Chrisjen isn’t in “Down and Out”, which disappointed me, but this season is full of major characters sitting out episodes, mainly because the scale of this season is just so massive. It has flung characters far apart from each other: Naomi is being held captive on Marco’s ship, Holden is on Tycho figuring out another massive conspiracy, Alex is hanging out with Bobbie and Amos is on Earth. Drummer is captaining her own little pirate navy, and Chrisjen is stranded on Luna.

Yes, our heroes are unusually separated by many miles of space. The last time they really all teamed up was at the end of the mid-point of season 3, when Chrisjen and Bobbie were on the Roci after their dramatic escape from Jules-Pierre Mao’s yacht. Not that this new separation isn’t okay, as it definitely ramps up the tension: will these people see each other again? Holden is certainly worried, calling Naomi (not knowing she’s with Marco) and pleading with her to call him back, hearkening back to Chrisjen’s own plea to Arjun in the previous episode. Holden also can’t get ahold of his parents in Montana, suggesting that the asteroid that hit outside of Philadelphia took out much more than originally thought.

The opening credits for “Down and Out” show the devastation of what is presumably New York, and the feeling is established that Earth’s not coming back from this anytime soon. At the UN Penitentiary, Amos and Clarissa are trapped in her cell, until Amos demands that Rona (Natalie Brown) let both him and Clarissa out. Amos says that while he’s under Rona’s protection, Clarissa is under his. They try to get to the stairs with some other guards, but it really doesn’t work, since the stairs have collapsed, due to the asteroid impact which none of them know about, since comms are knocked out. Amos has the bright idea to use the elevator shaft maintenance ladder, and they recruit a muscle-bound guy named Konecheck (Boomer Phillips) to bust open the doors that guard the ladder while the guards shoot holes in the doors so Konecheck can rip them off their hinges.

It’s a good plan, until Konecheck (who’s a really nasty guy), possibly kills one of the guards, who falls to his death. The other guards go up as a team to prevent Konecheck from killing another guard, and Amos and Clarissa slowly follow with Clarissa having a broken hand. They all nearly get crushed by the elevator. but they manage to survive. They see daylight, and Clarissa points out that there’s a whole building up there: they shouldn’t be able to see that at all.

They make it up top and realize that the entirety of the above-ground UN Penitentiary is gone in a particularly horrifying moment — what exactly happened to everyone inside — well, they’re probably dead, certainly. Konecheck takes advantage of the guards’ shock and horror to kill another one, but Amos and Rona take him down — he falls down the elevator shaft, plummeting to his death. He won’t be missed.

Rona mentions she was supposed to see her kid that weekend, and she might be the first person in the show so far to realize that her kid is probably dead; she got remarkably lucky being underground for the impact. She lets Amos and Clarissa go and tries to find her kid; just where Amos and Clarissa are supposed to go, who knows. There’s not much left to go to.

At the start of “Down and Out”, we see Drummer for a few minutes, and she receives a transmission from Marco, but not before she and her crew observed what I said last recap: Marco’s put a target on every single Belter, and it is clear Drummer blames herself for letting him go in the fourth season. Anyway, Marco asks Drummer to join forces with him, and she decides to at least hear him out — or bait him, it’s not entirely clear. Also, Drummer gives a sweet tribute to our dearly departed Fred: “He was a good man. Period.”

"Down and Out" sees Holden (Steven Strait) at one of his lowest points
Steven Strait as Jim Holden
Credit: Amazon Studios

On Tycho in “Down and Out”, Fred is mourned by Bull, Tycho’s Chief of Operations (José Zúñiga), and Holden, who interrogate Sakai, Fred’s assassin. She’s not very forthcoming, as you’d imagine. She mostly just spits in their faces, and the interrogation comes to an end with Bull threatening to space her when “they” get back from finding the protomolecule. Yep, that’s right, Holden and Bull are going on a hunt in the Roci — finally, it’s going to be out and about!

But not too fast, because Naomi is on Marco’s ship, getting belittled by him as he refers to her as a terrible mother and to Filip as a little boy who just wants his mother, yet again. It’s really all going well for the Nagata-Inaros family! It goes so well, that Naomi takes the opportunity to steal a knife and go after Marco, but Filip picks up on her attempt and rescues her, and it really is a rescue, because how the hell did you think that would go, Naomi? Apparently, her brainpower gets reduced around Marco or something — or she’s ready to die, which seems odd that her considerable will has gone down so quickly.

Cyn, who had offered to have Naomi help him with a repair earlier, gets the brunt of her wrath when she clunks him over the head with a wrench and manages to get a message out to Holden; she’s figured out that the Roci has a glitch installed in its reactor — if it powers up, boom goes the Roci. She also reveals that she’s being held captive, but just after gets re-captured by the Belters in Marco’s faction. Still, she saved Holden’s life and got the message out that she’s in danger, so that’s something.

On the Screaming Firehawk/Razorback, Alex wants to get a message out to Holden, but Bobbie nixes that idea, pointing out that the MCRN ships they’re tailing would certainly get a hold of the signal. They see the MCRN ships rendezvousing with some Belter ships — almost certainly Free Navy, meaning Marco. Despite impressive piloting from Alex, the Belters figure out that the Screaming Firehawk is tailing them and gives chase. Alex and Bobbie take a ton of juice in this chase scene, leaving me wondering just how much juice can those two take, anyway? They only escape after blasting a missile with a core dump, which leaves them meandering through space, rudderless.

It all looks very bad for our heroes as we move into the sixth episode…what horrors are coming next?

Watch The Expanse Season 5 Wednesdays on Prime Video.