“I’d say the battle lines have been drawn.”
After Holden’s activation of the Builders’ structure, Ilus is wracked with eerily precise surges of lightning traveling across the entire planet. Though there are no casualties, it knocks out the power in the colony, with the Belters and their old, decrepit tech suffering the worst of it. The ensuing chaos does nothing for the Belter/RCE relationship as Murtry forbids his security team from helping the Belter colonists regain their footing. Murtry may be strong and resolute, but he’s also a spiteful, inflexible man whose actions only intensifies the already oppressive tension throughout the camp. Amos sees through Murtry as a killer so similar to himself; though Amos doesn’t revel in taking lives the same way as Murtry.
With that in mind, the Roci enforcer warns the the RCE chief, in no uncertain terms, not to cross Amos or the Roci crew. Amos isn’t just the muscle of the Roci family, he’s also the cold, detached reptilian logic; able to do what needs to be done without compunction. Murtry is every bit the killer but tries to hide his fervor for such misdeeds behind ‘justifiable’ reason. He even takes it a step further when he and his team gun down four more Belters—albeit, a quartet conspiring to do a bit of killing of their own—an act that could signal the tipping point towards all-out violence, that is if the awakening structures don’t force the opposing ‘tribes’ to work together for their mutual survival.
It goes without saying that all action brings consequences, with the latter commensurate to the severity of the former. Holden knows this, so his stupefied response to the results of turning on yet another Builders’ device, though par for his character, belies common sense. Trusting the echo of Miller to tell him the truth — and that’s assuming the echo knows the entire story, which he doesn’t — is dangerously naïve. But Holden stays true to form, decisive in his commands to fire a torpedo at the burgeoning structure, a calculated risk he’s forced to make as it was going to endanger the colony. Nevertheless, Holden knows that, since he’s poked the bear, chances are it’s done with the hibernation thing and like a boulder rolling downhill, it’s all but assured that he and the others will be powerless to stop it; at best, they may be able to divert it but, even then, who’s to say which will be the better of the two choices?
Making up a bit for her small role in “Jetsam”, Bobbie’s front and center in “Subduction”. As Holden is understanding the domino effect of his actions, so too is Bobbie after her beating of the focus-drug thugs. When she’s approached by Esai Martin, (Paul Schulze, Suit, Nurse Jackie, The Punisher), Bobbie realizes she just can’t punch her way out of it, especially since she’s not the one in Martin’s crosshairs. Proclaiming himself to be David’s new boss, Martin gives Bobbie a choice; if she wants David released from the forced drug ring, do what Martin asks. It seems so innocent; leave a door open at the plant she works at. She initially balks but relents though she ends up reporting David’s kidnapping to police after being unable to swallow doing such an obviously illegal (and potentially dangerous) misdeed.
But Martin surprises her once more, as he greets her as the detective taking on David’s missing person case. Martin is the worst of people; a decorated civil servant using his position of authority to advance his illegal activities, extorting or blackmailing others for his benefit. People like Martin are worse than criminals. At least with the latter, you know where they stand. But with crooked authorities, they do even more damage; not just in what they do but also by eroding people’s trust in the establishment and those chosen to serve and protect us. Once trust is broken, it’s a difficult thing to get back.
If “Jetsam” was the calm before the storm, “Subduction” is that first cacophonous crack of thunder on the heels of sky-splitting arcs of lightning. Holden’s adventure into the structure has started a chain-reaction to something we have no idea on how things will evolve. Bobbie’s freefall continues and with the pressures of life on Mars complicated by her being shunned by anyone of station, it’s only a matter of time before her circumstances become untenable. On Ilus, Amos was, per usual, right on the money about the battle lines being drawn. Though fierce in their own right, the Belters are not prepared for a direct confrontation, especially not against a heavily-armed security force led by the bloodthirsty Murtry. The powder keg vibe in the colony is nearing a point of no-return, emphasized by even the smallest interaction between Belters and the RCE security. Murtry’s preemptive strike has only deepened the Belter resentment and for a people who have tasted the freedom of their own world after decades of inequality, even his brutality won’t be able to bring the Belters to heel and, if anything, will only beget more violence.
Tilting at Windmills
• Relegated more to the background this episode, Avasarala continues making moves, trying to balance the important things like the news coming from Holden and fostering the relations between Earth and Mars only to now divert her attention towards Nancy Gao (Lily Gao, Kin, Blood and Water), the former UN Home Secretary who’s now making a play for Avasarala’s position as Secretary General. With all the politics The Expanse has given us, this is the first real taste of political election maneuvering and a reminder that, even in crisis, the politicking doesn’t stop. We’ve already seen that Avasarala is an ends-justifies-the-means force, and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, especially if she believes it’s for the greater good. That doesn’t bode well for Gao who doesn’t seem ready (granted, she’s been in two whole scenes) to navigate the political minefield necessary to keep the peace with Mars and oversee colonization of the Ring worlds.
• Unfortunately for Naomi, Dr. Lucia gave her the rotten news we were all probably expecting: the gravity meds just aren’t doing their job and, unless she gets back up into the gravity well, she’s going to die. It’s a kick in the teeth when considering the months of agony Naomi put herself through to get to this point. As bad as it is for her, it forces the Roci’s crew to split up and, with all that’s going down on Ilus, there couldn’t be a worse time for them to be divided.