By Dan Hamamura and Lord Castleton | TV | December 20, 2019 |
By Dan Hamamura and Lord Castleton | TV | December 20, 2019 |
[WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON 4 OF THE EXPANSE]
A while ago, Dan Hamamura and I reviewed the Perpetual Grace, LLC trailer on Epix. I think it will go down in history as one of the seminal pieces in the history of Epix-based online literature, and be taught in Intro to Epix 101 classes at the tertiary level for months to come.
Since then, I have invited Dan to write other pieces with me.
And he has politely refused.
Or rather, I haven’t been able to get a hold of him. Back in the day, when he was a wet-behind-the-ears Pajiba recruit, he’d call me up and get my grizzled, world-wise take on things.
“Hey Lord Castleton! It’s Dan Hamamura! The new kid! So I was wondering…”
And I’d pick up his call before the third ring, genial as can be. God, I answered so many questions for him back in those days. How do you format an internet post? Is is uncouth to break down a film by set pieces alone? What’s a comma? It was a lot of fun, and I really leaned into being Dan’s de facto mentor. I never had a little brother.
So you can imagine my surprise when, a few short months later, after breaking records with our Epix piece among the coveted 65-75 year old Epix-watching male demo, my phone suddenly stopped ringing.
I checked the Overlords Slack channel. Yep…there he was, in the center of the action, yukking it up like the belle of the ball. He would jump into the conversation and bring his own blend of wry humor and millennial charm and I felt proud. My boy was all growsed up. And so I did what you do when you’re not as socially adept as your would-be protégé. I emojied the shit out of his posts on Slack. Thumbs ups. Fingers pointing up in agreement. Rolling on the floor laughing teary eyed guys. You name it. I was as profanely adventurous with my emojis as the workplace would allow, stoking Dan’s fire as he threw comic heat on the Overlords like a man with the confidence of an eighteen inch ding-dong.
But I happened to notice that there weren’t many emojis in return. Not a ::joy::. Not a ::mind-blown::, not even a ::rock-on-horns:: one.
He’s busy, I concluded. He’s writing about politics now. Live tweeting. He’s a real go-getter. A real comer. Scribe in the house of rising.
So I reached out. I called at first and he didn’t answer. So I left kind of an awkward voicemail with some forced laughter, a few drawn out ummmms like I was trying to remember why I called because it was so not a big deal, and maybe I used the word ‘haberdasher’ to sound smart.
He never called back.
I gave it a week. Then I called back. Nada. VM. This time I just hung up.
Luckily I caught him at the produce section of his local Whole Foods. He was sizing up a zucchini like he was considering having sex with it, and I just pretended to accidentally bump into him.
“Hey! Hammer! Is that you?”
(He has a cool nickname. I do not.)
“It’s me Lord Castleton. From Pajiba. I put in a good word for you with Editor-in-Chief Dustin Rowles?”
“I know. I owe you a call.”
“No, no I’m just joking.”
“Right. Very funny.”
“Cool. So, yeah, actually…member when you and I wrote a piece a while back about an Epix show?”
“We were like…teammates? You and me? Our article was actually mentioned in Redbook magazine as ‘slightly better than having your perineum bleached.”
“Yeah, that was fun. Good job, us. Well, good to see you, man.”
“Oh I was-“
“I’m gonna head-“
“Oh but I was-“
“Huh? What’s that?”
“I was just thinking that The Expanse was coming back on soon and I was thinking maybe we could, y’know. Whip something up?”
(I made a motion like I was whisking eggs in a large bowl. I am terrible with humans. It may have looked kind of like a jerk-off motion which threw Dan a bit.)
“Like WHIPPIN’ EGGS, HOMBRE!”
“Oh yes. Eggs.”
Then Dan gave me sort of a look of polite disdain, like jelly dropped on a white shirt. He wasn’t mad at me, not at all, it was just a look of like “great, now I have to deal with this thing?” Someone walked past, catching the mismatched vibe and wondering what was going on and I nodded and said “hey, howyadoin?” Humiliating.
“I know. I always think Cashmere for some reason. Hey, I love the idea, but I’m a little busy at the moment. I’m launching the new Pajiba Podcast with Tori and Dustin and my plate is crazy full.”
