Season 6, Episode 3 of Amazon Prime’s The Expanse, entitled “Force Projection,” gives us a fantastic ship battle and a moral dilemma.
We start on Laconia as usual, where we’re given the line that “we’re all Laconian now.” This leads me to wonder whether these colonizers are living during the same time as the rest of the show, or whether they are in the future and are surviving Inners after the war with Inaros and the Belt.
This segment is short, but we learn three key things: the drone that Cara broke has been fixed somehow, that weird-looking critter is not alone, and Cara’s brother has been severely hurt, presumably playing soccer.
In this episode, Avasarala has to make a decision as big as her earrings. Inaros has stripped Ceres of everything of value and has left a million Belters with only enough food and air for three weeks.
This leaves Avasarala in a tight spot,
as Inaros is forcing the Inners to help the Belters, which will tax their resources and ability to go after him. He’s relying on the fact that the Inners wouldn’t let the Belters suffer (either out of true humanitarian reasons or political reasons). And then, to make matters even worse, a series of explosions rocks the station a few days later, destroying what appears to be the water reservoirs. And, perhaps, killing Monica.
This is where the episode’s title comes in. “Force Projection” is not just from Star Wars.
It’s both a math concept and a military term. The former refers to finding the projection (component) of a force in a specified direction, but the latter is the most relevant here. Force (or power) projection is a term used in military and political science, which discusses the capacity of a state to conduct “expeditionary warfare” (intimidating other nations and implementing policy by means of force, or the threat thereof) in an area distant from its own territory. Marcos is clearly a pro at this type of attack.
We only see my girl Camina for a few minutes, but we learn she’s determined to follow through with her plot to attack Inaros’ caches. Another Belter, Saberhagen, has agreed to team up with her, suggesting Inaros’ influence is waning. We also get an interesting discussion between two of her crew and a cameo from the Reverend Doctor Anna Volovodov from Season 3.
This episode gives us a bit of downtime on the Roci before the tremendous battle at the end. Clarissa gives her longest speech in a while, expressing guilt for murdering the man who helped her in Season 3. Her words here to Holden refer back to what she said to Amos in Season 5,” I have killed, but I am not a killer because a killer is a monster and monsters aren’t afraid.” Hearing her express remorse is a lot different than Amos’ perspective on life, and perhaps why she says it to Holden and not him.
Holden and Namoi have a brief scene showing more “relationship goals,” where Holden attempts to distract Naomi from her worries by giving her an interesting problem – what happened to the Barkeith ship in Season 5? It turns out it might be part of a cluster of disappearances. The implications of this are unclear.
We also get a short segment with Prax (Dr. Praxideke Meng), the biologist from Season 2 and 3, who sends an encrypted message informing Holden that Inaros murdered a scientist he was working with. She had used the genetic makeup of the protomolocule to modify yeast to produce a yield that could provide enough food to both Earth and the Belt. This most definitely ties in with Inaros’ Force Projection plans (and further shows how much of an unscrupulous person he is).
We also get some lighthearted banter between Amos and Bobbie that verges on flirting (an acceptable backup for me if Amos and Clarissa are a dead-end).
And then there’s the battle!
The Expanse hasn’t strayed away from striking visuals this season, and the fight between the Pella and the Roci is no exception. We get missiles, evasions, and the rail gun.
Of course, Inaros uses Filip as a means to save his own ass, but Bobbie either doesn’t know about the complex family dynamics or doesn’t care and pulls an amazing flying and firing stunt that I had to rewatch. If you think about what she actually accomplishes here with the timing and precision required, it shows her immense skill. Not like we didn’t know that already.
The Free Navy
Before all the fighting goes down, we learn that Filip indeed has morals! He’s furious that his father would abandon the Belters on Ceres and calls him out. Inaros, as expected, manipulates Filip and then gets all mushy with him to cement his control, but the look on Filips’ face as he hugs his dad lets us know he’s starting to realize Inaros’ true nature.
Inaros made two mistakes in this episode. The first is the attack on the Rocinante despite the tactical disadvantage, and the second is how he tried to make Filip prove his loyalty by putting him on the guns. Filip indeed fires on the Roci but afterwards rails against his dad and calls him a coward. And it’s clear Guoliang also doesn’t venerate Inaros like a lot of his followers. So perhaps Inaros’ downfall will be from within. With only three episodes left, it’s, hopefully, only a matter of how.