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Television

The Expanse: Season 1, Episode 7 - "Windmills"

Elena Zhang

In "Windmills", our characters are set on an irreversible path leading to a showdown on Eros.


The Expanse

Airtime: Mondays, 9pm
Cast: Thomas Jane, Stephen Strait, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham, Florence Faivre, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 7 - "Windmills"
Network: SyFy
Air date: 2016-01-19
Amazon

"Welcome to the churn." In The Expanse,, the rules to the game of survival are changing, as Amos (Wes Chatham) so succinctly puts it. "Windmills" sets our characters on an irreversible path, and all roads are leading to Eros.

This is one of the best episodes yet, building on the series of strong, foundational stepping stones that came before it. "Slow burn" seems to be the key phrase in crafting this overarching series, moving disparate mysteries along inch-by-inch, and only throwing in some character backstory and development here and there. This kind of storytelling can be frustrating at times, and The Expanse just might be better suited for binge-watching outlets such as Netflix and Amazon. Viewers impatient for answers might not want to dedicate a weekly time slot to something that doesn't immediately grab them by the collars.

But for those willing to stick around for the incredibly detailed universe and its expanding mythos, the payoff is worth it. "Windmills" is the perfect balance of plot and character, and at this point, we have enough information to care about both.

We finally get some much-needed backstory on our protagonist, Holden (Steven Strait). Chrisjen (Shohreh Aghdashloo) pays her mother a visit at her farm collective home in snowy Montana, which provided the backdrop for some visually stunning imagery. Red suits Chrisjen well, as her fiery passion for her job and palpable regret over her son's death moves Holden's reticent mother (Frances Fisher) to open up about little Jimmy. It seems that Holden's hero complex stems from guilt over failing to save his family's land. Knowing that Holden isn't a militant terrorist just might make Chrisjen his most powerful ally yet, and he's going to need one after the UN activates a black ops team to take him out.

But the biggest mystery in terms of character backstory had been Amos, and this episode reveals key insights into what makes him tick. Unfortunately for Holden, the more he gets to know Amos, the more he wishes he didn't. We've gotten hints that Amos grew up in an unseemly environment, but now we know just what kind of psyche his upbringing has wrought, and it's not a pretty one. Nihilistic at best, Amos eschews ideals and relationships in order to play his part in the chaotic game of survival. The fact that he brushed off Holden's threat as mere bygones just confirms his psychotic nature, and foreshadows a moment in the future when Amos will truly go off the hinges to ensure that he wins the only game that matters. Holden demands that Naomi (Dominique Tipper) reign Amos in, promising a scene that provides furthers insight into why Amos was ever beholden to Naomi in the first place.

As the Rocinante travels towards Eros, so too is another seemingly innocuous character. It's Mr. Miller (Thomas Jane), who literally hung up his hat after being demoted from detective to ordinary citizen. He drunkenly goes from the docks to Julie Mao's (Florence Faivre) apartment, searching for something, anything, to make his life decisions worthwhile. It's there that he receives a transmission, relaying information that an Anubis shuttle docked on Eros. Swiping Julie's bracelet, he purchases a ticket to Eros, but not before Octavia (Athena Karkanis) pleads to go with him. It's really disappointing what they've done with Octavia's character, serving no other purpose than to make concerned, puppy dog looks at Miller every so often. Why bother including Octavia in this series at all? Her task in this episode was simply to confirm that Miller has indeed moved on from Octavia to Julie, unfortunately keeping the premise of his ridiculous crush intact.

Regardless of Miller's motivations, I'm glad that his storyline is finally starting to converge with the Rocinante crew. Part of the reason the Ceres plot was dragging from week to week was that it had little to do with the main action taking place on the Rocinante. Political intrigue aside, Julie Mao remains an enigma, and because we know so little about her or Miller, it's hard to maintain interest. But with Miller and the Rocinante on the same trajectory, and Chrisjen on honing in on Holden, all these separate threads are finally starting to meet in the middle. The secrets of The Expanse are on the verge of spilling out, and it's about time.

Other Thoughts:

I thought for sure the title of this episode was going to be "Donkey Balls". More goofy Alex (Cas Anvar), please?

For all the high-tech gadgetry in the future, I was a little surprised to see the secret Martian code words printed on paper.

The Cervantes allusions keep on coming. Holden liked to think of himself as a knight when he was a child, and his farm collective even includes towering windmills (really cool-looking futuristic windmills, I might add). Are we on our way to seeing Holden wielding a sword?

The man recording Holden from last episode turned out to be Chrisjen's spy on Tycho, and Elias Toufexis is doing an excellent job at portraying the skeevy and duplicitous snoop. I have to wonder if his plea for mercy from Holden was sincere or a manipulative play on Holden’s emotions.

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