Review: The Expanse S01E05 — Back to the Butcher

If the latest episode of The Expanse doesn’t have the level of tension that the previous one did, that does at least give the show a chance to do yet more world building and let its characters breathe a little. One of the biggest problems with this show for people who aren’t familiar with the books is the amount of characters and locations and story that are being crammed into a mere 10 episode season. At the very least that can make it hard to keep everything straight.

Up to now each episode has been packed with events and characters and stuff. This week though if you just wrote down what happened it would be a pretty short list, and that’s probably a good thing. In many ways the biggest event, though it might not seem like it, is the renaming of the Tachi as the Rosenante. Not only will that ship become a core element of the show (giving perhaps some needed stability to the scenery) but it gave us a chance to see the crew interact in a situation that wasn’t life threatening for once, which in turn gave us some nice character moments and the solidifying of Holden’s position as leader of the group.


That’s not the only character elements at work in this episode though. If there was any doubt left in people’s minds that Detective Miller was getting a little obsessed with Julie Mau then I think that has been settled. His priorities a clearly deeply skewed at this point and while there’s no doubt he’s onto “something” his approach is far from healthy. And then there is Fred Johnson, the Butcher of Anderson Station. Up to now he’s played a very small role in the show but this episode gives him some real depth in terms of what he was and what he is now.


Another thing I love about this show is the amount of small world building that goes on. Like the robotic animals for example. Why would someone keep a robotic mouse? Because you can’t waste resources on a real one when you’re on a space station, but humans have evolved to feel better around living creatures and greenery.

When watching this show it’s important to understand that even though we are now half way through season 1, we’re really only about a third of the way through the first book. So we’re still in the building phase. Setting up situations and characters that will play out later on. It’s extremely brave of SyFy to take such a long view on a show (they’ve already renewed it for a second season) because there’s a risk that people simply won’t have the attention span for this all to pay off.

Originally published at Eoghann Irving.

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