Monday, January 11, 2016

THE EXPANSE (S1E05): "Back to the Butcher"

I previously reviewed the first four episodes and am planning on blogging every episode of the show this season. The Expanse is a television adaptation of the science-fiction space opera books written by James S.A. Corey, one of my favorite authors.

The fifth episode of Season 1 of the Syfy's The Expanse's is called "Back to the Butcher." 

S1E05: Back to the Butcher.
The episode again starts soon after the previous one ended, with Havelock in a hospital room, which is quite surprising since we saw him get a meter-long spike through his chest. His survival is not explained and we see a confrontation between Holden and Havelock's girlfriend, the Belter hooker Gia, in his hotel room.

Back on the Martian ship MCRN Tachi we see that Lopez is dead and that Amos has a horrible fracture with a piece of his bone sticking out of his leg. They appear to magically fix Amos's leg and even though no one in the Solar System should know where they are somehow they receive a message from Fred Johnson of Tycho Station. In a series of flashbacks, the episode depicts events from 12 years before in Colonel Fred Johnson's career when he was a United Nations Marine and ended up responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilian Belters after a tense standoff over resources on Anderson Station. For this Johnson is known as "The Butcher of Anderson Station," (This explains the title of the episode; a significantly different version of the events of Anderson Station was told in a novella written by The Expanse author Corey that was released between the publication of the first two books, Leviathan Wakes and Abaddon's Gate.)  

Back on the Tachi, the crew is very impressed with how clean, sleek and powerful the ship is. However, Alex and Amos learn how famous Holden is throughout the system by tapping into a video feed from Ganymede which depicts news reports of the rioting on Ceres Station and shows images of Holden with the now-famous battle-cry "Remember the Cant!" In fact, that is exactly the phrase which the guy who put the spear through Havelock said in another viral video.

Meanwhile back on Ceres, Miller continues to track down Julie Mao instead of trying to find the person who attempted to kill his partner. In fact, he gets tempted by OPA bigwig Anderson Dawes who has the guy who did it in an OPA safe house, whose location he will give to Miller if he agrees to an exchange of information in the future, because he also wants to know Julie Mao's location, since "she was one of ours."

Back on the Tachi Naomi confidently follows Col. Johnson's instructions on how to change their ship's transponders and the entire crew sighs with relief when MCRN Tachi becomes Rocinante. For book readers this is an important moment because we know that the Rocinante becomes the space ship that our crew of four principals uses for the next five books.

Overall this episode was much more low key than previous episodes (but in a good way, since for once the crew was not in mortal danger).

  • The interior design of the Rocinante is incredibly impressive!
  • The decision to include the back story of Fred Johnson was a nice one, since he will become an integral part of the story moving forward
  • The set dressing and all the little details on Ceres Station (which we see as Miller tries to trace the whereabouts of Julie Mao) are really amazing
  • The look on Holden's face when he finally gets to have a cup of real coffee!

  • No Chrisjen Avasarala :(
  • The lack of explanation of how Havelock survived
  • I think they could have done a more nuanced job in depicting the events which led to Johnson getting his name as the Butcher of Anderson Station.

GRADE: 8/10.

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