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Episode Recap: Rock Bottom

Holden makes an uneasy alliance, Avasarala makes a power play and Miller unearths a major secret.


On Earth, Chrisjen Avasarala asks her ex-colleague Carlos Davila for access to his spy on Tycho Station in order to keep an eye on Fred Johnson. When Davila refuses, she persuades him with talk of his imprisoned son, Esteban, who's up for parole. What's a little blackmail between old friends?

After Davila goes crying to him, Errinwright disciplines Chrisjen for her actions. Chrisjen insists she only "politely asked" Davila about spying on Johnson, whom she considers to be a potential threat due to him building the Nauvoo, the "largest spacecraft in history" … and the fact that he's OPA. Errinwright points out that the OPA killed Chrisjen's son and Johnson turned his back on Earth … is she sure this isn't a personal vendetta? "You're damn right it's personal," she replies, after which Errinwright gives in and grants her permission to use Davila's spy.

Speaking of Fred Johnson, he's given the crew of the Rocinante safe harbor on Tycho Station … though he's somewhat taken aback when he discovers that he's harboring James Holden, the poster boy for all the Belter unrest on Ceres. After some initial tension, Johnson recruits Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex to find Lionel Polanski, the sole survivor of the Scopuli … a ship that Johnson himself commissioned for an OPA recon mission.

Johnson's crew disguises the Rocinante as a simple gas freighter and the gang is off on their rescue operation … whilst Johnson retrieves some sort of data cube found on the body of Lt. Lopez. The fact that all four are willing to work together again is surprising, especially given that Holden confesses to Amos and Alex that he was the one that logged the distress call of the Scopuli (the first domino in the series of events that led to the destruction of the Canterbury). Amos is hurt when he realizes Naomi knew and kept it from them. Still, the four are united in trying to get to the bottom of who destroyed the Canterbury, and hope the aforementioned Lionel Polanski can help. Little do they know that the entire time they were being watched by Avasarala's spy ...

Elsewhere in the Belt, we catch up with Diogo, the "gutter punk" whom Miller busted for stealing water on Ceres back in Episode 2. He's assisting his bitter, cranky Uncle Mateo, a working-class 'rockhopper' who explores asteroids looking for precious ore.

Soon, their ship, the scrappy Xinglong, is intercepted by the MCRN Scipio Africanus, a Martian border patrol vessel. Mateo is busted for an expired transponder and ordered to impound his haul.  

Enraged by how Martians treat Belters, Uncle Mateo kicks Diogo off the Xinglong and goes after the Scipio Africanus. "A man has to stand up!" he drunkenly exclaims as he unleashes his haul of rocks upon the Martian ship, pummeling it with an impromptu asteroid field. The Martians destroy the Xinglong as Diogo is left floating in space, hoping that someone will find him.

Back on Ceres, Miller is being interrogated and tortured by Anderson Dawes, who demands to know what the detective knows about Julie Mao. During their "talk," Dawes tells the tale of his sickly younger sister, whom he had to leave for dead in order for the rest of his family to survive. Disgusted with what he perceives to be Miller's lack of loyalty to his own people, Dawes leaves him to be murdered by his two goons … though luckily Octavia Muss comes to the rescue.

Miller looks at Julie's data cube and finds information about a bioweapon being developed on Phoebe (Note: Remember back in Episode 4 when the crew of the Donnager talked about how they were dispatched to Phoebe because "something happened" there? Hmm ...). Based on the information from the cube, Miller presents his now rather epic conspiracy theory about the disappearance of Julie Mao. Miller's theory goes as such:

1. Julie got the bioweapon information from her data broker and realized that a bioweapon was being developed on Phoebe.
2. Julie went to Anderson Dawes with this, and, on behalf of the OPA, went to retrieve the weapon in hopes of using it for Belter independence.
3. At some point Julie disappeared, and Miller theorizes it's by the same people that developed the bioweapon. And, further, he believes that said parties blew up the Canterbury and framed Mars in an effort to start a war (and divert attention from anyone else discovering the bioweapon).

While we think this is a pretty good theory, Captain Shaddid rewards his impressive detective work by firing him. "Dawes got to you, too," Miller snarls as he's escorted out of Star Helix by security.

If you want to see all the events of this episode, learn more about the characters, locations and organizations - and track the mystery of Julie Mao's disappearance - do it by exploring our 3D map of the Expanse solar system in The Expanse: Enter the Future.