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Lion

Books vs Show: Has It Gone All Pear-Shaped Yet?

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Brought over from episode 1 Dulcinea thread since it discusses book specific things.

 


In the book the Captain answers the distress call in accordance with naval custom, there's none of Holden sneaking around to log the call, nor is he the reluctant acting XO. Is this just to emphasize he's the type to bull ahead and do what he thinks is right without considering the consequences? And I can't figure why they later throw in the part about Naomi being a suspected OPA spy. That has no bearing on anything else, unless they plan wholesale changes in the plot.

 

A story told on screen will require different things than one told in print.  This is an adaptation so changes an adjustments will need to be made in order to effectively relay information.  With a few changes and two or three minutes of screen time, we have some big world building, tons of character development and exposition and set ups for future possible plots where in the novels this stuff was laid out over hundreds of pages and across five different books and counting.  Space is harsh, space is dangerous, there are pirates who don't hesitate to attack and kill making it very dangerous to answer distress calls.  Then there's Holden, a seemingly unambitious man who has trouble following the rules and often thinks in black and white without fully considering the consequences of his decisions.  In a few short scenes, we know who Holden is, which isn't yet different than who he is in the books.  The few changes are not relevant and don't cause big changes to the overarching plot. 

 

Naomi is not a change to the plot, though the way the interactions went on the Donnager is different.  Naomi is a seeming mystery.  She's mega smart and has several advanced degrees in the show and the books, and yet she's working on a shit-ship like the Canterbury.  There has to be a reason, right?  Just like there was a reason that the once ambitious Holden found himself comfortable working on the Cant for five years.  The careful viewer would already see that Naomi's neck tattoo is enough to make one question whether or not she has a connection with OPA.  In Leviathan Wakes, the Roci crew works directly with OPA.  In later books, the pasts of the various characters are examined.  We learn much about Naomi.  

 

 

We also continue to learn about the OPA.  The first few episodes treat them like only a terrorist organization.  It's similar to in the books.  Until we learn more.  

 

So far, I really think the adaptation is working well.  All of the changes make sense.  The characters are roughly as I imagined.  The only major issue I've had is the crash couches.  They are such weaklings when they should be big things and I'm annoyed by the characters turning their heads and moving around when in high g burns.  I'm guessing the process of filming and editing required the crash couches to be barely visible around the cast so I can live with that.  

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All of what you said, Lion. I don't mind them highlighting tensions between the crewmembers, because it's a necessary shorthand way of demonstrating their different backgrounds. Or at least of laying the foundations for exploring their backgrounds.

I think having Holden log the distress call is a good way of fuelling his guilt over what happens to the Cant. And I think it gives the viewer something to latch onto when he starts sending galaxy-wide messages accusing people of things. He's doing it because he feels that guilt and the deaths of the crew weighing down on him.

Making Naomi a suspected OPA spy let's them talk about how smart she is without it being forced. And it feels like the writers playing the long game in terms of exploring her back story. Asking the viewer to wonder why she is working on that ship. They've dropped hints about all the crew, as they did in the books. The photo of the wife and children that Alex has, Holden's dishonourable discharge, Amos being fanatically loyal to Naomi, while Naomi seems a little perturbed by Amos's sudden shift to violence.

As for changing Ade from Nigerian heritage to Norwegian, I have a theory on that. Not the most pleasant theory, but one that I can imagine some TV suits having: I can see someone saying, 'well if Holden has a relationship with Ade and then Naomi, and both are black women, are we saying that he only likes black women?' I can't think of another reason for them to do it.

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As for changing Ade from Nigerian heritage to Norwegian, I have a theory on that.

 

Not having read the book, I have to ask -- is her racial heritage a significant plot-point?  If not, it doesn't really matter who plays the part.  Aficionados of the book will obviously be dissatisfied, like I was when Johnny Rico in the Starship Troopers movie turned out to be white.  But truly it was of little consequence, and Rico's race was thrown in by Heinlein, halfway through the book, just for the shock-value, I'm sure.  

