“Godspeed” pulls back for a wider view of what’s happening in THE EXPANSE universe, giving the show an opportunity to show of its special effects while leaping the plot forward. Overall, the pacing was slow and the story was 75% exposition, but that final 25% was tight and riveting. This wasn’t my favorite episode of the series, but it was engaging and ultimately ends on a compelling lead into the next one.
I can’t decide if I like the politics most in this show or the real-world implications for all the people out in space when these Earthers make policy. Really, it’s having both sides that makes it so complex and fascinating. I could watch an entire show that’s nothing but Chrisjen Avasarala playing politics on Earth. I guess that would be like Space C-SPAN, but I’d be so into it. Can you imagine navigating the legal and political turmoil of an entire solar system? I mean, yeah, you can because you watch this show and you see it happening, but I’d be fine if all we did was follow her through her daily meetings and briefings etc. It would definitely not be this space opera adventure series (which I love) but I’d be satisfied with Space C-SPAN. Chrisjen is constantly in charge and she’s so good at reading people’s ulterior motives. I love watching her work. I particularly enjoyed her meeting with Mao and Errinwright (the guy in the UN working with Mao.) It’s clear that her UN comrade underestimates her , but Mao is on her level when it comes to understanding the games that they’re playing with each other. I still don’t know (and don’t remember from what bit I read of the books) what Mao is up to and why the heck he’d want the protomolecule for anything, but I love how savvy he is and am pleased he’s a more active presence in the story right now.
The first half of this episode, Chrisjen notwithstanding, drags a bit. It’s about thirty minutes of logistics and all the setup for the ten minutes of non-stop difficult decisions and consequences at the end. To be fair, it’s necessary to explain just how and why the Mormon’s ship gets going, why everyone ends up at Eros, etc. and it was a good opportunity to show off the series’ special effects. It just felt like there was a lot of dead time where logistics overshadowed character and story. It was like moving the set pieces into place between acts of a play. The one character who really gets to shine throughout the entire episode is Miller. His cynicism is on full display but also his pragmatism and altruistic streak. In TV Tropes parlance, he’s a Knight in Sour Armor—one of my favorite archetypes. His basic worldview is that humanity is awful and probably overall not worth saving but he’ll save them anyway. He understands all the petty political squabbling that would result from broadcasting what’s actually happening on Eros and resolves that they’re just going to have to destroy it themselves. Then he sets about making that happen. He’s a crusty jerk and I love him.
Watching a whole bunch of people set up a demolition mission without a hitch would be unbearably boring, so the various monkey wrenches that crop up in their plan are welcome. The Rocinante crew gets some exposition duty when they check on all the strange goings-on within Eros. The heat and the voices coupled with the lack of activity are all fascinating pieces of the mystery of what the heck is going on with the protomolecule. To my mind, the ship full of humanitarian medical personal is the best part of this episode. Holden is obnoxiously self-righteous and forcing him to make a decision to kill innocent people to save so many others adds immeasurably to his likability. He made the correct decision given the circumstances and his pompous moralizing was directly confronted by the ambiguities of reality. I do like Holden, but I like it even more when his idealized worldview is challenged and he has to do things that he believes would compromise his integrity.
Not only does Holden have to kill people, but in doing so there are serious consequences for the entire mission. Miller and his young Belter friend Diogo are directly in the path of the debris from the destroyed ship and one of their bombs gets damaged. That forces yet another hard choice between life and death that crusty Miller in his hardboiled way is more than willing to shoulder. The sequence of events from Holden trying to be diplomatic straight through to Miller staying behind on Eros is causally linked in such a satisfying way that it makes up for this episode boring me earlier.
“Godspeed” has a lot of big picture plot machinations and only a smidgen of character development but it has enough to be getting on with. The story itself moves forward immensely even while it reduces everyone to cogs in the wheel. I’m more of a character girl myself, so I felt like this episode was weaker than usual. That said, we’re dealing with system-wide high-level events here. The episode ended strongly with an excellent lead into the next which is the best way to end any serial story.
Season 2, Episode 04 (S02E04)
The Expanse airs Wednesday at 10PM on SyFy
Dana is a digitization archivist by day and a masked pop culture avenger by night. She spreads the gospel of science fiction and fantasy wherever she goes.
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Dana Leigh Brand | Contributor