The Expanse: S1 Ep 9 Critical Mass

Whew! This season’s almost over! If you’ve been following me on the journey, you’ll notice that I moved as slowly as the show did. That’s a joke, so I hope you chuckled. Anyway, I’ll be finishing this just in time for y’all to get excited for Season 2 of SyFy’s most popular TV series.

If you’re watching On-Demand,  Ep 9 and Ep 10 are usually bundled into one long episode because the events flow together but for y’all, I’ll break it into two separate posts to keep things uniform.

Catching up…

S1 Ep 8 was called “Salvage.” In that episode, we had the deeply satisfying meeting of Miller, Holden, and the rest of Holden’s team on Eros Station. Chaos ensues as Miller helps Holden fend off a U.N. kill squad. It’s all topped off when our two main characters finally find Julie Mao.

Now, let’s tie Season 1 all up. Flashback to…

… the events that led Julie Mao to the hotel on Eros. We finally get some background and we, as an audience, can start to piece the clues together.

We’re taken back to Miller discussing his theories about Julie Mao’s disappearance and why The Canterbury and The Donnager were blown up with Olivia. This was the point that he realized Julie was part of something big.

(If you’re confused on which ship is which in the series, click here for a refresher)

We’re then further taken back 7 weeks to onboard The Scopuli with Julie Mao. The entire crew is made up of Belters and they’re planning to high-jack a cargo ship when the stealth ship, The Anubis, suddenly appears. The Anubis’ crew violently boards The Scopuli and kills everyone except Julie Mao. At a critical moment, we also overhear The Anubis crew say they’ve planted a homing beacon on The Scopuli to draw The Canterbury to it. We now know the destruction of The Canterbury was part of their mysterious plan.


Julie is kept in a cell. She’s able to send a distress signal using her code name: Lionel PolanskiWe also learn that she was on The Anubis when it attacked and destroyed The Canterbury way back in Episode 1.

After much time, Julie escapes her cell to find the ship is deserted and sees signs of a struggle. After further exploration, Julie is terrified to find the same creature is at The Anubis’ core reactor. It’s this creature that Holden and Naomi came across. But when Julie finds it, we’re led to believe she sees it in all its horror.

She retreats to The Anubis’ control room where she quickly records a message for Anderson Dawes explaining why she’s on The Anubis and what she’s found. It’s this message we later see Fred Johnson unscramble and listen to.

After sending the message Julie Mao hides The Anubis on the abandoned asteroid where Holden and crew later find it.

The flashback ends with Miller receiving the call from Inspector Semi, his friend on Eros Station, letting him know there’s a shuttle from The Anubis there.

From there, we follow Julie Mao’s arrival and retreat to her hiding place in the hotel. We also watch her health deteriorate and see her finally curl up to die in the spot where Holden and Miller find her. 

Back to The Expanse timeline, sort of…

From here, the show takes on an almost ‘Game of Thrones’ feel as we jump from scene to scene and setting to setting in order to tell the full story with all of the events happening at the same time. Try to keep up…

We’re zapped back to the present Miller’s and Holden’s reaction to finally finding Julie Mao.

They realize they need to leave quickly. As they get to the hotel lobby, they find Semi waiting for them. Semi can see Miller is stunned and want’s to know what’s going on. He tells them to get away while he handles things with the soon to arrive authorities. As they leave, they cross paths with a new crew of characters who ask to be shown to Julie Mao’s room. They say they’re from an organization called CPM. Semi has no idea who they are. They’re certainly not affiliated with any Eros authorities.

The CPM crew rushes to Julie’s room and quickly begins to conduct tests and take samples from her dead body. As we watch, we can see that whatever the crystalline substance on her body is, it’s important. As the scene ends, we see the lead scientist calling Julie Mao’s father. He tells him that he can take comfort in the fact that he was able to obtain a large sample of the “proto-molecule.” We now know Julie’s father knows what’s going on and is in on whatever cover-up is going on.


Outside the hotel, the crew is trying to figure out what to do next. They still don’t know whether they can trust Miller. They finally are able to pause in a dark alley where they try to figure out why they’re all looking for the same person.

While they recuperate, they feel a small quake followed by an announcement saying Eros Station has experienced a radiation breach. They learn a ship has blown up on the docks, trapping them on Eros. The crowds on the streets are ordered to immediately retreat to the Eros radiation shelters.

Miller. Holden.

As they watch, Miller and Holden notice something strange. The crowds are being violently corralled into the shelters. Suddenly, Miller spots the CPM scientist he saw entering the hotel. He decides to investigate. Holden runs off with him and we finally get to see what the dynamic between the two will be.

As they follow the scientist, Miller captures one of the guards escorting him and “questions” him. Holden doesn’t approve of Miller’s tactics but they find out the scientist’s name is Dresden.

They decide they want to see why the citizens are being shoved into the radiation shelters. They act like two of CPM’s guards to get past security and enter the nearest shelter. As they get in, they’re shocked at what they see. The citizens are actually being dosed with radiation. CPM has reversed the shelters.

And now Miller and Holden have been dosed, too.


Naomi. Alex. Amos.

Since Miller and Holden have run off on their own, Naomi, Alex, and Amos decide to head to The Rocinante so they can figure out an escape from Eros Station. They find the docks are heavily guarded. No one is being let in or out which is strange. Naomi figures out the ship being blow up on the docks wasn’t an accident, but a set-up. Outside the docks, the crowds start getting angry that they’re not being allowed to pass. Semi arrives just as the guards open fire on the crowds and orders them to stand down, to no avail.

Tycho Station and Fred Johnson.

While the chaos on Eros escalates, we learn Fred Johnson is recording an incendiary speech denying his involvement in the attacks on The Donnager. He lets the galaxy know that the Earth U.N. has sent troops to have him arrested, but he can show proof that he had nothing to do with the incident. He finishes by ominously warning of impending war, and that he believes the stealth ships behind the attacks were in fact built on Earth.

Earth. The United Nations. Avarasala.

On Earth, Avarasala has gone to her friend Frank’s (the Mars ambassador the killed himself) house under the pretenses of paying her respects to him and his widower. While she’s left alone for a moment, she quickly searches his desk, taking some of his personal files as she leaves.

As she flies home, she opens the files and is shocked to find blueprints and plans for the stealth gunships that destroyed The Donnager and The Canterbury.

Was Fred Johnson right after all?



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