A podcast. With Tori AND Dustin. That’s like Pajiba royalty! I mean, how? I’ve been slumming around the Pajiba patchouli ranch for years, taking my lumps, covering shows no one cares about, walking people’s dogs, offering to be the designated driver, and I never got to have a podcast or any other kind of cast. With Tori, no less. Tori exudes cool. Like, she has Kishibashi in her top 5 Spotify artists of the year! It’s like, amazing taste much? You don’t know what a catch she is as a friend. You go anywhere with Tori and it’s like being a billionaire. Great things happen to you. If you go to a party with Tori as your wingman, you get to take anyone home that night. Sting. Fan Bingbing. Florence Griffith-Joyner. Shaq. The guy that yells “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble.” Eleanor Roosevelt. You name it. And Dan is just chumming up with them? Jesus christ, no wonder he doesn’t take my calls.
“I gave Tori a ride in my car once. True story.”
“A pretty far ride and shit. Like 20 minutes.”
“Sooo…a podcast, huh. Cool. Cool. Y’know, if you like talkin’ and stuff or whatever.”
Dan looked at his watch. Quickly. Not to be rude, but he obviously had things to do. Duh. He has a podcast.
“Oh, man…I didn’t mean to hold you up or anything.” I stuttered. And this is what’s great about Dan, he recognized my awkwardness and that I’m what Jung would call ‘a broken idiot.’ And he sent out a lifeboat.
“Not at all, man,” he said, extending a hand to shake mine. Firm handshake. Like he walks around with kettlebells. Million dollar smile. “Tell you what…’The Expanse’ drops in December. If I can get ahead of my work a little, maybe we’ll write that review together.”
“WOW.” I thought. Dan Hamamura might write up ‘The Expanse’ with me. The Dan Hamamura. We’re back, baby!
“Okay cool!” I said. I may have jumped a little. I don’t remember. My head was light. This was gonna be off the chain.
But before I had a chance to say anything else, Dan patted me on the back and left with his zucchini. A zucchini he most certainly was not gonna have sex with. The only nice warm butt that zucchini was going in was nice warm butt-er in the frying pan.
Fast forward to this past weekend. I’m excited for ‘The Expanse’ to return, but mostly I’m just psyched to be with Dan again. Hangin. Dishin. Just like old times…that one time. After several calls and another ‘accidental’ meeting in a Coffee Bean and after I sent him an edible arrangement called the “Holiday Spectacular” which features like six pineapple stars on sticks for only $54.99, he finally did clear his busy schedule to write this with me, as long as I agreed to type it up and “do all the commas and such.”
Obviously, I agreed. Commas I can do. Apostrophes, too. I got all the punct.
What follows is the transcript of our conversation about Season 4 of The Expanse on Amazon Prime. Neither of us have read the books. We met at a cool sushi place that Dan picked out in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles. (Dan: it was actually Japantown, which is a completely different historically Japanese neighborhood in greater Los Angeles, but we did get sushi). He ordered for both of us because I don’t know sushi and my Japanese stops after ichi ni san shi. Then he popped raw fish into his mouth with chopsticks throughout the course of the conversation like nobody’s business. I spent most of the time stabbing pieces of salmon with a child’s fork I stole from another table. I cannot use chopsticks. Whatever latent Viking programming exists in my brain, it does not include eating with goddamn finger needles. My hands can’t do it. And I resent other Caucasians who can. The fastest way to get me to have a personal vendetta against you is to casually pick up a single piece of fried rice with chopsticks and pop it into your mouth in front of me. I will make it my life’s goal to both slash your tires and somehow hurt your credit rating.
The raw fish itself was a whole other bag of pain. I am not allergic to fish of any kind, but when I tried to put any type of sushi into my mouth my neck would immediately flare up on both sides like I had gills that were trying to explode out of my body and I would gag from my calves to my temples. Then my eyes would water and I’d spit the fish into my napkin and pretend like I was coughing. I am not a cultured man.
Dan Hamamura: Rough cold you got there, man.
Lord Cashmere: Yeah! Heh heh.
DH: Okay we should probably get rolling. I have a meeting with my agent at 3.
LC: Yeah and I have a meeting with Ric Ocasek at 4, so.
