TL;DR – The churn continues throughout the Solar System as people find no matter the road forward, dangers await
Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime subscription that viewed this series.
Hard Vacuum Review –
When the rocks hit Earth in Churn and Mother, they threw everything up in the air, both literally and metaphorically. In that one instant, power, alliances, and family all got put up for grabs, and while all of the characters of The Expanse are trying to find their new place in this world, no choice is going to be an easy one.
So to set the scene, at the end of Oyedeng, we watched as Naomi (Dominique Tipper) made a desperate leap from the Pella to the Chetzemoka in a hard vacuum without a suit. It was a perilous journey, and even though it took seconds the toll on her body severe. But as she awakes on the airlock floor, she sees just what Marco’s (Keon Alexander) plan for the Chetzemoka is. The whole ship has been wired with explosives, and on a loop is Naomi’s voice beckoning James (Steven Strait) to save her, but in reality, it is a siren call leading him to his death. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
At the core of this episode is the notion of family, how it can stretch and meld, how it can be brought to the breaking point, and how it can be used for control and abuse. With that in mind, we will break down the episode into each of the different family groups in the show to explore how they are coping with the world changing around them.
Our first stop is down on Earth where Amos (Wes Chatham) and Peaches (Nadine Nicole) make their way across a bleak landscape on the bikes they picked up in Tribes. The sun is barely shining through the dust in the atmosphere, and the bodies are starting to pile up. Seeing an atmo-shuttle takeoff, Peaches lets Amos know of a place in New Hampshire called Winnipesaukee Island where they might be able to find a spare shuttle to escape, but they will need help. This is a family (or tribe) of two, but taking a shuttle from a wealthy person’s estate is not something they can do by themselves. So they go to Baltimore to enlist the help of Erich (Jacob Mundell). Amos has to convince Erich that his world has changed and that it is only a matter of time before he is killed in the churn if he stays here and so their family expands a little when Erich says yes to the plan.
Up on Luna, we have spent the season looking at a family of convenience. For most of her exile upon the Moon, the only person Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) could count on was Admiral Delgado (Michael Irby). He was the only one who took her seriously, and the only one who helped her try to get that message to others on Earth. However, now Chrisjen is no longer on the outside being brought back into the cabinet by new Security-General David Paster (Sugith Varughese). However, in this moment of success, we see the start of their paths diverging as they take dramatically different positions on how to respond to the attacks. This was a family forged out of necessity, and one that does not look to have a long future.
Out in The Belt, Drummer (Cara Gee) along with Oksana (Sandrine Holt), Bertold (Stephen Tracey), Josep (Samer Salem), and Michio (Vanessa Smythe) are salvaging a wreck they stumbled across. It is of a ship that decided not to join Marco’s faction and paid the price, which is, of course weighing all on their minds. All of this is not helped by one of Marco’s Lieutenants Karal (Olunike Adeliyi) just being there on board as a living reminder of their deal with the devil and the person who is entirely unsubtle when she starts “measuring Drummer’s office for curtains”.
For The Bealter Polyfam, this is difficult because there are no easy options, and danger lurks no matter what they choose. You see that tension play out as they start sniping at each other over the dinner table, only to be brought back together by a shared moment of relief. You really feel like this is a real family, so you feel that hurt when they can’t find a way out. This is only amplified for Drummer when she discovers that Naomi is dead and that she had been on the Pella when Drummer was there. There is a wave of grief that overwhelms Drummer, and you as a watcher felt it in your core, even though as an audience you know Naomi is alive, which is all down to the power of Cara Gee’s acting.
Finally, we come to fractured families of Naomi Nagata, who are in the process of trying to kill each other. Onboard the Pella we see Marco in all his fury and grief as the body of Cyn (Brent Sexton) lays out before him. Once again, he takes this opportunity to dump the blame for all his failures onto Filip (Jasai Chase-Owens). Marco has a very clear self-view of himself, I mean he did name his ship after Alexander The Great’s birthplace. Anything that falls outside that view must be someone else’s fault, and he heaps most of that upon his own son. All of Marco’s relationships are toxic because no matter who you are, you will never be close to critical for Marco, and you will always be expendable.
You see this in the way that Marco weaponises Naomi’s family bonds for violence. He uses the love they have for Naomi to lure them into a trap, and it works because there is nothing they would not do for one of their family. Naomi knows this, and knows that the trap will work, so through sheer guts and determination, she spends the whole episode desperately trying to find some way of warning people of the trap. This includes walking into the bowls of the ship with no oxygen, time after time after time. It is the love of her family that drives her
In the end, do we recommend Hard Vacuum? Absolutely. It is telling how good this show is that I care about all these characters and want to see them thrive even when all of it is hitting the fan.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Expanse
Directed by – Marisol Adler
Written by – Dan Nowak
Created by – Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
Based on – The Expanse by James S. A. Corey (Ty Franck & Daniel Abraham)
Production/Distribution Companies – Alcon Entertainment & Amazon Studios
Starring – Steven Strait, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham, Frankie Adams, Cara Gee, Nadine Nicole, Keon Alexander, Jasai Chase-Owens & Shohreh Aghdashloo with José Zúñiga, Sandrine Holt, Michael Irby, Brent Sexton, Anna Hopkins, George Tchortov, Olunike Adeliyi, Jacob Mundell, Sugith Varughese & Somkele Idhalama