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S05.E02: Churn

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Holden and Fred deal with infiltrators on Tycho; Drummer's past comes back to haunt her; Amos returns to Baltimore.

Please keep your discussion to this episode only.  No book talk, thank you!

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Oh, Fred!  You should know by now that Holden is definitely an "If I see a mysterious flashing button, I press it!" kind of a guy.  I mean, it's worked out well enough for him so far!

Favorite parts were definitely the stuff in Baltimore and learning more about Amos and his backstory.  Definitely can see why he ended up becoming the man he is now.  Wes Chatham really is perfect in the role.  Also glad they got another alumni from The Wire here, with Frankie Faison popping up as Charles.  Curious to see whatever unfinished business Amos has before he leaves Earth for good.

Glad we checked in on Drummer in the opening act.  Looks like she has formed some kind of mercenary/pirate crew, but one that is slightly better than most, in that she at least doesn't kill hostages (even though she certainly has no problems taking everything else!)  Also looks like she might have someone special in her life now, which is cool, but I'm slightly worried since she is being played by Sandrine Holt, who is an actress that I really like, but her characters tend to have fates that aren't exactly good.  But it looks like Drummer has now discovered Ashford's ship, so I'm guessing this will help bring her back into the fold.

Sure enough, Bobbie brings Alex into her little mission, and they are working together!  Right now, it looks like the mysterious weapon sales might trace back to this high ranking Martian Admiral, played by Tim DeKay.  His assistant might even be more dangerous, because Hannibal taught me to never underestimate characters played by Lara Jean Chorostecki!

Monica certainly seems to be onto something, since someone went out of their way to kidnap her and put her in a storage compartment!

Chrisjen really, really, really doesn't like not being in charge anymore, heh.  She'll probably end up being right of course, but I suspect even if she did end up being wrong, she'd hate to have to take orders instead of give them.

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Oh, Fred!  You should know by now that Holden is definitely an "If I see a mysterious flashing button, I press it!" kind of a guy.  I mean, it's worked out well enough for him so far!

When Holden said "There was a button; I pushed it," Fred's exasperation was palpable ("Jesus Christ! That really is how you go through life isn't it"). I love Fred and Holden's relationship and how it's evolved from season 1.

Also loved seeing Drummer and her new crew/family. 

Delighted that they got Tim DeKay (who I really liked in White Collar) to play Commander Admiral Sauveterre. 

Edited by Gillian Rosh
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The only thing better than seeing Drummer again (and quite a lot of her, ha), was Drummer & Ashford.  I can't believe what a wonderful character he became, and I'm glad he could at least make an appearance here.

Amos is always interesting, and it was nice to see his backstory.  I was surprised how much stuff Lydia left, and how many containers (we are reorganizing, and the price and availability of plastic containers like that are on my mind).  I don't remember Amos calling Chrisjen "Chrissy" but I like it.

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Love seeing Amos in Baltimore.  Very nice  to see Faison from The Wire having a part.  Nice moment their characters had- after Amos found out Lydia died peacefully.  And all Amos wanted to do was to let Charles to continue to live in that house.  

Erich was an interesting character.  Heading up a major criminal enterprise.  Sort of  living the pandemic life - isolated with his rare loot.

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On 12/17/2020 at 10:09 AM, Gillian Rosh said:

Fred's exasperation was palpable ("Jesus Christ! That really is how you go through life isn't it").

"James Holden...sh#t always seems to find you, don't it kid?"

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Float to the top or sink to the bottom; everything else is just the churn.

Amos gets the best lines. 

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16 hours ago, Gillian Rosh said:

Amos to Erich about Charles: And when he dies - of natural causes....

 

It was was clearly Natural Causes, not "natural causes"...

