Se 3 / Ep 7, Delta-V / Syfy
Well Episode 6 certainly was eventful. Errinwright, Mao, Strickland, all off the board, along with Cotyar as a casualty of war. That’s quite the mid-season climax. So now in Episode 7: Delta-V has to reset the board, move the pieces around, shake up old alliances and start new ones. This is where the writers show us the new status quo, from which the next plot cycle will be built. As an “establishing” episode, there isn’t a whole lot for the old characters to do, this is when the new characters need to introduce themselves. Let’s meet them.
Well, if that isn’t Avasarala back in her office, talking calmly to the camera about “rebuilding”. She prides herself on being the adult in the room and here she’s certainly talking like one. But can she convince the whole system to choose peace? Glad to see her back in her bling though, that faux ice is pretty snazzy.
The ship that burst out of the clouds over Venus traveled to the edge of the system. It has transformed itself from a giant jellyfish to a giant ring, hanging in space just past Uranus. What’s it doing? Well with all that peace breaking out, the Earth and Mars are both sending fleets to go study it. The Belt is going too, under the joint auspices of Johnson and Dawes, so I guess they made up, or at least decided that they’re the kind of gangsters that can do business together.
The Y Que
Interspersed through the episode is the story of Maneo Jung-Espinoza, a slingshot pilot who is breaking records around Jupiter and on his way to Saturn. When The Expanse introduces a regular belter like this, you know he’s an object lesson, an introduction to a particular way of life in space — and that if he makes it to the end of the episode it’ll be a miracle. Maneo is aiming to become famous, to show off for his girl on Ceres, so he’s speed piloting threw the black to the almost familiar strains of a rock song — it is a remake of the Deep Purple classic, Highway Star, with new lyrics. Nice touch.
“Neva you gonna take my ship, me gonna race it to the gush..”
Or something like that.
Maneo is pretty pissed that news of the Ring keeps pushing him out of the headlines as he makes his speedrun. However, there isn’t much he can do about it as he hurdles between Jupiter and Saturn, his race taking us forward in time by a few months. In one spinning, nose-bloodied, zero G ride.
As Maneo wakes from a G-force induced blackout, he gets a Kiss Off Video message from that girlfriend who’s taken up with his beratna (literally or just her best friend, isn’t not very clear). Maneo is mad, alone and slinging through space. He decides to show them “the real him” while staring at a picture of James Holden and the Ring. This should be great.
One Hundred and Eighty Seven days have passed or 6 Earth months. Holden, Alex, and Amos have taken on a documentary film crew. The crew is paying them for access as they all head to the Ring to find out what all the fuss is about. There’s interviews, those awkward up-the-nose shots, glares from Amos whenever the journalist gets close. It is slow paced series of scenes in which we come to know that the journalist will do anything to get the story and that her camera operator will too. Journalists are portrayed very poorly here, as if they are just a different kind of politician but equally as manipulative. How long can this relationship remain antagonistic? How long do we have to put up with her? Also, where’s Naomi?
There she is! Naomi’s now the Chief Engineer on the ship formerly known as the Nauvoo. Johnson’s Belters have retrofitted the ship and she’s flying towards the Ring as the Belt’s envoy. Naomi comes across a drug deal in a back hallway for some Pixie Dust. Two things are quickly obvious: 1) the working stiffs don’t think much of Naomi’s time with the Roci, and that 2) Naomi’s turned up her Belta Creole to eleven. Girl is stuck in the middle, not quite Belta enough, never was “inner” enough.
Although I do have to say, Naomi’s had a bit of a glow up since leaving the Roci. New suit, new hair cut, lined to the stars with a little purple on her curls and new tatts. She has every detail of a woman who’s left her man and is looking for a new, better version.
Arriving on the ship is the 2nd of the new characters, Commander Ashford, a scraggly and scarred old captain played by the ever utilitarian actor David Strathairn. He’s Dawes’ man and the assigned First Officer, so he’s immediately suspect in the eyes of Drummer. He claims his goal is to help change the scattered and disorganized Belters into a unified forcr, the Outer Planet Alliance, the symbol of which is on his shiny new uniform. But is the OPA, trying to transform itself from thugs to governors, still gangsters at heart? And do the Belters want to be transformed at all?