DH: Ric Ocasek just died, man.
LC: Oh yeah. Shit. Guess I better cancel that meeting.
LC: I have no idea why I said that name. Terrible of me. Jeez.
LC: Did you know he had 6 sons?
DH: I, uh…did not.
LC: So! The Expanse!
DH: The Expanse. Season 4. On Amazon.
LC: Hot diggity dawg!
DH: Whad’ya think?
LC: I think…..I think I messed up.
DH: What do you mean?
LC: I think I artificially built this show in my mind to be something it never was and likely never will be. I think that the series was a bit slow to get into in the beginning and I always wonder if Steven Strait is a leading man, but because of Drummer and Fred Thompson and Amos and Bobbie I fell in love with it. And Shohreh Aghdashloo’s Chrisjen Avasarala most of all. And Miller, sometimes, when he didn’t suck ass.
DH: That sounds…good?
LC: Yeah but then I decided it was one of my favorite shows because of the scientific realism and the rail guns and the episode where those ghost ships took out the Donnager. You member that shit?
DH: I member. Jean Yoon played the captain. She’s on Kim’s Convenience now.
LC: Yes! And there was political intrigue with Errinwright and there was life and death shit with the protomolecule and the search for Julie Mao and Jules-Pierre Mao and like all the other Maos.
DH: Yes, lots of Asians. More than most shows.
LC: For sure. How many shows can beat The Expanse in terms of number of Asian actors cast?
DH: Kim’s Convenience, Fresh Off The Boat, Into the Badlands, Wu Assassins, Warrior, aaaaand that’s pretty much it. It’s basically top 6 all time.
LC: Right. So what else? There was the shit on Ceres. And Ganymede. And the belt. And Naomi Nagata being a badass. And hidden missiles. And Mormons in space and kids turning into blue killing machines and Eros and the Cant getting blowed all to hell and there as just a lot, and it was great.
LC: And then! David Strathairn joined the cast! That was a watershed moment. That was like, oh! This show is has now become validated. It’s no longer just a cheesy SciFi channel show with Canadian soap opera actors. This is legit now!
DH: True. He’s awesome.
LC: How he talks belter? He’s so good at it.
DH: He’s amazing. Effortless.
LC: But I haaaaaate Belter. I don’t hate the belters. I hate the belterspeak. My god. It killed me this time. Sasa no good bossmang. Sasa no beratna, ke? Ugh, kill me. It’s like one eyelash away from being Gungan.
DH: Ha! I get that, but it doesn’t bother me.
LC: So anyway, you get Strathairn and then it’s like Miller and Juliette crash Eros onto Venus or whatever and whammo! The ring. A gate to countless worlds. The ultimate plot. You can go anywhere, be anyone, see everything. That’s how we end the season. It’s like HOLY SHIT THIS NEXT SEASON IS GONNA BE OFF THE CHAIN, YO!
DH: No one really says that anymore.
LC: Okay, this next season is gonna be BLASTERS, SON!
DH: That’s not a great look on you.
LC: The point is: we are primed for an explosion of coolness.
LC: And then the show is cancelled.
LC: It’s over. Finito. Done. We will never get to see said coolness. The Expanse is toast.
LC: And people like me, who had convinced themselves that this was a special show, a breakout show, a show you could love, lament that loss. We wring our hands and invoke the name of Firefly and we curse the donkeys in suits who loved PE and sucked at chemistry who never give sci-fi and fantasy a fair shake.
DH: I liked PE, but also chemistry.
LC: I loved PE. And I sucked at chemistry. But I’m not out there cancelling shows like Nero in the Colosseum on the motherfucking kalends of Junii, am I? No, some other asshole is. Someone who hates puppies and joy. They’re like “the hell with this show. I don’t care about the Ring. I never played Halo. I don’t care about imagination or an obscene amount of habitable worlds that are now a stone’s throw away. I want people to be sad.”
DH: You’re talking about promise here.
LC: Yes, Dan! I’m talking about promise! I’m talking about the dawn of a new day, which, in this miserable political nightmare climate, frankly, I could use. Just ask Andy Dufresne! We need hope. We need to know that if Holden and Alex and Amos and Naomi and whoever go through that ring, they’re going to make it to motherfuckin’ Zihuatanejo!
