S3 / Ep 8, It Reaches Out / Syfy (but not for long!)
Episode 7 ended with the death of a misguided belter and the reappearance of someone we thought dead, or at least “dead” — Detective Josephus Aloisius Miller. You remember Miller. In Season 1, he’s the center of the hunt for Julie Mao. A hunt that ends on Eros surrounded by protomolecule. In Season 2, he helps blow up Eros station and presumably goes down with that ship in the arms of his obsession, Julie. And now here he is, back again just as a rockhopper slams his slingshot craft into the middle of the alien ring. This, my friends, is not a coincidence. However, given the vagaries of time and space, it takes Holden a while to figure that out. This episode is really Holden’s. Let’s follow him as he falls apart, shall we?
Floating Around the Ring
The UNN is being all UNN aboard the Thomas Prince. It appears that now that Maneo has slammed into the Ring, it is active somehow. The Earthers debate the who/what/where and seem to think that the Belters are idiots for their approach. Isn’t standing back and sending probes a better plan? Meanwhile, the Belters, or at least Ashford, is toasting Maneo’s bravery and ingenuity. Yes, it is the style of Belters to slam into a thing to determine what it is. That is what makes Belters great. The chasm in understanding between these two factions is wide and deep. Regardless of which side you’re on, the Earthers hand-wringing and pontificating isn’t very encouraging.
Holden is talking to himself, and not in that usual ain’t no one else on this ship kind of way. But in that constantly trying to remind himself of what is real and what isn’t kind of way. The Journalist is there, as well as the Blind Camera Man, and they’re eating up this shit like the producers on a reality tv show who know the hair pulling is about to start. Alex just keeps talking.
On board the Behemoth, the threesome of Drummer, Nagata, and Ashford is barely holding together. They know they’ll be blamed for Maneo’s actions, but they don’t yet have a way to profit from his prank. Drummer and Ashford remain on opposite sides of any point, with Nagata trying to be the bridge between them. How long can she pull that off? Naomi does a good job of talking Drummer down like she talked Holden down all through the first two seasons. Everyone’s got a job in the new Belter Nation, Naomi says. And hers is keeping her captain together.
The Roci, as Holden Unravels
The Journalist, I dislike her so much I refuse to use her name (it’s Monica), tries to psychoanalyze Holden as his lapses into Miller-land have become obvious. Plus, they have the whole ship rigged with cameras, so she and the Camera Guy (his name is Cohen) know what’s going on everywhere. Holden again manages to deflect her creepy, let me help you/maybe we should fuck advances.
Speaking of creepy maybe we should fuck advances, the Camera Man keeps coming on to Amos. It is become clear however, that these offers are a cover for something else he’s up to on the ship and moving around in places he shouldn’t be. Amos, while he’s delightful for putting a bullet in a guy, isn’t the one to suss out what’s going on.
Holden meanwhile, starts checking himself out in the Med bay. Stroke? Other brain damage? Exposure to the protomolecule? All test negative. Even as he’s testing again and again, Miller comes back. If you watch close, sometimes Miller…de-rez’s…He’s not a person. Not really there. He keeps repeating the same story:
“Doors and corners, kid. Doors and corners. If you run through the room too fast, the room eats you.”
These scenes of Holden losing his mind, or thinking he’s lost his mind, are some of the best acting I’ve seen out of Strait all season. He’s impassioned, lost, confused, his usual convictions completely turned upside down. Nicely done.
As Holden is talking to ProtoMiller, Amos wanders in and delivers a signature Amos line:
“Look, if there’s anything that you need to get off your chest…I’m not much help, but I also don’t judge.”
Qualities of a good friend.
What’s the Story with Melba?
Ah Melba, she killed that big electrician who’d been so nice to her, because he found her bomb on board the support ship. And now she’s come out of her post drug haze and has to dispose of the body. Why she has to dispose of the body isn’t clear, I mean, who’s going to find it? Ain’t no one here. But whatever. Most of what happens with Melba hangs together by the thinnest of threads. Her hiding a body is the smallest of the plot holes.
But hide the body Melba does. She cleans up the mess and makes her way back to the shuttle. Not that the other dude questions her as to the whereabouts of their missing crew member. They just hightail it back to the Thomas Prince like is all cool. How they leave that guy behind? How they get to the Thomas Prince and no one asks where he is? Or why she’s got blood stains on her hands?
Why the only person on the ship that notices that Melba is obviously Not Okay is our friend Rev. Anna? Because Rev. Anna is there to represent what is good and right about Earthers. She floats above the manipulations and self-congratulations of the scientists and religious figures around her, genuinely trying to care about people and solve problems. It’s a good thing too, because if it wasn’t for her, the Earther contingent would be a waste of oxygen.