Great seeing Amos in Baltimore and its interesting getting more of his backstory, including that he wasnt born with the name Amos Burton, but took it from a crime lord he killed. Wes Chatham really is just so good, ever expression and movement has so much nuance, like when his mother figures husband started to cry, and his hand was hovering around his shoulder and he looked like he really wanted to offer him some comfort but was not really sure how to do that, it was just so affecting and says so much about him. Amos tries so hard to be...if not a good person at least a person with a strong moral code, unlike the monsters who abused him before his mother figure started looking out for him and he managed to get away, but he struggles so much with it, bur also keeps trying. 

Cool seeing Frankie Faison in Baltimore again. The game really is always the game. 

This Fred and Holden banter is killing me. "I saw a button, and I pushed it." "That's how you live your life isnt it?" "I do work in space." 

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5 hours ago, Holmbo said:

This episode felt more like place setting than the first one. Of to number three 🙂

I agree. It went by fast though. I thought is was much better the episode 1. 

Loved seeing Drummer again. 

Holden and Fred continue to shine together. Lol. Glad the reporter is ok. But wonder why whomever didn’t just kill her? 

I really enjoyed the backstory on Amos. I too wonder what business he needs to resolve before leaving earth for good. 
 

 

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The Amos side trip is more interesting than the Marco business. Wes Chatham is doing so much with his role. For a character who started out only knowing black and white, Wes is sure giving him lots of nuance. 

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I love seeing Future Baltimore, many buildings look like they are from the 20th/21st Century, but there is a lot of modern infrature attached to it. And the Moon! They are really putting it out there with the set design.

That bit with Monica trapped in the shipping cntainer made me so claustraphobic. I live near a container port and the basic design has not changed in three hundred years.

Edited by marinw
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I liked learning Amos' backstory.  I didn't figure out that the bloody kid that Amos kept seeing was him remembering his childhood (and the surrogate mother who helped him) until the third go-round; but I finally got it.  I appreciated the fucked-up conversation with his former friend, the new crime lord.  They drifted from cordiality to oh-by-the-way-if-I-ever-see-you-again-I'll-have-you-killed and fine-but-I'm-taking-your-scotch-with-me so very effortlessly.  That is one weird milieu they grew up in.

The whole reporter-trapped-in-a-shipping-container thing made no sense.  If they wanted her dead, why not just kill her?  They weren't holding her for ransom and my sense was that her captors didn't expect her body to be found for a VERY long time so as warnings go, it was a really slow way to send a message (and who were they sending the message to anyway?)  If felt like a horror element injected into the show for no good reason.

The Avasarala/Bobby/Alex plot has me completely confused.  And when did Drummer become a pirate?  I feel lost . . . I'm going to have to read the book aren't I?

Edited by WatchrTina
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16 hours ago, WatchrTina said:
16 hours ago, WatchrTina said:

The whole reporter-trapped-in-a-shipping-container thing made no sense.  If they wanted her dead, why not just kill her?  They weren't holding her for ransom and my sense was they her captors didn't expect her body to be found for a VERY long time so as warnings go, it was a really slow way to send a message (and who were they sending the message to anyway?)  If felt like a horror element injected into the show for no good reason.

 

They must have wanted her alive for some reason. Maybe there's a second party who wants to get at the pm and thought she could have intel.

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On 12/17/2020 at 7:39 PM, mjc570 said:

I don't remember Amos calling Chrisjen "Chrissy" but I like it.

He called her Chrissy in the last episode when she had him pulled into her office. She didn't particularly like it, but Amos is gonna Amos. LOL.

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In this episode:

Crisjen says "fuck"...again.

Monica learns that when you are floating in a container in a space port, don't just assume there is air on the other side.

Erich, with all his wealth and all the technology available, opts not to fix his left arm.

"Timothy" walks down memory lane in Baltimore, then makes the wise decision to never return to Baltimore.

Edited by Dobian
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1 hour ago, Dobian said:

Erich, with all his wealth and all the technology available, opts not to fix his left arm.

I was wondering about that too. There must be good prothetics for those who can afford them.

