When my press kit for The Expanse Season 1 arrived last year, I was so blown away by the Pilot that I quickly bought the eBook and devoured it in two days.
That’s how long I’ve been waiting to see those final moments between Miller and Julie brought to life on screen. All I can say is, the scene exceeded my expectations in every way possible. You know how you go watch a movie based on a book you’ve read, only to find it slightly disappointing? Well, except for the Harry Potter books. I mean, it’s rare that a visual is as dazzling as how you picture it in your mind’s eye. The creative team and VFX wizards behind The Expanse realized Proto-Julie and Miller’s big moment just beautifully. I went back and watched it three times when it was over.
In my previous review, I wondered how the hell Miller was going to get around while having to reset the detonator safety timer every sixty seconds. Let me tell you, the situation made for some nerve-racking moments. Like when he strapped the pet nuke to his back and climbed up the stairwell. What?!? The way Thomas Jane looked up said, “okay” was simply priceless. The timer was driving me nuts. Wasn’t it wild that Naomi couldn’t disarm the nuke remotely, or increase the timer a tad? The writers wrote that bit in there, and they were not about to shy away from dealing with it. Even Julie held the timer for a sec. I loved it, bravo guys! Hey, at least he found that little cart to help carry the nuke through Eros.
Add to that, the fact Eros was moving under its own power and you’ve got one hell of an action-packed hour. Needless to say, the folks on Earth were freaking out… big time. They figured out the Nauvoo was on a collision course with the asteroid, but still weren’t sure where Eros was headed. Boy, were they in for a rude awakening. The Protomolecule certainly was breaking all the rules. While a massive missile launch at the rock seemed like the best option, there was no way Errinwright, Avasarala and the others could ever imagine Eros would go stealth to dodge the nuclear arsenal. Scattering the Protomolecule was a real threat, but the Earthers were running out of time. That moment when the Protomolecule froze realizing Eros had been targeted was sensational.
Relying on Fred Johnson to help guide the missile’s toward Eros was a risky proposition. Luckily Holden was involved, which helped Avasarala feel more confident about the plan. I still remember that scene last season, when Avasarala met with one of Holden’s mothers to get a sense of the man she had raised. The kid was certainly brought up surrounded by love. No wonder he’s such a good guy. Avasarala vouched for Holden, but Johnson did manage to swipe a few nukes. I wonder if that will come back to haunt her at some point?
Over the past few episodes, Naomi’s demonstrated a real connection with Miller. It was great to see her defend him and put the guys in their place. Sure, Holden’s the captain, but Naomi is a leader in her own right. I’m glad she had Miller’s back, regardless of the fact the Roci ultimately had to let Eros go. It was cool of Miller to let Holden know destroying the Marasmus was the right call. I imagine by that point, becoming infected himself was the last thing on his mind. He knew it was a one way trip. Although meeting his fate alongside Julie was damn near poetic, he couldn’t have seen that one coming.
When Eros started accelerating and the crew had to juice up, another level of tension was added to the already insane drama. After this installment, I wouldn’t mind a couple of more laid back episodes. My heart was racing non-stop for almost the entire hour. Avasarala realized the Roci was planning to stick with Eros even if it cost them their lives. That prompted her to stay on Earth, sharing a heartfelt moment with her husband Arjun. Shohreh Aghdashloo was outstanding in that scene and I can’t help tear up each time I watch it. Sci-fi is always at its best, when we connect on a human level with its characters. Watching the crew of the Roci suffer through that chase sequence in an attempt to save mankind, also made us feel closer to each one of them.
Miller’s fate was sealed the instant he realized that Julie Mao was somehow still part of Eros and controlling the asteroid. It was his destiny to stop her from smashing the giant rock into Earth and killing billions of people. I realized, watching the Roci back off and leaving Miller to his own devices, that Thomas Jane’s time on the show was coming to an end. Even though I had read “Leviathan Wakes” and knew it was coming, it hit me that the show’s going to be very different without him. That little proto-hummingbird was a wonderful way of bringing Miller’s journey full circle. The scene was sad, but simultaneously “kinda beautiful.” To say the VFX were magnificent would be selling it short. It reminded me of the first time I saw the Matrix, only gorgeously rendered in blue and on a television budget. I can’t help getting a little frustrated thinking of all the sci-fi fans missing out on The Expanse. The ratings for this series should be right up there with the likes of Walking Dead or Westworld.
Ultimately, Miller talked Julie into changing course toward Venus. Knowing Miller had become part of the Protomolecule and that she was no longer alone, the two would face their uncertain future together. Watching the crew toast, and Amos toast Miller as Eros hit Venus was tough. This installment was a game-changer, and I can’t help wonder if this is the last we’ll see of Miller and Julie. Does the Protomolecule survive the impact and thrive on the planet’s surface? What about the Roci’s hidden stash? Will Earth or Mars send teams to Venus to investigate? All I know for sure is, a ton has happened already and this is only the fifth episode. I have no doubt we’ll be getting all these answer and more before the season finale.
“Home” was as perfect an hour of television as it gets. Everyone from the writers, the cast/crew, sound designer and composer, to the VFX guys brought their A-game. The Expanse is Syfy at its best and although the ratings are not impressive, the fan base is growing. It may take time for audiences to discover this series, but once they do I guarantee they’ll wonder why they didn’t get onboard from the start. I’ve had friends tell me they finally caught the show and wish they had listened to me sooner, because it’s incredible. I get that 10:00 p.m. is late, when you have to be at the office early the next morning. However, if we want our favorite shows to continue we’ve got to try to watch live. Timeshifting is how most of us watch TV these days, but it doesn’t help sell a series to advertisers who are mostly interested in the overnight numbers. Want this series to continue? Tune-in at 10:00 p.m. when you can and spread the word on social media. The Expanse is a classic in the making, which we’ll one day look back on with the same fondness we feel towards Battlestar Galactica. Let’s make sure this story continues, there’s much more where this came from.
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The Expanse airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on Syfy.