Drinks on a Mormon Ship
The sacrilege that the Belters commit against the formerly Mormon ship just doesn’t stop. Ashford shares a toast with Drummer and Nagata on top of the what used to be the altar. This dude don’t care At.All. They toast the rockhopper — may he have babies named after him all around the Belt — and the OPA.
The Conspiracy Unfolds
While Amos is talking to Alex about Holden’s slide into mental illness, the Camera Man is making changes to the Roci. Swapping chips! Touching things! Up to NO GOOD.
Holden is talking to the Journalist, like he’s going to tell her something. Like she hasn’t been recording his every private word. That’s right, she’s been recording his every private word!
He has her pull up the footage of what he was doing the moment Maneo slammed his slingshot into the ring…which happens to be the same moment that Holden first saw ProtoMiller on his bunk. This isn’t coincidence friends. It reaches out. With that information, Holden focuses his mind and calls up ProtoMiller. He’s on to something now. Holden realizes that while it isn’t really a human, it does have information. ProtoMiller is an investigator. He’s looking for something. ProtoMiller is a tool that finds things. Holden is a tool that goes places. In a pretty flat episode, this exchange sets up everything that will come after. Miller’s deadpan and Holden’s franticness, both pacing, figuring, reaching out but never touching.
As the conversation is getting good, it has to be cut off. Melba on the Thomas Prince gets the green light and sets off the bomb. Well, two bombs really. One on the supply ship. And one broadcasting a simulation of Holden taking credit for the bomb on behalf of the OPA.
Now, I have a question. And this is a question I’ve had all along: how come everyone believes ever vid they see is actually from who it claims to be from? It is 2018, and I know that a dedicated tech with sufficient access to Photoshop and After Effects can make it look like anyone is anywhere doing anything. I can’t even imagine what that tech will look like in 200 years. And yet, every video blasted across the darkness is taken as 100% truth? I call bullshit. But that bullshit is the basis of multiple plot points in the story. Remember the Cant? Yeah, I do too. And Holden? Isn’t his credibility shot by now? Or is he so infamous that folks assume no one would dare impersonate him? I ain’t buying not one word of it. But most everyone else in the system is.
The Only Way Out
This is the point where the episode goes from sleepy to HOLY SHIT.
The Earthers believe everything they see on TV, so they heat up to blow the Roci out of the dark. (Another question, if Holden really blew up that supply ship, why would he be hanging out somewhere you could find him?) Drummer and Ashford finally agree on something — that they have to blow up the Roci first to prove to the Inners that no, Holden doesn’t speak for the Belt. Nagata starts hollering to save her estranged boyfriend’s life and ends up restrained on the bridge of the Behemoth. The Journalist takes notes and the Camera Man pretends he has NO IDEA what’s up. Alex and Amos both have a moment of doubt in Holden, who hasn’t been acting himself lately. It is a hot mess of accusation and missiles.
Whatever Camera Man did to the Roci, all Alex can do is fly, which is good because that’s what he’s good at. All the pieces come together for Holden: it is a set-up, it has been all along. And strangely, the only person he can trust at that moment is not a person, but the protomolecule itself. That’s the one reaching out.
After an ominous conversation with ProtoMiller and a creepy reminder that there’s a hunk of protomolecule hidden on the Roci that no one knows is there — left over from their fight with the hybrid — Holden makes his call.
They fly the Roci right into the center of the ring.
A Few Notes
Naomi is one of the most watchable parts of the show, so with her being in the doghouse, and then on a different ship, that weakens the crew of the Roci considerably. Part of that is I find Holden’s indecisiveness annoying as all hell. And Alex is that guy you have to work with but who just Won’t.Shut.Up. Leaving Amos as the only person on the Roci who I don’t mind watching. His relationship with Prax was revealing and now, it is seemingly on pause, leaving him to walk the ship flexing his gigantic arms and glaring at things.
With that in mind, the show has struggled for me. Bobbie/Avasarala was fan-fucking-tastic, but too limited. The glimpses into martian military tactics, generally interesting. Watching Rev. Anna bring honor to Christians in the 2200s is good. But all together, the show has moved in fits and starts this season. The most satisfying episode was watching Strickland get his just desserts at the end of Amos’ gun. So, where does the show go now? Will it reach the heights of last season or will season 3 be a mid-story lull?
It is obvious that while Melba and the Camera Man are kicking off the drama for the back half of the season, they aren’t the leaders behind the conspiracy. They’re just the people we’ll alternate feeling sorry for and hating for the next few episodes. For right now, I want to know Melba’s story, and I want the Camera Man to taste vacuum. I’ll even put up with the Journalist a bit longer if I get that.
I am glad to have Miller back though.