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S01.E05: Back to the Butcher

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Holden and the crew make a deal with an unlikely ally on Tycho station; at the same time, Miller's obsession with conspiracy theories and the disappearance of Julie Mao continues to grow.

 

 

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Sorry, I can't remember what was on the chip.  I was planning to rewatch anyway, so this is a nice excuse.  I'm doing it for you!

 

I can't believe how much I like the show.  The only thing that doesn't work for me - the book(s) necessarily did a better job of explaining Miller's obsession with Julie, which made his actions much more logical. 

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I don't think we yet know what's on the chip.  What we do know is that the chip came from the dead data broker.  Julie's ex-lover said she was in heavy with the OPA, namely Anderson Dawes, and that she asked him (ex lover) to connect her with the data broker.  Something got the data broker killed and Julie is missing and all of this Miller is connecting with what's happening throughout the belt with the Scopuli, the Canterbury and now the Donnager.  So Miller goes to check out the front for the data broker (btw, did anyone catch what sort of shop that?  I swear I thought the dude was selling sunglasses but wtf?  He was wearing a camo shirt which cracked me up).  Password at the front is "i need a sherpa".  In the back where the data broker worked before he was murdered, there was a mechanical mouse like the one that was in Julie's apartment.  Those data chips Miller was testing in the "sherpa's" office were the same sort that he found in Julie's mouse.  Something important or relevant is probably on that chip but we don't yet exactly know.

 

I actually think they are doing a really good job with Miller's growing obsession with Julie.  The changes in how he and Anderson Dawes interact is what sells it for me.  In the show, Anderson is encouraging Miller to keep looking and wanting Miller to share whatever he finds.  In exchange, Anderson will give up the man who stuck a stake in Havelock.  Miller ends up tossing that clue because he wants Julie all to himself. Well, there are other reasons, but still.  He's skipping out on Star Helix's hunt for Havelock's attackers and giving up the hand terminal that could have led him right to the main attacker.  He's getting testy with the ex lover seemingly for being an ex lover.  Miller's falling in creepy love.

 

I'm glad they didn't have Avasarala.  I like that the "Earth" section of this episode was with them being the tyrants of the belt.  Obviously it introduces Freddie's history, but it also gives way more insight into the anger in the belt and why the OPA exists and why they might have certain goals.  

 

The naming of the Roci made me so happy. Flying Alamo would have been an excellent alternative!  Slowly but surely the crew is beginning to become a unit.  

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That chip came out of his weird fake hamster or mouse or whatever it is that runs on the wheel in his apartment.  When he was in that data mules workshop right before he left he saw another fake mouse on it's back half disassembled.  Maybe that gave him an idea.  Not that I have any sweet clue what any of that means!

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Ah, so that is who Chad L. Coleman is playing!  Apparently, he is some guy known as Fred Sampson, who is known as the Butcher, after he infamously blew up an entire station, because the army (Earth?) labeled them terrorists, even though it sounds like they were more protesters.  Either way, there were kids aboard, so that was totally fucked up.  But it seems like Fred is OPA now, so I guess that incident made him change?  It certainly looked like he was feeling guilt over what he did during the flashback.  But it also sounds like Naomi isn't a fan of him at all, so I have no idea what to fully make of him.

 

Not surprised that it looks like Miller's case really is going to be the main factor.  Also not surprised that Jared Harris' character is up to something.

 

Really loving Holden and his crew now, and them providing some funny moments amongst everyone.  I especially loved when they were naming the ship, and Alex suggested some kind of ridiculous badass sounding name, and Holden was all "Lets dial that down a bit, unless you want everyone to take notice, buddy."  But I'm pretty sure Amos was nodding to Alex in a "It is a cool name though, dude", which amused me greatly.  Also, Holden's happiness over coffee.  It's been done in other sci-fi shows but I always love it when coffee ends up being a rare item in a universe, and everyone goes nuts for it.  Really, I could see folks starting wars for coffee.

 

Kind of bummed that Lopez died, because it would have been entertaining seeing him sticking around with Holden and the crew, and no doubt butting heads with them.

 

Actually OK with not checking in on Chrisjen and the Earth stuff.  I'm sure there will be more of that down the line.