DH: Or die trying.
LC: Yes! Or die trying! But something. We need the something of possibility that the Ring stands for.
DH: Have I told you about Lodge 49 yet? Because I really think you’d—
LC: No no no. You’re not gonna pitch me Lodge 49 again. I’ve heard this jingle.
DH: Sorry. So anyway: it got cancelled.
LC: Exactly. Cancelled. And people like me were distraught. Bad guys win again. But then, in this age of content resurrection, someone floats the idea of Amazon and some people pay to fly a plane over Amazon headquarters! You remember that? You remember what it said?
DH: SAVE THE EXPANSE
LC: YOU DAMN RIGHT IT DID, HAMMER! And from the shores of the river Styx itself, literally handing a coin to Charon, it’s brought back from the dead. And instead of being parked at an eency weency specialty network now it’s got the big bucks behind it! Now it’s got juice baby!
DH: Now they can really afford to hit that Ring.
LC: Damn right they can! It’s gonna be off-
DH: Don’t say off the chain again.
LC: It’s going to be a spectacle. Appointment TV. We’re going to see everything we ever wanted and we’re going to witness actual escapism in a stagnant world where one eighty year old, compromised foreskin weevil from hell can just stop the entire government.
DH: But The Expanse…
LC: That’s just it, Dan. You thought the Belt was ‘The Expanse’? You thought goddamn Tycho Station was ‘The Expanse’? Well, hold on to your britches, bitches, because this universe ‘bout to open wide!
LC: The point is, it’s gonna be big.
DH: And then?
LC: And then…it’s like, I finished the whole season in like two nights and I’m like, what did I even watch?
DH: So you didn’t like it?
LC: No, I did, I did. It’s The Expanse, after all. I have an MCRN shirt. I have a Chrisjen Avasarala 2020 Bumper sticker. But… it started out a little slow.
LC: Which is fine. We’re not children. We don’t need explosions every six minutes. But yeah, I feel like for the first three or four episodes, I was like, okay, when are we getting to the good shit?
DH: I felt that way a bit, as well. Without Errinwright on Earth, or at least a recognizable character to serve as a foil to Avasarala, the election subplot was pretty tepid. I get that they’re trying to show Chrisjen’s character when things aren’t going so well, but I don’t know.
LC: I liked her opponent. What’s not to like? She tendered her resignation appropriately. She was polite. In the debate she redirected the attack about her jumping the line and made it about Chrisjen? Hell, she’s got my vote! What’s not to like? She’s principled, young, beautiful and articulate. I’d give a kidney to see someone like that running ‘Murica.
DH: I liked her too. Maybe that was intentional? Trying to make us question why we’re on Chrisjen’s side, other than that we like her already and she’s main cast? Like a double feint?
LC: Which is also like no feint at all if you don’t bite at either one.
DH: You’re sure you liked the show?
LC: Yes! There was a lot of good stuff in there.
DH: Like what? Do you like Naomi Nagata’s new hairdo?
LC: Crap, no. I noticed that we don’t have any cool sci-fi hairdos this season. Kind of a bummer.
DH: You like that sci-fi hair. What about the Bobbie subplot, on Mars? Did you like that?
LC: Oh, lord no. No no no no no. Hated it. Hated that she got churned through the system and was still loyal to Mars. Hated that after she realized Mars ‘has changed’ that she just lifted her new ethos from a corrupt cop. Talk about soap opera acting.
DH: I liked him.
LC: He was fine. But that’s all. Everyone on Mars was just fine. The nephew was fine. The fake girlfriend drug dealer was fine. The cop was fine. The ex military goon was fine. It was just blah and whatever and fine. And I don’t buy the reasoning. The Ring appears so they just completely stop terraforming Mars overnight? Like, fuck this? Planet = Over? That seems a bit far fetched.
DH: I took it as a shorthand way to explain that they’ve discovered that everything they’ve worked for was no longer necessary, and that kind of freedom (in addition to the fact that they’re not suddenly on the brink of war) was jarring to such a socialistic society.
