The Expanse S2.09 review: "Sometimes the 'right' thing to do is not the 'best' thing to do"

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The Weeping Somnambulist sees The Expanse doing everything it does best.

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There’s a lot going in this week’s episode, The Weeping Somnambulist, so let’s just dig in. Right after we acknowledge that The Weeping Somnambulist is an incredibly good name for a ship - if there’s one thing The Expanse really excels at, it’s naming ships. We’ll come back to that in a bit, but first, let’s get Bobbie to Earth.

As the sole surviving witness to the events on Ganymede, Bobbie is asked to testify at the Earth/Mars peace talks. Well, more specifically, she’s asked to lie. Mars doesn’t want a war (at least not yet), and is prepared to basically eat this one in the hopes of making it all go away. Offering to pay for the majority of the repairs to Ganymede will only get them so far though, because while money is great, a whole lot of people are dead and someone needs to be held accountable for that. They find a perfect scapegoat in one of Bobbie’s soldiers, Travis, and concoct a version of events in which he panicked and fired the shot that started the entire conflict. Being the good soldier that she is, Bobbie does as she’s asked and lays the blame at Travis’ feet, but Chrisjen isn’t buying it. She asks to speak to Bobbie again, delivers another one of those lines that’s going to make you pee a little bit, and drills down enough to know that Travis didn’t start anything, and that something else happened on Ganymede. 

And this is why Chrisjen Avasarala is one of the best damn characters on television right now. She’s more than happy to manipulate political machinations as need be, but she wants the full story before she does. It doesn’t matter if things are moving in her favor; she doesn’t like being anyone’s chump. She’s brilliant in ways politicians are rarely allowed to be in fiction; they’re normally either devoutly honest or utterly corrupt, but she’s a bit of both. She’s pragmatic and canny, but above all else, she’s always acutely aware of how much power she has at any given moment. As fantastically as she’s written though, it’s Shohreh Aghdashloo’s complete understanding of her that makes her dominate every scene she’s in. Seriously, everyone else involved could send sock puppets in their place, because there’s just no way to compete with that. 

So that’s the Ganymede conflict settled (everyone knows the official story is bullshit, but they’re ok with that), but Holden and crew are off to Ganymede itself to track down the source of the protomolecule shout. Ganymede’s under Martian control at the moment, and rolling up in the Rocinante would be seriously ill-advised, so they commandeer a relief ship, which is kind of a shit thing to do. Yes, it’s their best chance for slipping into the station unnoticed, but pulling guns on a couple of Belters just trying to do some good is really crap. 

This fact is not lost on Melissa, half of the husband-and-wife crew of the ship, who calls Naomi a well wala (whoa!) and Holden a crusader who’s going to get them all killed. Well, she’s half right about that. After they dock at Ganymede and the Roci crew departs, crooked Belters board The Weeping Somnambulist, compliment the excellent choice in name, and then inform Melissa and her husband Santichai (at gunpoint) that they’ll be taking all of their cargo and the ship itself. Because fuck it, they can. Holden and Amos come back to save the day, take out all the marauders… and accidentally get Melissa’s husband killed in the process. Poor Holden - you can see him struggling to compute it all. Yes, sometimes the ‘right’ thing to do is not the ‘best’ thing to do. Thanks for saving the day, you’ve now ruined Melissa’s life, Hero McNobleson. Explain to us again how you’re totally different from Anderson Dawes? It’s ok, we’ll wait. 

While all of this is going down, the science vessel Arbogast finally makes it to Venus and finds a whopping great crater where Eros slammed into it (no surprise, Eros was a very large potato) and biological compounds in the atmosphere that shouldn’t be able to exist there (ho, that’s not good). That’s really all there is to say about that for the moment, other than the fact that Errinwright is doing his damnedest to keep all Venus information away from Chrisjen, and good luck with that bro. But let’s go back to the Arbogast for a moment and talk about how damn good The Expanse is with ships. The Roci is a Mars gunship, and has the best tech you can get, because that’s how Mars rolls. The Arbogast is a science vessel, and is strictly utilitarian; it seems that even in the future, Earth doesn’t dedicate enough resources to research. Its interior is cramped, with monitors sliding from station to station as need be, instead of everyone having their own well-defined space. It’s designed to get maximum efficiency from minimum resources, and tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Inner priorities. There aren’t even enough seats to go around, for crying out loud. It’s a beautiful and subtle piece of worldbuilding.

Oh, there’s also a Martian ship hanging out around Venus, matching the Arbogast’s movements, but not actually doing anything. I’m sure that’s just fine.  

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Susan Arendt

Susan was once Managing Editor US at GamesRadar, but has since gone on to become a skilled freelance journalist, editor, producer, and content manager. She is now 1/3 of @Continuepod, 1/2 of @BeastiesLl, co-founder of @TakeThisOrg, and Apex Editor, Fluid Group.