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The Expanse season 2 premiere just took the air out of the room

I cursed so loud, I may have offended the space Mormons

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The Expanse’s Thomas Jane as Detective Joe Miller.
Syfy/Alcon Entertainment
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

This article contains spoilers for the season premiere of The Expanse.

The back-to-back premiere episodes of The Expanse aired tonight on Syfy and they more than lived up to expectations.

After gaining so much momentum in the first season, it followed through on all counts. The show maintained a high level of tension while letting characters develop quietly and intimately over two hours. The science fiction elements, as well as the special effects, were strong. Nothing looked cheap or half-way done. And its commitment to diversity — and to its source material — reached a high point with the inclusion of its newest star, Frankie Adams, whose portrayal of a Samoan Martian felt spot on.

But we should probably talk about that ending, shouldn’t we?

Things were going so well when we were just joking about cheese farts.

Remember? I know we’ve covered a lot of ground here tonight, but it wasn’t really all that long ago. An hour, maybe?

We were all sitting around the Rocinante’s galley just shooting the shit, if you’ll pardon the expression, about cheese farts. We were really bonding there, weren’t we? It was the end of a long string of little asides where Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) was finally opening up to the rest of the crew. He and Naomi were tight because Belters, and a little before that Miller and Holden spent some quality time rehydrating and not getting cancer.

There was even that sweet moment where Miller let Amos beat the ever loving shit out of him.

Remember how nice and cathartic that was?


“Cheese farts. Amiright? Careful with the table.”
Syfy/Alcon Entertainment

I guess... I guess that’s pretty much over now because, best I can figure, Miller has completely lost his mind.

In the closing moments of The Expanse’s second episode, “Doors & Corners,” Miller puts three rounds into the only man in the Sol system who can unlock the encrypted data behind the protomolecule, the bizarre purple... thing that ate up Julie Mao (Florence Faivre) from the inside out.

Those gunshots really took me by surprise. I cursed so loud, I may have offended the space Mormons from last season.

Now, we also learned that the Rocinante itself has a secret set of samples. That means the Martians themselves are on the case, and hopefully someone on their end has a head start on finding a cure.

But we were so close there, right before Miller went completely off the reservation.

And this worries me, because I like his character. There was a really strong bad-guy-gone-good vibe in Jane’s portrayal, something I hadn’t felt in a science fiction flick since Blade Runner. And I’m worried that it’s a sign of his character drifting from the centerline between scoundrel and paladin, and veering into madness.

Of course, I’m new to this story. I’ve not read any of the books, and I don’t plan to until the series has run it’s course. I hear they’re pretty great, also. But I’m just saying: This is not a pleasant turn of events for our friend Joe.

“Stay down, Miller.”
Syfy/Alcon Entertainment

I mean, we sort of saw this coming?

Sort of?

Now that I think about it, that conversation with Naomi early on in the first episode, “Safe,” was pretty weird. Naomi clearly thought that Miller and Mao were a couple at one point. She thought that Miller was the vengeful lover out for blood.

Turns out he’s maybe just wackadoo.

“I never met her,” he said. “I only saw her that one time, after they’d already killed her. I spent a lifetime watching all the evil shit people did to each other. Nothing got to me anymore. Holden was shocked by Eros. ... But Julie? I wake up some nights and I see her standing right there.”

I remember this was the point where the little hairs on the back of my neck sorta stood up. Right about the same place Miller’s got a scar on his neck from his hormone treatments. The ones that helped him not grow up to be as gangly and fragile as other Belters.

“I know it’s bullshit, but she’s right there,” Miller said. “She takes my hand and she tells me, ‘You belong with me.’ I’m pretty sure I don’t belong here, on this ship.”

Syfy/Alcon Entertainment


Where do we go from here? Does Amos lash him to a bulkhead for the foreseeable future? Do they just push him out into space and drive away? Because they can’t trust him anymore.

That hardy little team we had there for a few minutes, the one laughing about space flatulence? That’s gone now. And I fear we may need to make friends with our old enemies, the Martians, sooner than anyone on the crew would have liked.