The final episode of The Expanse, “Leviathan Wakes” feels more like a beginning rather than an end of something. The focus of this season has been relatively small, focusing on detective Josephus Miller’s (Thomas Jane) investigation of Julie Mao’s death and on the mystery of Julie Mao and Captain Jim Holden (Steven Strait) quest to find those responsible for destroying the Canterbury. The final episode focuses on a expanding the scope to a much broader mystery and far-reaching enemy.
It’s a frenetic conclusion with both Holden and Miller stricken with a deadly radiation sickness and all the good guys stuck on Eros Station where a terrifying experiment is taking place. The crew has split up at this point with Holden and Miller trying to confront the bad guys and Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) leading the others through the underbelly of this station in order to reach the Rocinante.
Miller and Holden are quite the tandem as they try to navigate a station under lockdown. The bad guys are using crooked cops to control the populace and give them the same affliction that killed Julie Mao. The radiation sickness that threatens to kill them does not suppress their personalities, which both clash and mesh in an odd couple sort of way. Miller’s cynicism about human nature and recklessness irk Holden who watches in horror as he kills the bad guys without remorse and puts himself in danger without regard for his own life. What the duo have in common, though, is a wry sense of humor in the most dire of circumstances. They both joke about the horrible side effects of medicine that will only delay their seemingly inevitable deaths or Miller chides Holden for not following his “girlfriend” Naomi off Eros when he had the chance.
It’s also a race against time for the rest of the Rocinante crew who sense something strange going on and try and find their way off of Eros station without their captain. There have been suspicions about Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) being a member of the Outer Planets alliance throughout the series and she has denied it on many occasions, but it looks as if she finally cops to it in this episode. She is the only one that could lead the crew through a maze of tunnels running through the station, which are a way OPA smugglers get around. It’s a creepy slog through the tunnels as she encounters stragglers that didn’t get rounded up and signs of what was happening above literally dripping on them.
Things also get interesting for Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) who has discovered the ones responsible are closer than she thinks. Jules-Pierre Mao (François Chau,) Julie’s dad is in cahoots with high-ranking UN officials. Turns out she is surrounded by enemies within her own government eager to start a war. Her role in the show gets much more interesting as she resolves to play along in order to figure out what is going on. Realizing there are enemies all around she needs to pretend to play along in order to see if there is something that she can do about it.
This final episode is a microcosm for what this entire first season set out to do, which is to create the stage for a much larger adventure. It sets up more than resolve, leaving the central question of who the bad guys are still in doubt. We see what they have done and their capabilities now, but their motives are unclear. It will be intriguing to see what a second season has in store for us considering the show won’t have to do much world building next go around.