DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Expanse episode “Guagamela” is laden with spoilers. Seriously, this week’s outing is bonkers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, Beltalowda! The Expanse is firing on all cylinders this go-round with the explosive (literally) “Guagamela.” My mind hath been blown, folks. I can’t count how many times I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. This show never ceases to surprise me. Full disclosure: I haven’t read the books (please don’t hate me). Therefore, everything that unfurled in this week’s episode has left me reeling. Fred Johnson’s murder at the hands of his own worker! Nancy Gao’s plane going down! Marco and Naomi’s reunion! The last remnants of protomolecule ending up in Marco’s possession! Holy motherforking shirtballs. Every scene is beautifully concocted by the Powers That Be. All hail the kings and queens of sci-fi. This episode is truly a masterpiece.
Ready to delve into “Guagamela”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with the Razorback speeding between the Belt and Mars. Bobbie (Frankie Adams) and Alex (Cas Anvar) are trailing behind Lt. Babbage and her supposed “supply run.” Bobbie is skeptical and truly believes Babbage is embroiled in some black market stuff, handing off vital Martian stealth tech to Marco Inaros. Suddenly, they receive an emergency alert from the UN, informing them that there may be delays in travel due to an asteroid crash-landing into Earth. You know, the one Marco sent eons ago.
Meanwhile, Amos (Wes Chatham) is still on Earth. He’s at the UN Penitentiary paying a certain someone a visit whose nickname is a juicy fruit. Yes, Peaches. Amos is escorted to the bottom level, wherein they house inmates with body modifications like Peaches/Clarissa. Amos notes that there are more bodyguards than inmates. Those body mods can get pretty rowdy.
He finally reaches Clarissa’s (Nadine Nicole) meager holding cell. Apparently, she’s on blockers that completely inhibit her modifications. No more Hulk-ing out for her! They also appear to drain her energy. She recounts her day-to-day, which definitely puts a damper on things. It’s worth noting that Nicole is breathtaking in this scene. Her sheer vulnerability and nuanced rawness are mesmerizing. Amos clearly wants to help Clarissa, since he understands that the world can knock you on your ass from time to time. However, Clarissa asserts that nobody can help her. Then, the penitentiary goes into lockdown due to the colliding asteroid. Guess someone’s stuck there! Ugh, lockdown. Too soon.
Later, we see Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) is on Luna and attempting to contact Secretary-General Gao. Delgado (Michael Irby) reveals that a second asteroid has made impact northwest of Philadelphia. Now, they’ve lost all contact with New York, which is where the UN headquarters are located. Fortunately, Sec-Gen Gao was at a conference in Asia, but because of the attacks is now airborne in her opulent plane. Unfortunately, everyone aboard said plane is blocking Avasarala and Delgado’s incessant calls.
Finally, after surreptitiously convincing a chef on the plane to reach out to the Sec-Gen (Lily Gao), Avasarala gets through. She reveals that Marco Inaros is behind the attacks and that he’s utilizing Martian stealth tech to make the asteroids undetectable. She’s unsure how many more are coming. Additionally, Avasarala urges Gao to enact the watchtowers again, so they can try to preemptively catch/destroy any more asteroids that may hurtle toward Earth. Gao agrees and demands her associates ready the watchtowers.
But the blast from one of the asteroids knocks Gao’s plane out of the sky. So, there goes the bulk of Earth’s leaders. It wouldn’t be The Expanse without some bloodshed and surprise deaths.
Meanwhile, on Tycho, Holden (Steven Strait) and Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) are waiting for Zmeya to arrive so they can ambush it. Bull (José Zúñiga) is waiting inside the shipping container in which Monica (Anna Hopkins) was supposed to remain. Zmeya approaches, but instead of awaiting further instructions, the ship opens fire on Tycho. Suddenly, Sakai (Bahia Watson), one of Johnson’s workers, shoots Johnson and flees the scene. Zmeya continues to fire on the station. While Johnson bleeds out, he reveals to Holden that his protomolecule sample is in his quarters. We see that Sakai isn’t alone, and two other Belters join her in betraying Johnson.
