Tag: opinion

The Expanse reveals its villains and wraps up Season 1 with a bang

Contributed by
Feb 3, 2016

Every week, Blastr editors Adam Swiderski and Cher Martinetti discuss the happenings in the latest episode of  Syfy's (corporate parent of Blastr - Ed.) The Expanse. See our chat below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Episode 9, "Critical Mass," and Episode 10, "Leviathan Wakes."

Adam: OK, so, this is what the show's been building toward with a lot of its slow-burn mechanics: the fate of Julie Mao, a more involved explanation of what's going on with the protomolecule, Miller and Holden doing the Butch and Sundance thing ... and the transformation of Eros into a giant Petri dish. I was really impressed with the way all of this was executed and it felt like a pretty big payoff to all the work the show's done establishing its characters and universe.

I was particularly a fan of the way things opened showing how Julie Mao's fate fell out in terms of the rest of the events we've seen. It was grotesque and sad and mysterious and really well executed, in my mind, and watching her degenerate and slowly die due to her protomolecule infection was compelling.

How'd you feel about the way things wrapped up?

Cher: First, let me say I would completely watch a Miller and Holden spinoff show. I don't even care what the premise would be, I'm really into the chemistry of these two together.

Episode 9 is the episode that would get anyone into watching this show, regardless whether or not they had seen the previous eight. It feels a bit like BSG's "33" episode in that way. Everything flowed really nicely, there weren't aspects that felt wedged in or as an afterthought. Even Avasarala's part made sense in tying everything together. They blew everything wide open with this. I enjoyed seeing Julie's fate. But now there's a whole can of worms that that's opened and I can't wait to see that play out.

Also, there's a line that Fred Johnson said during his transmission that jumped out at me, possibly because I felt like it pertained to himself, Miller and Holden. He said something about not being able to change their past but changing what they do next. If we've learned anything so far about Miller and Holden, it's that they are very much two men trying to be better or do better, and they're visibly struggling with that.

Adam: I was going to say that about Avasarala! This was the first time what she was doing felt important to the overall plot and had some forward momentum, and while I don't think her discovery of Mao's conspiratorial maneuvering totally makes up for all the water-treading she's done throughout the season, it did give me hope that the character will be much more compelling to watch in Season 2.

I agree on the Miller/Holden dynamic -- watching Miller's cynicism bounce off Holden's idealism was a blast and, I think, helped develop both characters. I think these episodes did a great job at something the show hasn't always done exceptionally, which is to create character development through action. Even something as small as Amos offing Sematimba told us a lot about how much a part of the Roci crew Amos feels, and his willingness to forgive and work with Naomi.

Of course, I think one of the most significant things this episode brought to the table is the revelation, finally, of our villains in Jules-Pierre Mao and his team of protomolecule-wielding scientists, including Dresden. I really liked the way their plan to use Eros unfolded - the stakes felt real. And we got all the protomolecule we could want in the finale, although I'll admit there's a part of me that missed some of the book's more grotesque descriptions of what it does to people. Still, it killed my least favorite character, in the end (so long, Kenzo), so I can't be too mad.

Cher: Jules-Pierre Mao is SUCH a great villain name. We all need to appreciate that. I also very much appreciate Kenzo's demise. I was far more into Elias Toufexis' fan interaction during the episodes on Twitter than I was that character. Sorry, not sorry.

I also agree that the show excelled with character building through action in these episodes. I'm hopeful that they found their groove with these two and that it carries over into the next season.

Overall, this finale did exactly what I had hoped it would do. It built up nicely into a perfect crescendo, so much so that it even makes you want to go back a rewatch the earlier episodes in the season so you understand who's who. And that in itself is pretty interesting that a season finale almost works as a season opener in a weird way. I not only want to see Season 2, but I want to go back and watch all of Season 1.

Adam: I'm excited for Season 2, as well, but at least part of that is because I know what's coming from the books, and I'm hoping that this pair of episodes is a good indicator that the show is going to pick up the pace. They've established the heck out of the socio-political structure of the solar system this season, and I think the finale demonstrates how compelling action - and I don't mean bang-bang action (although that's cool, too), but plot - can be in this universe. And introducing the protomolecule as a way to basically upset the entire human apple cart is a good catalyst for that kind of thing.

So, if you had to give Season 1 of The Expanse an overall grade, what would it be? I think mine would come down as a B+. It's definitely my favorite show from Syfy in a long time, and I'm on board with the cast, the production values, and the way they've adapted the books. The parts of the show that didn't work for me were primarily where it diverged from the novels, and I'm hopeful the producers will get better at that as their experience with it grows.

Cher: I'm also interested in seeing if, as the show continues, they are going to deviate much more from the books in the way GOT has, or if they plan to stay closer to the source material. I'd have to agree it's a solid B+. It's the show that Syfy needed and that scifi fans wanted. I'm incredibly optimistic about where this can go from here. NO PRESSURE!

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