This week’s episode was a microcosm of the series on a whole as it really illustrated the kind of masterful storytelling that has made The Expanse so fantastic. Not only does it deliver on the Ganymede situation in a number of ways, there are some smaller character moments that were executed perfectly. Additionally, the cast really brings it in this episode which gave every scene a sense of gravitas with Shawn Doyle being the standout as Sadavir Errinwright.
Errinwright as a character has had one of the more interesting personal journeys in the series. Initially, it seemed as though he would be a pure villain but this season his story got turned on its head as his conscience seemed to get the better of him in the wake of the Eros disaster. By the start of this episode, you even feel somewhat sympathetic for the man as he clearly thought he was doing what was best for Earth and it looked like he was going to do the right thing and come clean about it all during the hearing about the Eros affair.
Interestingly, they twist it so none of that happens and he takes a bit of a heel turn as he’s once again positioned to be a problem standing in the way of system stability. Lashing out like a cornered animal, he goes to extremes we didn’t realize he was capable of as he kills his Martian counterpart and orders a strike on an MCRN ship above Ganymede. He now seems to be in a considerably more powerful position than he previously was, which is likely to carryover into next season considering this season is winding down quickly.
Avasarala takes the meeting with Jules-Pierre Mao, which oddly provided some much-needed levity in an otherwise very serious episode. The importance of the meeting turns out to not be about negotiations between Avasarala and Mao, instead serving as the event that allows Errinwright to seize control of the situation. It’s clear that in his own twisted view he’s acting in the best interest of Earth explaining that he’s simply doing what Avasarala had once told him – Earth must always come first. These kind of hard line stances seen by Earthers, Martians, and Belters are akin to the kind of nationalist sentiments that typically lead countries into wars in the real world.
Meanwhile, the situation on Ganymede has become much worse as the cascade of failing systems Prax predicted is happening a lot quicker than he anticipated, endangering the lives of hundreds of Belters. Naomi and Amos return to The Weeping Somnambulist to help where they can which leads to a truly beautiful moment in the episode. The ship only has enough air to take on some of the refugees and the Belters prove civil enough that many are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may live. These scenes were executed wonderfully enabling the episode to pack a very effective emotional punch by the end.
It’s also interesting to note that it’s not the more advanced or well-off Earthers or Martians we see making these kinds of amazing sacrifices in The Expanse. Instead, it’s the downtrodden Belters that generally seem to display the most empathy for people and more often act in purely altruistic ways – though there are outliers.
Also on Ganymede, Holden, Alex, and Prax go looking for the Protomolecule being that they saw running on the surface of the moon. The sequence sees Alex and Prax both constantly trying to dissuade Holden from continuing the search. Naturally, he doesn’t listen as he continues to order Alex to pilot them carefully through the wreckage of a giant dome on the surface. However, the excursion isn’t a complete waste as the end of the episode reveals that one of the Protomolecule beings has stowed away on the Rocinante, which made for a really interesting way to lead into next week’s finale.
While it might not be the absolute pinnacle of the season, this episode of The Expanse is definitely up there with the best of them. The narrative was driven forward in an interesting way, plus it delivered some really fantastic and emotional moments.
GEEK Grade: A
Be sure to check out the preview for next week’s season finale right here:
The last episode of the season will air on Syfy next Wednesday at 10:00 pm.
Written by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
Directed by Robert Lieberman