LC: I guess. It’s just the same problem as Earth. You strand Bobbie alone with no one we know and now we have to intro new characters that we may or may not care about. Ditto for Crisjen. She’s alone on Earth with no one we know. Same thing. At least when they got together in like episode five or so I’m like THANK GOD! And then they sent them apart again. Terrible choice. Jesus. Terrible.
DH: You really sound like you didn’t enjoy this season.
LC: Of course I did! It’s The Expanse! I have one of those loot crate models of the Rocinante on my shelf right this second! But then, what was this whole season about? New Terra. Ilus if you’re nasty. If you break the whole thing down to its lowest common denominator, this was an entire season about a territorial dispute for a tiny, postage stamp patch of dirt with refugees and terrorists on one side and corporate goons on the other. Sign. Me. Up. Local Corporate Low End Border War is just the Amazon moneybags thunderfuck show I dreamed of.
DH: But how that plays out will have repercussions for how every one of those thousand other habitable planets are colonized.
LC: Ooooooh. Space precedents are so sexy. Thinking about Murtry fighting for the rights of corporations makes me so hot. It’s like Citizens United with guns. My urethra can only take so much.
DH: There were gunfights. I mean, sorta. The opposing sides were squared off behind Yeti coolers like nine feet from each other. But they might have had shootouts. If the tsunami hadn’t hit.
LC: The tsunami. That was a color-by-numbers plot robot. Oooh we’re about to fight but then an island on the other side of the world blows up for god knows what reason and now a real big wave is coming! Run to the ruins everyone! Wave a’comin!
DH: I mean…
LC: And what was the most exciting part of that entire, global extinction event phenomenon, Hammer? A wave the size of Greenland is destroying everything on the planet! What was the scene that they put the dramatic music behind?
LC: What’s that? Speak up a bit?
DH: When he couldn’t get the door thing to work.
LC: WHEN. HE. COULDN’T. GET. THE. DOOR. THING. TO. WORK. Pull, you bastards! We gotta close this door thing or we’re all gonna dieeeeeee! The door! The doooooor!
DH: But you said you like the scientific realism of the show. What feels more real than a need to generate proper mechanical leverage while a tidal wave is coming at you at 200 miles an hour?
LC: I don’t know? Not that? Sorry. Pythagoras be damned.
DH: You just want more pew pew.
LC: That’s 100% true. If they were lifting the door while aliens were charging them? Hell yes.
DH: That’s not the show’s fault. That’s your fault.
LC: This is what I’m admitting. I love The Expanse. This is a me problem. Because I haven’t read the books, I came into this season expecting…more. Don’t get me wrong, slugs that secrete neurotoxins and flies in your eyes a la Orr in Catch-22 are borderline masturbatory they’re such erotic plot points.
DH: Stop it.
LC: But I expected the dam to break. I expected the gold rush through the ring. Belters and Inners racing to claim everything. Chaos. Open warfare. All bets off. I didn’t expect to see Bobbie eating goddamn TV dinners and Drummer being a space motel middle manager and the big reveal is that some unknown nobody called Marco Inaros with amazing Menudo hair has shot stealth-tech rocks at Earth. HOLY SHIT! NOT INVISOROCKS!
DH: They’re made of Iron, actually. Ferrous. FE if you actually paid attention in chemistry class.
LC: I did not.
DH: And when they hit, maybe they make earth uninhabitable. Maybe instead of making the flight through the ring a money grab, maybe it’s literally the survival of the species.
LC: If Marco Inaros just killed earth, I’m seriously gonna wring his neck. That’s some nearsighted boolshit.
DH: And now they will really have to survive…
LC: Uh oh. Here it comes.
DH: The Expanse!
LC: Boy, it makes you really appreciate the only planet we’ve ever seen in the trillions and trillions of solar systems with the perfect habitable ecosystem for human life, huh? Makes you think maybe that might be worth taking a look at.
DH: Why would we do that when we have cool shit like Deepfakes and Hot Pockets and Kanye’s Operas and Lindsey Graham?
LC: Solid point. I just hope next season I don’t have to see that generic bad guy #4 Murfry Brood guy again. Or Murtry whatever. Goddamn that dude is the worst.
DH: The worst actor?
