THE EXPANSE Review: “The Weeping Somnambulist”

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Last week I said I was owed a whole episode of that was Chrisjen and Bobbie to make up for having to put up with Holden for a whole episode. “The Weeping Somnambulist” is basically everything I wanted with a little bit more that I wasn’t expecting. Full of politics, spies, science, and raids, the episode furthers every one of the multiple plots in the series while keeping all the disparate storylines deftly connected.

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How do I even begin to talk about Chrisjen and Bobbie? Imagine me transmogrifying into the living embodiment of the heart-eyed smiley emoji. The dynamics of the situation are so well done and let both characters’ strengths shine through. It’s clear that Bobbie both hates lying and yet wants to do her duty. Her discomfort with the lie that they’re telling to cover up the truth on Ganymede is what keys Chrisjen into the falsehood. It’s not that Bobbie intentionally has tells, its that she has so much integrity that she can’t help but bristle under destroying the character of her fallen comrade. Bobbie doesn’t even have to have an angry outburst for Chrisjen to get all the information that she needs to piece together what’s happening in the solar system—Chrisjen just presses gently on what she can already see are Bobbie’s psychological wounds. I love both of them so much. The dynamic here is in no way adversarial but diplomatic. The characters are not in direct conflict with each other, but the agendas of their respective organizations are forcing them to wheedle and obfuscate around any shred of information that they have. It’s literally exactly what I wanted. Not two powerful women trying to take each other down, but two powerful people at loggerheads on the opposite sides of a consequential situation. You feel like Bobbie wants to tell Chrisjen everything because she senses that Chrisjen would try to make things right and yet her duty and honor as a Marine means that she can’t say a word. Sometimes I seriously feel like The Expanse goes out of its way to smooth my ruffled feathers even when it had nothing to do with my feathers getting ruffled in the first place.

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What I’d almost forgotten about was the UN scientific mission to Venus to investigate the Eros impact site. How could I forget something like that? I cannot even find the name of Australian scientist guy but I love every conversation that takes place on that spaceship. The UN colonel is blinded by his preconceived idea that Eros is a Martian biological weapon gone awry and yet he keeps blasting the Australian scientist for “magical thinking” and “bad science” when the Australian guy is simply keeping an open mind. I’m an absolute sucker for good science in my fiction, especially when you get down to the ethics of and innovation. These two guys bickering about who is more of an asshole because they are on fundamentally different sides of an issue speaks straight to my heart. On the one hand you have a scientist who is doggedly clinging to the least complicated answer (“Mars did it”) which is usually a wise choice. In this case it closes him off to new discovery. On the other hand is the guy who is so open to every possibility that he sounds like he’s spinning fairy tales. In this case, he’s likely right, but to everyone with institutional power he just seems crazy. One believes that intelligence, by its nature, destroy itself and the other that intelligence is what can save civilization. On top of that, the Australian is Avasarala’s spy, sending her information about Eros so that she can gather all the pieces of the story unfiltered by her compromised colleagues. To summarize, this episode is giving us science, spies, and absolutely boss female politicians all at once. This show would be hard-pressed to make me personally any happier.

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The Rocinante crew was threaded through this episode in a minimal yet excellent way. The previous episode established that they were heading to Ganymede to find Prax’s daughter and figure out what the protomolecule was doing on the station. I love the Roci crew but the whole episode last week was focused exclusively on them and there’s so much else going on in the system. In “The Weeping Somnambulist,” their heist of a ship and plans to get onto Ganymede were an excellent way to move their story forward without devoting an entire 45 minutes to them again. They got from point A to point B, everyone got to show their usual stripes as hero, pragmatist, etc., and they were setup plenty for whatever mission they get up to next time. They even screwed up and got one of their captives killed, and I always love to see them screw up. It’s great to see Holden have to confront reality while trying to live in his ideals. Meanwhile Bobbie, Chrisjen, and the Earth mission to Venus got to be center stage. Also, Alex giving Amos that lasagna killed me. Those two characters could so easily be nothing, but the small details and personal stories that they’ve been given turn them into fully realized people. The main conflict for Amos and Alex this season has been how they deal with each other dealing with their circumstances. They’re both stoic, broken people running from their pasts so it’s inevitably messy when they have to deal with their issues and yet they ultimately support each other without their problems swallowing the whole narrative.

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Overall, yet another great episode of The Expanse. This time a little more catered to my own personal quirks than usual but that makes it all the more lovely.

 

TB-TV-Grade-A

Season 2, Episode 09 (S02E09)
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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