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Not having read the book, I have to ask -- is her racial heritage a significant plot-point?  If not, it doesn't really matter who plays the part.  Aficionados of the book will obviously be dissatisfied, like I was when Johnny Rico in the Starship Troopers movie turned out to be white.  But truly it was of little consequence, and Rico's race was thrown in by Heinlein, halfway through the book, just for the shock-value, I'm sure.  

 

No. It doesn't make any difference at all in the book. I think it's more just a slightly side-eye-worthy decision from the producers/casting people to change the character's skin colour when her only moment of note is having sex with the hero.

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Holden being reluctant leader, hiding the fact that he releases distress call, not being respected by a crew who are openly rebelling and fighting amongst themselves really felt to me like a writer's room trying to put in more of a character arc where Holden becomes leader and the crew comes together and just bugged me because it feels so unsubtle. Naomi as suspected OPA agent however felt like a natural enough possibility given what we eventually learn of her backstory.

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Not gonna lie, I also assumed several unsavory reasons the tv people would make Ade white, including reasons listed here by David and Danny.  Ade's race isn't all that relevant to the plot apart from a bit of world building.  With the introduction of each new character's ethnicity, we're learning more about what national boundaries still exist, the immigration patterns of ethnic groups, etc.  We're also learning how institutional and personal biases have evolved over the centuries.  The color of one's skin, the shape of one's eyes, one's sexual orientation...these things largely no longer matter as the type of gravity one grew up in has become the major line of division.  

 

Ade being white isn't a huge deal or anything.  I'm just not entirely sure why they did it and the reasons I come up with seem suspect.  They obviously didn't do color blind casting, so it was an intentional decision to change her race.  

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I picked up Leviathan Wakes a few days ago and thought the first part (covered in the show to date) was kind of slow, but half way in? Wow! It has gotten exciting, like can't put it down thrilling. If the show can do it justice, it will rock! (No pun intended.)

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I picked up Leviathan Wakes a few days ago and thought the first part (covered in the show to date) was kind of slow, but half way in? Wow! It has gotten exciting, like can't put it down thrilling. If the show can do it justice, it will rock! (No pun intended.)

 

It's when they get to Eros, that I think it becomes completely gripping. I think I finished the whole second half of the book in one sitting. From the episode synopses, this first season will only get us up to that part of the story. I have an inkling as to where the end of season cliffhanger will fall.

 

And for what it's worth here, the follow up books are just as good. Except for Cibola Burn, that one was a bit of a disappointment.

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I'm not crazy about how our first introduction to Fred Johnson has him as some sort of union thug, threatening the mormons with "accidents" if they don't leave him as COO or whatever they called it.

 

Are we supposed to respect this version of Fred Johnson?

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No. It doesn't make any difference at all in the book. I think it's more just a slightly side-eye-worthy decision from the producers/casting people to change the character's skin colour when her only moment of note is having sex with the hero.

It makes me wonder if there are other changes in store. Ade's character isn't important in Leviathan Wakes, but it seems like the show is going to play up Holden's emotional connection to her to enhance his character's motivation and turn up the tragedy. We might see more flashbacks of her to hammer that home. Also, there's the mystery of what she was going to tell him which will hang over him.

Black women don't typically get to play that kind of romantic figure, the softer idealized woman who is pined for, lost and mourned dramatically, or who the hero scorches the earth to rescue or avenge, the kind of woman who drives the hero's emotional arc simply because she was loved and lost. If that's the kind of character they're turning Ade into, it sadly doesn't surprise me that they changed her race.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt though since the cast is so diverse already as long as they don't change Naomi's relationship with Holden. If they jettison that pairing or make it like Naomi is second best for him or he's settling for her, I'm going to be irritated.

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Someone's mentioned previously that the crash couches are itsy little things on the show; apparently that's fine, because the Tachi's "full burn" at the end of episode 4 looked real casual. Holden was moving his head around off the couch, even. I guess face-stretching high-g effects are hard (dunno how you'd do them other than full CGI or a centrifuge or something complicated like that), but hopefully they do something more than shake the camera a bit for the life-threatening speeds they go at later on.

