The Expanse: “Remember the Cant” is basically the Chrisjen Avasarala Show (which is great)

The Expanse chugs along this week with another hour that eschews the episodic format in favor of functioning more as a chapter of a greater whole than as any kind of self-contained story in its own right. For some, this may be a criticism of the series, but I rather like the way things flow along, even if I do hate having to wait a week between installments. (Yes, I know that the first four episodes have been online for over a week, but the faster I burn through them, the longer I have to wait for episode five, so I’ve been holding off.) In “Remember the Cant,” we see all of our story lines inch forward a little more, and it’s becoming easier and easier to see the connections between them, but it’s really Chrisjen’s that comes together this week after a lackluster start in the first two episodes of the show.

In the first couple episodes of the show, Chrisjen’s scenes on Earth felt very disconnected from the scenes on Ceres and with the Cant survivors, but this week we finally get to see her do something that feels important and shows how intimately tied her story is to what is going on farther afield in the solar system. Her interactions with—and manipulation of—her old friend the U.N. ambassador to Mars are compelling and really help to humanize a character who has so far spent most of her time onscreen overseeing the torture of a Belter. Here, we see that, while Chrisjen may indeed be a coldly calculating politician, she’s also on some level deeply principled and committed to doing what she thinks is the right thing to do in order to protect her planet. We also learn that she’s not unwilling to cause suffering to herself in service of what she sees as a greater good, as she sacrifices a lifelong friendship in order to try and head off an all-out war with Mars.

Unless something significantly changes over the coming weeks, I have little doubt that Chrisjen Avasarala is going to go down in history as one of sci-fi’s great, iconic women characters. She’s got a unique and distinctive look, and she’s played with an incredible mix of shrewdness and sensitivity by Shohreh Aghdashloo. So far, she’s the most complex and non-stereotypical character on the show, and in “Remember the Cant” her story just got a lot more compelling, helped along by a strong supporting performance from Kenneth Welsh as the Mars ambassador Franklin DeGraaf. The final exchange between Chrisjen and Frank is downright heart wrenching.

Meanwhile, on Ceres, Miller runs into a roadblock in his search for Julie Mao. Her trail ends at the Scopuli, which he discovers right around the time Holden’s video is going viral. This episode sees Miller struggling (sort of) to balance different aspects of his life and identity. His boss at Star Helix tells him to close the Mao case so he can focus on working with the rest of the Earth-contracted police force to nip the burgeoning rebellion on the station in the bud. However, Miller is increasingly distracted by Julie Mao, who he’s becoming somewhat obsessed with, and as a Ceres-born Belter himself his loyalties are somewhat murky when it comes to keeping the peace.

I’m surprised to find myself saying this, but I think the show is actually doing a better job than the first novel in the book series did of communicating Miller’s character and making him interesting to watch. I was happy with the way Miller’s meeting with Anderson Dawes played out, and I can’t wait to seeing what happens next week when Miller has to deal with Havelock’s possible murder.

The remaining crew of the Canterbury doesn’t fare so well this week as they are interrogated by the Martian navy in a somewhat confusing series of scenes on the Donnager. For a group of people who are supposedly innocent of any wrongdoing, the Martians are shady as hell, and the interrogator guy was legitimately unsettling. However, the information that was revealed about the Cant survivors was mostly just general background stuff about each of them, not all of which is particularly important—except for the fact that Shed faked his medical credentials to escape from a drug dealer who wanted to kill him, which is confirmed in a hilariously deadpan fashion by the good doctor himself. I’m also a little disappointed that the show seems to be reneging on last week’s suggestion that Naomi might be taking a more central role in the show than she did in the first book. By the end of “Remember the Cant,” we see Holden stepping up to take responsibility, of a sort, and referring to the other survivors as his people.

Episode four should be interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing everything hit the fan even more than it did this week.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Hello, Brian George as Arjun Avasarala! IMDb says he was in “Dulcinea” as well, but I must have missed him.
  • The crowd scenes on Ceres are impressively done and really help to show the scale of the unrest there.
  • While I’ve read Leviathan Wakes, I can already see where the show is slowly moving away from the source material, even on Ceres and with Holden and company.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s