Fans of SyFy’s The Expanse got some bad news just after the third season’s fifth episode named “Triple Point” aired. This will be the dystopian space epic’s last season. With viewership down a bigwig-startling 29% since its first season, nervous belta-loda executives called it. According to Hollywood Reporter, Syfy only owns the rights to the first-run linear episodes in the US, so the ratings drop was serious business indeed.
Whatever the deciding factor was, some fans claim that it was the show’s critical take on the current state of politics, we’ve only got three more episodes before the series finale, so let’s get on with the reviews.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 5: “Triple Point” – “From downtown!!”
“Triple Point” here refers to the science of thermodynamics. A triple point is, according to wikipedia, the temperature and pressure where three phases of a substance — ie. solid, liquid, and gas — exist in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium. The term was coined by Lord Kelvin’s brother James Thomson — family dinners must have been confusing.
It’s difficult to say what this bit of thermodynamics refers to thematically within this episode, but I’d guess it’s a reference to the three-way battle for solar supremacy among the Belters, the Earthers, and the Martians. Or, maybe it’s a reference to the protomolecule’s mysterious “work.” Both? Neither?
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 5: “Triple Point” – What Happens on Io Stays on Io
Just about everyone who has a spaceship is on their way to Io to either nuke it or steal protomolecule. Jules-Pierre Mao is already there, but Doctor Strickland and his highly unethical experiment has hit a snag. Their prime subject Katoa, who appears to have been artificially aged by his captors, manages some broken conversation about the work. Mao presses him for more information, but it doesn’t go well. Katoa starts beating the inside of his case, and he eventually cracks it. Dr. Strickland escorts Mao out of the room, and manages to stabilize the glowing teen just in time.
Strickland tells Mao that Katoa has changed too much: they won’t be able to talk to him again. Mao, obsessed with learning what’s happening on Venus, demands that the tests continue. Strickland advises that the next best candidate is Prax’s daughter Mei who Mao developed a bond with in a previous episode. Showing his true colours pretty plainly, Mao makes the order, and they strap Mei to the table.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 5: “Triple Point” – “Who is naming these ships?”
Aboard the MCRN Hammurabi we see one of the young Martian sailors that Holden saved in “Reload” delivering Avasarala’s message, which identifies Undersecretary Errinwright as a traitor, to his commanding officer. The captain, and her XO — who appears to be a cylon, by the way — believe that the message is a trick. The captain advises against acting on the information, and refuses to send it to Admiral Souther of the UNN. Instead, she scans the area and finds that Souther’s ship, the UNN Agatha King, is currently en route to Io.
Let’s not forget, though, that Holden and his motley crew are also headed to Io. Unlike the Agatha King and the Hammurabi, though, the Pinus Contorta is approaching on a hidden trajectory.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 5: “Triple Point” – Oh! Baby…
Aboard the Pinus Contorta, Amos seems to be having doubts about the training he has been providing for Prax who says he’s ready to kill whatever’s left of his own daughter to keep the protomolecule from spreading. Avasarala, never one to miss an opportunity, tries to convince Holden to allow her to bring the protomolecule back to Earth should they find any on Io.
Alex receives a heartfelt message from his son who tells him he understands why Alex had to leave and protect Mars, but the real bombshell comes from Naomi who tells Holden the reason she gave the protomolecule to Fred Johnson. Turns out she was trying to even the odds for the Belters because she has an estranged son she couldn’t help but think of. Holden tells Naomi he’ll never agree with what she did, but he doesn’t fault her for doing it.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 5: “Triple Point” – “I figured, what the hell.”
It turns out that the captain of the Hammurabi did transmit Avasarala’s message to Admiral Souther, and he receives it not a moment too soon. Souther verifies the message by questioning Cotyar, still being held prisoner in the medical bay. Cotyar’s story matches that of the recording, and Souther tries to regain control of his CIC.
Holding Nguyen’s sailors at gunpoint, Souther delivers a message to both fleets: the war is built on a lie, and Nguyen is a co-conspirator. Souther can only able to get some of his message out, though, before Nguyen shoots and kills the honourable admiral. After the ensuing fire-fight, Nguyen orders his weapons officer to fire upon any deserting ships. Several sailors leave their posts in protest, but Nguyen opens fire on them himself, killing several of his own men.
The Expanse Season 3, Episode 5: “Triple Point” – “Have you noticed that Fleet Admiral Nguyen is a bit murdery lately?”
The captain of the Hammurabi sends a message to the Martian fleet advising them not to fire on the UNN vessels since they’re doing that for them. She then sends a message to the UNN fleet advising them that her ship can provide assistance to any in need.
Down on Io, we see Holden and his crew, along with Bobbie in her super-powered battle-suit, attempting to access the facility where Mei is about to be injected with protomolecule. The door is thick, but Draper’s suit is pretty fantastic. Unfortunately, while they’re attempting entry, a number of projectiles launch from the moon’s surface. At Nguyen’s instruction, Mao has launched the protomolecule hybrids into space. That ain’t good.