 

Really digging this show now.  Glad it's already been picked up for a second season.

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It's nice to see the crew come together. The show will live or die because of its depiction of the crew relationship. So, a quiet moment to see them interact with each other was very welcome.

 

Special mention for Holden discovering the coffeemaker. Enjoy it, buddy.

A Gauss projectile will take care of that one at a moment or another.

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Kind of bummed that Lopez died, because it would have been entertaining seeing him sticking around with Holden and the crew, and no doubt butting heads with them.

 

I was bummed out, too.  It would have been nice to have someone with a distinctly different viewpoint and skill set in that group.

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I'm enjoying the show so far, I like the different story lines and can't wait to see how they come together.  I don't get that the police detective is that obsessed with Julie Mao, though, so if that's the case, they need to do a better job of showing that.  I can't believe the other policeman lived.

 

I didn't get that Anderson Station was a flashback until the end.  I hope whoever was responsible for that gets some karma, that last scene was truly haunting.  I can see why the "butcher" turned against Earth and I'm curious to find out if he had any part of the attacks on the 3 ships near Jupiter. 

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Another top notch episode. This show is basically my interpretation of the books, come to life. There are a few differences that I find intriguing, but nothing that has bothered me at all, so far.

 

When the intercom announced that we were looking at Anderson Station, I sat up and blinked. It's mentioned so often, as part of Fred Johnson's story, but I've never read the short story that chronicles what happened, so seeing it here was cool. I really liked the slight glitching effect that they gave the camera footage. But knowing what was coming made it genuinely tough to watch.

 

Naomi's antagonistic attitude to Holden is a little unexpected, but I like that they're injecting some tension into the Roci scenes. Oh, and I'm so glad I can just call it that, now. The choice of Rocinante says so much about Holden as a man, and I feel like it's a great shorthand for viewers, as it was for readers and even for characters in the books.

 

Loved Naomi griping about the ship being too efficient and well maintained. What's the point of an engineer when everything works? Holden finding the coffee machine was a moment I was waiting for. I don't drink coffee, but I've seen how obsessed people get over it. A little moment that will really humanise him for a lot of people.

 

I can see Miller's growing obsession with Julie, what with his interest in her love life, his bitter admonition that the guy should have "protected her", and his lingering look at the photo he found. He's been told to leave the case alone because there's more important stuff to worry about, but he's still chasing it. And he's put together a theory that ties it all together. Whether it's correct, or whether it's a product of his refusal to put down the Julie Mao case, I don't think we yet know. I like Muss a lot in this, the actress is doing a lot with the little she's given.

 

"Earthers have a home. It's time Belters had one too". Sounds like it could apply just a little to any number of groups in our own world, huh? The jousting between Miller and Dawes is interesting. Are they enemies? Allies? Even they don't know that yet. But it seems like Dawes knows just what buttons to push.

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I can't believe this episode marks the half-way point through the first season-- so far I think they are doing a great job on bringing the books to the screen. I'm not as elegant as Danny Franks but I agree with the whole post. My gut tightened up when they started showing the flashbacks to Anderson Station, because I knew what was coming, but I really like that they interspersed some of Fred Johnson's background and history for the viewer (giving some hints to his current motivations), as well as to give some credence to Naomi's reluctance to go to Tycho Station.

 

In the books, I was always more interested in Holden + crew compared to Miller's storyline, but I feel like they are doing an excellent job of portraying Miller's growing obsession with Julie Mao and how he is starting to spiral. The blowup is going to be epic.

 

I loved the crew naming the ship Rocinante at the end-- it felt like the first step of solidifying that they are, in fact, a crew. Very nicely done.

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Maybe it's me but whatever Thomas Jane is trying to do with Miller, it's not working for me. Was he supposed to be drunk when his ex stopped by for no real reason? I still don't know her name or whatever her relationship with him is/was.

 

I don't get his obsession since I feel I know nothing about him that would explain or at least make it somewhat understandable. Right now, it just feels like it's coming from nowhere. A plot point, nothing else.

