WARNING: If you don't want to know what happened in this episode, don't read this photo recap!
A Belter salvage fleet, commanded by Drummer, catches up to LDSS Nauvoo, which has been adrift in space since its attempts to push Eros towards the sun. Drummer's fleet latches onto the ship, and she and a boarding party land and get inside, where the empty Mormon vessel is secured and readied for retrofitting.
As the Rocinante moves towards Io, they have to navigate past the debris field that is the aftermath of Earth's attacks on the Martian ships. Alex is shaken at the destruction inflicted on his people. He's also not fully comfortable with what the Roci is doing out here, which is shopping among these ruined ships for supplies they can salvage.
Elsewhere, Avasarala vents her frustrations to Draper that she hasn't been able to get a communication out to Admiral Souther. Draper reminds her that Holden is dead set against taking sides in the war. Avasarala reminds her that she's met with Holden's mother, and thus she feels like she has a bit of insight into the man. He won't stay on the fence forever, so maybe they can give him a push.
Meanwhile, Prax is staring transfixed at the transmission the ship picked up of what is essentially an infomercial for hybrid supersoldiers, presided over by none other than Dr. Strickland. These mutations are being advertised as the latest wave in war technology. Prax is horrified and sickened, though Amos is his typical unperturbed self about it.
The Roci picks out a strong candidate for salvage in the fast attack ship Kittur Chennamma drifting among the debris. Holden, Amos, and Prax board the ship and grab its full load of bullets, before Holden tells everybody to stop and listen. It's faint at first, but he can hear someone banging out an SOS signal. Someone's alive on that ship.
While on the Roci, Draper is furious that Holden and company are stripping dead Martian ships for supplies, Holden searches through the dead bodies on the Kittur Chennamma and finds one soldier banging out S.O.S. on a pipe. He's barely conscious.
Before the gathered General Assembly of the United Nations, Secretary-General Sorrento-Gillis gives his first major speech after the attack on Mars. Errinwright has offered Anna a seat up front, since she helped write said speech, and while their words are tense, Anna accepts. The speech seems to be going according to plan, as Sorrento-Gillis appears to be talking about moving forward together. But halfway through, he pivots, painting Mars as war-mongers and saying that it's their sacred task that humanity can only move forward united under one banner: Earth's. In the audience, Anna is horrified, while Errinwright looks incredibly satisfied. "Thank you for your help," he taunts at her.
On Io, Jules-Pierre Mao checks up on Dr. Strickland, making sure he's complying with orders to dismantle the testing program so they can turn the station over upon the Agatha King's arrival. Mao plans to take the surviving children on his ship with him. Strickland outwardly agrees, but inwardly fumes, and we soon see that he's keeping Katoa as a secret. Katoa is incredibly far gone, more protomolecule than human at this point. As Strickland prepares for the final phase, Katoa looks back at him; he can see through to the doctors skeleton and brain. "So beautiful," he observes.
The three Martian soldiers recovered from the Kittur — Ensigns Sinopoli, Loftus, and Ranhoffer — are recovering in the medical quarters on the Roci. They talk about being saved by their lieutenant, who didn't make it out alive. Suddenly, Synopoly notices that Holden isn't in uniform, and that they're aboard a stolen Martian ship. The ensigns get feisty, as does Amos, but Holden shuts it down. They'll be fed and cared for but confined to quarters. Alex wants to hang back with his brethren for a bit. Meanwhile, Draper doesn't think she'll be welcome with them at all, deserter and traitor that she is.
On the Kittur, Amos and Prax make one last pass looking for supplies before the Martians send a recovery ship their way. Prax is in a daze thinking about that protomolecule infomercial. He hurls aside a dead body to look for more supplies, not even flinching as the frozen body disintegrates. When even Amos thinks you seem dangerously detached from emotions, that's bad.
Back in the med bay, the Martian soldiers are antsy to get back in the fight, though Alex cautions them that the war around them is getting pretty bad and they'd be smartest to wait things out here. The ensigns are young, proud, and grieving their lieutenant, so they don't take kindly to the suggestion of hiding out. They get aggressive with Alex, calling him a sell-out, and when Alex pulls his gun to calm them, the previously unconscious Ranhoffer grabs his gun. So now things get interesting. The three soldiers beat Alex, and Loftus declares, "We're taking this ship."
