The excellent excitement of The Expanse continues unabated in the fourth episode of this superb science fiction saga!
Our grade for The Expanse has increased to beyond a solid A PLUS as we described in our review of the pilot episode “Dulcinea”, and in our analysis of episode two “The Big Empty”, and our insight about episode three “Remember The Cant”.
Beyond any doubt, CQB (Close Quarter Battle) the fourth episode of The Expanse is the most exciting, fast paced, episode of the series!
The hour episode flew by so fast, filled with new details, story arc reveals, and new suspicious characters, CQB was, without doubt the best episode, so far!
As we embark further into the depths of our solar system for the fourth fantastic episode, as the Irish would say, “The Shyte is about to hit the fan!”.
The only problem is that in space a fan will not help all of our five survivors of the Canterbury disaster Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal, Wes Chatham as Amos Burton, Steven Strait as James Holden, Paulo Costanzo as Medical Tech Shed Garvey, and delightful Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata as they are once again exposed not only to death, but to the very vacuum of deep space itself!
In fact, we soon discover “that then there were only four”, when one our heroes literally gets their head blown off during CQB in an outstanding special effects sequence so pure, so realistic, that a viewer cannot doubt such is how it could be in space during the twenty-third century!
In the past three episodes, “Dulcinea”, “The Big Empty”, and “Remember The Cant” we have given The Expanse scripted Space Opera drama an A PLUS. Our grade for CQB goes well beyond an A PLUS.
Based on the story arc, an A PLUS Google Plex is barely satisfactory for the precise pivot in the awesome adventure of The Expanse crafted for television by Naren Shankar from the wonderful work of the writing team of James S.A. Cory (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck)!
In CQB many the secrets of our heroes, our villains, The Powers That Be (TPTB), the United Nations of Earth and Luna (the moon), the Mars Congressional Republic, are to be revealed. We believe that Earth and Mars are being set up to become pawns on the chessboard controlled by the ruthless TPTB of the Outer Planets Alliance (The OPA).
The OPA strategy in our opinion? To alter the hegemony in our solar system about to become manifest in a form of destiny never envisioned by anyone in the United States when the phrase (Manifest Destiny) was coined over 170 years ago by revered journalist John L. O’Sullivan!
In the future of the twenty-third century, a new power, no doubt manipulating The OPA, with brand new technology is firmly set up across the solar system, from Earth, to Mars, to Ceres, and all the way to the (space) shipyards at Tycho Station, has set the wheels in motion to usurp Earth and Mars TPTB!
In The Expanse, during CQB, it is clear much more than religious zealotry of Radical Islamic fundamentalists is at work when we meet the space dry dock colonel who has no compunction blackmailing a Mormon Elder!
In our past analysis we have referred to ISIS as the ruthless vile terrorists that they are. In CQB, we learn that ISIS are but mere piker’s compared to the planned machinations of The OPA that will result in countless deaths as “The Dogs of War” rattle the solar system after Close Quarter Battle!
The new TPTB behind the events, the destruction of the Canterbury, the finding of ghost ship the Scopuli, will be eclipsed by an event beyond all imagination, the destruction of one of the Mars Congressional Republic Navy (MCRB) battleships under the watchful eye of the Tycho dry dock colonel who is building the Nauvoo, a new humongous ship named for a city in Illinois, with religious significance to members of several groups: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church); the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS); other groups stemming from the Latter Day Saint movement. The Nauvoo, is being prepared for as yet an unrevealed 100 year mission to an extraordinary, undisclosed location!
The Coroner (Boyd Banks) wants to recycle Bizi for fertilizer. For some reason not revealed Miller tells him “not yet”, but we all know Miller has a second sense when it comes to figuring out who is who in the zoo!
A bit later, with more clues from the corpse, we will learn the Bizi Bitiko corpse in the morgue has been embedded with identification falsification technology, and government data inside a “Memory Crypt” ultimately leads Miller to a kind of “Sling Shot Rave Party” where the young Millennial’s of the twenty-third century are getting high while watching what could be a clone of Bizi Bitiko on a deep space gravity well dare of sorts!
First however, we are back aboard the MCRN battleship, the Donnager, where we left James Holden (Steven Straight) with Captain Yao (Jean Yoon), Officer Lopez (Greg Bryk), her weapons officer (Tattiawna Jones) and bridge crew tactical officer (Austin Strugnell) as they prepare for an approaching vessel that has been warned off previously at the end of “Remember The Cant”. Lopez takes a liking to Holden who has agreed to talk and perhaps cooperate with the MCRN.
Back on Earth, on the roof of her home on Earth, Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) is looking up at the stars wondering just who, or whom is behind the terrifying events of the past few weeks. Briefly interrupted by her grandson (Yatharth Bhatt), it is apparent that Avasarala knows more than she reveals.
This editor suspects Chrisjen may know exactly what is happening, but is unable to directly and effectively intervene in the events occurring in deep space aboard the Donnager. It seems Chrisjen is thinking about a way to get a ship to the Donnager In time to rescue the Canterbury survivors, something that will not happen in CQB!
At Tycho Station, we meet Colonel Fredrick Lucius Johnson (Chad L. Coleman). Colonel Johnson is the commander of the space dry dock working on the construction of a massive ship known as the Nauvoo, destined to send a group of Mormons on a 100-year voyage.
We will soon learn Colonel Johnson of Tycho Station has other interests, including the Mars Congressional Republic Navy battleship, the Donnager!
A Mormon Elder (Peter Spence) is in a shuttle pod at the space dock. When the Elder indicates that Colonel Johnson may be replaced due to his ties with the OPA, Colonel Johnson retorts that Nauvoo’s construction reliability will be adversely affected if he was to lose his position. The Mormon Elder quickly informs the colonel to continue with his work!
