Things are moving right along in the final season of The Expanse, with “Azure Dragon” advancing the plot quite nicely. It was an action-packed, tightly-paced episode that nonetheless honestly should have been at least fifteen minutes longer. We are now one-third of the way through the last season with a lot still left to tie up.
The combined might of Earth and Mars strike a huge blow to Marco’s Free Navy in “Azure Dragon”. The crew of the Roci, along with Bobbie, manage to locate and obtain the spotter ship used to launch all the rocks at Earth. With the crew dead and the data core safely in the hands of Holden and the others, this will free up the UNN’s ships to finally venture out into space and engage with Marco’s ships directly.
It’s not often that you get a high-speed chase in space, and the scene with the Roci trailing the Azure Dragon was phenomenal. I’ve always appreciated that The Expanse doesn’t rely on a lot of CGI, as most of the scenes are just characters talking on practical sets or actual locations. It means that when they bust out the CGI, it’s going to look good.
But it isn’t just the CGI. The Expanse is generally pretty good with realism in how they handle the science of space, so the realistic physics helped make the scene even more intense. The music gave it a cinematic quality. (I’m so glad I got that bigger TV.) That scene had me on the edge of my seat; I knew the Roci would come out all right, but I was so worried that they would lose the ship and the mission would be a failure.
Crew dynamics are also starting to shift as we move closer toward the end. Last week we saw that Naomi is not a fan of Clarissa being on board, and for good reason. However, this week that attitude is largely absent. I suppose it’s because Naomi recognizes that Clarissa helped her out when necessary and also didn’t make a big deal out of it or let everyone know Naomi’s personal business. (Side note: thank you, The Expanse, for acknowledging that Naomi went through something very traumatic last season and even months later would not be completely over it.)
We can also see that Holden has apparently been treating Clarissa with a polite distance, putting up with her as a favor to Amos. He gives her a heads up as soon as he learns that an unknown person will be boarding, as she is a wanted fugitive, and even when he finds out that it’s Bobbie, he doesn’t rat her out.
I think that Holden probably feels as though he has more important things to worry about than Clarissa, and he knows that Amos wouldn’t willingly put any of them in danger. But also, after the scene at the end where he chewed her out, I think he’s acknowledging that she did a nice thing for Naomi even though Naomi has not been nice to her.
This may be unintentional, but I like the comparison in leadership styles between Drummer and Marco. Drummer, when meeting up with someone “loyal” to Marco, does not try to tempt him from the dark side or even get him to risk his and his crew’s safety. She simply asks to be put in touch with former members of his crew who may be more receptive to what she’s asking.
Meanwhile, Marco cares for no one but himself. We saw it in last week’s episode where he was so dismissive of Ceres’s needs even after emotionally declaring that Ceres would be the new Belter capitol. In this week’s episode, he is almost gleeful at the thought of leading the UNN’s forces to Ceres, despite just suffering a crippling strategic blow. I suspect he will stay on Ceres and encourage the station’s residents to sacrifice themselves for him, rather than leading the UNN out into space, which would be safer for civilians.
I’ll be honest, I’ve found Filip annoying for much of the time that he’s on-screen. I know that he was brainwashed by Marco from a young age, but he’s just been such a brat. “Azure Dragon” was the first time that I actually felt for him as a character. He was so blasé about committing genocide, because it’s easy to detach from the situation when you’re pushing a button (or throwing a rock). It’s quite another thing to kill someone one on one, especially when it’s someone that you know. I think the weight of his actions is finally starting to hit him.
That’s why I think that the project Chrisjen commissioned from Monica is a good idea. I can see Monica thinking that it’s pointless – she even called it “propaganda” – but it is always a good idea to put a human face on tragedy. As I said, it’s way too easy to detach when it’s something happening far away. People are way more empathetic about something happening to people they can see. Many of the Belters that we’ve seen have quickly jumped on the “kill all Earthers” train, but in truth, so few Earthers have anything to do with the treatment of Belters, and they certainly don’t deserve to die for it.
“Azure Dragon” spends a little more time on the colony we briefly saw at the beginning of last week’s episode. As someone who hasn’t read the books, I don’t know why this colony is important. But as someone who frequents episode discussion threads, I know that it is important. We just haven’t learned why yet. And so far, I’m confused, because that plot thread is so far removed from everything else that’s going on that it just stops the momentum in its tracks. I have to hope that this is all leading somewhere.
I still think that these last few episodes should have been longer, particularly since this is a shortened season. But I have to appreciate the tightness of the narrative, and the fact that this show hasn’t lost any of its humor.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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