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In The Expanse Season 2 Episode 5, "Home", Earth fires a bunch of missiles at Eros.

After Eros goes stealth and the missiles lose their radar lock, Fred Johnson is given targeting control so that the Rocinante can guide the missiles in using a laser lock. After Miller decides that Julie is controlling Eros, and that he can reason with her, he tells Holden to divert the missiles.

Why?

Johnson is concerned that Earth will think they're stealing the missiles, but goes along with diverting them as if it's important. But, it's already been established that the missiles won't hit anything without the laser lock. Couldn't they just not guide the missiles? Why bother risking a political incident by diverting them? It seems foolish and unnecessary.

I haven't read the books, but if this same situation happened in them and was explained there, I would consider that helpful.

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We Come In Peace (Spoiler Alert)

While on board Eros which Miller is exploring, everything's fine and dandy with little blue things flickering about. Then they suddenly stir into a frenzy and Miller asks what's up. Holden responds that Earth just launched half her nuclear arsenal and guesses that they're all target locked onto Eros station.

It's already avoided collision with the Nauvoo and outpaced the Rocinante. Without the target lock provided by the Rocinante, the missiles are less than useless.

Miller: "You've got to stop following Eros. It's gonna defend itself and my money ain't on you." - "Look, we've got one shot here. You don't back off; we don't even have that."

Holden relays to Johnson that, "it's imperative you divert Earth's missiles away from Eros," so as to not further antagonize the station.

Considering his reasoning is that, Yo we got a guy there. He's gonna work it out with his lady-alien-friend and we should be all good, that it's better left unsaid.

Miller isn't all that politically minded. His concern is the survival of the human race and all other terrestrial life in the Solar system.

  • I really like this answer, gonna upvote it, although I think the full answer would be a mix of this one and mine, since we each seem to cover one side of this... Your answer covers the Miller/Holden side making the decision to divert the missiles, and mine is more on the result by Johnson who was actually in control of the missiles and actually does the diversion and the resulting decisions and actions that occur. – acejavelin Mar 8 '17 at 1:39
  • I agree that Miller probably wanted the missiles diverted because he doesn't want missiles flying at him and the station. I was bothered by the more objective people agreeing to it. As you say, "the missiles are less than useless", which is a counterargument to diverting them, not a supporting one. The only interested group that doesn't know that they're useless is Earth. – DCShannon Mar 8 '17 at 17:17
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You are talking about half of all the nuclear arsenal of the entire planet Earth... Probably a really bad idea to just let them fly around in space unguided and not knowing their exact location.

Intentionally diverting them, assuming it's being done to a specific area or point in space, would be prudent if for no other reason than to know where all that destructive potential is at.

This is hardly unnecessary or foolish, but smart tactics for safety, or "other reasons" (not to spoil the plot), to know exactly where they are located or at least headed to.

Logic would dictate it is the right call, regardless of the potential of a political incident or not.

  • That makes some kind of sense. I still would have waited until after they passed Eros. There was also no indication of them being diverted to any particular place. My impression was simply "make sure they miss". – DCShannon Mar 7 '17 at 21:07
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    Johnson was military commander, we can assume an expert in tactics, therefore nothing regarding weapons of mass destruction would be as simple as "make sure they miss" to someone with his background. I don't think there is a definitive answer to this question based on the facts we have been given in the TV show at this point, some assumptions using the knowledge of the characters and their background needs to be used to make a logical assumption. – acejavelin Mar 7 '17 at 21:21
  • It's also not important to divert them somewhere for safety, as they can just be disabled using the abort codes. This is in fact what was done by the time the next episode begins. – DCShannon Mar 10 '17 at 20:18
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After reviewing this episode, there's a line that clarifies why Miller wants the bombs diverted, and explains why Holden agrees to divert the missiles.

After watching the next episode, it becomes clear why Johnson went along with this plan.

Holden's Decision

Here's the conversation between Miller and Holden where Miller suggest diverting the missiles (added emphasis):

Miller: You gotta stop following Eros. It's gonna defend itself, and my money ain't on you.

Holden: I can't do that. We'll lose it for good.

Miller: Forget the goddamn missiles. She'll dodge those just like she did the Nauvoo, or something a lot worse.

Alex: Hoss, I'm losing visual...

Miller: Your crew is gonna die for nothing. Back off now. Find a way to divert those missiles.

Holden: And then what?

Miller: What? I'll try to reach Julie, if there's any part of her still left. Get her to stop this rock.

Miller isn't concerned that the missiles will hit them, or what might happen to them eventually if they keep going, he's concerned that Eros will take control of the missiles. They could be redirected at the Rocinante, Earth, or anywhere else. Given that Eros has already done things that they would have otherwise thought impossible, Holden takes this possibility seriously.

Johnson's Decision

Holden then sends Johnson a short message saying that it's vital that the missiles be redirected, but not giving any reason.

Johnson initially refuses, pointing out that Earth will think that they're stealing the missiles. He is then told that the Rocinante has already lost Eros, and that there's no chance of the missiles hitting their target.

After taking this in, Johnson orders the missiles diverted.

From the events in the next episode, Paradigm Shift, we can surmise why he made that decision. He figures that if the missiles don't hit their target and are diverted, before reaching Eros' approximate position or after, then Earth will think he's broken faith and stolen the missiles either way, therefore

he may as well just actually steal them. Nuclear missiles can be useful. He then proceeds to steal 30 missiles by screening them from Earth so that the abort codes can't be used. The rest of the missiles are remotely disabled.

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