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Now that millions have experienced “Rock Bottom”, both figuratively in their lives, and literally in The Expanse, we can share that the sixth episode of ten in season one, “Rock Bottom” represents the critical pivot in the story arc, successfully presented to science fiction Space Opera drama fans the world over!
Our heroes, James Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar), and Amos Burton (Wes Chatham), have survived not only the destruction of two ships they were on, the Donnager and the Canterbury, they become “Cool Kids”!
In “Rock Bottom” Naomi, Alex, Amos and Holden will also survive “The Butcher of Anderson Station” none other than Colonel Fredrick Lucius Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) now Director of the Tycho Station Space Construction Docks where a huge spacecraft, the Nauvoo is under construction!
Our four heroes quickly became the “Cool Kids” of The Expanse on Tycho Station (hence our featured Music News Series song by Echosmith).
Our heroes beat the nefarious Colonel Johnson at his own game when they get a chance to relax and party after taking the MCRN Tachi, now re named the Rocinante to the station for a refit and a new mission!
The “Cool Kids” of Tycho Stations are juxtaposed with the fate of our other hero, Detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane) who this editor believes longs to become one of the “Cool Kids” in his own right.
But first Detective Miller must face terrible circumstances in “Rock Bottom” where ultimately, in fact sadly, Millers desire to do “the right thing” and become one of the “Cool Kds” is to be proven to not be the case.
Miller will not only be discharged from Star Helix for doing his duty to track down Julie Mao (Florence Faivre), he will be tortured and is nearly killed in the process at the hands of OPA butchers!
Subsequent to The Expanse viewers witnessing the ruthless actions of Colonel Johnson from eleven year prior, acts known throughout the solar system in the twenty-third century, many suspected that our heroes could become captives of “The Butcher” in “Rock Bottom” on Tycho Station!
Thank goodness this will prove to not be the case when Naomi, Alex, Amos and Holden turn the tables on the dear Colonel and make good their escape once more.
This will be in exchange for becoming apparent operatives in league with Johnson to determine just who in the hell has been responsible for the upheavals in the existing power structure from the destruction of two major space vessels, the Canterbury and the MCRN Donnager.
The power structure hegemony in The Expanse that will exist in our solar system only two hundred years, just around the corner of the future of humanity!
Meanwhile back on good ole’ Earth under the “guidance” of the United Nations, our erstwhile Detective Miller is to be taken down “the rabbit hole” by the OPA.
Why? To be taught a lesson for his constant and persistent meddling probing into the interlinked activities of various OPA groups on Ceres Station who have taken virtual control of the outpost. The revelations at the end of “Rock Bottom” will shock the hell out of Miller and the admirers of The Expanse!
In contrast, on Earth, the United Nations is scrambling to catch up with the events before they overwhelm their existing control of humanity on our fair planet. Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) begins calling in all past favors, including threats of blackmail to obtain intelligence of the seemingly out of control activities of Colonel Johnson, what he knows, and just who in the heck has been upsetting TPTB “apple cart” via the destruction of the Canterbury and the Donnager.
The events in “Rock Bottom” will establish the foundation for the final three episodes of season one of The Expanse, which will undoubtedly result in a climax cliff hanger of monumental and exciting proportions!
The Expanse episode begins in New York City near United Nations Headquarters. A beautiful shot of the skyline pans us in to Chrisjen Avasarala in a huge aquarium.
Chrisjen is using her grandson (Yatharth Bhatt) for cover. Chrisjen is with an ex United Nations colleague named Carlos Davila (Bruno Verdoni) demanding that he turn over access to his spy on Tycho Station.
Why? Chrisjen is desperate for information about the activities of Tycho Station Director Fred Johnson.
At first Davila refuses until Chrisjen dangles a prize (or punishment) with a blatant blackmail discussion of affecting the parole hearing for Davilla’s imprisoned son, Esteban. The unbridled blackmail pays off later when we will witness the Tycho spy transmitting data back to Earth.
