The Expanse Season 3 Episode 2 “IFF” Recap and Commentary

Seasons One – Three ::|:: Available Now on Amazon Prime Video

Season 3:Episode 2

Written for Television by Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck

Directed by Breck Eisner

Spoilers Ahead…

Catching up from last time:

Earth has formally declared WAR on Mars. Mars and Earth ships are at high alert and tensions are at an all time high in the system.

Bobbie Draper and Avasarala narrowly escaped the space yacht, formerly owned by Jules-Pierre Mao, by speeding away in the racing ship. The once sleek ship was reduced to a scattered debris field in space by the U.N.N. escort ship.

By the way, the little racing ship that could…it’s the famous Razorback! You know, the one that Julie Mao was going on and on about throughout season one, and two for that matter.

When Miller was heading to going deep inside Eros he kept hearing Julie’s voice saying “you can’t beat the Razorback” – These past two episodes with Bobbie and Avasarala racing away for their lives, felt like a callback. It was great to finally see the Razorback in all of its glory do what Julie claimed it could do, race really fast!

We don’t know if Cotyar and Theo escaped in the drop ship before the U.N.N. missile attack.

The crew of the Rocinante planned on going to IO, where a decommissioned helium-3 refinery is home to Dr. Strickland and his continued protomolecule research. By the end of the episode Holden, Amos, Alex and Prax out voted Naomi and chose to go after Mei, instead of hiding out on Tycho station.

Errinwright continues to plot and scheme and cover his butt, and is continues to receive space-texts from the U.N.N. escort ship, updating him on the “mess” not being “cleaned up”. Meaning, Avasarala is not proven dead yet, “please advise”.

Someone kill this guy already! Moving on, Errinwright is also keeping the confidence of Secretary General Gillis. It remains to be seen how long he will be able to be a prime mover in this situation.

Mei, Prax’s scared little girl, is still Dr. Strickland’s guinea pig.

the expanse syfy Mei wakes from a bad dream
Mei wakes from a bad dream

Once again we see the moments just before the mirrors crashed into the bio-domes. Mei is smiling at her Daddy, as Prax works among the plants. The images speed up and are quickly edited together with protomolecule tests and kids being kept captive and finally the face of one of the hybrids. These images are brought to us by Mei’s nightmare and she wakes up screaming in a strange and scary place.

Being awake is almost scarier, because the lid opens to reveal Dr. Strickland. Mei is strapped to her coffin-like (hibernation?) chamber and connected to computers and medical monitors. But worst of all, Dr. creepy sociopath, Strickland, is smiling at her, “Oooh, did you have a bad dream?” Strickland askes and her facial response is so classic, she looks up at him with a ‘freaking A, him again?’ combined with ‘what is going on?’ look.

His co

mpassion lasts about ten seconds and he shuffles her off for a checkup and to take her meds. It’s unclear if these are the meds that keep her alive or the meds that will change her into a glowing blue skeletal humanoid hybrid kill-monster. Probably both. Dr. Strickland goes off to continue his precious protomolecule research. After all, he has a special guest arriving today.

It turns out that IO is Jupiter Moon – I, this is the location of Jules-Pierre Mao’s decommissioned helium-3 refinery, which is now home to his protomolecule hybrid factory and research center.

Speaking of Jules-Pierre Mao, he is the special guest of Dr. Strickland and he’s royally pissed off when he arrives.

the expanse syfy mao arrives on IO
Mao Visits Strickland

“You can’t see the Razorback” Or the dropship for that matter.

the expanse syfy draper and avasarala on razorback
Draper & Avasarala on the Razorback

Meanwhile, floating near the debris field of Guanshiyin, Jules-Pierre Mao’s destroyed space yacht, is Avasarala and Bobbie. No burn, just floating because Bobbie knows that the U.N.N. Escort Ship is close by and still hunting them via Errinwright’s command.