Then, we see Monica is within Johnson’s quarters. A massive red spider-like machine saunters forward, clearly on the hunt for the protomolecule. It looks like Doc Ock’s cousin. Monica and Sakai trade punches while Holden tries to shoot the spider-octopus-machine. However, said machine finds Johnson’s protomolecule sample. It flees. Now, there’s a gaping hole in the wall that opens up into space. Monica pulls Holden inside before a massive door slams shut. Sakai is the only one of her friends left. Holden gruffly tells her that she’s going to help them track down that protomolecule sample. Side note: Monica is a total badass in this scene. She holds her own against Sakai.
Johnson dies from his gunshot wounds. RIP Fred Johnson. You were alright. Why does Chad L. Coleman die in everything?
Later, Avasarala is in her office, trying to grapple with the chaos unfolding around her. Delgado drops in and apologizes for not acting on the situation when she did. Additionally, he informs her that it’s unclear who Gao’s successor will be. I want it to be Avasarala. She deserves it. He ushers her into the bar, where “misery loves company.” They observe along with the bar patrons as the watchtowers catch and decimate an asteroid before it strikes Earth. Success! Avasarala’s plan worked.
Meanwhile, Naomi (Dominique Tipper) is being held prisoner on her son Filip’s (Jasai Chase Owens) ship. That is until we learn that it’s merely a waystation to something larger: Daddy Marco Inaro’s vessel. Now, it’s family reunion time!
Everyone is aboard Marco’s ship. Naomi and Marco (Keon Alexander) reunite for the first time in years. It’s not fun for Naomi. Marco believes Naomi’s self-centered while he’s apparently Father of the Year. Parenthood has transformed his perspective on life! Now he incites war with his son instead of doing it solo! Marco also believes that Filip needs a mother’s love. Hence why Naomi will be kept prisoner on his ship. Reunited and it feels so good!
Then, Marco reveals the newscasts broadcasting from Earth regarding the multiple asteroid hits. She learns that it was his doing and she’s appalled. Millions of innocent people have died. And now, that blood is on Filip’s hands too. Filip escorts Naomi to her quarters, which is essentially a small, drab cell. When he leaves, she bursts into tears. God, Tipper is so damn good.
Now, Marco is preparing a broadcast of his own. He takes responsibility for the attacks on Earth and Mars (yes, apparently the MCRN was attacked), and styles himself “Commander of the Free Navy.” Additionally, he addresses the Inners and takes a stand for Belters. Belters are not to be trifled with. They’re just as vital to the universe as Inners. Marco acknowledges Earth and Mars’ right to exist, but not beyond their respective atmospheres. Everything outside those two planets, including the Ring Gate and subsequent rings within, belongs to the Belt. Marco also drops this bombshell: he has the last sample of the protomolecule, which proves that Sakai and her lackeys are working for him.
We see everyone is enthralled by Marco’s speech. Avasarala and Delgado are watching it. Bobbie and Alex are watching inside the Razorback. Holden is also tuning in on Tycho. It’s a universe-wide affair!
Marco reveals that the next move will be on the Inners and whether they can accept the Belt’s standing. It’s a moving, but dangerous, presentation.
This show is, to put it simply, spectacular. The Expanse really amps up the stakes with “Guagamela.” Not to mention, the women deliver top-notch performances, notably Nicole and Tipper. Alexander proves to be viciously charismatic as Marco Inaros. On a materialistic note, he’s very attractive, which makes me hate him less. Damn his good looks. Anyway, this episode plays out like a sprawling space opera, and the scenes feel well-placed. Not a single throwaway scene in this installment, as far as I’m concerned. Clinton Shorter truly outdid himself in the music arena, with the score complementing Marco’s speech at the end to perfection.
Who do you think will succeed Sec-Gen Gao? How will Drummer react to Fred Johnson’s death, and will this force her to get involved again? Will Holden’s mission to retrieve the protomolecule sample lead him to Marco and Naomi? Join me next week as I recap The Expanse, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Expanse airs new episodes Wednesdays on Amazon Prime.