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dunno how you'd do them other than full CGI or a centrifuge or something complicated like that...

 

They frequently use a strong air-blast to distort the facial features, but nine times out of ten, it looks wrong.

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It looked as though Holden passed out there at the end, which is something that happens in the books.  The problem is that Alex is up there turning around in his chair shouting how he's 'doing it'.  There are some instances in the books where high g burn causes broken bones.  I remember that Prax or maybe Amos or both had a broken toe or twisted knee because it wasn't perfectly placed on the crash couch before hitting high g.  I guess there is a legitimate reason the 'couches' have to be flimsy, probably makes it easier with filming and editing.  But it does annoy me that they aren't showing how completely dangerous and harmful it is each time they go into high g burn.  Plus they are being inconsistent.  If Holden passes out, Alex shouldn't be up there turning his head around and shouting his stupid words.  

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Book Alex would have cracked a few vertebrae pulling that crap. The book doesn't screw around with the consequences of acceleration and deceleration, so it annoyed me when the show did.

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Ok, now that I've read the first book I'm having trouble with the show. It's like the show writers were given a 2 sentence synopsis of her book and were told to fill in the blanks. I'm completely confused by the Miller storyline. I have no idea what's going on (in epi 5). I guess they'll eventually get back on track but if the next epi doesn't start to make sense I'll lose interest.

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Ok, now that I've read the first book I'm having trouble with the show. It's like the show writers were given a 2 sentence synopsis of her book and were told to fill in the blanks.

I read the book like two years ago, but as I remember it it's fairly close to what happens there, with some changes to pull character things out more quickly and such (and Avasarala with a new small storyline since she wasn't in book one). The book writers were also fairly involved in the show from what I've read.

That said, I'll agree that the style of the show is pretty confusing at points. I think they're going for more of a let-it-wash-over-you-and-you'll-figure-it-out-eventually approach....

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Damn, it's so much fun reading this thread and reactions without having read the books ! Which is something I'll have to do pretty soon, really !

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Ok, now that I've read the first book I'm having trouble with the show. It's like the show writers were given a 2 sentence synopsis of her book and were told to fill in the blanks. I'm completely confused by the Miller storyline. I have no idea what's going on (in epi 5). I guess they'll eventually get back on track but if the next epi doesn't start to make sense I'll lose interest.

As a huge fan of the books, I'm struggling to see how they could have done a better job of translating the to the screen. I think it's been done wonderfully well, so far. Scene for scene, it's just as I always imagined it.

As for the liberties taken with characters being able to move a little under high-G, I don't mind it. Having characters stuck in crash couches, unable to move, is fine for books where you get the internal monologue of the characters, and can read the descriptions of whatever is going on. On the screen, it doesn't work.

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Yeah, it's going to be interesting to see how they show the mayhem and protomolecule on Eros.

I'm not thrilled at some of the choices made in the TV series. mostly around characterization. Havelock getting shot, Miller getting kidnapped, the relationships between the crew of the Cant/Tachi/Roci... it feels a little uncomfortable and sort of "TV-ish".

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I spent most of the first book not being able to remember which was Amos and which was Alex, so making their personalities and backgrounds more clearly defined and distinct early on makes a ton of sense to me. Even if it's done through adding drama to their interactions.

 

They're blank slates, and Alex even remains so until well into the second book, as far as I can remember. He cracks wise a bit, and flies the ship, but that's about it. Amos has a stronger arc, when he starts to show more of what he's capable of, but I don't fault the show for making it more explicit upfront, because otherwise people would probably complain when he suddenly starts acting like that. Even Naomi wasn't particularly fleshed out at this stage of the book, either. The only characters who had any depth were Holden and Miller, by virtue of them being the viewpoint characters.

