THE EXPANSE Review: “Here There Be Dragons”

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finally shows off some of its monsters in “Here There Be Dragons,” paying off one of its big mysteries in a satisfying way that leaves plenty of room for future plot . Every character has a chance to test their integrity and to choose their own battles. While there was the traditional split between the Rocinante crew on the ground (as it were) in the Belt and Chrisjen’s Inner Planet politics, so much happened that moved forward both storylines that they’re finally tied together in a more concrete way. Holden and company are on Ganymede discovering creepy science experiments on children while Bobbie and Chrisjen deal with the political fallout on Earth from those very experiments. The Expanse is a slow-burn kind of show but it always pays off your time and attention by the end.

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Bobbie and Chrisjen continue to be my favorite things in this show. Bobbie seems to have decided that if the Martian Marines aren’t loyal to her and her team then she doesn’t have to be loyal to them and their lies. She takes an action that she knows is so drastic that she’ll basically never be able to go back to Mars again, yet saving the lives of millions of people is worth that to her. She assaults her superior officer, forces him to give her information, and then runs straight to Chrisjen with it. Chrisjen, in turn, has a wonderful day. She gathers all of the information that she’s been seeking about the protomolecule, the Martians, Mao’s experiments—basically everything going on in the entire system. Bobbie comes to her with Martian intel about super-soldier experiments, her scientist friend on the UN mission to Venus sends her all the information they have from their trip to the Eros impact site, Jules-Pierre Mao himself gets in contact with her, and she’s still getting inside information from Errinwright. Chrisjen is fully earning her unofficial title of Boss of the Universe.

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Chrisjen’s conversation and agreement to meet with Mao also struck me hard because it underscored how powerful these few people are. They could literally end humanity with a single mistake. That level of hubris is mind-blowing and harkens back to 1940s and ’50s scientists in fiction who were portrayed (and rightfully so) as the terrifying purveyors of atomic technology. That was when you started to get both military v. science plots (so strong manly men could rescue us from those eggheads!) or scientists were portrayed as so ultra-rational and emotionless (read: masculine themselves) that you felt comfortable with those people having the key to ending all life on Earth. I suppose the equivalent to atomic technology in our culture today would be bio-weapons and genetic engineering. That they achieve it in this story through a strange alien contagion is just a bit of whimsy.

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The Rocinante crew plays their part out in the Belt as they continue to hunt down the protomolecule and rescue Prax’s daughter Mei from Ganymede station. What they find is yet another group of weird scientists who seem to have taken a bunch of children and shot them up with protomolecule to turn them into alien weapons. Honestly, if they’re really turning children into human-protomolecule hybrids intended for use as super soldiers that’s so many cliches smashed together that it both makes me roll my eyes and transcends all those cliches to a higher level of awesome. I don’t know. They’re gonna have to prove themselves to me on this one. Is the power of daddy love going to stop Mei the raging super soldier alien thing from causing untold galactic destruction? I like Prax so I might be okay with that. Don’t know yet. Again, it’ll have to prove itself to me.

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Alex out on his own in space is just as important and, like last week, provides a bit of levity. He figures out a slick way to get the Roci through the Martian no-fly zone so he can rescue his friends without getting captured. I’m amused that the original perception of Alex was that he was a kind of bumbling cowboy given how great of a pilot he’s proven himself to be. He’s not an invincible ace, but he’s good in stressful situations and incredibly intelligent when it comes to problem-solving. It also kills me that he has such a wonderful Southern accent. In the I think the Martian valley he’s from was settled by Texans or some nonsense. Cas Anvar is Canadian but he nails that accent like a native which is rare even amongst Americans. At any rate, this show tickles me so much because of how well it uses actual science. Using multiple gravity wells to slingshot yourself towards a target is smart and just plain satisfying. The Expanse constantly proves that you don’t have to make up physics-defying nonsense to be cool.

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There was, in fact, a major break in the Rocinante crew. The gang is splitting up, with Naomi and Amos going back to the ship they came in on, intent on rescuing people from Ganymede while Alex, Prax, and Holden chasing the weird alien monster thing. This show has no problem following multiple storylines so as long as we still get to spend time with all of them, that’s fine. Naomi was spending like 90% of her energy telling Holden he was being dumb, and Amos is one of my favorite creatures. I highly doubt they’d just drop them out of the story but crazier things have happened on shows. Anyway, I’d be super bored if the only story they had to tell was lamo Holden’s.

As usual, The Expanse delivers yet another great episode full of situations that test the characters’ mettle, give us lots of plot information, and move everything forward.

TB-TV-Grade-A

Season 2, Episode 11 (S02E11)
The Expanse airs Wednesday at 10PM on SyFy

Read all of our reviews of The Expanse here.
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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.
Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaLeighBrand
Keep up with all of Dana’s reviews here.

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