The Expanse is one of the best science fiction shows out there at multi-tasking. It seamlessly communicates its intricate narrative and complicated universe without ever becoming dull or boring. “Rock Bottom” is a prime example of this, using every bit of its run time to reveal so much about this world, the ever expanding mystery, and its characters. The Julie Mao mystery, which is the linchpin plot thread of this show, connects both the Canterbury crew (now the Rocinante crew) and Josephus Miller’s (Thomas Jane) ongoing investigation on Ceres station. Both their stories are pushed forward by tense situations that make this episode an engrossing watch. Jim Holden (Steven Strait) and company arrive at Tycho station to an old-fashioned standoff with Outer Planets Alliance leader Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) with both trying to leverage the situation into getting what they want. The situation is replete with bluffs and counter bluffs all happening at gunpoint with everything (of course) leading to a stalemate between both sides. Holden really shows himself to be cleverer than he appeared in outsmarting Johnson and really putting himself in a position to even negotiate fairly. Johnson also reveals himself to be a man with motives that aren’t all that pure either. He sought Holden to use him as a bargaining chip with the UN to get earth’s government to listen to him and the OPA. The fact he freely admits to using Holden and his crew in such a way also speaks to his character. On Ceres station, Miller is kidnapped by Anderson Dawes (Jared Harris) and interrogated about his investigation of the Mao case. Dawes up to this point seems to be an idealist, spouting his self-righteous talk about taking over Ceres station and making it home for belters. Miller gets to see the dark side of this after getting the business end of a few Taser shots and a punch to the gut. Miller’s motives for investigating the Mao case also comes out, which is one of the tackier parts of this show. He risks life and limb because he’s in love with a girl he’s never met and only knows about through a lengthy investigation? It’s hard to believe, but both Dawes and Miller do as good a job as they can to sell this. What’s more interesting is Dawe’s back story, which is far more complex and nuanced than Miller’s. Dawes is known for leaving his own sister to die, which is a story Miller wields with the subtlety of a knife to the chest. He uses it to crap on Dawe’s rhetoric, painting him as a selfish man who would let others die for a cause that would make him its leader. Dawe’s has quite the rebuttal though, giving a more than plausible (and tragic) reason for the sacrifice. Miller barely escapes the encounter with his life and takes some rather revelatory information to the chief. He connects all the dots proving connections between Phoebe station, the Scopuli and a mystery organization pulling all the strings. Unfortunately, being a good detective yields the worst possible results for him. There are also some smaller bits of exposition in this episode that really stand out. The show makes the political machinations of Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) interesting to watch. The way she leverages people to do what she wants is downright underhanded and ruthless. Threatening the children of her own colleagues to gain access to a spy is mobster-esque, yet she does it without even questioning the morality of it. She is so cold, but goes about her business as if this were just a mere sport. The other sequence involves an asteroid miner and his son simply trying to get by getting harassed by Martian soldiers. The Martian soldiers wield their power like corrupt cops, impounding their cargo and ship essentially holding their money hostage. It’s representative of two sides that justifiably hate each other and the state of society at this point. Martians view the actions the OPA as representative of all Belters, while the Belters view Martians as overbearing and unfair. This whole thing, of course, ends about as poorly as can be as the miner literally throws rocks at his would-be oppressors. This episode is one of the tightest in regards to storytelling and it is representative of The Expanse’s greatest strength. It builds up this world without over-explaining while still telling a compelling story. There aren’t many shows capable of doing this, yet The Expanse does it with ease. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.