THE EXPANSE -- "Paradigm Shift" Episode 206

The Expanse Review: Alien or Proto-Human Hybrid?

Miller’s gone… or is he? That’s one of this season’s lingering questions. However, the fact Bobbie came face to face with a new life form has scary implications.

THE EXPANSE -- "Paradigm Shift" Episode 206
Courtesy of Syfy
As I mentioned early on, I read “Leviathan Wakes” and several of The Expanse novellas. Yet, once the Syfy series started I decided not to finish Book 2 in order to enjoy the element of surprise. Game of Thrones fans constantly complain about changes in the storyline or characters, because having read the books they have certain expectations. I love Thrones, because I have no idea what’s coming next since I’ve never read a word. Yes, I had plenty of expectations while watching the first season of The Expanse. I admit there were a few things about Season 1 that didn’t quite work for me. That said, the creative team has done a tremendous job with Season 2. As I mentioned in my review of last week’s “Home,” the Proto-Julie/Miller scene “exceeded my expectations in every way possible.” Depending on how the season wraps up, I may just pick up “Caliban’s War” again because the wait for Season 3 is going to be unbearable.

Let’s get back to that alien in the closing moments of the installment. That’s how Bobbie’s story began in Book 2, so it’s nice to see it reintroduced. Not that I haven’t enjoyed the show’s take on Bobbie, but again I was expecting that moment since it was pivotal in the book. The rest of this season will be a total surprise to me, and I hope we can theorize about it together.

It was great to see Sam Huntington (Being Human, Superman Returns), one of my fave genre actors, bring the tragic story of Solomon Epstein to life… which you can read [here]. Not only was it a treat to see Huntington on The Expanse, but I love the way the writers incorporate the novellas. We’ve heard mention of the Epstein Drive several times on the series, and here we had a chance to meet the man it’s named after. His is a devastating story, but one that helped mankind explore the far reaches of space. What a slow, agonizing death though… Poor sap. One of the wonderful things about this series, is how the writers fill in the blanks when it comes to the science of their world. I’m no rocket scientist, but the attention to detail makes the world feel so authentic.

While Earth tried to figure out what the hell Eros was, planning to visit Venus for more clues, Holden and Naomi discussed the complexity of the Protomolecule. Destroying their sample definitely seems like the right move, though they know so little about it. If some remnant of Eros survived on Venus (which is very likely), how will humanity learn enough about it to fight the damn thing? The scene where Holden comes clean to the crew about him and Naomi was hilarious. He was so deathly serious too, and then Amos and Alex cracked up. They had a bet going, which was a total trip. Amos claimed Naomi was like a sister to him, yet he’d “do her” if she let him. Ha! Holden’s face was absolutely priceless. Amos has formed a true bond with these guys finally.

THE EXPANSE -- "Paradigm Shift" Episode 206
Courtesy of Syfy
Fred Johnson collecting those nukes was a sneaky move, but it was nice to see Johnson admit the truth to Holden and Naomi. He’s basically keeping them in his back pocket in case he needs a bargaining chip or to defend the belt. That’s what he claims, anyway. The man has been straight with Holden from the start, but the Roci crew is holding out on him. Johnson knows the Roci wants to remain neutral, but warned Holden that in war you’ve got to pick a side. Will he and his friends ultimately come around? Of course, the bigger issue for Johnson’s that the Mormons are suing him and the station for the loss of the Nauvoo. What did he expect? Still, his actions did prove he had mankind’s interest at heart. I believe even Avasarala realized that. So what’s Holden’s deal?

Does he really believe Johnson wants to control the Protomolecule? Holden’s argument for destroying the alien tech was solid, but we now know there’s more of it out there. Alex wanting to give the sample over to Mars surprised me, but not as much as what Naomi pulled. Okay so she wasn’t too happy, but they ultimately agreed to send their sample into the sun. I was shocked and slightly disappointed she lied to Holden and didn’t destroy the sample. That’s going to drive a huge wedge between the two when the truth comes out.

THE EXPANSE -- "Paradigm Shift" Episode 206
Courtesy of Syfy
“I believe, the Eros incident was our first contact with alien life” is how Avasarala’s Doctor friend described the advanced tech that infected the station. Perhaps the Protomolecule is not an alien organism, but some form of tech created to assimilate other forms of life and bond with them to create something new? Author Daniel Abraham’s tweet seems to support this theory. The Protomolecule is much more interested in the living versus the dead. Either way, it’s clear the Doctor will be visiting Venus in upcoming episodes. Will we see Miller and Julie?

The events on Ganymede were chaotic, but we had just heard Epstein say that, “Technology changes everything.” The entire episode compared and contrasted Eros to Epstein’s drive, which again seems to indicate the Protomolecule isn’t “alive,” but rather some form of alien tech we simply don’t understand. What a killer establishing shot of Bobbie and her Marines on Ganymede, right? So much VFX eye candy. I am loving Frankie Adams as Bobbie Draper, so I hope her role significantly increases in the second half of the season. Though her helmet was cracked, we know she’s not dead. Her story’s only just begun. Does the creature take her captive? What was the connection between drone and Proto-beast? The drawback of not reading the book is I have no idea what happens next. That only makes me more excited for Episode 207 “The Seventh Man”.

Closing thoughts…

This was another strong hour that left us with several new questions. It was touching the way Naomi asked for Miller and Julie’s story to be immortalized. I can’t help think we haven’t seen that last of them. Well, the “human” versions of them are gone, but they’re definitely something else now. I’m excited to see what’s become of Eros on Venus. Avasarala is no longer fuckin’ around, hellfire is coming because I can not imagine Jules-Pierre Mao turning himself in. Things are headed in a new direction as far as the storytelling, and I can’t wait for more!


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The Expanse airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on Syfy.