The last few episodes of The Expanse, including the two episode season finale of Critical Mass/Leviathan Wakes featured an amped up amount of wholesale carnage. Unlike the start of the series, where death came in small doses, against a squalid and bleak background of suppression and racism, the end of season one offered up death in economy sized quantities.
A few questions are answered amidst all this morbidity. Not least of which being who was behind the destruction of the Cant and the Martian vessel (Donnager) that Holden and his small crew escaped from by the skin of their teeth. The horrific death of Julie Mao is also revealed as is the connection between the Earther who became an honorary Belter and Anderson Dawes.
The pacing of the show increased as Holden and his survivors discover the Anubis with its deadly cargo from Phoebe (in the episode Salvage). They also learn of the existence of Lionel Polanski (Mao) and that the lone crew member to escape the Anubis was headed to Eros; the place where the U.N.N. plans that James Holden (Steven Strait) will die.
The Expanse may not manage to top that huge shoot-em-up aboard the Donnager, where the entire crew of the Martian vessel fought ferociously for Holden and his crew to escape the stealth fighters attacking the ship, but it comes close in the final three episodes. In terms of death count, the carnage may not be as bloody or spectacular but the body count, in the season finale, is massive.
After Mao’s body is found, lying on the floor with the Phoebe organism infused throughout her corpse, the dead girl’s father gives his scientist (Dresden) the go ahead to infect all of Eros while irradiating the entire populace as well. In Salvage, Miller (Thomas Jane) teamed up with Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos in the middle of the tech shootout set up by the Tycho spy, who gets away before the battle starts.
This new team stick together and once the Dresden experiment begins, where the population are herded into shelters for infection and death, Holden and Miller scramble to escape Eros as Namoi and the rest head to the Roci.
As the finale moves to its conclusion, the former cop and the Earther team up to learn what is happening in the shelters and receive fatal doses of radiation for their trouble While Naomi, Alex and Amos, along with Semi, head toward the Roci, The two dying men fight their way to the ship hoping to get there before Naomi takes off.
They have three hours.
Amid all the carnage on Eros, quite a lot of it actually; with denizens killed wholesale in shelters, criminal gangs killing those who refuse to go into the areas, Holden, Miller and Naomi killing off a number of baddies and the Phoebe organism consuming everyone else, there is a moment for poignancy and a chance to consider poor Julie Mao.
The Expanse reveals the lonely death of Lionel Polanski (Florence Faivre) and it is horrific as it is tragic. As this world moves toward war, players in this drama are scrambling to stay safe. Christen Avasarala decides to hide in plain sight while everything unravels around her.
Some questions are answered about the less important curiosities in the series. For instance Miller’s hat has a backstory (turns out to be Semi’s hat and not Miller’s at all) and a small slice of the ex cop’s childhood is revealed. (A brilliant scene that takes place in a pachinko parlor.)
By the end of the season finale, The Expanse sets things up for its second season with finesse. Miller has joined forces with Holden, Amos has shown he follows Naomi without question when it counts and that Julie Mao’s father may have shed a tear when she died, but her death will not stop his plans to exploit the Phoebe organism.
The cast have all performed impeccably in terms of fleshing out their characters and making them memorable. Kudos to Cas Anvar, Wes Chatham, Dominique Tipper and Shohreh Aghdashloo who gave their roles moments of splendid truth.
SyFy have approved the series for a second season and one can only hope that it entertains as thoroughly as this one.