The Expanse’s Canterbury Reference Ties Into Holden’s Episode 3 Decision
Season 6 of The Expanse calls back to its very first episode. This is both because of James Holden’s contentious choice and the great ship Canterbury. The third episode of Force Projection, The Expanse season 6, features a thrilling battle between the Rocinante and the Free Navy. Surprised, the Roci uses tactical maneuvering and precise railgun shots to defeat the Pella and its support vessels. Bobbie Draper’s sharpshooting skills won the day. James Holden decides to deactivate Bobbie’s nuclear missile when it comes time to destroy Marco Inaros’s leader and the flagship of the Free Navy.
Although simple mercy may have played a part in James Holden’s decision, it was largely due to Filip – Holden’s son and Roci engineer lover, Naomi Nagata – on the Pella. Holden, ever the bastion for morality, couldn’t help but kill Filip even if it meant letting the Sol’s most wanted man flee. Holden’s choice is obvious to everyone. However, his decision to take matters into his own hands will cause chaos among the Rocinante crew.
Holden’s nuclear scandal is inspired in part by James S.A. Corey’s sixth The Expanse novel Babylon’s Ashes – but also refers back to Steven Strait’s series debut. In The Expanse, Holden serves as the executive officer onboard private ice-hauler, The Canterbury. Holden is the executive officer aboard the private ice hauler, the Canterbury. The captain ignores a distress signal to ensure crew members return on time. However, Holden’s conscience gets the better of him and prompts him to sneakily wake up during sleep hours to respond to the distress call. This is the same scenario as Holden activating the Rocinante nuke in Expanse season 6. Both times, Holden made a controversial but morally sound call that his crew didn’t like. Both times, he decided on his crew members’ backs and did not immediately admit to making a contentious decision on their behalf.
It is no coincidence that Expanse episode 3 contains the topic of Canterbury. Amos and Bobbie both acknowledge that it has been a while since they last spoke to the Cant. The Explosive’s current timeline of Belter terrorists, Ring Gates, and Holden sparsely mentions the ship that Alex, Naomi, and Alex first met. Season 6’s brief mention brings back memories of The Expanse’s early years. It pushes the parallel between Holden’s secretly-aborted Missile and his secretly-answered distress calls to the forefront. As the final chapter of The Expanse opens, the Canterbury throwback succeeds in bringing the story back to its roots. It reminds me how far the story (and the Roci crew) have come since they began dragging ice from rock to rock.
Some might think Holden’s Canterbury trick from season 6 could be a way to show how little has changed since The Expanded started. Deactivating the missile shows how James Holden has maintained his core streak of morality despite all the alien-tinged adventures over the past six seasons. The Roci captain has grown tremendously over that period, accepting his leadership role, being more open to emotion, and accepting his place within the fabric of destiny. Holden’s determination to do the right things, even if it means upsetting his crewmates on the ship, has not changed.
The Expanse season 6 features a fierce dogfight between Marco Inaros and the Rocinante, but a departure from the books dilutes its punch. In The Expanse season 6, the main focus is on the ongoing conflict between Marco Inaros’ Free Nav and the many, many people that he has recently upset. Marco has a special hatred of the Rocinante, one of the ships aligned against him. The ship also contains his son’s estranged mom, Naomi Nagata. Her new boyfriend is the captain. He doesn’t need another invitation when an opportunity presents itself to ambush Rocinante in The Expanse episode 3 (“Force Projection”)
One of the greatest moments in Babylon’s Ashes – the book Season 6 is based upon – was the Rocinante vs. The Pella. This scene was probably the most anticipated of the Free Navy arc. Amazon’s space scrap is a great example of this. The CG visuals are stunning, with the Rocinante’s turn and shoot railgun tactics looking truly spectacular. The back-and-forth between opposing decks increases the tension. Holden’s dilemma about whether or not to destroy Pella feels well earned. However, The Expanse’s big fight is missing something – and that’s not just Marco’s dignity.
The events unfold almost the same way. Marco is ambushed, the Rocinante destroys Marco’s support vessels, Bobbie wins, Holden declines to kill, and Bobbie Draper wins. However, according to the records, Fred Johnson is escorted by the Rocinante to an OPA negotiation. Fred suffers a stroke after the conflict is over and the Roci win. Played by Chad Coleman, The Expanse’s live-action Fred Johnson died in season 5 when Marco’s spies took the Protomolecule. He was unable to attend his book series end in season 6.
The Expanse’s Rocinante vs. Pella scene misses Fred Johnson’s passing. Even though Rocinante won, it was a costly win. It adds a bittersweet touch to the victory and conveys the danger of interplanetary warfare better than Holden’s crew escaping unharmed. Although the action, drama, and tension are all flawlessly executed, Marco’s ambush lacks that emotional icing. Inaros’ reckless charging into battle made Fred’s book death seem less stupid. Marco’s book attack successfully removed one of his greatest threats from the board, even though it wasn’t his intention. The Explore season 6 – Marco and the Roci crew did not take anything from the confrontation – no matter how impressive it was to see the flying PDC bullets or deft dodges. Like Fred’s death, Babylon’sAshes’s landmark battle left an indelible mark on The Expande’s larger story. After the Rocinante-Pella disengages, there isn’t much of a shift in The Expanse’s landscape.
Chad Coleman’s Fred Johnson farewell to Fred Johnson in Season 5 was successful. It established the Free Navy early and allowed Alex Kamal to move on from the “high-g” storyline after Cas Anvar was accused of sexual misconduct. The Expanse had borrowed with one hand but needed to return with the other. Another post-battle tragedy replaced Fred’s final moments. Maybe The Expanse wouldn’t have been forced to kill Alex unannouncedly.