There were lots of great character moments in last night's new episode of The Expanse, an episode that used a series of good scenes to show overlapping political, personal, and social issues and the unpredictable ways they play off each other.
Spoilers after the screenshot
There were two someones in the kitchen with Naomi (Dominique Tipper) in two separate scenes that contrast with each other in a nice way. Both are scenes where someone tries to make peace with her, one more successfully than the other. First Alex (Cas Anvar) offers her some food, this coming after a scene where he finally hears back from his wife on Mars.
This was a scene that showed why Cas Anvar is one of the standout performers on this show as the rapid sequence of emotions that pass through him after his wife has told him she's left him are completely clear. So his motive for making peace with Naomi is also clear--he's suddenly realised, without Mars and without his wife and kid, his misfit shipmates on the Pinus are the only family he has. I like that he still made it clear that he's still furious about Naomi for giving up the protomolecule, but there's a basic human need that transcends that. It's a very sweet scene.
The episode began with another Martian, Bobbie (Frankie Adams), in a nice, dialogue-free scene that establishes her own feelings. With a relaxed smile she sits down, happy to be in the familiar Martian surroundings, until she sees the defaced Martian flag and she's furious.
Despite her own experiences that have cut her off from Mars, the symbols are too personal for her, and it's especially a cruel shock coming when she was feeling a sense of peace at being some place, somewhat like home.
Feelings of family and loyalty are too deep rooted and complex to be cast aside even for very clear logical reasons. The other person to have a scene with Naomi in the kitchen is Avasarala and it was a pleasure watching Shohreh Aghdashloo and Dominque Tipper doing a scene together. Outside the more restrictive political scenes and voluminous costumes, Aghdashloo seems to be taking the opportunity to give a more physical performance, her poses simultaneously theatrical and reminding me a bit of Marlon Brando.
She gives a very political line to Naomi about how she understands that not all Belters support the actions of the OPA--it's a familiar line one might hear from someone talking to an Irish person about the IRA or a Muslim about ISIS. There's insight in it and maybe a real effort at sympathy but of course it's patronising and Naomi demonstrates why with her angry reaction--she might not agree with OPA all the time but there's a history of personal and philosophical dialogue that Avasarala's political speak is tone deaf to.
The episode also featured some nice moments of nuance with two of its more villainous characters, Mao (Francois Chau) and Errinwright (Shawn Doyle). Even Mao has a moment of conscience after he, like Alex with his shipmates, has a transference of familial connexion, in his case to Prax's daughter. And in his case, he does allow his personal feeling to influence his policy decision.
Errinwright, meanwhile, shows he really is as conflicted as he seemed last season. He's clearly shaken by the over two million people who died because one Martian missile got past Earth's defence systems. Then he does something really petty with that feeling and goes and tells Anna (Elizabeth Mitchell) that it could've been avoided if the president had had firmer resolve--implying that it was she who swayed him. It's unclear if Errinwright's insinuation is right but we see by the look on her face that Anna knows he could be. And Errinwright walks away with a bitter smile at the knowledge that he's spread some of the misery. So he's not a total psychopath--he does feel bad about people dying--but he's too weak not to abuse others for his own pain management. I think he's an asshole, but then, it's hard to imagine what it would be like feeling responsible for two million deaths.
There were also some nice scenes on the UNN flagship. I love those classic space opera corridors. I definitely like the more complex lighting after the endless blue of the Pinus/Rocinante.