THE EXPANSE – Season Two Episodes 1 & 2 – SPOILERS
Bobbie Draper, a Martian Marine, does symbolic combat with her militant, anti-Earther views when she arm-wrestles a suit of battle armour. There are two executions, each totally unrelated to the other, and each without warning or apparent justification. Holden and Nagata have sex in episode one. (Holden also had sex in the first episode of Season One, but with someone else.)
Saturn’s moon Phoebe is where the protomolecule was found, and we are told that Phoebe is an extra-solar object that was captured by Saturn’s gravity. (This is certainly possible, though the moon is currently believed to have originated in the Kuiper Belt.) The protomolecule rewrites DNA and re-purposes organisms. At least that’s the theory that was being researched on Eros until Joe Miller showed up looking for Julie Mao and put an end to that experiment. The scientist running the Eros experiment thought that Phoebe was a weapon targeting Earth, but if an extra-terrestrial species capable of sending a bio-weapon across interstellar space was targeting Earth, one might expect them to be able to hit it. Perhaps the target was Saturn, and whatever life forms might exist there.
We learn an important bit of solar system history from Lieutenant Sutton of the Martian Marines in this conversation with Bobbie Draper:
SUTTON: “I was a private during the Vesta blockade. Half the Earth’s fleet was headed to Mars, to annihilate its former colony. If they couldn’t have what we built, they were going to pound it back into dust. Luckily for everyone, cooler heads prevailed. We’ve managed to avoid a shooting war with Earth up till now. That’s our job. To make sure that war never happens.”
DRAPER: “And because of Vesta, we pushed back the terraforming project. Fifty years and fifty more. All those resources to the military. Now, none of us will live to see an atmosphere over Mars.”
SUTTON: “That was the price.”
So the blockade, which seems to be somehow involved with Martian independence from Earth, happened about half a century previously. (One wonders if those are Earth years, or Martian years which are nearly twice as long.) Vesta was scarcely mentioned in Season One (it seemed at the time a major omission) and we still don’t know exactly why it was blockaded, or what happened to that asteroid. (Vesta is the second largest object in the asteroid belt. Only Ceres is bigger.)
The situation at the end of Episode two is this: Nobody trusts anybody. Chrisjen Avasarala believes there is a “shadow government” inside the UN trying to provoke a war with Mars. Julie Mao’s dad (played by François Chau) is behind the experiments on Eros that killed his daughter, and may also be connected to that shadow government. A sample of protomolecule found by the Rocinante has been hidden for safekeeping among an obscure cluster of rocks in space. Phoebe has been blown to bits by Martians so Earthers couldn’t get to it first. (The remains of the moon spiraled into Saturn, possibly infecting that planet with the protomolecule.)
Fred Johnson (who, according to Admiral Souther, may not be as bad a dude as we were originally led to believe) helps the Rocinante crew capture the space station that is receiving data from Eros. The people left behind on the now-quarantined asteroid, including Julie Mao, are being “re-purposed” by the substance, to some unknown end. Miller shoots the scientist in charge of the station, preventing Johnson from cutting a deal with him for the data. Because of that, Johnson’s assistant, Sam (Alli Chung), who demonstrated decryption abilities in Episode 1.7, will have more work to do. There was a stealth ship guarding the station. It apparently left after the station was occupied. We still don’t know who is operating the stealth ships.
Hugh Dillon (Lieutenant Sutton) will be Adam Westinghouse in THE HUMANITY BUREAU, a story set in a future ravaged by the effects of global warming, where the American government banishes the unproductive to the colony of New Eden. One of their agents (Nicholas Cage) goes rogue and attempts to escape to Canada along with a woman and her young son. THE HUMANITY BUREAU was filmed mostly in Osoyoos, a small town near the B.C./US border. No word yet on a release date.
Gabrielle Graham (Belter prostitute) will be Karisse in the sci-fi fantasy DARKEN, directed by Audrey Cummings. Darken is a violent, labyrinthine prison-like world, ruled by a religious despot who demands allegiance to an all-powerful god called Mother Darken. Eve (Bea Santos), finds herself trapped there, and must co-operate with local rebels in hopes of finding a way to escape. The film is due out later this year and can be pre-ordered online.