“Pyre,” “The Weeping Somnambulist,” “Cascade,” “Here There Be Dragons,” “The Monster and the Rocket,” “Caliban’s War”

The Expanse finishes its second season, with characters realizing the Protomolecule will remain with humanity forever.

Guest appearance by a Mythbuster.

Directors: Kenneth Fink, Mikael Salomon, Rob Lieberman, Thor Freudenthal

Writers: Robin Veith, Hallie Lambert, Dan Nowak, Georgia Lee, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Naren Shankar.

Adapted from the novels by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (as James S.A. Corey)

Cast

Steven Strait as Jim Holden
Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala
Chad L. Coleman as Col. Frederick Lucius Johnson
Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal
Wes Chatham as Amos Burton
Frankie Adams as Roberta “Bobbie” Draper
Terry Chen as Praxidike “Prax” Meng
Shawn Doyle as Sadavir Errinwright
François Chau as Jules-Pierre Mao
Byron Mann as Admiral Nguyen
Nick E. Tarabay as Cotyar
Cara Gee as Col. Johnson’s Second in Command
Brian George as Arjun Avasarala
Alden Adair as Staz
Andrew Rotilio as Diogo
Carlos Gonzalez-Vio as Cortazar
Conrad Pla as Colonel Janus
Eli Martyr as Onudo
Jonathan Whittaker as Sec-Gen Gillis
Peter Outerbridge as Captain Martens
Hugh Dillon as Sutton
Sarah Allen as Hillman
Mpho Koaho as Richard Travis
Dewshane Williams as Sa’id
Ted Whittall as Michael Iturbi
Adam Savage as Arboghast crewmember

Premise

Fred Johnson loses control over OPA, but we later learn he gains a significant advantage.

Holden and company head to Ganymede and confront a protomolecule-altered human. They also acquire an important new crew member.
Although he has personal motives for joining, he proves his worth.

After a strange military encounter, Bobbie Draper becomes a pawn in the Earth/Mars conflict, and doesn’t much like the fact that her government is lying to her and manipulating everyone. She later rescues two key characters from a conflict on board Mao’s private ship.

Naomi makes a difficult decision concerning refugees.

High Points

The conflicts in “The Monster and the Rocket” have no really good resolution, and for a time, and we knew that at least one likeable character isn’t going to survive. Naomi’s heroism is not really diminished by the outcome of the episode. She fully intended to sacrifice herself.

Low Point

I like a good hero-in-the-face-of-danger quip as much as the next viewer, and the series has delivered a few. Actually, there are a few too many, especially in the final episode, and it does affect the overall tone of the show as it moves from space-detective series to Space Opera. The Expanse is no Comic Book Action Movie, and it should use its slicker elements sparingly.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The series has always echoed the genre’s past. “Caliban’s War,” in particular, recalls Alien, The Thing from Another World, and numerous videogames.

Effects: 6/6 The visual effects remain impressive and immersive. The research ship descending on Venus looks especially strong. The movement of the altered human seems a little off, in the way that CGI sometimes does, but I’m giving them a 6 for the sheer number of effects used so well, every week.

Acting: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6 The show creates genuine suspense in several stories, with outcomes in doubt. After the events of the season’s first half, we cannot be guaranteed of anyone’s survival.

Bonus: The Expanse is shot in Toronto, mostly in studio. Some local locations nevertheless appear in several episodes, including Roy Thompson Hall and the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus. In addition, I think Bobbie’s escape took her under the Gardiner Expressway at one point.

Story: 6/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, the second half of The Expanse, Season Two, receives 36/42