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The Expanse Wiki

Subduction is the third episode of the fourth season of The Expanse. Overall, it is the thirty-ninth episode. It released to streaming on December 13, 2019 as part of Amazon Prime streaming's full-season release strategy with season 4.


New alien threats emerge on Ilus as Naomi battles health challenges on the planet. Bobbie searches for a missing person on Mars. Avasarala faces a new challenge in the UN.


Lightning storm[]

The episode begins immediately after Murtry's murder of Coop, with Scotty asking Murtry "who you pashang think you is?". A standoff ensues at First Landing between the Belter settlers and the RCE security guards, who all point guns at each other. Amos is there, staring intently at a cold and detached Murtry, when Holden and Naomi call him to warn him that the lightning that started at the Protomolecule structure is about to hit the settlement. The lightning strike causes a power outage and scares the people gathered, dispersing the standoff as everyone dives for cover.

Amos informs the rest of the crew about Murtry's actions, and that the RCE's power generators are still functional, while the Belters are left without power. Holden and Alex decide to stay close to the protomolecule structure, instructing Amos to keep an eye on the situation at the settlement. Meanwhile, Chandra asks Murtry what they should do, and he orders that they will secure their own equipment and that no one will lift a finger to help the Belters.

Back at the structure, Holden surmises that The Investigator could have warned him about the possible harm to the settlement but chose not to, and concludes that he can't trust him anymore.

Naomi is preparing to leave the Rocinante and help the Belters, but she has a hard time breathing and the gravity drugs aren't taking effect on her. She decides to go despite this.[1]

Okoye pieces something together[]

Dr. Okoye stares at Coop's dead body in shock, and storms back to her laboratory. She has a video call with Dr. Sarkis, who is in orbit on the Edward Israel, and while he is fascinated by the strange lightning phenomenon caused by the tower, Okoye is very disturbed by Murtry's murder of a settler, and Sarkis puts the science data aside so they can discuss it. He encourages her to come back to the ship with the next shuttle, but she refuses, citing that they've come a long way and she stayed on the surface for a reason. They focus back on the science, and Sarkis informs her that the lightning originated at the structure that she and Holden had visited. She calls Holden and is surprised to find that he's already there, and, despite his protests, tells him to wait for her to get there.[2]

Chrisjen heads for Mars[]

While on the UN One heading back to Earth, Avasarala watches a news interview of Nancy Gao, who calls Avasarala's strategy outdated and intends to run against her for the position of Secretary General, on a platform supporting opening the Ring Network and freeing up the new worlds to colonization. Avasarala is very angry at Gao, telling her husband Arjun that she sounds like a prom queen and not like a politician. Arjun is trying to keep Avasarala on track, advising her to pick a campaign manager and to not underestimate Gao, who is prepared and currently has less responsibility than Avasarala herself. She replies that she is looking forward to having a nice, clean battle for once, where she knows who her real enemy is.

On Mars, Bobbie is trying to get ahold of her nephew David but he isn't picking up. Her brother Ben brushes it off as David being with his girlfriend, but Bobbie is suspicious. David eventually calls Bobbie and tells her that some people stopped him on his way back from school and demanded that Bobbie meet them at a specific location. She arrives there to find Leelee and the leader of the drug dealing operation, Esai Martin, who informs Bobbie that he abducted David and is forcing him to work full-time to pay off the damages that Bobbie caused to the lab. He agrees to release David on the condition that Bobbie helps him steal military equipment from her workplace on the docks.[3]

Amos goes parts shopping[]

A panting Naomi finds Amos in the settlement, who is trying to repair the old and damaged Belter power generator. She is upset at the RCE personnel for not doing anything to help. Amos replies that it's clear the battle lines have been drawn. Naomi joins Amos in repairing the machinery.

In her clinic, Lucia treats a young boy, Chike, who has an eye infection. While helping Jakob and Felcia repair the clinic's generator, Naomi is introduced to Lucia. Felcia admires Naomi, who has studied in university and is a renowned engineer, and wants to leave Ilus to study, something that Lucia is opposed to. While Felcia hates Ilus and feels trapped, Lucia is adamant that they are a family and will have to stick together. After sending Felcia away, Lucia firmly tells Naomi that she appreciates her help but would rather she not encourage Felcia, as she belongs with her family.

Lucia is approached by Scotty, who tries to get her onboard with a retribution plan against Murtry, but she refuses and tells him to leave her out of it. Unbeknownst to both of them, Murtry is spying on them through a listening device.

