My science fiction-loving spouse introduced me to The Expanse, which some people describe as Game of Thrones in space. It’s considered speculative fiction and was first conceived by James S. A. Corey. Essentially it’s about a colonized solar system 200 years in the future. Hostilities between humans on Earth, humans who colonized Mars, and the humans of the Asteroid Belt, aka “Belters,” are starting to boil over as an unknown material threatens to wipe out the entire human race.
By Season Three of The Expanse I was hooked, especially since at the center of this season (and solar system for that matter) stands a Methodist Minister named Annushka “Anna” Volovodov, played by Elizabeth Mitchell.
We don’t know a lot about her back story other than she used to be a medical professional. Now she is a Minister of St. John’s United congregation in St. Petersburg, Europa. We also know that she is married to her wife Nono and they have a young daughter together named Nami. Unlike a lot of stories that feature a same-sex relationship, their marriage is never exploited to make a political point or to fulfill some sort of sexual fantasy.
Also unlike a lot of stories involving clergy in popular culture, Anna is no buffoon. Yes, many fans were nervous when a pastor appeared in Season Three, expressing concern that it was going to get too “preachy.” And even though not everyone got on board with her character, she is described by so many fans, religious and non-religious, as having a “heart of gold and a will of steel.” Or as Marvin Pittman put it, Anna demonstrates, “heartfelt righteousness without sinking into buzzkill, virtue-signaling annoyance.” Even her fellow comrades, from politicians to the ship crew, tell her on many occasions, almost with a surprised look on their faces, “You are sure good at what you do.”
At every turn in Season Three, Anna is there, by the politician’s side, by the ship captain’s side, giving a eulogy after a death by suicide, tending to the injured, lifting up ethical questions and consequences, putting her life on the line, holding people accountable (including herself), and saying some of the most profound lines of the show (see below). She admits when she messes up and reflects on ways she is sometimes blinded by her own selfish ambition to be part of something amazing. Oh, and let’s not forget that when she’s not flying around the solar system ministering to UN delegates and marines of all kinds, she and her wife Nono run a free clinic out of the church in order to assist the “undocumenteds.”
There is more to say, but I’ll let Anna do the talking now. See quotes below. (Click on the movie to pause it at anytime.) If you can’t tell, I think you’re really good at this, Anna. Thanks for being a great role model. And thanks for saving the solar system.