Thursday, December 17, 2020

Expanding, Big and Small

The new season of The Expanse premiered last night on Amazon Prime with three episodes and I watched the first one. For a season premiere, it has a pretty subdued tone. Most of it involved Amos and Alex as they return home--Amos to Earth and Alex to Mars. It was a good episode with solid writing from Naren Shankar.

The new season premieres amid some bad press. Cas Anvar, who plays Alex, won't be back for season six due to an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment. No news story has said he was convicted of anything. One story links to a Reddit thread as though it contains all the evidence we need but all the quotes from named cast and crew are very litigation-conscious variations of "We take these allegations seriously" and quotes from accusers come with no direct evidence. Many of the claims of harassment hinge on interpretations of texts and tweets.

Maybe he is guilty, I don't know. I saw him in person a few times at Comic Con and was always surprised by how accessible he was for someone on a currently popular show. I used to see him in an autograph booth upstairs in an area normally occupied by stars of shows that ended at least ten years ago or bit players from a crowd scene in a Conan movie. That kind of accessibility could make him vulnerable to opportunists who could easily provide a context for their allegations but maybe it was a sign he was a predator on the prowl. I won't pretend to know.

He was always one of the best actors on the show, one of the very few decent ones from season one. The new premiere shows it, too. After confronting his estranged wife he gets grilled by Bobbie (Frankie Adams) for his persistently positive attitude. A thread throughout his subplot in this episode are signs of an economic change on Mars, culminating in him pondering a series of vacancy and "Going Out of Business" signs.

This struck a cord with me, as did his wife matter-of-factly telling him how her rent had gotten too high for her to continue living in her previous apartment. That's the California I know. That's how it was when I left, which must have been not long after the fifth season of The Expanse wrapped filming. After so many years of people in the media pretending like it wasn't happening, it's nice to see it acknowledged.

Meanwhile, Amos has a nice fight sequence, beating a few thugs trying to shake down passengers on a transport. Then he shares a scene with Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) in which they have this memorable exchange:

AMOS: You and I have very different life experiences, Prissy.

AVASARALA: Don't call me that. I'm a Member of Parliament, not your favourite stripper.

AMOS: You could be both.

Is he really flirting with her? Considering the recap reminded us she's broken up with her husband, could she actually have a relationship with Amos this season? I'd certainly like to see it, despite Avasarala's outfit in the premiere falling well short of her usual standard. Hopefully her wardrobe improves over the course of the season.

Twitter Sonnet #

On storage lists the mammals make a home.
Collected seeds deny the soil pines.
From verdant needles, cones discreetly roam.
The evergreens forever clog the lines.
Forgotten albums sound the pocket bell.
The speakers broke to fish for diamond gills.
We wandered aft to drain the cabin's hell.
The varied clams were hiding mollusc wills.
The optic ears were shifting round the head.
The darkness spot a nose and eyes became.
For Mickey's buttons white attached to red.
The tiny beast expands as Mouse was named.
The bigger show contracts against the mind.
The sketchy cloud endorsed the melon rind.

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