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Danny, I swear I hadn't read your last comment when I said something very similar in the epi 5 thread this morning. Lol

Edited by Haleth

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I'm enjoying Leviathan Wakes.  Miller became interesting to me soon after I started reading, which hadn't happened while watching the show (I started reading after episode 4 aired on SyFy).  And the crew on the Rocinante feel more like a family in the book.  My only disappointment with the book, so far, is that the time spent with Dresden was cut short much too soon.  *shakes fists* 

 

Watching the show will likely become an exercise in making comparisons.  That's what happened while I was watching episode 5.  But making a visual picture from someone else's words has long been a weakness of mine, so it's nice to see some of what I'm reading.  I could have never visualized Tycho station.  

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The treatment of Chrisjen Avasarala is the absolute worst.  They loved the character so much, they brought her into the TV storyline early with the express purpose of ruining her? 

 

We didn't need Holden's family in the books, WTF do we need them in the show?  Someone at SyFy needs to be fired.

 

There, rant over. 

 

For now.

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Ruined how? I'm not sure what the problem is with the way they're portraying her so far in the show. She seems pretty similar to how she was in the books. Except for the swearing, but let's be honest, swearing isn't really big or clever. It's just something some people do more than others.

 

The threat she made to Holden's mother is, I'm fairly sure, one she made to Holden in the books. She may even have said that she visited his family, now I come to think of it.

 

The tension between Holden and Amos is interesting, and I can only think they're sustaining that to a pay off where they have a breakthrough with one another, on or after Eros.

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I'm not a fan of Shohreh Aghdashloo at all.  It's the voice, everyone loves it but to me it just sounds like she's spent the last 50 years smoking 3 packs a day.  It's grating.  I figured I was never going to like tv Avasarala simply because I find it hard to look past the actress.  But I'm starting to manage it and I think show!Avasarala is perfectly fine.  She obviously doesn't cuss, but that shouldn't surprise anyone.  She's still a hard ass who cares very deeply about her family, humanity, individuals.  She just happens to be a different sort of hard ass.  Each week, she feels more and more like Avasarala.  

 

A lot of Windmills is new material for book readers.  I found it all good.  The spy adds a lot to maneuvering the crew and the story to where we need to get.  I'm still so anxious for our crew to be the tight knit little group we know and love, but I find it way more believable that it's taking so much time for them to find themselves.  I had been concerned that Naomi and Holden would have no chemistry, but there was that one moment, when he's leaning over her shoulder and they are relaxed that I saw it, they could definitely be a couple.  Amos is...well, Wes Chatham is killing it.  He's Amos.  

 

I enjoy the little easter eggs.  Mentioning The Church multiple times, ubiquitous, and a couple of others.  I think it's interesting that they have now had two scenes where the face mask thing is cracked or opened.  In Nemesis Games, I found Naomi's survival completely unbelieveable.  I've read a couple of explanations for it, but I still find it hard to buy.  However, since it's been introduced to the show so early, the irl science of it won't matter because full exposure in space in The Expanse is totes ok.  For short periods of time, that is.  

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Right, so now we've actually seen Florence Faivre as Julie for more than cameo appearances, I'm even more sad that she's dead. The actress has a really nice presence and managed to generate great pathos with what she had to play. I'm kind of hoping that, as cheesy as this might be, they recast her to play Clarissa Mao, should the show get to a 4th or 5th season.

 

I mentioned this in the episode thread, but I was disappointed by the lack of body parts scuttling about Eros, as the protomolecule did its thing. That was a genuinely disturbing passage in the book, and laid down the foundations for Holden's enduring horror of the thing. With us just being restricted to seeing the first growth spurts of it, a lot of the impact is lost. This is a thing that can literally reshape any organic matter into whatever the hell it wants it to be, and we're only getting to see a few blue lesions and then the end stage, black goo form.

