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The Expanse's Chrisjen Avasarala, played masterfully by Shohreh Aghdashloo, is a deputy undersecretary at the United Nations. But, lest you think otherwise, she's basically in charge and her tongue can kick more ass than anyone's fists.
Chrisjen's storyline - which takes place entirely on Earth - is centered around her quest to unravel and expose the forces responsible for the Protomolecule's release on Eros. Since she has to do it on the DL, she doesn't really have anyone to confide in - meaning you, the good viewing public, may be a bit cloudy on her motivations. Combined that with the main thrust of her plot is uncovering a conspiracy and that equals head scratching for some.
But we're going to break down everything you need to know about Avasarala's storyline here, including everything we (the audience) know about the conspiracy as of the latest episode aired. This is a mystery, after all, so there are still a lot of unknowns!
What's Happened Thus Far:
After the ice trawler Canterbury is blown up by some stealth ships outside Eros, Avasarala wants answers: Who piloted those stealth ships? Where did they get the technology?
Her initial theory is that Mars, Earth's longtime nemesis in a cold war, is behind it. Their motivation would be to destabilize Earth's current control over the Asteroid Belt, so they could take over. Thanks to tricking her old friend, a Martian diplomat, she gets confirmation that Mars didn't provide the stealth technology that blew up the Canterbury. She realizes that someone WANTED Earth to believe Mars did it. Someone who wants to start a war. When the Martian battleship Donnager is also destroyed using stealth technology, she's more convinced a mysterious party wants to start a Earth/Mars/Belt war. But why?
Avasarala investigates the files of her Martian diplomat friend - who committed suicide - and discovers that he was also investigating the stealth technology. His research revealed that the stealth ships were built on EARTH. When Avasarala confronts her boss, Errinwright, around this he comes up with a B.S. explanation that she realizes is a lie. Meaning she knows HE is somehow involved in the plan to start a war. She also suspects that Jules-Pierre Mao, a trillionaire industrialist, is also involved.
Avasarala plays dumb to get more information on what Errinwright and Mao are up to, but tensions between Mars and Earth get worse when a research station on Phoebe (a moon of Saturn) goes dark. Each planet blames the other. Desperate, Avasarala reaches out to Outer Planets Alliance bigwig Fred Johnson for help. He points her to the location of some abandoned stealth ships which can be easily tied to a corporation Mao owns. Avasarala ensures that the ships are found. With the stealth ships that destroyed the Canterbury/Donnager now publicly tied to Mao, Avasarala hopes to entrap him to get at his larger plans, but Mao plays dumb and blames his employees.
Eros, infected with the mysterious Protomolecule, almost crashes into Earth and destroys all human life. Luckily, Miller was able to convince Julie Mao, errrr the Protomoleculed version of her anyway, to drive Eros into Venus instead. Earth still doesn't have any answers about how Eros was able accelerate into Venus, so Avasarala convinces the UN council to send a research vessel to investigate.
Avasarala pieces together that Mao had something to do with the protomolecule being on Eros. She confronts Errinwright and threatens to expose Mao's connection to Eros - and thus almost all life on Earth ending - unless she gets answers.
Suddenly, reports of an attack on Ganymede (a moon of Jupiter) start to stream in. Details of the attack are hazy, but it appears that both MRN and UN forces attacked and were attacked. Naturally, the UN council thinks it was a Mars attack, though Avasarala argues for communication and de-escalation. Earth calls a peace summit to foster good will towards Mars, but in reality to uncover the truth about what happened on Ganymede and find out more about what Mars knows about the Eros incident. Avasarala is able to guide the questioning and catches Bobbie off-guard and she mentions seeing a figure on Ganymede who wasn't wearing a vac suit. Avasarala realizes Bobbie knows more about what happened on Ganymede and is being told by authorities in the Martian government to shut up.
Errinwright confesses to Avasarala that Jules-Pierre Mao was developing a weapon and that's what he believes attacked Bobbie's crew on Ganymede - and Errinwright knows because he was helping Mao to develop it. Errinwright tells Avasarala he has an idea to leverage Jules-Pierre Mao's family in order to get Mao to make contact. Avasarala tells Errinwright he's going to be a scapegoat at the hearings about the Eros disaster unless they can find Mao. And even if they don't, Errinwright should use the hearings to atone for what he's been part of.
Bobbie who has requested political asylym in the UN, tells Avasarala that she was right - the Protomolecule hybrid is a weapon, and right now it's up for sale, and Mars is in line to buy it. She hands over Martens' information on Project Caliban. Jules-Pierre Mao has sent Avasarala a message, so her plan to get him to resurface worked. He wants to set up a meeting with Avasarala, but Cotyar thinks it's clearly a trap. Avasarala may well agree, but she's already arranged to meet.
Mao demands Avasarala stop persecuting his family and un-freeze their assets. He wants to keep Earth and Mars in balance re: access to the Protomolecule, to which Avasarala notes that what Mao really wants is to keep himself wealthy in the middle of Earth and Mars. Suddenly, there's a video message from Errinwright, who announced both Minister Korsunov's death and the destruction of the Karakum over Ganymede. Errinwright threatens to destroy Mao where he sits, but he also turns to Avasarala: "Chrisjen, you taught me that Earth comes first." He also tells her she betrayed him. He orders Mao to kill Avasarala and return to Earth alone, so they can resume their partnership. Mao's people draw their guns on Avasarala, Cotyar, and Bobbie, as Mao exits.