There’s nothing like a good bottle story to ratchet up the tension and really test the mettle of all involved and The Expanse features a great one in “The Big Empty.” Bottle stories are all about confining characters in a small space, forcing everyone to work together as a matter of survival. After a very exposition-heavy first episode, one filled with tension was the perfect payoff. The first episode ended with a doozy of a cliffhanger with the Canterbury getting blown up and the surviving crew members left to fend for themselves in a damaged ship with limited oxygen and minimal hope of being rescued. Jim Holden’s (Steven Strait) rather brief tenure as commander was a disastrous one as his decision to investigate the derelict ship Knight Scapuli resulted in the worst possible outcome. With his ship gone and the bulk of his crew dead, including his girlfriend, Holden isn’t in the finest emotional state. The crisis brings out character moments from everyone on board and their reaction to an uncertain future offers some insight into what kind of people they are. It’s the engineer Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) that proves to be the most even-keeled leader in this situation, preventing Holden from making a rash decision. She’s the one focused on what is most important — the survival of everyone on board — and comes off as more dependable than Holden. While Holden lost himself at the beginning, he is the emotional center of this group. He is still plagued by the mystery of Ade Nyegaard’s (Kristen Hager) final words and wants to catch those responsible for what happened in order to atone for his mistake. Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) is the tough guy who is fiercely loyal (and possibly in love with) Naomi. He won’t hesitate to kill Holden if he means to endanger everyone else and doesn’t hesitate to tell him so. There’s also Shed Garvey (Paulo Costanzo) the nervous medic, and the steady pilot Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) who both have their own harrowing life-or-death experience. It’s the perfect group to get thrust into an intergalactic controversy, which is good because this is only the beginning. It becomes clear how this storyline connects with the others when Holden figures out that the Martian government is who destroyed the Canterbury. The ship was hauling ice to Ceres station and the delayed shipment exacerbates a water crisis in a place where tensions are already running high. This feels like how an interplanetary war between Earth and Mars. The fate of Canterbury’s surviving crew members is a plot thread that ties to the story of UN Deputy Undersecretary Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo). She is a ruthless political operator underneath the shiny veneer of a diplomat. She is not beyond brutal torture to extract information from a terrorist with the pro-belter group known as the Outer Planet Alliance. It says something about this world that that torture is simply bringing him to earth and letting the gravity of earth slowly crush a body accustomed to space. Chrisjen is suspicious that he may have passed on stealth technology to the Martian government, which has the potential to tip the balance of power in this ongoing cold war between the two powers. It’s the same technology that allowed a ship to ambush the Canterbury, which makes the conflict that seems inevitable at this point. Meanwhile at Ceres Station Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane) continues his investigation into the disappearance of Julie Mao (Florence Faivre). More about this society is revealed and also more about him becomes evident. The animosity between belters and the upper-class at Ceres is made even worse by dwindling water supplies. Joe busts a group of poor belters trying to steal water from the rich part of town; an offense that would net excessive punishment. He also shakes down a greedy landlord by throwing him into an airlock, scaring him into taking care of the poorer tenants that live in his block. Joe eventually tracks Julie to the freighter Knight Scapuli, the very ship that led to the Canterbury’s destruction, connecting all three plot threads together. “The Big Empty” is an episode about rising tension, using the three storylines to paint the picture of a world about to explode. Those caught in the middle, whether they be the surviving Canterbury crew members, a political operator on earth, or a detective on Ceres, all only know a fraction of the truth. It’s agonizing for the person watching this for they are the only ones with the perspective to see all of this unfolding. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.