The Badass Women of Science Fiction: The Expanse

While The Expanse doesn’t have quite enough women to pass the Bechdel Test every episode, the occasions where two women have been speaking, they usually aren’t talking about a guy (I’ll give a pass for Season 1’s conversation between Holden’s mom and Chrisjen).

The women themselves? They are as badass as they come.

Much of the mystery of Season 1 revolves around the missing Julie Mao. Julie’s dad is one of the richest men on Earth. Julie has joined the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance) which is basically a guerrilla organization seeking equal rights for the Belters, the folks who live and work in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The good folks back on Earth and Mars consider the OPA to be terrorists.

We wonder if Julie is a dilettante or a true believer. Given her rich girl upbringing, it’s natural to assume at first that she fell in love with a bad boy and was co-opted into the movement.

We discover we are wrong: Julie is a true believer, even more so than many of the belters she serves alongside. She wants to right what she sees as her father’s wrongs and to give the Belters a shot at a real life. Through flashbacks and the eyes of those who worked with her, we see she takes her position seriously and while she’s a driving force, she also is a good soldier.

While Julie is gone this season, she is not forgotten. I expect we’ll see her pop up from time to time. She has haunted Miller not because he fell in love with her, but because he found someone who was more invested in helping his fellow Belters than he was – and she was an Earther. Figuring out what made her tick became his motivation for all. He has become somewhat selfless because of having investigated Julie’s disappearance.

Chrisjen Avasarala is about as hardcore and badass as they come. She is one of the most powerful people on Earth – and possibly the smartest. She is utterly ruthless, as well, as we saw in Season 1 when she ordered a Belter’s torture to get what she considered to be vital information, and when she basically threw her friend the Ambassador to Mars under a bus to achieve her goals.

Avasarala is so good at getting what she wants that even we are surprised when the ambassador rebuffs her attempts to reach out in friendship after she betrayed his trust.

We are seeing now, in Season 2, just how smart Avasarala is. She is leagues above her boss, the Undersecretary of the United Nations. She instinctively knew that Mars was not behind the attack on the Canterbury and truly believes the Earth is the most important part of the solar system. Luna, Mars, the Belt – all must act in the best interests of Earth, or all will be lost, she believes.

Whether or not she’s right, she has the courage of her convictions, and the need to know the truth, not just what will support her view. Going to war with Mars is not the right move, and she knows it. Now that things are getting more complicated, she’s not going to stop until she figures out what is actually happening.

There is no one more skilled at using the power, skills, and even the problems of government and diplomacy to get things done. I pity anyone who thinks they can get one over on her.

Holden may be the captain of the Rocinante, but Naomi Nagata is in charge. (Most of the time, at least.)

A self-taught chief engineer, for most of Season 1 she held all the power on the Rocinante. Amos will always side with her, and it often was unclear if the crew would come to any consensus on what to do about, well, anything. If you had Naomi’s support, you could move ahead with what you wanted to do.

She can shut anyone down with just a look, but also knows how to unwind and have fun. It was absolutely glorious to watch her dancing and completely relaxing at that nightclub in Tycho Station in S2,E3, “Static.” If anyone deserved to kick back and relax, it’s Naomi.

Despite a short time where she was suspected of being OPA (which, by the way, has never really been disproved), Naomi has everyone’s complete trust. Holden trusted her enough to tell her he was the one who answered the distress call that led them on the path they are on now. And yes, enough to have sex with her – I’m not altogether sure how I feel about their relationship, but as long as she doesn’t become clingy, it’s all good.

More than once, crew members of the Rocinante have turned to her for her thoughts or decision. That’s because she doesn’t act off emotion, but rather thinks things through and tries to make the best decision for all.

I would not want to be on her bad side.

We’ve only just met Bobbie Draper this season, so I don’t have too much of a handle on her yet.

But what I’ve seen, I like. She leads her squad of Martian Marines with an iron fist and won’t put up with any of them getting out of line. She’s a tough fighter and is the Martian soldier equivalent of Chrisjen. She will do whatever she needs for Mars, and is definitely a Mars First woman.

She loves her planet and wants there to be the resources to turn Mars into the terraformed beauty she knows it can be.

I have a feeling she’s going to kick more ass as the season goes on.