No burn and no active scans, because both will give them away to the escort ship. With only passive scans, both do not see the drop ship and assume that it too was destroyed by the U.N.N. missile attack. To make matters even more fun for the very frustrated Avasarala, Bobbie had to hit a high burn to escape the coming wrath of the U.N.N. ship.

the expanse syfy Amos on Roci

Encouraged by Avasarala to send an anonymous message using her suit’s communications, Bobbie sends one via her emergency wideband transmitter, its low power and only the MCRN will be able to read her outgoing message. Avasarala isn’t worried, she’d rather do time in a Mars prison over certain death via more missiles from the U.N.N. escort ship. I agree.

Since seeing the trailers for season three, I’ve wondered how the Roci could hear from and find Avasarala, Bobbie, and Cotyar. A low power MCRN suit emergency wideband transmitter. Why didn’t I think of that.

“Sending out an S.O.S. I’m sending out an S.O.S.” – Message in a Bottle, The Police

Gardening and IFF

the expanse syfy Amos and Prax gardening
Amos & Prax gardening

Meanwhile, on the Roci. I know they chose a new name last week. But I’m sure you’ll agree, this salvaged MCRN gunship will always be the Roci to me.

While Bobbie and Avasarala are racing for their lives and Cotyar might be dead; Prax is gardening on the Roci. But what’s really funny about this, Amos is totally on board and helping install panels with little green plants on the ship.

bobbie on razorback.jpg
Draper & Avasarala burn high G

Soon Holden is recruited and smiles because he hasn’t done any gardening in a while. Holden sees the merit of Prax’s efforts, of having an extra green thumb around. This is a great idea though, the plants will help provide oxygen and air scrubbing, especially when they can’t run down to the mega ship store and get new filters and parts for the ship’s air purification systems.

The episode’s plot gets a point when they receive an IFF, which Alex informs Naomi what they call ID Friend or Foe alert. Of course this IFF is the message from Bobbie and Avasarala.

the expanse syfy Alex and Naomi get the IFF
Alex & Naomi get the IFF

An old friend comes to town…

Elsewhere, on Earth at the UN building, there’s a big protest going on and UN soldiers are stationed to keep the peace. It seems some things never change. I’m not sure what the angry crowd was protesting for or against, at least not from the signs. But the real point of this scene is to introduce a familiar face to us, a new character Anna, played by a veteran actor, Elizabeth Mitchell. Possibly best known for her role on Lost and on the short lived V series, plus several movies, she’s well known to us fans of sci-fi television.

the expanse syfy Intro Anna
Introducing Anna
the expanse syfy anna and gillis
Anna & Gillis

Strange: At the time of writing this article, Elizabeth Mitchell is not listed on IMDB as part of The Expanse. She’s not listed in the cast list and The Expanse is not listed as a current 2018 show in her list of acting gigs. Update please.

Secretary-General Gillis has invited Anna to the UN so he can ask her to help him write a speech to calm the citizens and promote the war effort. While they’re old friends and have a history, she’s unwilling to help. However, she finally says that she will help him if he will fund her free clinic for a year. They finally come to an agreement, gotta love politics, in government and religion. Oh, did I mention that the Secretary-General introduced her to Errinwright as reverend Anna Volovodov? Just as Gillis kicked him out of the room? That was fun.

What a name, Volovodov! It rolls off the tongue like Avasarala. Gotta love sci-fi. Names good enough to be part of the Star Wars universe.

To Mei or not to Mei – To Help or not to Help…

Back to our crew on the Rocinante, a tense debate erupts when Alex brings news of the distress call from Bobbie and Avasarala. Alex is ready and able to jump at the chance to keep his oath and help a fellow MRSN soldier, however Holden says otherwise. As captain, Holden puts the hold on any attempt to fly off and help. He feels they have to stay the course and head to IO next to find Mei. The decision gets turned over to Prax and we’re left with a question mark before going to commercial break.

Will Prax decide to help someone in need? Or will he act in his own self interest and go to search for Mei? We kind of know where this is going, but it suspends the suspense for now, will they or won’t they?

the expanse syfy Prax thinks on roci
Prax thinks things over on Roci

Over on IO, Errinwright is basically facetiming Mao and demands his weapon so Earth can use it to fight the war. They then conspire to commit murder and Mao tells Errinwright to “clean up the mess”, meaning he needs to kill Avasarala and then they can talk about conspiring to provide illegal weapons for the war. These are two great men, aren’t they?

the expanse syfy Mao not happy
Mao is not happy

Kidnapping, human trafficking, human “medical” testing, murder, conspiracy, treason, need I go on?