Next we are aboard the MCRN Tachi, now reprogrammed to be the Rocinante. Our heroes are approaching Tycho Station for docking. As the “Roci” approaches Tycho, she gracefully glides past the huge ship Nauvoo which is nearing completion of construction at the space dock.
These scenes are beautifully done by The Expanse VFX teams. This editor felt certain that he was actually there in a construction pod ship watching the action as the Roci is docked at Tycho Station. Simply put, BRAVO and well done to The Expanse creators for realistic and stunning visual sequences!
Amos and Holden are armed to the teeth meet Colonel Johnson who also is backed up by his own OPA henchmen.
The stand off is punctuated with Johnson proclaiming to Holden “You’re the luckiest dip shit in the solar system!” Johnson claims to be a broker of peace treaties “these days”.
Holden counters with “that’s not exactly what you’re known for!”
Johnson offers to dispose of the Rocinante and provide our heroes with safe harbor on Tycho Station Holden firmly informs Johnson that no one is taking the Rocinante and that the Roci has been programmed to defend herself!
A great VFX scene in “Rock Bottom” is observed with the Roci’s Gatling Guns trained on an OPA member outside trying to disable the ship. This factor convinces Johnson to try another tact to enlist our heroes to cooperate with his plans.
Back on Ceres Station, Miller is being tortured by Anderson Dawes (Jared Harris) and his two “interrogators” who utilize what appear to be twenty third century Tazers.
Dawes demands to know what the detective knows about Julie Mao that he has not revealed during their previous encounters. Anderson Dawes reveals his true colors during the interrogation sequences which made this editor wince for their brutal realism.
We learn what motivated Dawes to become associated with the OPA. Miller is told a story about Dawes younger sister, whom Miller says Dawes murdered.
Dawes claims that his sister was left for dead in order for the rest of his family to survive the harsh working conditions “The Belt” mandated by the corporations, the Mars Congressional Republic and the United Nations who control the activities there for the time being.
When we return to Earth we learn that Davila has sought out Chrisjen’s boss, Errinwright (Shawn Doyle). Errinwright chides Chrisjen threatening disciplinary actions for her indiscretions. Chrisjen insists she only “politely asked” Davila about spying on Johnson, no doubt now that “Fred” is linked to the OPA.
Chrisjen considers Johnson to be a threat to the United Nations and the entire solar system. Errinwright counters with an important item; The OPA killed Chrisjen’s son and Colonel Johnson has turned against his friends on Earth.
Errinwright suggests Chrisjen is seeking revenge via a personal vendetta? “You’re damn right it’s personal,” Chrisjen replies! Errinwright ultimately relents, granting Chrisjen permission to use Davila’s spy on Tycho.
This reviewer found the details of the past history between the OPA, Colonel Johnson and Chrisjen Avasarala to be well done character portrayals that are critical to the viewer understanding the political motivations within the story arc. A job well done by The Expanse writing team!
Our next victims of The Expanse are Diogo (Andrew Rotilio), the water thief Miller busted for stealing water on Ceres Station in “The Big Empty” working with his uncle aboard an asteroid hauling ship.
Unfortunately, their ship has not paid their licensing fees and is intercepted and boarded by an MCRN patrol vessel. Diogo’s uncle is ordered to impound his ship and his asteroid is to be placed in tow.
Diogo’s uncle loses control sending Diogo outside the ship on a fake mission to secure the asteroid for impoundment. Instead crazy uncle goes after the MCRN patrol ship screaming to no one in specific “A man has to stand up!”
Crazed uncle aims his haul of asteroids at the MCRN patrol ship. Not a very good idea in the opinion of this editor! The MCRN ship is hit with the asteroids which quickly destroys and kills crazy uncle. Poor Diogo is left by the MCRN floating in space.