LC: No, he’s fine. He’s just the most generic bad guy. He had one scene where he was talking about his 1% stake and he was a human for thirty seconds, but the rest of the time he was just a mustache twisting bad guy. Like just cast Snidely Whiplash next time for chrissake.
DH: I don’t know who that is.
LC: The arch-enemy of Dudley Do-Right?
DH: The archenemy of who now?
LC: The Canadian Mounty?
DH: Oh so after you trash Canadian Soap Operas, now you want to use a Mounty to make a point? I don’t think the good people of Canada would particularly like the devil-may-care manner that you’re punching their dance card.
LC: I love Canada. Truly. But I’m a Bruins fan, so, y’know. Fuck ‘em.
DH: So you did not like Murtry.
DH: And you did not love the Earth or Mars or Belter subplots.
LC: That is correct. But I did love it every time Chrisjen dropped an F bomb. What does it say when the best bomb on a sci-fi show is an F bomb?
DH: That’s not ideal. And in addition to not liking all that, you also didn’t really care for the drama on the Roci with towing that other ship, I’m guessing?
LC: I mean, is there anything more visually engrossing than some hot-ass ship-on-ship atmospheric towing?
LC: I did like the storyline about the mom who detonated the explosives and then her husband and daughter hated her for it.
DH: You did?
LC: No. I’m kidding. I didn’t like that either.
DH: Did you like the Miller stuff?
LC: Eh, it was fine. The hat on / hat off thing was a good visual aid.
DH: What about the death of Klaes Ashford?
LC: Hated it.
DH: Really? But that shot of him float/flying down the corridor as he blasted those two belters was great!
LC: Right, that was awesome. He made his bones as a pirate! Dude knows close quarters combat! But did anything else in that sequence make sense? He had the total advantage, Inaros didn’t even know he was there before they were attacked. And then he and two guys storm Inaros’ ship yelling and not taking cover? Have they never played The Division, Dan? Huh? And maybe bring like, more than two guys? He could have doubled his attack force with TWO MORE GUYS.
DH: Yeah that was idiotic.
LC: And now the one outstanding actor on the show is a goddamn popsicle. Fuck that. Remember in Armageddon when one of the shuttles dies and they’re like “Houston, Liberty is a Dead Stick.”
DH: The only thing I remember from Armageddon is that the Aerosmith music video for “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” uses that shot of Liv Tyler looking at the control room screen, only instead of it being Ben Affleck it’s her real-life dad Steven Tyler, and considering the context of the scene in the movie, it’s a VERY confusing juxtaposition.
LC: Are they suggesting that she kinda wants to bang her dad in the video?
DH: Yeah, I think so.
LH: That is so yucky.
DH: It’s all I can think about when I think about it.
LC: So you don’t remember Ben Affleck’s terrible accent when he’s doing the Liv Tyler animal cracker abdomen safari?
DH: I have no idea what you just said. That’s just word salad.
LC: Dead stick. That’s what they said. Liberty is a dead stick. Or Independence. I forget which one. But that’s what Ashford looked like. A dead stick. I hated it and he’ll never get to drink that Lagavulin with Drummer. Ugh. It’s heartbreaking. If she were there she wouldn’t have let those stupid boys testosterone their way down the middle of a hallway and get lit the fuck up. God damnit.
DH: Did you like the Aperture Science moment when Miller turned into Glad0s?
LC: I did like that! And I liked the doctor. She was good. And Avasarala’s outfits were spectacular, as always. Jaw dropping. So good.
DH: So that’s all you liked? You love Amos. Did you at least like Amos?
LC: Of course. I love Amos. He has the purtiest eyes on TV. I’d even put him up against Stumptown’s Michael Ealy. But A) nowhere NEAR enough Amos this season and B) we needed way way way way more Amos this season.
DH: Those are the same thing.
LC: I’m double-reiterating for maximum impact. But the point stands. And C) I like when Amos kills people. I think the only person he killed was his own love interest from Letterkenny. FFS. Hash that shit out beforehand, you two. Can you imagine how tough it is to find a compatible friend with bennys on an uninhabited planet where everyone is going blind? I mean, work out your shit sans firearms, people. Jesus. We’re all going blind here!
DH: Maybe that would make it easier?