Naomi continues to struggle with her body not adjusting to the gravity drugs, and she tries to hide her growing weakness from Amos, who needs a specific part to repair the generator that neither of them have. Seeing the crates full of supplies owned by the RCE, he walks over and takes one. He is confronted by a group of RCE security, who inform him that, despite the fact that they are not using the equipment, it has to stay there as per Murtry's orders. Amos starts a fight with the guards, and Chandra has to intervene to stop them from killing him. She lets him take the parts he needs, but warns him that Murtry is her boss and her job is to do what he says so she won't hesitate to shoot him if he keeps acting like that. He replies by asking if that means they are "not fucking anymore," which perplexes Chandra, but she ultimately says it doesn't mean that. Amos tells her, "See you later then." He abruptly leaves.[4]

Reporting a kidnapping[]

On Earth, Lieutenant Lipson is talking Avasarala through Holden's report on the lightning that came out of the protomolecule tower, but there is not much information yet. She sends him away, and as he leaves, Nancy Gao enters the room and hands in her resignation as Home Secretary. She tries to be cordial, but Avasarala interrupts her and accepts her resignation. She informs Gao of the new incident on Ilus, which Gao points out that the Earth has named New Terra, as Ilus is its Belter name. Avasarala retorts that the name is insignificant and what matters is that they have no understanding of what is happening there, but Gao stands her ground, asserting that colonization of the new planets is inevitable and humanity will deal with whatever problems arise as it has done throughout its history. Their disagreement continues until Gao says that she looks forward to having that debate in public, to which Avasarala replies, "So do I" before Gao walks out of the room.

Bobbie tries to report David's kidnapping to the police, but she is shocked when the detective who meets her turns out to be Esai Martin himself. He points out that he has high standing within the police, while Bobbie is a dishonorably discharged Marine and no one would believe her story about drug dealers and extortion. Bobbie doesn't trust Esai but, having no other choice, she tells him she doesn't plan to help him beyond their one time deal, threatens to kill him if he comes after her and her family again, and leaves.[5]

A shift in the air[]

Dr. Okoye meets Holden and Alex and shows them the Edward Israel's readings, which indicate that there is some form of underground structure below the path of the lightning strikes. She catches on that Holden knows a lot that he is not telling her, but he states that he is not at liberty to discuss it. They get a call from Sarkis, who informs them that the lightning stopped at another structure at the other side of the planet. Just then, the three of them feel an earthquake underneath, which puzzles Sarkis, as the planet is not supposed to have tectonic activity. He instructs them on how to place seismometer spikes in the wider area so that he can pinpoint the epicenter of the earthquake.

Amos fixes the power at the First Landing saloon, where Murtry is sitting by himself. He stops Amos to talk about how he attacked Murtry's people, and subtly threatens him and the Roci crew. Amos sits down at his table and tells him that he knows what kind of person Murtry is - a killer who makes excuses to justify murdering people. In truth, he does it because he enjoys it and he can't wait to do it again. He warns Murtry that, from one killer to another, he should stay away from Amos's people. Murtry says that he thinks he and Amos are going to end up bloody one day soon. Amos offers to do it right now, but Murtry gets up and leaves.[6]

Chrisjen finds dirt on Gao[]

Avasarala returns home with Arjun, lamenting that Earth and Mars are united for the first time in ages but now everyone just wants to get up and leave for the new systems. Arjun offers that maybe they should leave too, as they have saved the world once already, and the second time is bound to disappoint. The news show Avasarala with a 22% lead over Gao in polls, which doesn't satisfy her, though Arjun thinks it's a comfortable lead. She tells Arjun that, if people vote for Gao, they will be inviting another Eros Incident to happen. Her assistant walks in and shows Avasarala the information she requested: Nancy Gao's past. She grew up on basic assistance but worked her way to the top, and was top of her class, which Avasarala mocks as being stereotypical. The assistant keeps going, stating that Gao was added to the apprentice lottery on her first try, one week after she applied, which is impossible with Earth's overpopulation and vast unemployment, as some people wait decades to get in. Avasarala is shown a document that proves Gao cheated to get ahead, and orders her assistant to leak it discreetly as bait for the media. She mocks Gao, who keeps saying people deserve to know the truth, so they will give it to them.[7]

Tightbeam encryptors[]

Bobbie walks into the room whose door she is supposed to leave open for Esai, and inspects the crates, which hold communication encryption technology. She keeps going on her shift, leaving the doors unsecured as instructed. She stays on alert and identifies the people who come to pick up the equipment, finding that they have masked Belter tattoos around their necks. She then receives a text from Esai, who wants to talk to her. Bobbie takes a screwdriver from a nearby toolbox and decisively makes her way to the meeting point.[8]

