The Expanse: Why Holden's Missile Decision Was The Right Choice

Holden makes the right pivotal decision in The Expanse season 6, episode 3 "Force Projection," when he chooses to disarm the fatal missile Bobbie launches at Marco Inaros' warship, the Pella. On its way to Ceres Station, the Rocinante found itself locked in combat with Marco after the latter opted to chase the Roci, insisting that they wouldn't lose. Filip's misfires aboard the Pella and Bobbie's tactical adjustments on the Roci led to the main heroes getting the better of Marco, though they fell short of finishing the job. It would be easy to criticize Holden for allowing a mass murderer to live another day, but in the end, he made the right choice.

Marco set off on the run after ordering his forces to abandon Ceres Station — which Earth and Mars took over in response. In the battle, the Roci disables the Pella and has a chance to destroy it but Holden demands awarding them the opportunity to surrender first. When Marco refuses to give himself up over video conference, Bobbie fires the decisive missile. Holden, staring at Marco and Naomi's son Filip in the background of the feed, disarms the warhead, unbeknownst to his crew, and the Pella withdraws.

Related: The Expanse Season 6: Why The Azure Dragon Capture Won’t Defeat Marco

Objectively, shooting down the Pella would have been the right choice. But subjectively, and in consideration of Holden's character, there's obviously more at play when he decides to disarm the missile. First and foremost, Holden isn't inherently violent. Despite having served in the UN Navy and being discharged for assaulting a superior officer, he's much rather spare a life, even one as despicable as Marco. For example, in The Expanse season 4 finale, he fights Adolphus Murtry on Ilus but opts to make him a prisoner rather than kill him. Then, in The Expanse season 5 finale, he initially hesitates to fire on the Belter ships converging on the Roci when he sees them turn on each other. This, along with his love for Naomi principally contribute to Holden's decision to save the Pella from a fatal missile, which perfectly aligns with his character.

Disarming the missile in The Expanse season 6 was the correct call for Holden in consideration of his lasting relationship with Naomi. One of the touching aspects of Holden and Naomi's love is that they exhibit a constant consideration for one another no matter the situation. When he laid eyes on Filip, Holden was thinking of Naomi at that moment and could not bring himself to end her son's life. Having seen the pain she has been through as a result of her captivity at the hands of Marco and Filip in The Expanse season 5, Holden understandably opted to spare himself from the guilt of hurting the person he loves most.

There is also the concept of martyrdom to consider. Holden states that "Marco's better as a prisoner than a martyr" when Bobbie intends to destroy the Pella. The fact is that generations of oppression and exploitation of Belters under the Inner planets created Marco Inaros. Who's to say there isn't another extremist like him waiting in the wings to take his place? If the Roci had killed Marco in The Expanse season 6, episode 3, there would have been little opportunity for meaningful peace talks between the dueling powers. An end to the war against Marco's Belter Free Navy must come in a more strategic manner because Marco going down in a ball of fire will only give him and those like him what they want. 

Next: What Bobbie’s Roci Story Means For The Expanse Season 6

New episodes of The Expanse air Fridays on Prime Video.



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