The Expanse 3x03 "Assured Destruction"
This article was coauthored by two Truth Bee Told writers, Michaela Martin and Gina Houp.
Michaela: Season 3 of Syfy’s The Expanse continues to blow us away episode after episode! Three episodes in, it shows no sign of slowing down. In “Assured Destruction,” “Earth strategizes a costly ploy to gain advantage in the war against Mars, Anna struggles to convince Secretary General Sorrento-Gillis to do the right thing, and Avasarala and Bobbie seek refuge aboard the Rocinante.” We get to see the first interactions between Bobbie and Chrisjen and the crew of the Roci, as well as finding out some hints of backstory for Anna, Amos and Alex.
Gina: Amos and Prax have an interesting conversation while Amos takes the staples out of Prax’s head wound that sets up a poetic symbolism: Amos notes that he doesn’t want Prax to look like Frankenstein when he’s reunited with Mei, and Prax points out that Frankenstein is the name of the doctor, not the monster. I love that Amos is almost shocked with the idea that the monster is not Frankenstein but the doctor that created the monster. I think maybe it was the first time he realized maybe his own issues and coldness aren’t entirely his doing? That he is the monster made to hurt things by the doctor? (i.e. the as of yet explored “procedure” that may have been done to him that takes away a person's “empathy” that was alluded to last season.)
Michaela: The two also discuss Amos’ childhood briefly, teasing us with some tantalizing scraps of backstory. Amos tells Prax that he grew up in Baltimore, and the only way to get out of there was to die, so he died. Everyone who ever cared about him on Earth thinks he’s dead. I know a bit more of his story from having read some of the books (I’m on the 4th one currently), and I’ll just say that I’m not exaggerating when I talk about his Tragic Backstory. Another hint comes when he tells Avasarala that to walk properly in the mag boots, she just has to walk like she’s wearing pumps, prompting her to ask, “How do you know what it’s like to walk in pumps?” “I didn’t always work in space.”
On Earth, Anna is trying to convince Secretary General Sorrento-Gillis not to make a preemptive strike against Mars. If the strike isn’t carried out perfectly (and when do things ever go perfectly?!) and any of Mars’ Ballistic Missile Platforms aren’t disabled, their counter strike could cost millions of Earthers their lives. If Anna is the angel on one shoulder, Errinwright is the devil on the other, telling the Secretary General that he’ll be a hero for ending the war before it can truly begin. In the end, Errinwright’s whisperings are a little bit sweeter, and SG gives the order to take out the platforms. It goes off almost without a hitch, but the few seconds the last rail gun malfunctions for is enough for Mars to get a planet-buster fired. Earth’s planetary defense system takes out most of the missiles, but one slips through, leveling a city in South America. Approximately 2 million people are killed.
Gina: “Maybe this war was inevitable. Maybe there was no way to avoid it. But you want it to be holy, and it’s not. The best you can hope for is that it’s justified.” When Anna said this, I literally got chills. I’m telling you, Jesus was in the room waving a hanky off-screen! When she gives the definition of the word “sacrifice” (meaning “to make sacred”) truly hits home in a real way. How can shedding the blood of others ever be made “sacred” when Jesus himself died to make all sacred and worthy of salvation? (I am speaking from a purely Christian perspective here.) It’s a very interesting topic in these very unstable times we currently live in. Anna knows that war is sometimes inevitable but that doesn’t make it sacred, but maybe it could be justified if it happens for the right reasons.
Michaela: I love how truly, earnestly Christian Anna is! She seeks to embody Christ to everyone around her, which is so rare in a Christian character on television. We know that she used to work with the Secretary General, and that something happened that made her break off from him. We get a little more information on that as well, when Anna says to him, “How many losses can you stomach and still tell yourself you’re doing God’s work? We both know it’s more than 37.” What happened that cost 37 people their lives?
Gina: Alex gets a message from his wife, and it turns out she had thought him dead for years. Their son has grown up without a father, and she doesn’t want him back in their lives. I need to know more about why he abandoned them. He’s such a “good” guy; I want to know what made him change. His story is missing key moments for me to judge him as a bad husband or father but he’s definitely not a good one.
On Io, Jules-Pierre Mao is overseeing Dr. Strickland’s work on the children, but realizes that it’s not worth sacrificing the lives of these children. This is the kind of reverse I like to see! He started out being the one that wanted all this but he realizes (albeit a bit late) that it is not worth the sacrifice. He has come to a decision the cost is to high. I love that it’s children that remind him of what he lost for this “weapon” — his daughter, Julie.
Michaela: How evil is Dr. Strickland that even Jules-Pierre Mao thinks he’s taking it too far? I love how Mei effortlessly charms Mao and brings to light his paternal side. Leah Jung, who plays Mei, is our MVP for this episode, because she brings such a fullness to her character and is a delight on our screens!
Gina: The kitchen scene between Naomi and Alex was also a very satisfying character moment. 90 seconds over a microwave dinner shows Alex extend forgiveness to her, even though he is still angry about her decision to share the protomolecule with the belt. I think it also shows Alex trying to “make up” for being bad at family life by using this moment to establish in his mind that the crew is his family now. Later in the episode, the kitchen becomes a place of enemies where Chrisjen and Naomi face off with their individual prejudices about each other’s worlds. Chrisjen thinks she can dazzle her way into the crew’s good graces and get Earth the protomolecule sample it needs to be in the “arms race” with the belt and Mars, while Naomi sees right through her nice politics to the real motives she has. So the community kitchen is a place where two characters make peace and two make war in the time span of one microwave dinner.
The Expanse airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Syfy.