“I worry about people who throw rocks.”
— Chrisjen Avasarala (The Expanse S1E4 “CQB”)
The Expanse starts its fifth season with three episodes which mostly seem to lay the groundwork for the rest of the season — until a big event at the end of Episode 3 “Mother”, which changes the season, and maybe even the series, arguably for the better.
The Expanse “Exodus” starts out with a small science vessel getting attacked and boarded by Filip Inaros (Jasai Chase Owens) and his crew. Considering the history of these vessels on the show, it’s surprising that anyone would get on one of these. The attack is because they found the fragments of one of Marco’s asteroids which crashed into the Sun. They plead for their lives, but it doesn’t matter — Filip is ruthless and kills them in cold blood.
Oh, and we find out 173 days have passed since Marco (Keon Alexander) launched the stealth-tech covered asteroids, which is significant because some things this season have seemingly happened too quickly in that span of time, while others have occurred too slowly. The asteroids, on the other hand, are right on track.
For those who care about the gorgeous opening credits for The Expanse, a few things have changed, while some things have remained the same. Interestingly, a big mistake (the nuking of South America in season three) has remained, while Luna, which is Chrisjen Avasarala’s (Shohreh Aghdashloo) new base of operations, has been added. Mars is still there, but there are more shots of Earth, too.
We see Jim Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), and Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) on Tycho Station, where the Roci is being repaired, yet again. Naomi, ever striving to be the good guy in a conversation with a Belter tech, asks the fellow Belter to please not call Martians “Dusters,” because she serves alongside one. Fred finds Naomi and reveals…duh duh duhhhhh…that Filip has been spotted on Pallas Station. Naomi almost immediately finds a ship and boards it, hoping that her son will reconcile with her.
Which, honestly, is the stupid plot this season. Each season of The Expanse has a stupid plot, whether it be the reporters infiltrating the Roci in the latter half of Season Three, or most of Miller’s shenanigans in Season One, and well… Season Two was just excellent, so I can’t complain about that one too much. To be fair, those “stupid” plots did lead to something big, they were just frustrating at the time.
The idea that Naomi’s mothering instincts override all sense in an otherwise sensible woman seems frankly, a little insulting. Naomi can be a good (or bad) mother without falling for the idea that her son, who is all-in on Marco’s schemes, can be redeemed just by her showing up in his life. Dominique Tipper does a good job with this material, though, but she always does a good job.
Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) is on his way to Earth on a Belter shuttle, where he gets into a fight and takes a (clothed) shower, washing away the blood from the fight. Oh Amos, why you are the way you are, I’ll probably never understand. He makes it to Luna, which I guess is the transfer point for this shuttle, where Chrisjen immediately sends for him. She may have lost most of her considerable powers, but not all of them.
Chrisjen ensures Amos isn’t going to murder anyone, and Amos hits on her, which is a funny plot that has been brewing since they first met. She brushes it off, because she’s Chrisjen Goddamn Avasarala, and she knows Amos is trouble. She also says she’s a “member of Parliament” which is just confusing, like most of the UN politics are. She was Deputy Under-Secretary in the first through third seasons, before ascending to Secretary-General after Errinwright’s arrest and Sorrento-Gillis’s resignation. She got voted out after Nancy Gao (who is just…really mean to the Savior of Mother Earth) ran a campaign against her.
Chrisjen seems to be licking her wounds quite a bit in the first three episodes, but can we really blame her? She gets booted from an office she didn’t want originally, but ended up wanting, after everything she did for Earth? And now she’s treated like a paranoid old lady? I understand her disgruntlement.
Alex (Cas Anvar) goes back to Mars and meets up with Bobbie (Frankie Adams), who is less than impressed with our Martian cowboy’s ignorance about how just bad things on Mars have gotten. Alex also meets up with his wife and son, which goes about as well as you would expect. Alex is hopeful to the point of being naïve about just how far gone his relationship with the two of them is, which puts him just below Naomi in the optimistic idiot category of this initial episode. Bobbie’s still spying for Avasarala, but kind of doing a bad job — she keeps mentioning how she’s burning contacts, which isn’t exactly promising for the hard-headed Martian.
Naomi writes a message to Holden: “If Something Goes Wrong,” which I suppose hints that Naomi knows this could go awry, but it really should be “When Something Goes Wrong,” if we’re being honest. The Roci crew is split up, and it feels bad in the sense that these four need each other to survive.
Speaking of Holden, he gets a wake-up call from Monica Stuart (Anna Hopkins), the enterprising journalist from The Expanse Season Three, who has been investigating the OPA’s holding of the “last” protomolecule sample. Holden confronts Fred with this news, but Fred shrugs it off, mostly due to Holden’s argument that because he goes through an experience every time he goes through the Ring with the species who killed the protomolecule builders. “Claiming you have brain damage is not the way to sell this to me, son…”
Chrisjen watches a recording of Marco monologuing and while Keon Alexander is a fine actor, Marco seems less political revolutionary and more a demagogue, which is all in the writing. Marco monologuing is going to be a trend this season, I am disappointed to report. The Expanse has never been one for monologues, really only using them for moments that hit hard, like Chrisjen’s moment in season two where she calls out Errinwright (the aforementioned “Savior” bit), so I’m not looking forward to Marco going on and on and on…oh well. He’s our villain this season, might as well get used to it.
Watch The Expanse Season 5 Wednesdays on Prime Video.