Which brings me to my other gripe. All these secrets are starting to annoy me. Even if the other characters don't know, maybe a few hints for the viewer. Something I can hang my hat onto? Naomi is apparently chock-full of secrets, a possible connection to the OPA, terrorists, something else? At least Amos seemed less psycho this time. Which makes me sad, that was what endeared him to me and made him interesting. I still don't know his actual connection to Naomi.

 

We're half way through and I still don't have a grip on these people. I find that rather frustrating.

 

I like Dawes, but then Jared Harris is almost always entertaining. I don't know what his deal exactly is but at least I feel like I can see where he's coming from.

 

I'm still mourning Captain Yao and I wouldn't have minded Lopez to stick around for a little longer either. The main characters at this point seem still very blah.

 

I did not care about the Anderson story. Children, a father, things are terrible and they get blown up. Sorry, but I had no investment in these characters and call me evil and a child hater but a cute moppet isn't good enough to make me care. Or make me care about someone's possible regret who I don't know either.

 

Holden's O-face when he finally had that coffee was hilarious.

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Maybe it's me but whatever Thomas Jane is trying to do with Miller, it's not working for me. Was he supposed to be drunk when his ex stopped by for no real reason? I still don't know her name or whatever her relationship with him is/was.

 

I don't get his obsession since I feel I know nothing about him that would explain or at least make it somewhat understandable. Right now, it just feels like it's coming from nowhere. A plot point, nothing else.

Which brings me to my other gripe. All these secrets are starting to annoy me. Even if the other characters don't know, maybe a few hints for the viewer. Something I can hang my hat onto? Naomi is apparently chock-full of secrets, a possible connection to the OPA, terrorists, something else? At least Amos seemed less psycho this time. Which makes me sad, that was what endeared him to me and made him interesting. I still don't know his actual connection to Naomi.

 

We're half way through and I still don't have a grip on these people. I find that rather frustrating.

ITA - in many ways this shows starts to remind me of 'The Man in the High Castle'. Superb world-building but keeping such a tight lid on the main characters, their motivations and backstories that they're in the danger of becoming empty shells.

 

I know lots of people thought this a very welcome breather episode that was supposed to help us get to know the main characters better. But I just felt frustrated at the end. Obviously when you're not a book-reader you'll miss lots of exciting details (like renaming the ship - judging from readers comments that's a big deal)  Reading reviews and  comments by readers helps to fill in some gaps but I wish the show would occasionally throw newbies a bone or two.

 

I think the scene with Miller and his ex (no idea if she's just his ex-partner or if they were also romantically involved at some point) was to imply that he used to be a drinker but his obsession with the case has now helped him stay sober, hence the smell of coffee in his room.

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I think that it's been more a case of the pacing of the story not letting up yet, to allow for character building. In terms of the Roci crew anyway. They're been running from the end of the first episode, and only got a chance to stop and take a breath in this episode. So all they've been so far is archetypes that can be clearly differentiated from one another, if not clearly defined in their own right.

 

Miller is a different matter. He's definitely an archetype, and the down-and-out noir detective is instantly understandable to most people. We know that character, from a thousand different stories. But not needing to establish that is allowing Thomas Jane to do a lot of work to establish Miller as a sympathetic, if difficult to like, person. He's an asshole that no one seems to like, but he's dogged and determined, and apparently prone to losing himself in cases. It seems like this Julie Mao case is reigniting some fire inside him, with the way he's sticking with it, quitting drinking, putting together theories that tie everything together, instead of just zoning in on whatever is his immediate responsibility.

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Plus since the character is a loner by nature the viewer is focused on him in his scenes, whereas the Roci crew is an ensemble. I'm sure there are viewers who are still confused about which one is Alex and which is Amos.

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I actually had the impression he was drunk and had put alcohol in his coffee and that's what she was checking out when she took some of it. She seems mostly to be around to nag at him. I absolutely hate female characters like that. I also can't focus on what they are saying.

Maybe it's the dialogue, maybe it's the acting, I'm sure its the writing, but I can barely get interested in what is going on. The story seems to be slow and I don't get a sense of urgency, except sometimes when there is tension in the Holden crew. But even they are mostly ciphers.

I'm just wondering if I can't get a hold on those people half way through, why would I get invested when things really get to a head? Or are they already? I can't tell.