I have been thinking about Future Baltimore. I liked the combination of CGI and location shoting, it made Baltimore feel very real. I am wondering about the docks. NYC has a sea wall, so why dosn't Baltimore? Or are the docks just higher up than they are now?

Edited by marinw

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On 12/20/2020 at 12:05 AM, WatchrTina said:

And when did Drummer become a pirate?

The Pirate Life may have worked in the 1700's - - but at that time there was no digital recording, facial recognition, interplanetary communication systems  and the world powers were usually at war with one another. 
 Drummer should become a well known interplanetary criminal very quickly. 
But, okay .. Space Pirates .. sure.. 

On 12/20/2020 at 12:05 AM, WatchrTina said:

The whole reporter-trapped-in-a-shipping-container thing made no sense.  If they wanted her dead, why not just kill her?

Trapped-in-a-shipping-container thing: Hate to say it, but NCIS:LA did it better. 
Why leave a recording device? Where was the light coming from that allowed her to see things? Besides the oxygen issue, how cold would it have been in there?
It is hard to believe that security tech is not going to get any more advanced than what we have today. Even in Star Trek times, someone is always able to disable security cameras and erase security footage. 

Edited by shrewd.buddha
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THE GOOD

This whole episode.  I don’t think I fully appreciated it on the first time through (that's what I get for binge-watching three episodes in a row) but DAMN this was excellent.  

The constant undercurrent of suspense in the Monica and Amos storylines was amazing and it just kept building.  For example you spend the entire episode waiting for Amos to go off like a time bomb . . . and then he doesn’t.  The meeting with Erich crackles with the potential for violence but Amos just refuses to be drawn in.  He acknowledges that he knows the gun on the table is a test (thus rendering it pointless) and he makes Erich look like a bit of an ass when the small favor Amos wants is revealed.  Erich tries to reclaim a bit of his swagger by warning Amos never to return but Amos walking off with the decanter of Scotch is just so much cooler.  Erich will never be as cool, as tough, as emotionally detached (nor as dangerous) as Amos, and he knows it.

But then they fake us out again at the very end of the episode when they introduce a group of thugs who intrude on Amos’ quiet reverie at ocean side.  I assumed that another big Amos-style beat down of bad guys was coming but no.  The group correctly reads Amos’ body language and backs down, which is actually a much better way to end the episode.  God I love Amos (a.k.a. “Murder Snuggles.”)  He adds SO MUCH to this show.

The fake-out with Holden and Fred thinking they had found the container holding Monica, only to find fertilizer, was also excellent.  I scoffed a bit at the  monitor in the container that conveniently tells Monica (and us, the viewers) when the oxygen levels begin falling, but I hand-waive it away (along with the pointless lights inside the container) as narrative necessity.  It’s a SciFi TV show . . . a bit of willful suspension of disbelief is the price of admission.

Similarly I appreciated the moment when Fred explains to Holden (but really to us, the viewers) why he constructs the bubble around them before breaching that first canister and Holden responds, “You know I work in space, right?”  That line was genius.  We viewers get the explanation we need but the writers get in a subtle joke at our expense about why a character has to state the obvious.

 

THE BAD

I have no real complaints about this episode other than I still don’t understand who put Monica in the container and that bugs me.  I’m going to guess that it is someone who was monitoring her calls on the orders of whatever bad guy has infiltrated Fred’s space station and I presume s/he became alarmed by Monica setting up a meeting with Holden.  But since that henchman did not have the authority to just kill Monica outright s/he stashed Monica in the container, awaiting instructions from someone higher up.  So, once again, all trails lead back to the damn proto-molecule (that is what Monica was investigating) and the people who either control it or want it.  I really wish that part of the story was over but I guess it can’t be since Fred’s acknowledged ownership of a stash of the proto-molecule is one of the things that gives Fred power.

 

THE UGLY

Monica awakening to find herself strapped to a wall in a shipping container treads a bit close to torture porn for my taste.