After depositing the Mormon Elder at an airlock aboard Tycho Station, Colonel Johnson prepares to monitor what is happening with the MCRN Donnager. We all wonder what in the devil (pun intended) does the colonel knows, and what he is up to? Can anyone doubt he is OPA?
Speaking of the Donnager, our somewhat over confident, in fact arrogant Captain Yao, is preparing to destroy the approaching ship that has ignored her warnings. Captain Yao blithely informs Holden that Naomi is OPA and the ship is coming to rescue her. Captain Yao and her First Officer Lopez tells Holden in no uncertain terms that the Mars Congressional Republic had nothing to do with destroying the Canterbury and that he must recant his broadcast to avert a war.
Things aboard the MCRN battleship Donnager quickly go from bad to worse as (The OPA) ship divides into six additional targets on radar unleashing a barrage of long distance space torpedoes at the Donnager!
First Officer Lopez tells Holden to enjoy the show as he is strapped in on the bridge. Holden resists, wanting to return to his crew mates, however, Captain Yao orders him to be restrained!
As the Donnager enters battle stations, our other four survivors, Alex, Naomi, Amos and Shed, still in a quarantine holding cell room, wisely decide to strap themselves in to prepare for what appears to be an upcoming battle they know nothing about!
None of our heroes appear to be very pleased with how things are going. Little do they know things are about to become worse, much, much worse!
Unfortunately, the Donnager’s Sensor Officer informs Yao that the automated space Gatling guns prove to be less than 100% effective against The OPA’s seemingly more advanced weapons attacking in ships of an unknown design and origin!
As the Donnager takes several direct torpedo hits, Captain Yao orders her bridge crew to switch to short-range rail guns to finish the job. It becomes clear that Captain Yao and her bridge crew are becoming concerned about the enemy ships that are fast closing the distance, but for what purpose they all wonder?
The Donnager’s main drive is overheating. Captain Yao orders the unit to be taken offline, causing the interior of the ship to temporarily lose gravity. Back in the holding cell, Alex, once an MCRN transport pilot, begins to lose control.
Medical Technician Shed tries to help Alex by offering what appears to be a medicated candy stick. As the stick tumbles towards Alex, a whoosh is heard as the hull I punctured. When Alex looks back at Shed, his head has been blown off at the neck with his guts pouring out the hull breach behind where is head once was!
Alex, Naomi, and Amos think quickly finding various flat objects and a sealing compound gun, using same to stop the atmosphere from evacuating the holding cell. Suddenly gravity is restored, with a horrendous site of Shed’s blood and gut splashing all over!
Naomi finds a sedative telling the others that with only minutes of air left in their holding cell, one of them must be sedated to conserve oxygen. Reluctantly, Alex takes the sedative, telling Naomi and Amos that he wants to wake up when this is over! Do not worry folks, Alex will definitely be woken up!
Although the Donnager is able to destroy four of the six ships, the worst happens when the attackers become infiltrators and begin boarding the Donnager. When one of the bridge crew is killed, Holden volunteers to Lopez that he has seen these ship types before, the same ones that destroyed the Canterbury!
Captain Yao at first refuses to listen to Lopez, but relents when a shocked Holden raises his voice about his knowledge. Yao knows things have gone sideways ordering Lopez to get the ships logs and Holden off the Donnager so that he can testify to the authorities about the malcontents and their technology.
Lopez follows orders, escorting Holden revealing that unusual attackers they encounter are also responsible for what happened at Phoebe Station. Holden demands to know what happened at Phoebe.
Lopez explains that the Donnager was sent to Phoebe Station after it went “dark”. Upon arrival they found everyone on board burned to a crisp, frozen to the walls and computer systems had been destroyed in an obvious cover up about something not yet revealed. Holden demands Lopez rescue Naomi, Amos and Alex before he will cooperate. Lopez negotiates a demand that all will agree to testify Mars had nothing to do with the Canterbury’s destruction.
After a hit and run battle with boarders, Lopez, Alex, Naomi, Amos and Holden make it to the hangar bay, to a high speed escape ship blasts its way out of the Donnager! Back on the bridge, Captain Yao approves the self destruct of the Donnager.
In the final scenes, Miller is in the morgue with the gifted and gorgeous Octavia Muss (Athena Karkanis) having learned that there is more than one Bizi Bitiko and the “one” they have is loaded with high technology gizmos to conceal his identity.
This after Miller had been at the Rave party and watched another Bizi Bitiko get killed in a deep space gravity well game of life and death. One is left to wonder just how many Bizi Bitiko’s are there?!
Miller has tried to contact his partner Dimitri Havelock (Jay Hernandez) several times. As you may recall, Dimitri was skewered with a giant nail gun at the end of “Remember The Cant” by OPA sympathizers.
The camera pans to Havelock lying on the pavement having been found near the whore house he frequents by the Brothel Madam (Jane Moffat) herself! As Dimitri gasps after being prodded, the Madam screams and runs off to get help!
Finally, we learn that the Donnager First Officer Lopez is not himself a pilot. Lopez is heard authorizing control of the ship to all the survivors while dreamingly telling Holden he wants to see oceans on Mars as he passes out.
The good news is that the talented Greg Bryk has yet to die in The Expanse. The Lopez character will be seen in at least three more episodes in 2016 according to our sources, so his wish may come true in the future!
The escape ship complies, pumping Alex full of something that must be liquid amphetamines to help ensure our heroes are able to make good their escape!
We look forward to seeing you back here at our dedicated The Expanse series review site soon and hope you enjoy our evaluation and analysis of the this outstanding science fiction drama program!
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