In The Expanse: The Big Empty the mystery of the missing heiress continues and Miller (Thomas Jane) continues to investigate Julie Mao’s (Florence Faivre) puzzling disappearance amid water shortages and the continued rationing. The five survivors from the Canterbury struggle to stay alive and Christen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) is reprimanded for her gravity questioning of the captured Belter.
The magic of this series thus far is the lack of necessity to be aware of the source material. Based upon the novels by “James S. A. Corey” (The pen name of two authors; Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) the science fiction show is more mystery and political thriller than space opera. By focussing on the “Belter” cop Miller, and his new Earth partner, along side the cold war threatening to erupt into the real deal and the plight of the Canterbury survivors, the series has a three prong attack that is interesting without having prior knowledge of the novels.
Miller investigates missing water and visits the apartment of Ms. Mao. He finds a group of low brow street criminals who are siphoning water from a park and he learns that the missing Julie not the average “poor little rich girl.” He also learns that she was on the Scopuli, the ship destroyed along with the Canterbury by a Martian vessel.
Avasarala contines questioning the Belter, whom she suspects of being an O.P.A terrorist, and she decides to have the recalcitrant suspect removed for “deep pain” interrogation. She believes that the man and his organization have been funded by Mars. Sadavir Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) believes that the woman is overreacting and says so, along with his consternation at her total amount of power.
Errinwright believes that the “future” leader of Earth is chasing shadows:
Sadavir: “Cold War is a bloodless war.”
Avasarala believe that the “cold war is over” and that this is “something new.” With the overt actions of the Martian’s later in the episode it would appear that she is right.
As this second episode continues, it seems to be about the strong female characters in the show. Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) who steps up to take control when things get drastic on the pod, Avasarala who will, it seems, stop at nothing to prove that the Belters have teamed with Mars to escalate the cold war and, lastly, Julie Mao who kept her facial scar as a badge of honor to reflect her disdain of rank and social status, in other words as a sign of her rebellion.
James Holden (Steven Strait) loses control of his crew when Naomi proves to be of sterner stuff and takes charge. Nagata motivates the males around her to fix the oxygen problem and the communications issue. She also gets the power sorted, albeit with a limited and short termed fix. These actions allow the surviving crew to send out a distress call.
Unfortunately the message is picked up by a Martian Naval Cruiser the Donnager. Which, as Naomi find out earlier may have led the distress beacon that they answered on the Scopuli.
Before the end credits roll, the “smuggler” commits suicide, Holden comes within a whisker of being shot in the back of the head, the five survivors are boarded by their rescue party and taken prisoner and after warning the captured street punk about not stealing water, Miller lets his prisoner go. Miller also learns much more about the missing woman.
With the surviving members of the “Cant” taken prisoner by the Martian Navy, it appears that Avasarala is right, the Cold War has changed into something else. The Expanse airs Tuesdays on SyFy. Tune in and enjoy the mystery and the suspense.