As Bobbie and Avasarala are burn hot and at very high G, they are trying to elude the onslaught of the U.N.N. ship that Errinwright has trying to murder them. More missiles are fired, they escape and then something strange happens.

Our heroes arrive offscreen to keep us guessing. The Roci helps protect the little racing ship with some escort missiles. Avasarala is not doing well and is suffering greatly from the high Gs they’ve had to burn. She isn’t trained like Bobbie for this kind of flying.

the expanse syfy Anna takes on the boys
What out boy she’ll chew you up

Far away on Earth, we get some backstory on Anna. She takes Errinwright, Gillis and others in the room to task when they speak out of turn and say stupid, borderline illegal things in her presence. You can tell that Anna is going to be a great foil for Errinwright, he does not like her at all. It will be interesting to see these two fight in subsequent episodes, or at least I hope they will.
The Rocinante uses most of their missile arsenal and most of their bullets, but they are completely committed to this battle at this point.

bobbie on razorback.jpg
Draper & Avasarala burn high G

We learn that kids with health issues like Mei are key to Dr. Strickland combining the protomolecule with their bodies. Since the first generation of hybrids, like the creature that was on board the Roci last year, Strickland has made great advances. We learn why there was a bomb implanted in the hybrid’s chest as well.

dr strickland and mao.jpg
Dr. Strickland & Mao discuss the Protomolecule

A new kid is introduced, a friend of Mei’s. His name is Katoa and he’s all excited about his new glowing blue arm. Welcome to the next generation of hybrids. Killer glowing kids.

the expanse syfy mei and friend
Mei & her little blue friend

There are some hijinx during the battle with the escort ship. This gives Amos some fun along the way, but you need to see it to believe it. I say fun, it wasn’t really and in the end, Amos saved Prax’s life, twice.

The Roci crew, with Holden working beautifully with Alex, outsmarted and outgunned the other ship. Eventually they blow the engines clean off and disable the U.N.N. vessel. The other vessel remained intact, so they didn’t kill the other crew of Earthers.

the expanse syfy Amos holds on
Amos holding on
the expanse syfy roci blows up UN ship's engines
Roci takes out UNN ship

They’re left with a major problem though, Holden says that they have essentially declared war on Earth by attacking the U.N.N. vessel that way. He’s probably right.

The final fallout from that day’s crazy events has left Avasarala in very bad shape. The final shot is of Bobbie slowly pushing her body in zero G away from the razorback to the Roci, where she begs the crew to “please help her.”


Bobbie carries Avasarala after battle & high G

All images SYFY Network

About The Expanse

Hundreds of years in the future, humans have colonized the solar system. The U.N. controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The planets rely on the resources of the Asteroid Belt, where air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising between these three places. Earth, Mars and the Belt are now on the brink of war. And all it will take is a single spark. — SYFY


The Expanse is an American science fiction television series on Syfy, developed by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, based on the series of novels by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (writing under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey). Set in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System, it follows United Nations executive Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), police detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), and ship’s officer Jim Holden (Steven Strait) and his crew as they unravel a conspiracy that threatens peace in the system and the survival of humanity.

Two hundred years in the future, in a fully colonized Solar System, police detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), born on Ceres in the asteroid belt, is assigned to find a missing young woman, Juliette “Julie” Andromeda Mao (Florence Faivre). James Holden (Steven Strait), the Executive Officer of the ice hauler Canterbury, is involved in a tragic incident that threatens to destabilize the uneasy peace between Earth, Mars and the Belt. On Earth, Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a United Nations executive, works to prevent war between Earth and Mars by any means necessary. Soon, the three find out that the missing woman and the ice hauler’s fate are part of a vast conspiracy that threatens all humanity.

— Wikipedia

The Expanse – A SYFY Original Series stars Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Dominique Tipper, Cas Anvar, Wes Chatham, and Frankie Adams.

The Expanse Seasons 1 & 2 available for free with Amazon Prime Video.

The Expanse Season 3 Episode 1

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