Wow. The Expanse really took its time setting the table, but in Episode 4, "CQB," the stakes got real as the Donager's conflict with its mysterious assailants commenced ... then escalated. Meanwhile, Avasarala grasps at the threads of a mystery and Miller discovers there may be more going on with Julie Mao's disappearance than meets the eye.
Below, Blastr's Adam Swiderski and Cher Martinetti break down what felt like a major step for the series.
Warning: Spoilers for Episode 4 of The Expanse, "CQB," follow.
Adam: Holy crap. So, after two episodes full of exposition, things got going in a major way in Episode 4. Miller's investigation, while interesting, is still a slow burn, and Avasarala is kind of at sea thanks to the fact that she now has no idea who blew up the Canterbury, but the majority of this episode was dedicated to an attack by unknown forces on the Donager, and I felt like that segment absolutely delivered on multiple fronts. We get to see the heroism and idealism of Holden start to reach a more mature form (nice bit of character development having him race for a fallen trooper to see if he was OK rather than for the trooper's gun), we get to see the Knight crew start to come together and find their chemistry and their roles, and we get some intense action in both ship-to-ship and infantry combat.
What did you think? Did this episode hit the spot for you the way it did for me?
Cher: Yeah, definitely. We had the chance to watch the first four eps in advance, so it's been killing me knowing how much things take off in this episode and having wait for everyone else to catch up. And things really escalate in this one, for all the reasons you just mentioned right out of the gate.
I also ended up really liking the Captain of the Martian ship. Kinda sucks considering her fate. But the Martians went from an imposing, potentially sinister agent in the previous eps (which is the vibe I was getting off them) to being more standup. Or maybe it was just because they had no way out of that scenario.
Also -- YAY CHAD COLEMAN!
Adam: For real. I don't know that there's a casting choice in the show I'm happier about than Chad Coleman as Fred Johnson. Not to give too much away, but that character is THE BOMB, and Coleman (who I'll always think of as Cutty from the Cut) is going to have a lot to work with in bringing him to life. The scene in this episode, in which he intimidates a member of the Mormon church to exert control over construction of the sect's colonization ship was a pretty sweet introduction, setting up some intrigue as to why it's so important to him.
I agree about the Martians -- they really turned it around. I'm actually going to miss Cpl. Dookie, and not just because of his name. The guy obviously knew how to step up when the s*** hit the fan.
And, speaking of things hitting and ventilation, what about Shed's death? I knew that was coming from my read of Leviathan Wakes, but I did *not* expect it to be depicted so viscerally on screen. And given that I actually liked the character a lot more on the show than in the book, I was sad to see him go. Are you going to miss Shed?
Cher: I'm so conflicted about Shed, because I really liked him, but that was a really cool death scene. The way the blood made that gross little bubble and his hands were floating until they sealed the holes? So gross. So cool.
But Shed added a comic relief that worked. Thankfully, we still had some humor with Alex having to wake up and fly.
Back to Fred and the Mormons. That was a great way to introduce that character. And you can already see that relationship isn't very trusting or stable. Also, I think this is another example of how there is so much going on in Leviathan Wakes that there's no way they can get to it all in Season 1. I wonder if this will have the GOT effect where people run out and start reading the books?
Adam: I really hope so, because those books deserve any success they get. Unfortunately, I don't think the show's as big a hit out of the gate as Game of Thrones was, but here's hoping people stuck around until now, because I think things are really going to start picking up in terms of the story's momentum.
Was there anything that didn't work for you in this episode? For me -- other than Avasarala's bits feeling tacked on, which has been a problem from the beginning -- I think the biggest issue was one that, sadly, can't be avoided given that we're talking about non-premium TV here ... and that's the effects. The ship-to-ship stuff was cool, but any time humans were involved, things just looked a little bit TV budget ... which, I know, they are, and maybe there's no way around it, but it's definitely something that hit me at a couple of points.
Cher: I have to agree with Avasarala. The only thing that whole scene with her laying on the roof achieved was making me hate her annoying grandson. Unless that was the point and he eventually gets killed in some random plot twist.
I can see what you're saying about the effects, but to be honest they weren't distractingly budget-looking like on other networks (cough CW cough). At least, not to me. I hope this momentum keeps up, though.
Adam: Me, too. And I hope people who may have been in a wait-and-see pattern on the show take this as an invitation to dive in. I know Syfy is our corporate parent, and all, but simply as a fan of space-based science fiction (and, of course, of these books), I want The Expanse to survive and thrive. With our main cast now autonomous and in command of their own Martian warship, things are really opening up, possibility-wise, and it'd be a shame if this show didn't get the chance I think we both feel like it deserves to spread its wings.
What did you think of Episode 4 of The Expanse? Let us know in the comments!