In the Expanse: Back to the Butcher, the only person not upset at the attempted murder of Havelock is his partner Miller. The five survivors from the Donnager vote on whether to take Fred Johnson’s offer of help while Det. Miller continues his obsessive hunt to learn more about Julie Mao’s disappearance.
Anderson Dawes offers up the man who skewered Havelock to a wall as an offering to Miller. This is an attempt to forge an allegiance with the Ceres cop and there is also a history lesson in why Fred Johnson is known as the Butcher of Anderson Station.
As pointed out by IGN this episode was a real change of pace from the previous all action shoot-em-up and explosive episode CQ8. That is not to say there is no violence, far from it. The video footage of Havelock (Jay Hernandez) getting “nailed” to the wall is shown, after being uploaded by the perpetrator and added to that violence the destruction of Anderson Station is shown.
Sidenote: One of the more beautiful/horrible images is that of the lead miner; Marama Brown (played by Billy MacLellan who played Lt. Bebe in “Defiance”) clutching his little girl while their dead bodies float through space; past the UN Marine ship.
Miller (Thomas Jane) is under a bit of stress. A scene in the Ceres version of a subway where the power stops momentarily shows how paranoid he is becoming about the issues on The Belt. Another character in the show comes under stress of a different sort when Earther survivor from the Cant and Donnager, Jim Holden (Steven Strait), learns he has become the poster-child for revolt after his pronouncement that Mars blew up his ship.
Meanwhile back on Ceres, despite being almost literally handed the man who skewered his partner to a wall, Miller appears to destroy the information given to him by Dawes (Jared Harris) before going in to learn more about where Julie Mao was really headed.
Once the detective finds what he is looking for he leaves and is abducted by a man and woman team who bag his head and tase him.
This episode moves things along nicely and allows a bit of backstory to show just why Nagata (Dominique Tipper) distrusts Colonel Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) so much. After learning the fate of the striking miners and their children, the viewer feels much the same as Naomi. This does not stop Nagata from being talked into heading to Tycho and Johnson by Amos (Wes Chatham) later.
The Expanse with ‘Back to the Butcher’ also shows the further deepening of Miller’s obsession with Mao, up to his asking his source whether the man had been sleeping with her, and it is apparent it has nothing to do with money. Octavia Muss (Athena Karkanis) suggests that this is the reason Joe is not avenging her partner’s near death, but she is way off the mark.
Several things are obvious by the time the end credits roll. Miller is in trouble, Nagata is disturbed by her decision to let Johnson help, Holden gets his coffee and the viewer learns that life is very cheap on The Belt and 11 years ago the UN Marines, in the guise of Col. Johnson, thought so too.
The Expanse airs Tuesdays on SyFy. Tune in to see why this series has already been approved for a second season.