Murtry questions Lucia[]

Murtry approaches Lucia, ostensibly asking her to adjust his leg brace. He keeps making underhanded jabs at her, implying that he knows she was involved in the RCE shuttle crash, but she avoids answering him and finishes the adjustments. Murtry doesn't leave, and approaches Lucia, saying that he doesn't want any more violence and just a peaceful resolution, and that he senses she feels the same. They are interrupted by the arrival of Naomi, who confronts Murtry about his hypocrisy and bloodthirst, his disregard for Belter lives and the fact he acts like he has the right to judge and execute others as if he's an undisputed authority. As she yells at Murtry, she begins to struggle with her breathing and collapses to the ground. While Lucia runs to aid Naomi, Murtry rolls his eyes and leaves.

Holden, Alex, and Dr. Okoye finish setting up the spikes, and are led by Dr. Sarkis to the origin of the earthquake. All four of them are shocked to see a tremendous dust cloud, formed by one of the towers which is spinning around itself and forming a 3 kilometer swathe through the ground around it as it moves at great speed towards an unknown destination.[9]

Bobbie meets Esai again[]

Bobbie covertly holds the screwdriver in the inside of her palm as she sits on the train next to Esai. She asks him where David is, but he replies that something has come up with his buyers, whom Bobbie indicates are Belters, probably OPA, and demands once more to know where David is. Much to her relief, David picks up when she calls him and confirms that he is home. She sits down and asks Esai why he didn't just tell her that he let David go, and he says that he was testing her to see how far he could push her before she shivved him. She doesn't want to see Esai again after the job is done, but he tries to convince Bobbie to work for him, pointing out that she works a thankless job where she tears down useful equipment, in a Mars whose dream of terraforming is obsolete now that there're new worlds to colonize, and that they could give the equipment to people who will use it for something better. Bobbie is unimpressed and points out he only wants to get rich. Esai leans towards Bobbie and earnestly points out that, after what Mars has done to her, she doesn't owe it anything. Bobbie insists that she is not a criminal, and Esai ponders that Mars will need a lot more people like Bobbie before leaving.[10]

Terrorist cell[]

Scotty meets with the other Belters who sabotaged the shuttle, planning to attack Murtry's forces and end the conflict for good. The other Belters ask him if Lucia will help, and Scotty says that she is with them, whether she thinks so or not.

Naomi wakes up in the clinic and tries to get up, but Lucia stops her and tells her to lie down. She tells a reluctant Naomi about her friends and fellow settlers whose bodies didn't respond to the gravity drugs, and who all subsequently died. She warns Naomi that she has to go back to orbit, or she will be dead soon. Naomi gets up and leaves.

Holden, Alex and Dr. Okoye are still watching over the advancing structure, which threatens to destroy the settlement if it is allowed to keep advancing. Alex advises Holden that it might be time to consult with the Investigator, but Holden is unable to reach him. He decides instead to blow it up, which upsets Dr. Okoye, who reasons that they have time to evacuate the settlement and shouldn't destroy such a unique piece of alien technology just because they don't understand it yet. Holden retorts that they can't take the risk as they don't know what the machine is capable of and, despite Dr. Okoye's protests, he fires the Roci's torpedoes on it and destroys it.

Murtry and his soldiers throw a gas grenade into the Belter conspirators' hiding place, forcing them to come out, where RCE security shoots them to death. As Scotty lays dying a slow and agonizing death, Murtry stares at him in prolonged silence, before telling him, "I hope that answers your question" and executing him.[11]



Guest Starring[]




  • In the chapter/scene titles (found using the X-Ray feature), "mars" was not capitalized, "Tightbeem" was spelled with an "e" instead of an "a", and "Murtry" was misspelled as "Multry" with an "l"


  1. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Lightning storm" [00:01:09])
  2. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Okoye pieces something together" [00:05:31])
  3. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Chrisjen heads for Mars" [00:07:47])
  4. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Amos goes parts shopping" [00:11:57])
  5. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Reporting a kidnapping" [00:18:49])
  6. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("A shift in the air" [00:22:41])
  7. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Chrisjen finds dirt on Gao" [00:26:27])
  8. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Tightbeam encryptors" [00:28:42])
  9. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Murtry questions Lucia" [00:33:04])
  10. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Bobbie meets Esai again" [00:37:01])
  11. Season 4, Episode 3: "Subduction" ("Terrorist cell" [00:38:57])

External links[]