The Expanse introduces the Butcher of Anderson Station and deepens its central mystery

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Jan 6, 2016, 12:06 PM EST

Every week, Blastr editors Adam Swiderski and Cher Martinetti discuss the happenings in the latest episode of The Expanse. See our chat below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

After last week's big action movie climax, Syfy's (Corporate parent of Blastr - Ed.) The Expanse chilled things out a bit in its fifth episode. It was the first in which we didn't visit Chrisjen Avasarala on Earth, focusing instead on doing some character development with the crew of the Tachi -- sorry, the Rocinante -- and deepening the mystery as Miller dug further into the disappearance of Julie Mao. All that, and we learned why Fred Johnson might have to work to earn anyone's trust as the show unfolded the story of the Butcher of Anderson Station.

Cher: So, first things first: HAVELOCK'S ALIVE! I thought he may have been a goner for a second. Apparently his relationship with the Belter prostitute isn't sitting well with Miller. Come to think of it, are there ANY Belters Miller actually likes that aren't paying him off? 

You know that whole saying "one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter." I feel like that applies when it comes to the OPA. . As for our crew in limbo -- Holden's definitely becoming a little more leader-esque and even seems to be winning over Amos a bit, or at least getting him to not instantly reject every and anything he says. Naomi definitely has no love for Fred Johnson, and this may or may not have been the ideal time for Amos to have an opinion of his own for once in talking her out of wanting to accept his help. 

This episode kind of felt like two magnets getting closer and closer as far as where Miller is in the Julie Mao case and what's up with Holden and crew. You can almost feel those two pieces slowly pulling together. 

Adam: Totally, but I also feel like this was the first episode in which the Holden/crew story arc wasn't the most compelling and immediate part. I mean, I think they earned a bit of a breather after Episode 4, but it felt mostly like they were gathering momentum for whatever comes next. Meanwhile, Miller's investigation into Julie Mao's disappearance is really picking up steam, and I'm loving the dynamic between him and Anderson Dawes, which was on full display in the scene in which Dawes tries to buy Miller off the Mao case with the gift of Havelock's attacker. It feels like Miller is just a thorn in everybody's side, OPA or inner planets, and it's kind of got that JFK vibe of letting justice be done though the heavens fall. I dig it.

All that said, I really want to talk about Fred freakin' Johnson. I love Chad Coleman as an actor, so I'm psyched to see him in this role, but I thought it was really interesting the way they told the story of the Butcher of Anderson Station through the eyes of the victims. That shot of the insurrectionist and his daughter floating through the void after the station was destroyed was one of the most affecting the show has done so far, in my opinion.

How are you feeling about the way the show is handling Fred?

Cher: It's funny you mention that shot, because I actually didn't like it. I know I said last time that the TV restrictions on budget when it comes to effects haven't been distracting to me, but that specific shot with the insurrectionist and his daughter felt very CW. Sorry.

As for how they told his story through the eyes of the victims, overall that worked for me. You see that Fred Johnson is a far bigger threat, and possible sociopath, than anyone probably expects at this point. Basically, our crew looks like they may end up a creek without a paddle. 

I also love that Chad Coleman is playing someone SO different from Tyreese on TWD. I mean, he became a fan favorite whose death was a total bummer. Didn't his role actually get extended because of how well liked that character was? I don't think we'll be saying the same about Fred.

Adam: I'm actually not sure about that. I mean, remember, genre fans now consider Jaime Lannister one of the best characters on Game of Thrones ... and that's a guy who threw a kid out of a window in the very first episode. Sure, Fred Johnson murdered a bunch of space factory workers ... but you get the impression he didn't really enjoy it. Plus, it's Chad Coleman. Who's not going to like Chad Coleman?

For me, though, the MVP of this episode is Jared Harris as Anderson Dawes. That guy makes it look pretty easy in his scene with Miller. And we find out more about Julie Mao -- that the helpless little rich girl wasn't so helpless after all. The plot thickens.

So, do you think the show maintained the momentum it created in Episode 4?

Cher: To be fair, Jamie Lannister is hot, so there's a bit of a bias when it comes to him based solely on his looks. I'm sure if he was played by someone that didn't look like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, people wouldn't be so quick to overlook the whole "trying to kill kids and incest with your sister" thing. But Chad Coleman is kinda the man, so we shall see.

I like that we are learning more about Julie Mao, and that Miller is getting himself deeper into a heavier and more serious situation than anyone first expected. I think this episode had some really strong writing and storytelling. It may not have had as much action as the last episode, but this isn't a cheesy Michael Bay movie, so that's a good thing. 

What did you think about the fifth episode of The Expanse?