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The Expanse - Assured Destruction - Review

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In 'Assured Destruction' the war continues to escalate, while the arrival of Avasarala and Bobbie on the Rocinante shake up the dynamics on the ship.

While the interactions between the crew of the Rocinante and their new shipmates was the anticipated selling point of this episode, the pre-existing relationships and much of the individual growth is what helped 'Assured Destruction' stand out.

Alex has been given more to work with this season. The pilot's strained relationship with his ex-wife continued to be explored from last week, and though her telling him that the family does not need him anymore may not have had much weight, due to it developing so inorganically, the side story definitely will inform some of his choices as the season progresses.

After the heartbreaking news, Alex' only family is the Rocinante. And so his heart to heart with Naomi, where he tells her that he respects the strength she displays in her commitment to the Belt, despite their disagreements, was a great moment to see. There is a sense that the friendship among the crew of the Rocinante is unbreakable; forgiveness comes just as easily as their disagreements. All they have is each other, and this especially applies to Alex.

We also learn a little bit more of Amos' past in Baltimore, and how he had to "die" to escape the rough neighbourhood he grew up in - a story that will be explored further once and if the show reaches its fifth season (the fifth book is my favourite in the series!).

In fact, Alex' relationship with his wife will also be explored more in-depth two seasons from now. It is interesting that they have already planted the seeds this early to tell this side of the two characters' backstory, as it does feel a bit forced. But, patience, it will all pay off.

Elsewhere on the Rocinante, Avarasala had some words with both Naomi and Holden. While Naomi has mended her relationship with Alex, it doesn't look she will see eye to eye with the Deputy Undersecretary any time soon. Naomi continues her belter pride ways by letting Avarasala know she will do everything in her power to make sure Earth never receives the protomolecule.

Avarasala has even less success with Holden. The captain of the ship would not let her get back to Earth with the information to stop the war, as he is on his own mission to Io to save Prax' daughter. Nor, will Holden let Avarasala send a tight-beam to Admiral Souther aboard the Agatha King, as that would allow them to be located by their enemies.

Avarasala's attempts to appeal to Holden's quixotic nature failed, as well, as Holden is already dead set on not fighting battles he can't win.

It's refreshing to see Avarasala without Cotyar by her side. In 'Assured Destruction' we see the spy out of the shadow of his boss, and for once, trying to survive on his own aboard the UN ship Agatha King. Poor Theo though, who Cotyar killed to protect the secret Avarasala was alive. It seems Nguyen, now in complete control of the King, is under the thumb of Erringwright; however, at least Cotyar had Admiral Souther to entrust in.

Elsewhere, this show continues to make drastic changes from the books and intriguingly so.

The biggest change this episode was the humanizing of Mao. When the boy Katoa began rejecting the protomolecule and when Mao began to develop an affinity for Mei, who reminded him of his lost daughter, the profiteer began to have second thoughts of using these children as vessels for the protomolecule.

It makes sense. Despite his greed and lack of sympathy, Mao is still a father and the sight of children being used for experiments is sure to touch home for him. He is not a saint, by any stretch of the imagination, but he is human.

It is because of this turn of events that the warmongering Erringwright is suddenly the main antagonist, he was only a bit bad guy in the books. The show even ends with his biting, snake-like exchange with Pastor Anna, blaming the destruction of part of South America on the hesitance that came from her advice, even though it was his own decisions and his manipulation of the Secretary-General that ultimately led to the chaos.

The short, back and forth battle itself was breathtakingly done, as has this show consistently been, and it sure as hell raised the stakes. It'll be interesting to see how Earth responds, and in particular, Erringwright's next calculated move.


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