THE EXPANSE Review: “Static”

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I love the episode names for . They’re always relevant in a concrete way, but then become so in a metaphorical way as well. This episode, entitled “Static,” featured some bizarre noises coming from whatever is growing on Eros, but equally featured all of the characters in stasis. Everyone is waiting, gauging, processing, and yet still every plotline moves forward.

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Our Rocinante crew came through the last battle physically unscathed but all four of them are dealing with things in their own way. Amos, unblinded by righteousness or agenda, can read the motivations and desires of the lone researcher better than anyone else. Amos is the one who gets him to give up all the information he has by giving him what he wants. Amos is my not-so-secret favorite from last season. He uses Naomi as his conscience and is ruthlessly practical in every situation. He has a clarity when assessing situations that’s not clouded by moral judgements. It’s not that he’s amoral or sociopathic, he’s just too practical for that to matter. He reads situations, dispenses his observations, and does whatever is needed. Another character who I love to see getting some love and is Alex. First his guilt at not saving more people on Eros and now his guilt at letting one of the pods get blown up shows that he has much more depth than just being the pilot. His past is a mystery (as is Naomi’s) and that’s a fine hook they could bite if they ever wanted to. But mostly, his berating himself and trying to run the simulation in such a way that he can save everyone shows a combination of heart and insecurity that I find endearing.

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For his part, Holden sees every situation in stark terms of morality. It must be exhausting to live that way. Naomi calls him out on his apparent hypocrisy and lack of sensitivity when it comes to killing killers. It works well because the disagreement between them stems from their different worldviews and life experiences. Holden is the kind of character who can get annoying very quickly, but somehow they manage to keep him charming. I think it’s because he genuinely wants to help people who are hurt or in danger rather than being so relentlessly sanctimonious to feed his own egotistical self-image as so often seems to happen with white knight type characters. For her part, Naomi basically goes on a party spree with some Belters. The various Belter characters embracing their origins in the face of genocide and misunderstanding from their Earther and Martian peers is subtle but excellent. Naomi’s moral compass is just as strong as Holden’s but she’s also much more bound by reason.

Miller gets kicked off the Rocinante because of Holden’s righteous indignation and slums around with the kid from Ceres for awhile. His name is Diogo, I think? Again, I love how that kid keeps cropping up over the whole course of the series. Miller’s new-found identity as a hardcore Belter is like the melting of his cool, cynical outer layer. The kid is also the one who first tells us that Eros is broadcasting noise. Additionally, Miller getting more information on the Mormons’ giant ship is both a plot point and a beautiful scene. I’m almost sorry I read the book and a half of this series that I did. I really wanted to know what happened but now I wish I could get all the clues as the show told me what all was going on.

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I’m still marveling at the balance that adding a squad of Martian marines gives to the whole story. It’s one thing to talk about how militaristic Mars as show the UN scheming against them. It’s entirely another to have both of those things and then show the reactions that actual Martians have and the real-life impact that political actions have on people. The Martians also have business beyond being reactionary. The internal conflict in the squad between the Martian-born and Earth-born allows them to explore themes of patriotism and immigration and forces them to reconcile their minor differences. It’s good business and provides plenty of room for showcasing the low-level consequences of high-level actions. Building up all of these characters is also wonderful because I remember how we meet them in the and it’s abrupt.

Chrisjen, the UN Under-Secretary was barely in this, but her brief appearances were important. She gets in touch with Fred Johnson and Johnson, in turn, sends her the location of a stealth ship. I’m not 100% sure what that was? I need to rewatch the last season again and pay better attention. There are so many things it could be. I’m thinking it’s either some specs from the Donager or data about the Scopuli. At any rate, I love that she’s willing to commit treason to try to prevent war in the solar system. The other Under-Secretary is in cahoots with Mao and the corporations working on the protomolecule. It’s the perfect political plot full of corruption and personal interest on one side and law-breaking for the greater good on the other. Chrisjen fascinates me because she respects the existence of the law but she’s also not afraid to break it herself when necessary.

When this episode ended I swore very loudly because I wanted it to just keep going forever. I love how well each episode tells a contained narrative but sets up the next one perfectly. Yeah, it’s . It’s supposed to be episodic. But it’s so good at telling a bigger story in discrete chunks that it emphasizes how infrequently that actually happens in serialized storytelling—especially in space opera.

TB-TV-Grade-A

Season 2, Episode 03 (S02E03)
The Expanse airs Wednesday at 10PM on SyFy

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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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