 

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS 

Who stuck Monica in the container?

Edited by WatchrTina
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It was great to see Drummer again, although I'm not sure where her storyline is going to go. I was hoping she'd end up working with Holden, just because two characters who clearly have little regard for each other having to cooperate is always fun. But I imagine she'll end up being roped into Naomi's storyline with the Inaros stuff.

Okay, so it looks like Holden has drawn the short straw in the plot lottery this season. More Protomolecule, more Monica, more politicking and vying for power.

Fred's new security guy, Bull, is pissing me off, and I'll go ahead and assume right now he'll be Holden's next nemesis to be dealt with.

The stuff on Earth with Amos is so jarring, simply because it's on Earth. In housing projects that are the same hundreds of years into the future as they are now. But exploring his background and seeing him revert to an earlier version of himself is cool. This is such a rewarding role for Wes Chatham, and a demanding one given he has to say so much without using any words. It's all about internalisation and being able to show that in body language and facial expressions. But I do have to wonder why this Eric guy didn't get a prosthetic arm, like that guy in the pilot episode was bragging about getting on his company medical insurance?

Seeing the further dissolution of Mars is sad, and it's clear that the writers have drawn inspiration from post-Soviet Russia and its satellite states - selling off weapons, scrambling to make money from the collapse, potential kingpins trying to secure their own bases of power.

Alex constantly being slapped down by people feels... uncomfortably meta at the moment.

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On 12/27/2020 at 10:52 AM, Danny Franks said:

I do have to wonder why this Eric guy didn't get a prosthetic arm, like that guy in the pilot episode was bragging about getting on his company medical insurance?

That is a good question and I will float a few purely speculative answers.

  1. Erich's disability appears to be a birth defect that affects the whole left side of his body (he has a limp as well as an incomplete arm.)  That's different than a traumatic amputation where the healthy/normal muscles and nerves that used to operate the missing limb are still there to guide the prosthetic (or a re-grown arm).  So I can accept that correcting Erich's particular disability may still be beyond the ability of medical science.
  2. OR -- Erich's disability COULD have been corrected had he received treatment as a child, but he was born poor and could not access that level of care.  Erich knows this and his long-simmering rage at that injustice has fueled his rise to power and informs the casual ruthlessness with which he treats his former friend, Amos.
  3. OR -- Erich's disability could, even now, be corrected (and Erich is now rich enough to afford the treatments), but having lived in that body all through the poverty of his youth and the turmoil of his rise to power, Erich chooses NOT to have treatment.  He wears his "difference" as a badge of honor -- as if to say "Look at all I have accomplished DESPITE my birth defects.  Do you REALLY want to test me now?"
Edited by WatchrTina
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On 12/17/2020 at 4:39 PM, mjc570 said:

Amos is always interesting, and it was nice to see his backstory.  I was surprised how much stuff Lydia left, and how many containers (we are reorganizing, and the price and availability of plastic containers like that are on my mind).  I don't remember Amos calling Chrisjen "Chrissy" but I like it.

I didn't know who he was talking to at first - but then I remembered him calling her Chrissie on Luna before he went down to earth.

On 12/19/2020 at 5:43 PM, Haleth said:

The Amos side trip is more interesting than the Marco business. Wes Chatham is doing so much with his role. For a character who started out only knowing black and white, Wes is sure giving him lots of nuance. 

I agree. For a character who doesn't do a lot of talking, he makes us know what's going on inside him. 

On 12/19/2020 at 9:05 PM, WatchrTina said:

I liked learning Amos' backstory.  I didn't figure out that the bloody kid that Amos kept seeing was him remembering his childhood (and the surrogate mother who helped him) until the third go-round; but I finally got it.  I appreciated the fucked-up conversation with his former friend, the new crime lord.  They drifted from cordiality to oh-by-the-way-if-I-ever-see-you-again-I'll-have-you-killed and fine-but-I'm-taking-your-scotch-with-me so very effortlessly.  That is one weird milieu they grew up in.