The question is whether or not someone will find Diogo. Based on the cast credits this be the last time we see this “Belter”. However, the sequence serves a good purpose to illustrate the growth of the OPA and the growing rebellion of the “Belters”
After the initial standoff at Tycho Station, with Johnson realizing Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex have firm control of the Rocinante, he elects to use a different tactic to recruit our heroes, offering rest and relaxation.
There are several fun enjoyable scenes with our heroes drinking and having a good time before setting off on Colonel Johnson’s mission to determine what has happened to the Scopuli, the Canterbury and the Donnager.
What mission? Johnson is looking for the only survivor of the Scopuli disaster, his operative. Johnson also admits that he commissioned for an OPA reconnaissance mission and that he will return Lopez (Greg Bryk) to Mars for proper burial.
As part of the deal, Colonel Johnson orders his crew to disguise the MCRN fighting Frigate Rocinante as a gas freighter. Now relaxed and ready, the Rocinante sets off on their operation.
Admirers of The Expanse may recall in our last analysis (Back to the Butcher) , that Lopez was carrying a data card in his lapel about the attacks on the Donnager as well as the ships logs.
True to form and his level of experience on deep space situations with the MCRN, Johnson suspects that (knows) Lopez would have been carrying such information. We witness Johnson retrieving the data card. No doubt this will become a leverage point in the future, both with Mars and Earth.
In a moment of team building, Holden confesses to Amos and Alex that he was the one whom had logged the distress call of the Scopuli that led to the destruction of the Canterbury, information that he had shared with Naomi.
Amos, always a staunch supporter of Naomi Nagata in all matter during the adventure to date, is visibly hurt when he realizes Naomi knew about these details and kept it from him.
Amos listens carefully to what Naomi and Holden reveal. Only then does Amos understand that their mission is to find out who destroyed the Canterbury, the Donnager and used the Scopuli as bait to accomplish both!
Amos, Naomi, Holden and Alex’s hope is that the man Colonel Johnson mentioned, one undercover agent named Lionel Polanski, once found, will help them all find out what the heck has been going on with the destruction and mayhem that have plagued our solar system!
As the exciting detail filled episode winds down, things begin to move very quickly to a new climax.
We the viewers learn that Chrisjen Avasarala’s spy, Kenzo (Elias Toufexis) has been in the Tycho Station bar, He has overheard and recorded the entire conversation!
The details of our heroes new mission are promptly reported to Chrisjen Avasarala back on Earth!
Switching back to the what appears to be the least “Cool Kid” in the solar system, Dawes has had enough of Miller. In fact it appears Dawes may have enough power, or should we say has black mailed Star Helix to simply be able to dispose of Miller, no questions asked. Dawes leaves Miller ordering his minions to throw him in an airlock to be murdered.
The plan to murder Miller goes awry when Octavia Muss (Athena Karkanis) comes to his rescue shooting the OPA thug. I was pleased to see the OPA Thug girl played by Felicia Simone get dispatched by Octavia. This villain had used Tazer torture on Miller mercilessly!
Subsequent to escaping death, Miller looks at Julie’s data card finding information about a biological weapon being developed on Phoebe. Octavia had prompted Miller last episode to “take it upstairs” to obtain the support of Captain Haddid (Lola Glaudini).
Bad idea! Miller has exposed the roots of the Julie Mao (Florence Faivre) dilemma that only to find that the events were a ruse to draw attention away from the biological weapon. Miller’s reward? Captain Shaddid rewards his impressive detective work by firing him!
The Expanse episode ends with our fifth hero, Detective Josephus Miller is witnessed snapping at his soon to be old boss, Captain Haddid “Dawes got to you, too”.
Former Detective Miller is promptly escorted out of Star Helix headquarters by security.
Now unemployed, but thankfully still alive thanks to Octavia Muss, a person whom we hope will become Millers eyes and ears about the comings and goings at Star Helix in the future episodes of The Expanse!!
In closing for now, we, like all science fiction lovers are waiting in avid anticipation for the superb seventh episode of The Expanse, “Windmills” on Syfy and Space Channel!
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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