'The Expanse' Season 3: Errinwright Shows His Hand in 'Assured Destruction'

The Expanse has been deliberately vague about the politics between Earth and Mars. The writers don't underestimate the intelligence of audiences, and it's one of the reasons the series is so addicting. That said, the exposition in tonight's episode, "Assured Destruction," is much appreciated.

The Expanse season 3 episode 3 assured destruction recap spoilers
Caution: 'Expanse' spoilers ahead. SyFy / Rocco

The characters we're best acquainted with on The Expanse know the war between Earth and Mars is based on a lie. U.N. Deputy Secretary Errinwright is using the protomolecule as an excuse to wage war. But Avasarala tells Holden, once she's safely aboard the Pinus Contorta (formerly Rocinante), she believes she can contain the protomolecule and make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Unbeknownst to her, Holden and the crew have tried, and failed, to do just that.

Avasarala's spy, Cotyar, is captured aboard the United Nation Navy's Agatha King and is questioned by the shady Admiral Augusto Nguyen. Cotyar doesn't say a word to Nguyen, but knows he can trust Admiral Souther, an ally of Avasarala. He tells Souther that Avasarala has proof of Errinwright's collusion with the arms dealer Mao. Cotyar explains that Avasarala was on Mao's yacht, the Guanshiyin, to make a secret deal to bring Mao to Earth. In exchange for immunity, Mao was going to testify that he and Errinwright had been developing the protomolecule into a weapon. Mao would then turn over all protomolecule research data to the U.N. instead of the Martians. But Errinwright turned the tables to protect his own agenda, which appears to be eventually taking Esteban Sorrento-Gillis's place as Secretary General to become the hero of the new world in the face of new extraterrestrial threats.

Avasarala explains the specifics of what's going down on Earth to the Contorta crew. Errinwright commissioned Jules Pierre Mao to manufacture protomolecule hybrid soldiers. Avasarala believies Errinwright intends to use the hybrids to lay waste to Mars. However, this most recent episode makes us question the extent of Errinwright's agenda. Errinwright is in the Secretary General's ear. Sorrento-Gillis did not move forward on an opportunity to strike Mars, but Errinwright is able to persuade him to believe that was the moment to write his legacy. It's clear Errinwright is preparing for the day where Mars becomes a power that rivals Earth. "Leaders are remembered for how they move civilizations forward. This isn't about defeating Mars. It's about what's happening on Venus. Eros proved that nobody on this planet is safe anymore and we need to end this because we don't know who or what our next enemy is. What if there is another Eros? One that we can't stop. If you end this war, you will be remembered as the man who united humanity in the face of first contact."

the expanse season 3 errinwright asusred destruction
Jules-Pierre Mao, Admiral Souther, Sadavir Errinwright and Chrisjen Avasarala in a previous season of 'The Expanse.' SyFy

Errinwrigtht's power of persuasion worked again, and by episode's end the Secretary-General agreed to fire missiles to destroy the MCR's first strike capability. The plan backfires (depending on who you ask). Mars got one off before their five huge stations were destroyed. The Martian nuke hit South America and is expected to kill 2 million people. This will certainly be a test of conscience for our new character on Earth, Anna Volovodov, the speech writer who is slowly but surely trying to help Sorrento-Gillis see that war is not the answer.

"Assured Destruction" dragged the political tension from Earth and Mars to the Pinus Contorta. It's a ship full of different agendas and perspectives, especially now that Bobbie Draper and Avasarala are on board. What's going to happen when the ship arrives in Io? Avasarala suggested blowing up the planet altogether to stop the spread of the protomolecule, but that was before she learned Naomi gave Fred Johnson and the Outer Planets Alliance a sample. Avasarala's final conversation with Naomi proves her goal is still, at the very least, to find a sample for Earth or, better yet, strike a deal with Mao. The situation is only going to intensify in the next episode. The Agatha King is on its way to Io to pick up Mao's protomolecule project and the Pinus Contorta is headed to Io to rescue the children used in the protomolecule experiments. Collision is inevitable.

Any theories about what's going to happen on Io? Let us know in the comments.