unsightly wart as the Protomolecule sped into space. The next episode is when the fans will finally discover what the Protomolecule really is. Viewers should be prepared to have their minds blown.

As I have previously reported, Syfy has cancelled The Expanse. Please sign the petition at Change. Org to find The Expanse a new home. If you want to help save The Expanse, check out this website, https://savetheexpanse.org/, to discover what you can do to help. For more information about the fan efforts to save the series, here is a link to our article, Save The Expanse Campaign Takes Flight.

Miclpea

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.