UNN Thomas Prince
Rev Doctor Anna gets up to her usual antics, interrogating a scientist who seems pretty reluctant to talk to her. Maybe that’s his own prejudice against religious types. Whatever is behind it, this conversation is a bit of info dump about the who/what/where/why: Where they are, how long it took, who else is there, what we know and what we don’t know. This is a good time to refresh that drink, come back with the scene is over.
Alex is chatting. Lying to the Journalist…does she have a name? She must have a name. Anyway, Alex continues to pretend that he and his wife are having a happy relationship. But the Journalist doesn’t care about Alex, really. She starts questioning Amos like he’s under investigation for murder (which he probably is somewhere). Amos ain’t having it. As we know by now, he only *looks* pleasant. He storms out. She follows him half-way apologizes, then…comes on to him? Like, hey babe, I know I just asked you some personal questions about a past you don’t want to talk about and am basically going full CSI Special Investigation on your ass, but maybe we can fuck and then you’ll tell me more? WHO IS THIS WOMAN? In the best moment in the episode, Amos tells her direct, he doesn’t shit where he eats.
Ashford takes the tour. He talks a good game about Beltalowda unity and apologizing and all but it obvious he’s casing the joint for a take over at an opportune time. Drummer knows for sure what Ashford, and by extension Dawes, is up to. She is not one who forgives, however.
The Belter that Naomi caught getting high in the back hallways ends up dead in space, too high to do his job. She tells Drummer, not because they have an issue with drugs, a fact which they both repeat, but because his drugs have endangered the crew. Drummer the Unforgiving goes on a terror throughout the ship and finds the dealer.
Now we’re meeting someone new: Melba. Is she someone we have to know later? She seems to be someone who knows Holden at any rate. Melba is on a small crew doing maintenance on a ship in the fleet. But she’s not doing maintenance. She’s planting a bomb. Why? So many questions. Whatever is behind it, it is bomb she’s willing to kill her fellow maintenance engineers to protect.
Camera guy. It seems he can’t see through is eyes, but has some kind of sensors on his fingertips that he uses to evaluate the world. Is pretty cool, except that dude moves his hands like a goth dancer at an overnight rave, all rhythmless and pretentious and distracting. I’m sure it is cool tech, I’d love to know more about it, but he’d have to keep his fingers out of my face. He also comes on to Amos, presumably for the same reasons. This is awfully Equal Opportunity of him, but the answer is still no. Why do people find it so hard to believe that Amos simply doesn’t fuck anyone on the ship?
Drummer finds the dealer and kicks the ever loving shit out him. She’s threatening to space the dealer. Both Naomi and Ashford intervene. Ashford impresses upon Drummer that they are now “Citizens of the Belt” and they should start following laws. Following laws involves not spacing random drug dealers. He then overrides Drummer’s plan. They offer a day of drug amnesty and move on. The lines are drawn. Old Belt, New Belt, with Naomi caught in the middle.
At least she’ll look good when she has to go back to The Roci looking for someone to watch her back again.
The End of Maneo Jung-Espinoza
To the guitar shredding strains of a Deep Purple remix, Maneo, for the love of his life and to finally grab the headlines from James Holden, runs his slingshot rig through the middle of the protomolecule Ring. He expects to come out the other side. He doesn’t.
At that very moment, Holden sees Joe Miller in his room, wearing that silly little hat and muttering.
There’s something here about fame, about why those who chase it do so, about why the crew of The Roci can’t just go get regular ass jobs. But really, the episode is a reset, the beginning of the ramp up to the next climax. With episodes that blow your mind always around the corner, we can handle one or two that are more exposition than anything else. You don’t need to watch this one right away, but in a few weeks, you’ll want to rewatch it, so you can see where the threads start to form for the next big thing.
*Images courtesy of Syfy.com, unless otherwise noted.