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Late to the party, just finished Season 1 of the show and am halfway through the first book. One problem that jumps out immediately to me -- the show has Holden listening to Julie Mao's distress call, the one she did on that tiny little pin-sized radio-thing from the storage bin where they threw her on the Anubis. This conflicts with the "official" distress call, which came from the Martian transmitter on the Scopuli, which was parked at that CA asteroid. At that time, Julie and the Anubis would have been far away. I realize they were taking some liberties to beef up Holden's character, but this makes no sense, is careless, and is confusing. 

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I'm trying to watch the show and not be irritated at the little differences they've made in characterization; specifically, Bobbie and Prax.   While at the U.N./Mars meeting, Bobbie loudly asking if they were going to talk about the monster is so indicative of her character, I feel a little cheated that I didn't get to see it on screen and actually saw what was pretty much the opposite.  Prax's endless search for Mei on Ganymede is so much of who he is, it just didn't feel right for him to be off of Ganymede before meeting the Roci crew.  The Roci crew breaking with Fred before Ganymede for what seemed like no reason - in fact, after they rescued Fred and Drummer - made no sense; in the books it did because there was an actual reason. 

There are always changes, some to condense things, make the story flow better, etc. but these just didn't need to be done IMO.   Grrrr.

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Umm, granted it has been years since I read the book but wasn't the protomolecule soldier Earth's in the book?

And what's with making errinright having a crisis of conscience?  He was playing as hard as he could till he got busted in the books.

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The protomolecule soldier (more experimental, really) was Protogen's and they were working with part of the UN military, though not officially.   I don't trust show Errinwright; he may be telling Chrisjen part of the story.  Hopefully the show is working around to

Spoiler

Bobbie and Chrisjen in space together, eventually to meet with the Roci.  We probably won't get "Captain, you need a fucking shave" but I hope we get "Fucking save me!" at least.

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42 minutes ago, raven said:

The protomolecule soldier (more experimental, really) was Protogen's and they were working with part of the UN military, though not officially.   I don't trust show Errinwright; he may be telling Chrisjen part of the story.  Hopefully the show is working around to

Thanks.  That is how I remembered it.  I worry that the show may be going soft on Errinwright.  As I recall there was nothing at all like this in the books.

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On 31/03/2017 at 5:18 AM, call me ishmael said:

And what's with making errinright having a crisis of conscience?  He was playing as hard as he could till he got busted in the books.

Well, from Avasarala's point of view, he was all in, all the time. I don't think we ever got to see inside Errinwright's head, to know if he ever had any second thoughts or hesitancy. This is the difference between reading books with limited third person narratives, and watching TV shows with omniscient narratives. You have to make non-POV characters more layered, to make up for the fact that you're no longer inside the heads of your POV characters.

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2 hours ago, Danny Franks said:

Well, from Avasarala's point of view, he was all in, all the time. I don't think we ever got to see inside Errinwright's head, to know if he ever had any second thoughts or hesitancy. This is the difference between reading books with limited third person narratives, and watching TV shows with omniscient narratives. You have to make non-POV characters more layered, to make up for the fact that you're no longer inside the heads of your POV characters.

That's true.  But if the intention was to have Enough have second thoughts we would have had this scene from A's perspective.  But I don't remember anything like that although maybe I'm forgetting.  The difference I think is here they are making it seem as if Mao made the proto-people for Mars but in the book it was all Earth as A had to confess to Bobbie.

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I don't want this season to end, but I can't wait to see the protomolecule gate shoot off from Venus AND Miller pop in for a hey with Holden.  Non readers are going to freak.

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With only 2 episodes left I don't know if they'll get to the end of Caliban's War this season.   It could end with everyone at their various points in space.

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Since Leviathan Wakes ends in episode 5 of the second season, I am resigned to this one not ending until sometime next season.  But since it's been renewed, I can cope.

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Can any book readers explain the Epstein Drive to me? Not the physics or anything, but just how fast is it supposed to be? How long are transists between planes supposed to take, and are they fast enough to compensate for orbital changes? 