The whole reporter-trapped-in-a-shipping-container thing made no sense.  If they wanted her dead, why not just kill her?  They weren't holding her for ransom and my sense was that her captors didn't expect her body to be found for a VERY long time so as warnings go, it was a really slow way to send a message (and who were they sending the message to anyway?)  If felt like a horror element injected into the show for no good reason.

The Avasarala/Bobby/Alex plot has me completely confused.  And when did Drummer become a pirate?  I feel lost . . . I'm going to have to read the book aren't I?

I thought the boy who was cast as young Timothy/Amos was an excellent choice.

As for the Monica being trapped in the container. I figured she was just stashed for future interrogation by whoever wants her information on the proto molecule.

I was also confused about Drummer, and I don't remember where she was when season 4 left off.
 

On 12/21/2020 at 8:12 AM, Dobian said:

Monica learns that when you are floating in a container in a space port, don't just assume there is air on the other side.

When she was trying to open it up, I was cringing because - yeah, why assume there's oxygen on the other side?

On 12/27/2020 at 8:52 AM, Danny Franks said:

Alex constantly being slapped down by people feels... uncomfortably meta at the moment.

Yep, and yet - valid.

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Gosh I loved this episode so much. I almost don't know where to start on everything that was packed into it. I feel like it needs an essay to tease out everything.

So I'll stick only to my main takeaway and that is Amos' character who is so nuanced and so complex and so beautifully fleshed out over five seasons so that he's grown as a person but still makes sense as a person.

It's kind of like - there are two kinds of monsters in the world. Those that think that because they're monsters everyone else is and so every monstrous thing they do is justified. And those that know that there are others who aren't monsters and when they encounter them they want desperately to protect them so they can stay in the world being not-monsters. And Amos is the latter and I love that about him. He's a monster who almost aggressively respects those who have the ability to not be monsters and we get a backstory that sums that up in such little screen time. It's perfect. 

Honestly the writing in this episode was magnificent and reminds me why I love this show so much and why I wait all year for it to finally be released. 

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OMG, did we know before now that Amos was trafficked as a child? No wonder he's so closed off emotionally.

When Amos asks you if you want to be his friend you better say yes.

Did we know before now that Chrisjen had an adult daughter? And grandchildren?

Wonder what happened to Erich's arm/hand? He tried to make Amos shake it? 😉

Monica is lucky she had that meeting scheduled with Holden. He's pretty much the only reason anyone went to the effort to go find her.

Good casting on the young actor playing Amos/Timothy as a boy. What a heartbreaking scene.

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5 hours ago, Joimiaroxeu said:

OMG, did we know before now that Amos was trafficked as a child?

Yes, we did.  I can't recall HOW we specifically know that but Amos' sad childhood has been brought up to explain his strong drive to protect children (i.e., the mission to save Prax's daughter) and also his tendency to be kind and generous to prostitutes.

Edited by WatchrTina
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6 hours ago, Joimiaroxeu said:

OMG, did we know before now that Amos was trafficked as a child? No wonder he's so closed off emotionally.

When Amos asks you if you want to be his friend you better say yes.

Did we know before now that Chrisjen had an adult daughter? And grandchildren?

Wonder what happened to Erich's arm/hand? He tried to make Amos shake it? 😉

Monica is lucky she had that meeting scheduled with Holden. He's pretty much the only reason anyone went to the effort to go find her.

Good casting on the young actor playing Amos/Timothy as a boy. What a heartbreaking scene.

Yes on Amos.

We also saw Chrisjen playing with, chasing, lying on the roof with her grandchildren. It’s been soooo long between seasons.

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Such a great season so far. I was glad Monica didn't die, as the actress seems to be killed in every show I've ever seen her in (sometimes twice 😛).

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