Avasarala shows Holden and Naomi her video proof of Errinwright's treachery, then begs Holden to let her send a communication to Earth. Naomi puts her foot down, nominally because it will give away their position, but mostly because she neither likes nor trusts Avasarala. But Chrisjen tells Holden that with Errinwright clearly playing puppet master to the secretary general, the war could end up destroying Earth and Mars together. But if she can get a message to Anna, whom she knows is pure of intent and not in Errinwright's pocket, they have a chance. Holden begrudgingly agrees. After Avasarala leaves, Naomi loudly objects, saying Holden can't trust her. "And I can trust you?" he shoots back.
The rogue Martians march Alex up to the command deck, where Naomi is alone and taken by surprise. They hold a gun to Alex and demand that Naomi set them a course to rendezvous with the Martian fleet. Naomi does a good job of trying to calm and placate them while also buying time. She says she can't set any kind of course until she can get Amos and Prax back from the Kittur. Alex mouths off about these three ensigns being ungrateful for their rescue, and Loftus knocks him to the ground.
Below deck, Ranhoffer finds a gun and is scouring for more weapons when Holden comes upon him. Ranhoffer goes to fire on him, but the gun is empty, and in the ensuing brawl, Holden chokes the big man unconscious.
Up on the deck, it seems there's barely enough fuel to get the Roci to the Martian fleet, and the Martian soldiers appear to be panicking. Doubly so when Holden emerges with Ranhoffer as a hostage. It's a stand-off, with Alex and Naomi both at the mercy of Synolopy and Loftus. Into this chaos steps Draper, who calmly asks "What's all the ruckus?"
Loftus points her weapon at Draper, though Sinopoli is smart enough to realize from Draper's uniform that she could end them all without much effort. Loftus appears willing to die in a blaze of glory (Synopoly not so much), and Draper says she understands that impulse. "I learned a while back that the hardest part of this game is figuring out who the enemy really is," Draper says. The Roci crew aren't that enemy. Draper reaches out for the gun and a trembling Loftus finally hands it to her. Amos arrives just as the fun's over.
At the U.N., Anna is a house on fire. She reads Sorrento-Gillis up and down for making her words complicit in his war-mongering. And she completely shuts Errinwright down when he tries to slither in with his two cents. "I used to believe that there was a decent man somewhere inside you, buried beneath all that ambition," she tells her old friend. "I'm sorry I was so wrong."
On the Kittur, Amos and Naomi gather the few supplies they can spare to give to the Martians. It should be enough to get them back to their fleet. "It's nice to be working on something that's easy to repair," Naomi says pointedly. Amos, stubborn, just says, "some things don't get fixed."
Back on the Roci, Holden introduces Sinopoli to Avasarala, and he gawks at her for a moment while she rolls her eyes at fanboy culture. Holden informs him that they're sending him and his pals on their way on the repaired Kittur, and in exchange, they're asking for a favor: just have his commanding officer get a message from Chrisjen to Admiral Souther (an enemy combatant) about Errinwright's duplicity.
At the U.N., Anna angrily packs her things while unloading all her frustration and sadness onto her wife via video call. Her wife — scared herself since the explosion in the Amazon — is really wonderful about it. Anna believes she's being tested by God, but will be happy to leave this place behind and return home. But after she hangs up the call, she gets a message from an unknown sender: the video of Errinwright presiding over an (attempted) assassination of Mao and Avasarala.
The Roci detatches from the Kirrur, and they float their own ways. Meanwhile, Draper and Alex bond over their shared Martian-ness. She's also a little bit flirty with him as she pokes fun at him: "Hey, sailor, let's wage a war on that gut."
Meanwhile, below deck, Naomi and Holden are being nicer to each other. She smiles at his inability to resist trying to save everybody, then thanks him for saving her. "I'm glad you're okay," he says with clear affection in his eyes.
On Io, Mao is overseeing the shutdown and runs into his new best friend Mei, who is officially impatient about not being able to see her dad or her best friend, Katoa. When his answers aren't satisfactory, she runs away. Mao follows, and they end up at the door of Dr. Strickland's secret room.
Mao has Dr. Strickland brought to him, but when they open the door to Katoa's cell, they find the gruesomely dismembered body of Strickland's nurse. Mao turns Mei away and sends her out. Mao soon realizes that Katoa is speaking to other parts of the protomolecule, a truly networked system of potential soldiers. Thrilled at the discover, Mao instructs Strickland to keep going. "He's the key to everything."