S3 / Ep 9, “Intransigence” / Syfy
Last week’s episode left me feeling 50/50 on the show. There are so many things to like — the belters coming into their own; many others to question — what is Melba up to; and everything is in flux — Holden feels like his mind is slipping through his fingers. But the big deal of Episode 8 is that it put the Roci (and us) on the other side of the ring. Where does it go? Are we going to finally meet the alien intelligence that is driving all this churn? One thing is for certain, humans — particularly Earthers — are going to continue to be trash.
Through the Ring
The Roci is through! And no one had their guts blown out!! Happy days. There’s still a missle behind them, but it seems to be swerving off, towards another spot in space. Where are they? In a bubble, a bubble that when you touch the edges, you disappear. That’s not comforting.
As the crew talks through their situation, Amos realizes that the Camera Man has been snooping around. With one well placed grab, Camera Man confesses, well almost. He admits that he placed the chip to give him com logs and navigation information, background data for the documentary, he explains. Who believes that? Certainly not Amos. Time to go have a little chat with the least talkative person on the ship.
Earthers Gonna Earth
SecGen Avasarala recalls all civilians from the Thomas Prince. Including the contractors. Melba finds herself having lunch with the other members of her company. When Ren the Engineer comes up, Melba snaps “Show some respect.” Hold up, you killed him. Like beat him against the wall killed him with your bare hands killed him. You don’t get to snap at nobody about respecting him. You disrespected him for permanent when you smashed his skull with your palm.
Rev. Anna is feeling sorry for herself because she has to leave the ship and go home. Well, that is until she realizes that Tilly, the cute brown-skinned debutante she met in the previous episode, is staying on, having pulled some strings with the captain. If Tilly can stay, can Anna?
At the nearby table, triggered by Tilly’s out of place giggle, Melba flashbacks to tell us who she is. This is quite unsubtle, and a bit out of place in the series, but here we are.
Melba, you see, is Jules-Pierre Mao’s *other* daughter. While Juliet was the rebellious daughter, Melba is the dutiful one. While Juliet spat in her father’s face, Melba worshipped him. But who did he prefer and give free rein? Juliet. So Melba’s got some rich girl daddy issues about impressing her father. At least that explains how she got so twisted on what respect looks like.
Amos Gonna Amos
The Camera Man is frantically trying to convince Amos that he doesn’t know the who/what/why of the chip he installed. Of course, the only person who knows anything about chips like that is Naomi who is, you know, gone.
Amos goes full gangster, with the low smooth growl and the threatening stare. Look, Camera Man. You fucked my ship. Now you’re going to tell me how to unfuck it, or I’m going to kill the Journalist and it’ll be your fault. This seems guaranteed to get answers.
Naomi is wandering the command deck, forgetting there’s a job to do. Drummer and Ashford remind her as much. Ashford, in fact, has a few more important words for her. You see, Naomi left The Roci and her friends for a reason. Did she outgrow them? Was she nostalgic for her old Belter life? Did she think she could move back and forth with ease? Whatever the reason, she can’t play both sides, even if she wants to.
In this moment, everything Naomi’s been doing makes sense. Strathairn delivers a great speech, one of those that just unravels all the lies and confusion, even if he doesn’t know it himself. You can see the realization coming to Naomi’s face — did she come to the OPA for the right reasons? Or the wrong ones?
Sometimes You Have to Space a Body
Holden can’t get ProtoMiller to show up for all his trying. Everyone on this ship talks too much at all the wrong times.
Amos, using his usual methods, has scientifically determined that the Camera Man doesn’t know how to fix the ship. He decides to send a message to the Martians the old fashioned way — in person. He forces Camera Man and the Journalist to suit up for space, then airlocks them, after first getting them to promise that they’ll tell the Martians how innocent everyone is. This is undoubtedly simple and ultimately failed logic. I mean, if you spaced me, I’d tell the Martians to blow you out of the sky and use the ashes for fertilizer. But Amos believes that the Journalist will do right by them. One way or the other, Amos gets to space the Camera Man, and that makes me happy.
On the Thomas Prince
Rev. Anna has determined that Tilly is up to something. She uses her combination of ministerial questioning and innocent white woman statements to get Tilly to confess. Not that this is hard. Tilly desperately wants to rub everyone’s nose in the fact that she’s staying and they’re leaving. I mean, what is power and access if no one knows you have it? With very little effort, Rev. Anna convinces Tilly that she should stay on too, for entertainment value, I suppose.
Down below, the engineers are clearing out the dead guy’s locker and talking about Holden. Melba takes great pleasure in making sure that everyone now doubts everything James Holden has ever done or said. She makes a great show of feeling guilty about the murder of Ren and claiming to defend his stuff from the other engineers. Sorry, Melba all this emotion you’re having is so misplaced — you can’t murder a dude and then claim to give a shit about who steals his deodorant. You don’t give a shit about his kids. About his wife. About how nice he was to you. Your guilt is worth absolutely nothing to me. ESPECIALLY once the big reveal comes. But wait for that.
The Belters have a strong following amongst fans of The Expanse. This scene shows you why.
Drummer gets on the coms and gives one of those epic space opera speeches.
“You’re not afraid. That’s your sharpness. That’s your power. We are Belters. Nothing in the Void is foreign to us. This moment belong to us. For Beltalowda!”
The ship cheers like crazy. Naomi stands silent, having realized which leaving was for nostalgia and which was because she’s outgrown her surroundings.
The Big Reveal
Melba packs the dead engineer’s bag to send back to his family. But before she ships it, she puts a message on the phone. The message? “I liked your dad. I’m sorry he’s gone. (YOU KILLED HIM!) But really, all that is whatever. Please deliver a message to my dad, Jules Pierre Mao. Yeah, him. Tell him, I’m out here destroying the man who did him wrong.”
Y’all. This was when I had to get up and get a drink. Mostly because I feel like the show wants me to feel sympathetically towards Melba. I mean, Jules-Pierre treated her badly! She just wants respect!! But having trauma in your life doesn’t excuse you from visiting trauma on others. However self-righteous Holden may be, he isn’t out here blowing shit up to prove himself to his daddy. He isn’t standing up for a guy who experimented on children. This is your dad? This is the guy you think is a visionary? Bast-almighty Melba girl, this show wants me to pity you, but I do not. You are a criminal like your father before you and all these justifications won’t change that.
Speaking of revealing, Naomi reveals her true colors and leaves the OPA for the second time. I hear you girl, sometimes you love something, some people, someone, but they’re toxic and you can’t stay. They’re in your heart, but you gotta go. Into the void she goes, looking to rejoin The Roci for good.
ProtoMiller returns and explains: The scene of the crime is the center of the bubble. Holden continues to believe him, suits up, and floats out into the black alone. What does he hope to find? What is he afraid he’ll find?