Last week on The Expanse, we got a taste of the Ganymede crisis and the splintering of Johnson’s control of the OPA. Episode 8, titled “Pyre,” dives deeper into these narratives and focuses on themes of betrayal. From Naomi hiding her sample of the protomolecule to Johnson’s dealings with the OPA; everybody is playing in regions of gray this episode.
Major Spoilers! Major Spoilers! Major Spoilers
The episode opens with an agricultural scientist, Dr. Meng, working in one of Ganymede’s agricultural domes. The scene is serene and dream-like, and we watch as Dr. Meng gazes up from his work at his adorable little daughter. The peaceful moment is interrupted when the agricultural dome is breached and Dr. Meng wakes with a start. He finds himself wounded and amongst other survivors on a Belter ship. He can’t find his daughter anywhere and is reunited with a woman he knew on Ganymede, Doris. There’s an implied romantic relationship between the two, and he seems relieved to see her. She tells him they were attacked and informs him that his daughter was lost during the incident.
Meanwhile, Holden and Johnson confront Diogo (the young belter that was friends with Miller) for helping Dawes escape from Tycho with Paolo Cortazar (protomolecule scientist). There’s a good chance that Johnson will execute the young Belter for his treachery. Drummer (Johnson’s Number One played by Cara Gee) informs the crew that Dawes escaped in another ship on the other side of Tycho while they were distracted by Diogo (Why Diogo?! Why?!). Holden accuses Drummer of doing a crap job with Tycho’s security and their conversation is interrupted by a message from Dawes.
Dawes confronts Johnson in a video message (broadcasted throughout the command center), telling him he knows that he’s been keeping information from the Belters (in this case, Cortazar). Dawes goes on a tirade berating Johnson’s Earther instinct and promises to empower the Belter people.
After the message from Dawes, Holden and Johnson reveal that Cortazar found a signal proving that Eros wasn’t the last place infested with the protomolecule. Holden and the crew are afraid that Dawes might get ahold of it, which would be disastrous to the system. Naomi is worried that it could be the sample she has hidden in the asteroid field and checks to make sure that it’s still there. (Did she make the right decision keeping it?) She is pissed at Holden because he didn’t tell her right away about Cortazar tracking the protomolecule. After an awkward interaction with Holden, Naomi focuses, with Drummer’s help, on tracking down the protomolecule using Tycho’s satellites.
While everyone is freaking out about Dawes and the protomolecule business, additional disasters are on the horizon. First, some of Johnson’s OPA guys are meeting in secret and listening to Dawes’ broadcast (this can’t be good), and second, Dr. Meng and his Martian friend, Doris, are separated during boarding procedures onto a ship heading to Mars. The Belter crew of the refugee ship won’t let Dr. Meng board the Martian-bound ship with Doris, saying that he’s a Belter and must stay with them. Thinking that he’ll be able to meet up with her later, he watches in horror as the Belter ship releases Doris and other refugees with Inner planet heritage into the cold of space. There never was a Martian ship.
While Meng is being traumatized by the actions of his fellow Belters, Naomi and the kickass Drummer (these ladies rock!) figure out the location of the protomolecule that Cortazar was tracking. It’s on Ganymede! (Knew it!) Naomi and Drummer report their findings to Holden and Johnson. After a brusque conversation on what they should do next, Holden starts investigating the protomolecule presence on Ganymede.
During Holden’s investigation efforts, Dr. Meng and the rest of the Ganymede Belter refugees arrive on Tycho Station. Dr. Meng tries to report what happened to Doris and is ignored. Holden and Naomi figure out the connection between Ganymede and the protomolecule and seek out Meng to ask him questions about a Protogen pediatrician (Hmm…). While they’re busy with Meng, a faction of the OPA storm Johnson’s headquarters, killing some of his men and demanding that he give them the codes for the missiles he stole from earth. Drummer proves her loyalty to Johnson, taking a bullet to the stomach when neither of them offers up the warhead codes. Don’t worry, though, Drummer’s one tough cookie and survives long enough for Holden, Amos, Alex and Naomi to save the day.
The episode ends with Johnson severing ties with Holden (they have trust issues), who takes his crew and the Roci to investigate the protomolecule on Ganymede. Dr. Meng, who discovers that his daughter might be alive and is being held by Protogen scientists, joins the crew on the mission.
This week’s episode was excellent. There’s a whole lot of questions that need to be answered and next week’s episode can’t happen fast enough. Ugh! Oh well, we’ll just have to wait.
Catch The Expanse next Wednesday, March 22nd on the SyFy network.
Jahkotta Lewis is a professional archaeologist, an amateur astronomer, and an aspiring writer. When she is not documenting Pacific Island archaeology, she spends her days hiking through native forests, spelunking within the depths of an active volcano, and watching/reading all things fantasy and science fiction. Follow her on Twitter @jahkotta