FoCC Review: The Expanse- Season 3 Finale

by Miclpea

Part 1-Congregation, Part 2-Abaddon’s Gate
SPOILER ALERT-Do not read if you have not seen Episode 312 of The Expanse
Quote of the Week- “Everyone leaves unfinished business. That’s what dying is.” Hate is a burden.”

Congregation was directed by Jennifer Phang and written for television by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.
Abaddon’s Gate was directed by Simon Cellan Jones and written for television by Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck and Naren Shankar.

With the Season 3 finale, one of the greatest journeys in science fiction television, which started in Season 1 with a missing heiress, ends with a monumental revelation. It was fun, exhilarating, heartwarming, gut-wrenching, and mind-blowing. There were good guys and villains, heroes (who made the ultimate sacrifice), families torn apart, and then reunited. But the most important revelation was the true purpose of the Protomolecule: it’s a gateway to the stars!

Congregation and Abaddon’s Gate were seamlessly combined in a way which seemed more like a feature film than two television episodes. I was incredibly fortunate as I saw the finale on the big screen at an event arranged by Alcon Entertainment in Los Angeles. It had originally been planned as a farewell to the show, but with The Expanse’s renewal under Amazon, it turned into a celebration of their new home (and hopefully multiple seasons at Amazon). The episodes were beautiful to behold and more exciting to watch with the people who actually made these episodes. Before we discuss the Season 3 finale, here is a recap of Season 3.

  • The perfidy of Errinwright plunged the Solar System into war.
  • The crew changed the name of the Rocinante to the Pinus Contorta to disguise the ship.
  • The Behemoth was commissioned as the flagship of the Belter fleet.
  • Bobbie saves Avasarala and they join the crew of the Pinus Contorta
  • Anna tries to help the UN Secretary-General do the right thing but she is stymied by Errinwright.
  • Jules Pierre-Mao and Dr. Strickland continued their experimentation on the children on Io.
  • Admiral Souther led a failed mutiny on the Agatha King.
  • Avasarala was able to send the evidence of Errinwright’s treachery to Anna who gave it UN Secretary-General Sorrento-Gillis.
  • Cotyar sacrificed himself to destroy the Protomolecule infected Agatha King.
  • Bobbie defeated the last Protomolecule hybrid on Io and exorcised her demons.
  • Fred Johnson saved Mars by destroying the hybrid capsules headed to infect Mars.
  • Errinwright and Jules Pierre Mao were brought to justice.
  • We learned about Alex’s family on Mars.
  • Naomi revealed that she has a son who was taken from her.
  • Naomi joined the Belters on the Behemoth.
  • Klaes Ashford was a truly complicated character.
  • Melba Koh was revealed to be Clarissa Mao and the saboteur of the UN supply ship.

For most of Season 3, the key players were spread throughout the system, but in the finale, these people and the major political forces were all present on the Behemoth: Klaes Ashford and Camina Drummer for the Belters, Commander Chandra Lucas (Yanna MacIntosh) for Mars, Commander Kunis (Sean Baek) for Earth, Monica Stuart for the free press, Anna Volovodov for faith, and the crew of the Rocinante. Yet clearly the most important player was Holden, who, because of Miller, found himself being the “voice” of the Ring station. He was also the voice of hope which offered the chance to save those in the Ring, and possibly everyone in the Solar System. While Holden seemed to be the unreasonable voice, Ashford sounded like the voice of reason as well as the salvation of humanity.

In order to understand the properties of the Ring and the slow zone, one of the scientists aboard the UN vessel, Kolvoord (Chris Owens), proposed exploding a nuclear weapon in the slow zone. While the action seemed somewhat insane considering what happened with a simple grenade explosion on the station, previous data indicated that a powerful explosion might weaken the slow field enough to release them, while not harming the station. Among the Mars, Belter, and Earth leadership aboard the Behemoth, Ashford was the leader who felt it was worth a try. The explosion did provide new data but not what they expected.

This action prompted the station into believing that all the vessels were a threat and it prepared to destroy them, as well possibly the entire system. In order to prevent this, Ashford proposed weaponizing the Behemoth’s powerful communication laser to destroy the Ring. Everyone in the Ring would die, but humanity would be saved. With what he knew, Ashford’s response was not incorrect. However, Ashford’s and humanity’s response to the Protomolecule throughout the series has always been to escalate actions. Eros, Ganymede, Io, grenades on the station, and finally the nuclear explosion were all escalations of destruction. Holden tried to explain to the others that they needed to stop and realize that humanity needed to stand down. Miller had communicated to Holden that the only way to save all those in the Ring and, possibly humanity, was to shut off all of the nuclear power plants on every ship. If all of the ships did this, then the station would no longer consider them a threat. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Ashford could not give into the idea of not fighting something bigger than himself. It was the Belter in him. He could sacrifice himself to save humanity but he could not stop fighting “Goliath.”

Fortunately for all of humanity, Clarissa had finally come to her senses. She and others with any electrical repair capability were on the bridge completing repairs. When Holden and Naomi arrived to reason with Ashford, Ashford ordered his people to kill Holden and Naomi. However, Clarissa, who had been freed of her chemical restraints, stopped Ashford’s people and shut down the Behemoth‘s nuclear engines. Clarissa redeemed herself and saved everyone on the Behemoth possibly the entire Solar System as well. With the shutdown of the last nuclear engine, the station did an extraordinary thing; it opened multiple Rings which connected to more than 1,000 planets around the galaxy! In the final moments of the episode, ships from Earth, Mars, and the Belt were headed to the new worlds to explore and possibly settle them.

The galaxy has opened for mankind, Naomi and Holden are back together. Bobbie has returned home to the Rocinante and Clarissa has redeemed herself. Proto-Miller has talked to Holden and the stage is set for Season 4 as humanity prepares to embark on its greatest journey to the stars.

The finale beautifully set up so many more questions which still need to be answered: what will humanity find among the stars, what happened to the builders of the Protomolecule, why does Proto-Miller want a ride to the stars, will humanity take darkness or light to the stars, and is humanity done with the Protomolecule? Hopefully, Amazon will allow The Expanse time to answer all of these questions.

As of the writing of this article, the cast and crew are scheduled to return to work in Toronto in September with filming to take place through December 2018. Season 4 will only have 10 episodes; however, each episode will not be constrained by the hourly format of network television. I know all of the fans are as excited as I am for Season 4 and beyond!

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.