By Carolyn Hinds
What do you do when the one thing you believed you could always count on is no longer there? How do you find your footing when everything that you stood firm in, and helped shaped your identity, seems to be falling away? These are some of the topics The Beat discussed during a brief roundtable with Frankie Adams, who plays Bobbie Draper on The Expanse.
The events of season three have changed Bobbie’s situation significantly. As a Gunnery Sergeant in the Martian Marine Corps., Bobbie always knew who she was, what her objective was and where she saw herself in the future. But after season three, she’s found herself wondering who she is now that she’s no longer a member of the marines. The systems put in place to help former members of the corps function as civilians don’t seem able to do that. Having always seen Bobbie as someone who followed a strict moral and ethical code, it’s been quite interesting to see who she’s becoming when those defining traits are things that, for the time being at least, prevent her from feeling secure.
Bobbie is now doing something she never thought she’d do: breaking down her past and, eventually, the law, by stripping down the Martian ships and equipment to sell for parts on the black market. Reflecting on how surprising it was to see Bobbie making such a drastic change – from declaring that she wasn’t a criminal, to becoming one in order to protect her nephew – Adams said people sometimes end up contradicting themselves when placed in unpredictable situations.
I think we’ve all probably said there’s things we’re never going to do things and have [laughs], so I found that quite human of her. I think initially it was to protect her nephew, and her core value has always been that way…but you start to see that she’s kind of enjoying that she has purpose again and camaraderie with this very unlikely group. I think that has always been a challenge for her…she’s still searching for her identity this season, even more so I think than ever. That sort of stuff really challenges her integrity, and I think that’s why for so long she was struggling with it. But also I find it really a human thing about her, and I like that she’s making her own decisions as she goes along, as opposed to being in command from someone else.
After being trained to follow orders for so many years, whether they were from her marine superiors or Chrisjen Avasarala (season 2 was a rollercoaster), Bobbie, like many veterans and retirees who aren’t sure how to move forward after spending most of their lives as subordinates, is finally in a position where she only has to answer to herself.
“I think for so long we didn’t see that from her,” Adams said. “She was all about [having] a one-track mind, one purpose: ‘We’re all going to do this together.’ And now she’s kind of like, ‘Oh shit, I’m alone. Where do we go from here? How do I make decisions on my own? What do I do tomorrow, what do I do next week’?”
Adams said that uncertainly also gave away to excitement. “She has something to do, people to see, money to make, and she’s sort of doing what she was doing, but now sort of on her own terms, which I really enjoy,” she said. “It was fun to play.”
One of the best aspects of The Expanse is the female characters. They’re all very strong women emotionally, mentally and physically, but they’re allowed to be vulnerable, and we see that with Bobbie. When she went to the Veteran’s Administration, which didn’t provide any support for her, it’s important to see how frustrated she is. We’ve seen her annoyed when a plan doesn’t go exactly the way she wants it to, but now we’re able to see her frustrated and even betrayed by the system. When asked if this will continue into the fifth season, which the cast was filming at the time of this interview, Adams did her best not to give too much away while hinting at where Bobbie’s head is at.
“Most definitely. I think this whole season she’s really heartbroken. Mars was this place that was so hopeful, and everyone was employed and everyone seemed to be happy and enjoying their lives, but within a year or whatever, it’s all been taken away,” she said. “And so I think she’s like more heartbroken about it, and confused as to why is this happening to my home and my people. It definitely carries on through out season four for sure.”
For season five, Bobbie and Alex (Cas Anvar) will be spending a significant amount of time together, where she’s going to learn more things about his past than the crew knows. This provides Bobbie with the opportunity to connect with someone who has a similar background to her, and whom she has been building a friendship with.
“I think with Alex, those two have been really good pals since they met, and there was a Facetime call – well, it’s not called Facetime – in season three, and there’s one in season four,” she said. “So Cas and I have figured out they kept in touch. He’s always talking to her about his ex-wife, and she visited the ex-wife when she came back to Mars. So, I think she already has an idea about his back story, and I really…I like that. I think it’s important for the characters to have deep relationships and friendships with each other. She’s not as inclined to share her vulnerable side with him, but it’s been really wonderful doing it with Cas, and seeing those parts of her.”
No one likes change or being tested, especially when it’s forced upon us. But like steel forged in the hottest of fires, we can either come out stronger or shatter. For Bobbie – and the rest of the characters – if the books are anything to go by, they have one hell of a test coming their way that will require them to be stronger than ever.