Maybe it's the cuts between the locations? Too abrupt? I sometimes have a moment of: what happened, did we go somewhere? before I adjust to the change of scenery.

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Maybe it's the dialogue, maybe it's the acting, I'm sure its the writing, but I can barely get interested in what is going on. The story seems to be slow and I don't get a sense of urgency, except sometimes when there is tension in the Holden crew. But even they are mostly ciphers.

I'm just wondering if I can't get a hold on those people half way through, why would I get invested when things really get to a head? Or are they already? I can't tell.

Maybe it's the cuts between the locations? Too abrupt? I sometimes have a moment of: what happened, did we go somewhere? before I adjust to the change of scenery.

 

I totally get where you're coming from. While I'm intrigued enough to find out who are the shadowy puppet masters behind starting an Earth Mars war I'm still not very invested in any of the characters. 

 

Grumpy detective isn't doing anything for me nor is the guy who broadcasted that Mars was responsible for killing his former ship. As can be intuited by my inability to remember a single character's name. 

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ITA - in many ways this shows starts to remind me of 'The Man in the High Castle'. Superb world-building but keeping such a tight lid on the main characters, their motivations and backstories that they're in the danger of becoming empty shells.

 

I know lots of people thought this a very welcome breather episode that was supposed to help us get to know the main characters better. But I just felt frustrated at the end. Obviously when you're not a book-reader you'll miss lots of exciting details (like renaming the ship - judging from readers comments that's a big deal)  Reading reviews and  comments by readers helps to fill in some gaps but I wish the show would occasionally throw newbies a bone or two.

 

I think the scene with Miller and his ex (no idea if she's just his ex-partner or if they were also romantically involved at some point) was to imply that he used to be a drinker but his obsession with the case has now helped him stay sober, hence the smell of coffee in his room.

 

Yes on High Castle.  I enjoyed the show and was a fan of the book.  The world-building was great and they had some strong supporting characters but their main characters were SO reserved that I think it really hurt the show.  They needed to be more dynamic.

 

I thought this episode of The Expanse was alright.

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I'm beginning to like this show -- in the sense that I really want to find out who's manipulating Mars and Earth into a war.

Also, it's interesting that while the little group said they preferred Naomi as their captain (episode 1 or 2-?), it was Holden who 1) lead them to Roci and 2) yelled at Alex to do his job as pilot. 

 

 

eta: grammar

Edited by dragonsbite

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Maybe it's the cuts between the locations? Too abrupt? I sometimes have a moment of: what happened, did we go somewhere? before I adjust to the change of scenery.

 

I have this problem. They introduce scenes with titles telling you where you are but if you blink and miss those and even if you don't, it's hard to get oriented. Other than the first episode with a bit on Earth, it's monochromatic and claustrophobic, either underground, inside a ship, or in black space. I get what they are going for but still would appreciate more exterior work or at least a brighter palette though not sure how they could fit it in. I get no sense for example that one ship is any better/newer/larger etc than any other ship. All the ship interiors look the same, and Ceres doesn't look much different either.

Edited by fauntleroy
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I really like everybody's story except Miller's. I feel like I could actually figure everything out if I would just pay attention all the way through his scenes, but they're just so boring. 

 

I mean, I watch Dark Matter, so I'm a sucker for tiny crews banding together like the Roci crew is starting to (and hopefully more than the Razza crew does on DM). Naomi constantly snapping at everyone but Amos kind of grates but it also gets everybody's asses in gears so I appreciate her existence, but I really like Holden, more than I thought I would since he's very clearly a character type like Miller is and I'm not a fan of either type having seen them five million times. But Holden I can get on board with. Anybody that dedicated to going back for "his people" has my vote. I'd still like to see him put Naomi in charge since she's the only one with her head on straight.

 

What I do like about Miller's scenes is the world building for the Belters. But he himself I have no interest in, and that's not a knock on Thomas Jane as I find him greasily charming. His scenes, barring those with Space Moriarty, are the dullest, least well-written of the bunch IMO. 

Edited by aslightjump
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I'm binge watching at the moment. Right now I'm in 1x05.

I have to bitch about the premise a bit. I don't see why any of this work would be done by humans and not by robots. There seems to be literally no reason for it.