Thanks

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I can't say that I'm a fan of how Bobbie's story has been changed.  In the books, Bobbie remains loyal to the MCR, and Avarsala arranges things so that Bobbie is reassigned as a liaison to the UN, which results in her kicking some Protogen ass and meeting up with Holden and co.  This is important because Bobbie is still resupplied by MCRN loyalists later in Caliban's War.  I'm pretty sure that the same Navy guys rearm the Roci with torpedoes.

Following CW, she returns to Mars, but since half of her former compatriots want to hear about her tangling with a protomolecule soldier and the other half thinks that she's kind of a traitor for working with what is basically the boss of the UN, she retires, starts working for the Martian VA, and pulls her kid nephew out of a sticky situation, among other things.

Of course, there are ways that the show can go with this and still preserve Bobbie Draper: Martian loyalist.  Namely, by playing up the internecine conflict within the MCRN earlier, and explicitly showing the divisions between elements of the MCR that oppose protomolecule exploitation.  And what do you know, the black ops Navy Captain who shows up to convey Mars' covert approval of Team "No Grey Goo in Our Only Solar System, Please" also has some High Explosive Incendiary bullets for the MCRMC power armor's main gun in his armory.

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Well, I like the show enough that I decided to read the books, plus book one was on sale on kindle a bit ago.   It will be interesting to see the differences.

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On 4/9/2017 at 10:23 AM, whiporee said:

Can any book readers explain the Epstein Drive to me?

Not this one :) Not being a smart ass, I don't think it's ever explained.

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On 4/10/2017 at 8:30 PM, raven said:

Not this one :) Not being a smart ass, I don't think it's ever explained.

I can do that actually. The Epstein drive is an extremely efficient fusion engine that runs on Helium-3 pellets. The only thing about it that is unrealistic is the shielding around it - in real life, that engine would generate enough heat and radiation to melt the ship it's attached to and give the crew lethal radiation poisoning very quickly.

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My biggest beef is with the relationship of the Roci crew. In the book, once they'd sorted out their initial squabbles after the fall of both the Cant and the Donnager, they were essentially united. An ideal, I think, for how Earthers and Martians and Belters can work together. Sure, they had their disagreements, but they solved them rationally, with Holden sort of the we're-all-equal, why-can't-we-all-get-along arbitrator. There seems to be very little of this in the show, often to the point of antagonism. My wife hasn't read the books, and she's always asking "why do Holden and Naomi love each other?," and I can't really give her a good answer. Their whole relationship seems to be mistrustful side-eyes and disagreements. Amos and Alex buddied up pretty quickly too, if I remember it right. But they've built in all these conflicts cause they think we need them for TV, when we don't. It's just manufactured tension.

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8 hours ago, fierylady said:

My biggest beef is with the relationship of the Roci crew.

I try to watch the show as separate from the books (I've read them all) but this bugs me too.  In the books, Holden is terrified of the protomolecule (with good reason) which drives some of his impulsive actions - in the show, it just seems like he's angry all the time.  He's a person with no guile in the books but the show hasn't really shown that.  I guess they feel we need the "angry, bull headed captain". 

The Roci crew's absolute faith and love in each other is a huge draw of the books for me, so I am disappointed that we don't get enough of that.  I was also not happy that they didn't take on Prax only because he needed help, as in the books - it's a small thing and the show wanted more drama by having the crew make a Strickland/Prax connection, but it's an essential part of who they are, that they helped him because he asked and stuck with him because it was the right thing to do.

I often have to watch an episode more than once because I'm waiting for book events to happen, then I have to watch and try not to think about the books.   I'm intrigued as to what's happening with show Errinwright, if this is a way to show that he was pulling strings behind the scenes all along, for example.

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That's the best part of the books for me too-- the fact that the 4 of them become a close knit family.  Space stories aren't usually my thing, but the way the crew were drawn together and look out for each other appeals to me.  It looks like they are back on track for that on the show.

That last image of Mei in the capsule... in the book our team does rescue her, right?  It's been a while but I seem to remember Prax and Mei reuniting, correct?

I'm a little disappointed the final image wasn't Miller showing up in Holden's cabin.

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