LC: And as a side note, we’re making it sound like I’m the only one who somehow didn’t love this season even though I’m saying I liked this season. But what about you? Did you love this season?
DH: It was fine. I feel like I was okay with it being more of a setup season for next year, and I didn’t come into it with any lofty expectations - especially since the very existence of this season is playing with house money. The show was cancelled. It was over, like you said.
DH: But yeah, the one thing I will say is that nothing really grabbed me, and that I noticed that for the first time I felt like this wasn’t a ‘pay attention’ and watch every scene show. It was more like a background show, like you could fold laundry and go get a drink and not really miss anything vital. But I definitely didn’t hate it. I just also didn’t love it. It was just fine. It existed, which is all I needed from it. I’m okay with it.
LC: Well, you’re a better man than me, Hammer.
(I playfully punch him on the shoulder. He stares at his shoulder for what feels like an eternity, before looking back up. I can’t tell what he’s thinking, but he shakes it off.)
DH: So you’re done with The Expanse?
LC: Oh, hell no. I’m 100% gonna watch the next season the second it comes out. And I’m gonna go watch this season again. Everyone on the show from the showrunners to the cast seem like truly nice people. Like I said, this was more of my overly heightened expectations than a failing on the part of the show. The comeback artificially inflated my dream scenario. But I’m still ride or die with James Holden! Weird facial hair or no! To infinity and beyond!
Hammer does not laugh at my Buzz Lightyear joke. It’s a confirmed miss. Obviously. I now realize it was a stupid thing to say with such gusto now that I’ve said it out loud and with gusto. Me and my goddamn gusto. It’s a curse. No one says gusto anymore. Only like grandparents. What does it say that one of my defining characteristics isn’t even a word people say anymore? The world has passed me by. Gusto is the Latin of emotions. And Dan is already looking at his phone.
DH: Okay! I better jet. This was fun. Thanks, man!
LC: Already? You don’t want some um…sushi dessert?
DH: They don’t have desserts in Japan.
LC: They don’t?
DH: No, of course they do but I’m good. I don’t want to miss my 3 o’clock.
LC: Oh! Uh…while we’re…should we maybe decide on the next show we’re gonna, y’know?
DH: Yeah, for sure. What’d you have in mind?
I have nothing. The TV landscape is flatter than if you gently set a wooden clipboard on top of Howie Long’s hair. There are no new shows coming out. It’s the deadest of the deadest time of the year. But if I don’t say something, I might just lose him forever to the Dustins and the Toris of the world. Talented people. People with hot takes and fancy werds and y’know, proper spelling n shit. People who crap lightning and piss thunder. There’s gotta be something! Netflix Released More Originals in 2019 Than the Entire TV Industry Did in 2005 according to Variety!
“What about the Bear Grylls show?” I blurt out and immediately regret it. Shit.
“Listen, let’s see what’s out there and we’ll just connect and figure it out.”
“Okay, you have my number?”
“Yeah, for sure.”
“You wanna check, because like-“
“No, I definitely have it.”
“Like, programmed? So it says Lord Castleton when I call and shit?”
“It actually says Lord Cashmere. Autocorrect. Sorry!”
“Ah. Heh heh. Yeah okay, cool.”
Dan is at least fifteen years younger than me and has his whole life ahead of him. He moves with the fluidity of a man who has never known joint pain of any shade. One quick high five to me and he is gone, into the bustle of the sidewalk under that California sun. A man with things to do and places to be. A man on his way up.
“Don’t do it!” I want to yell. “Don’t do those goddamn talkies with the Pajiba Blue Bloods! We’re writers, man! Just write!”
But before I have the headspace or courage to make a point, Dan has disappeared into the folds of the crowd and is gone. He is off, tracking his future, a future where he has eclipsed the medium. A future where he talks.
And something makes me wonder if we’ll ever do another show review together. But somehow, I realize, I’m okay with it. I sit there, finally able to put down my napkin with thirty one dollars of spit-up raw fish in it, and I smile. Maybe this is the place in the road where our paths diverge, but it’s been a heck of a ride, and when all is said and done, we’ll always have that kick ass Chris Conrad / New Leaf speech from Episode 7.
And that’s something.
Image sources (in order of posting): Lord Castleton, Amazon Prime Video