Why is low muscle mass among belters a thing? You'd think if you put humans up there you'd genetically manipulate them to not lose skeletal musculatur to low usage. We already know the genes that limit skeletal musculature growth, due to naturally occuring mutations some people have, where they'll have a lot of muscle mass despite having no training at all.

So Ceres has no water anymore, but the water gets shipped in from Saturn? Did I understand that correctly? Why? The asteroid belt is full with water.

The goals of the martians to terraform mars seems delusional. Mars just doesn't have enough mass to hold a substencial atmosphere or even water for a prolonged period of time. To make that work you'd need to increase Mars's mass by throwing half of the asteroid belt on it, but I don't think that's a good idea, considering how tightly populated it seems.

That being said, I like this show very much (except the cop storyline which just bores me). It's intriuging, is well made, well acted and looks great. So I can overlook the problems with the premise, but I just had to get that off my chest.

Edited by Miles
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6 hours ago, Miles said:

I have to bitch about the premise a bit. I don't see why any of this work would be done by humans and not by robots. There seems to be literally no reason for it.

Why is low muscle mass among belters a thing? You'd think if you put humans up there you'd genetically manipulate them to not lose skeletal musculatur to low usage. We already know the genes that limit skeletal musculature growth, due to naturally occuring mutations some people have, where they'll have a lot of muscle mass despite having no training at all.

So Ceres has no water anymore, but the water gets shipped in from Saturn? Did I understand that correctly? Why? The asteroid belt is full with water.

The goals of the martians to terraform mars seems delusional. Mars just doesn't have enough mass to hold a substencial atmosphere or even water for a prolonged period of time. To make that work you'd need to increase Mars's mass by throwing half of the asteroid belt on it, but I don't think that's a good idea, considering how tightly populated it seems.

You definitely have a point about Mars, but presumably they figured out some kind of science-magic solution that'll take time to implement.

Perhaps the asteroid belt is mostly out of water because it got shipped to Mars or used up or somesuch.

As for your first two points, people can be assholes.  One of the hardest tasks we've found in computer science is programming computers to do the "easy" things like navigate a room, pick up objects, catch things, etc.  that people can do naturally.  It's why we don't have robots picking fruit instead of migrant farm workers and presumably it continues into the time of the show.  So, it's easier (or at least cheaper) to send actual people to do the mining.  It's also very much in the interests of the powers-that-be to keep said people weak both physically and in terms of political and financial power.  So, they set things up so these people can't even really survive on Earth or Mars so they'll have to stay put and take what they're given.

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I mean since Mars isn't covered under a never ending ocean, I'm going to say the water from the asteroid belt didn't go there. (Mars can't hold water very well, but it would take millions of years for all of that to escape into space). I don't see how else it would have been used up. It's not like it goes anywhere when you use it.

We don't have robots picking fruit yet. We will within the next 20 years. According to the interwebs the Expanse takes place 200 years in the future. We should have the required technology for these things to be done autonomously in about 50 years at the latest. There is really no telling what kind of shit Technology will be able to do in 200 years. I mean we invented planes only a little over a 100 years ago, the computer about 70 years ago. What I can tell you is that humans won't have to do this kind of work anymore.

I really doubt it's cheaper to send humans. All of that life support, air, food, facilities, etc. All unnecessary load. Plus you have to pay them. Even if you pay them like shit, that's still an expense you don't have with robots.

Putting that aside for a moment, considering all the medical expenses that were mentioned on the show due to the weak consitution of belters, I also doubt anybody would keep them pruposfully weak, just for some precieved superiority that doesn't actually mean anything in a technologised world. Giving them some gene therapy to not have their muscles atrophy seems like the way cheaper option.

It's kind of the same thing, when they were talking about the fact, that the guy who had just lost an arm would get a prostetic and not the bio gel that could regrow his arm, since it was less expensive. First that seems a very american perspective, with health care being so shitty and I'm pretty sure we'll be past it at that point. Second and most improtantly I don't buy that a prothesis is cheaper than slathering some gel on someones arm.

Edited by Miles

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Continuing with my rewatch.

This episode is such a great distillation of The Butcher of Anderson Station short story. The image of Fred just standing there while the bodies of all those miners and their children float by is still so haunting.

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