In the wake of war breaking out over Jupiter’s moon of Ganymede, one man’s life is shattered, in every sense of the word. As the protective mirror domes above that moon come crashing down in the opening scenes of The Expanse’s latest episode, the show manages to introduce its most relatable and multifaceted character yet: Prax Meng.
Spoilers ahead for The Expanse Season 2, Episode 8, “Pyre.”
Unlike the majority of the rough and tough characters in The Expanse, Prax Meng doesn’t fit into a ready-made action character cliché. He’s not a solider, former cop, drunk, junkie, war criminal, or hot-shot starship captain. Instead, he’s a dad and botanist. Played by Terry Chen, Prax’s is a realistic, relatable everyman and a breath of fresh air in a space opera full of giant egos.
Prax has his roots in the second Expanse book, Caliban’s War. In that version of the story, Prax is introduced almost immediately, living on Ganymede with his daughter, Mei. When Mei is taken away mysteriously, much of the drama of the book unfolds. In the novel, we see Mei’s abduction, but in this latest episode, she’s already missing, taken by someone who Prax believed was her pediatrician. While Holden and Naomi are trying to get to the bottom of what happened in the attack on Ganymede, they find Prax has been brought aboard Tycho Station as a refugee. In probably one of the best scenes of the show thus far, Holden and Naomi rough up Prax and discover he’s hiding a secret cylinder. And inside that secret cylinder is … a tiny plant.
Unlike so many characters in big TV dramas, Prax is exactly what he appears to be. He doesn’t have a hidden agenda, he’s just a space botanist who really just wants to find his missing daughter. And though this episode boasts a massive coup on Tycho Station and Holden trading insults with Fred Johnson over who really will be running the Outer Planets Alliance, it all seems a little silly compared to an honest working father just trying to find his daughter. Even resident tough-guy Amos approves, telling Prax that joining the crew of the Rocinante to find his little girl is a “pretty good reason.”
As Holden tells Fred Johnson where to stick it, and the Rocinante rockets off to Ganymede, The Expanse is lucky for their latest crew member. If the show was in need of a conscience, it has found one with Prax.
The Expanse airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on Syfy.