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The Expanse

The series is a rare find in a sea of endlessly disappointing budget sci-fi shows.

The sci-fi TV series “The Expanse” has taken the internet by storm. Ever since “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” made sci-fi popular, there’s been an endless stream of budget TV shows trying to grab the fan base’s attention. Few have actually been of decent quality. “The Expanse” is a rarity that has an engaging plot, and it’s the closest a sci-fi show has come to being remotely scientifically accurate. It has just the right balance of politics and action. However, it’s not perfect.

The most frustrating thing about “The Expanse” has always been its complete inability to end a season properly. Episodes that clearly should have been the season finale kept taking place a few episodes after the climax. However, when Amazon Prime saved the show back in 2018 after it was canceled by Syfy, this issue ended. Season 4 ended spectacularly, and the recently released trailer for Season 5 has not disappointed fans.

Amazon Prime is leaving its mark on the series, modeling the release structure after the successful superhero show “The Boys.” Instead of dropping the entire season at once, the first three episodes of Season 5 will be released on Dec. 16, then one episode a week will be released after that.

Avalsalra and Her Re-Election Campaign

Season 4 ended with Proto-Miller dying, (the incredible) Chrisjen Avalsalra losing the election, asteroids launched by Marco and Filip heading toward Earth and Naomi in search of the two who launched them. Amos kills Wei, for whom he developed feelings, and Marco kills Ashford and his son, causing Drummer to hunt them down, in search of revenge for her friend. A lot of action is bound to come in Season 5.

In the trailer for the fifth season, asteroids disguised in Martian stealth tech head for Earth. They’re due to hit in 12 days, setting up tension and stakes for the first few episodes of the new season. With Avalsalra no longer in power, we will see how Nancy Gao copes under pressure. In the trailer, we can see a horde of ships heading through the Ring Gate, which is what Avalsalra tried so desperately to stop happening. With the planet that the Belters tried to colonize ending up so treacherous, Gao letting Earthers go to similar planets won’t end well. Death-slugs and going blind might not even be the worst of it.

At the end of Season 4, the master politician Avalsalra went to Luna, inviting her husband to come along. However, despite being the one to push her to run for Secretary-General, he doesn’t approve of her tactics for re-election and chooses to let her go alone. With Ghazi (her spy) dead, her husband detaching himself and Bobbie on Mars, she has few friends left to lean on.

Avalsalra begins to doubt her motives for seeking re-election after her husband expresses his own doubts. Was it truly to stop people going through the Ring Gate? Or did she just enjoy the rush it gave her to be in control?

Personally, I believe her husband was wrong. He wanted her to be re-elected and urged her to pretend to be a “maternal” figure, which obviously doesn’t suit her. He then accused Avalsalra of using their son’s death for political gain. She leaked footage from the plant beyond the Ring to induce fear and reinforce her point that traveling through the Ring Gate is too dangerous, which is how she became Secretary-General in the first place.

Avalsalra’s husband admonishes her for this, saying it was wrong to purposefully make people afraid, but then when Avalsalra loses the re-election, he abandons her. Since he remains on Earth when she goes to Luna, there is a possibility that he might die when the asteroid hits.

The Crew and Naomi

Turning to the crew of the Rosi, they all seem to split up in Season 5. Holden stays on Tyko with the ship and seems to have lost his purpose now that Proto-Miller is no longer in his head. Fred Johnson tells him to be grateful for what he still has. Naomi isn’t with him on Tyko, thankfully. Why does the main character always need a romantic interest from the get-go? The relationship between Naomi and Holden is forced, and they are not compatible.

Naomi is deceitful and frequently hides things from Holden, but she’s always acting like she has the moral high ground. Since it was revealed she has a son, Naomi acts like she is the moral compass of the ship despite being the opposite. The only crew member she is more emotionally mature than is Amos, who has some interesting character development that will accelerate in Season 5. Not to mention how Naomi puts on her Belter accent much more strongly around other Belters.

Naomi tracks her son, hoping to stop his father from turning him into an extremist, as Marco is the main antagonist in Season 5 and a Belter terrorist. He causes issues for Earth and the leaders of the OPA but has a strange relationship with Mars.

Mars and Marco

Speaking of Mars, Bobbie and Alex team up in “The Expanse” trailer. Hopefully, this leads to the two Martians helping each other through their emotional turmoil. Alex has emotional baggage and guilt concerning his old family and Bobbie. At the end of last season, Alex kept repeating, “The dream of Mars is dying” in anguish. The two seem to be picking up where Ashford left when he died, investigating how Mars and Marco are involved.

In the trailer, Drummer finds Ashford dead. She has been let down by both OPA leaders who were previously her mentors, and the main friend she had is now dead, killed by the son and ex-partner of her other friend, Naomi. Drummer and Naomi will probably disagree on how best to handle Filip and Marco when they find them, if their paths cross. Drummer understandably would want revenge, but Naomi wants to save her son.

It is strange that Naomi is making an effort now to save her son. She knew what kind of man Marco was when he took Filip away, so if she cared about her child, she should have tried to stop him from being dragged into his father’s terrorism a lot earlier.

Amos Looks for His Roots

Lastly, “The Expanse” takes a dive into Amos’ past in the new season. I thought Amos would be a throwaway character in Season 1, that he was just muscle and would die or quickly leave. Although his character development has been slow, it has been masterful. On the Season 4 finale, he showed the most emotion so far after killing Wei. Amos has killed many people before, but usually never reacts, only killing with stone-cold objectivity and practicality. This shows a turning point.

In Season 5, Amos returns to Baltimore to face his past, presumably triggered by Wei’s death. We know he had a rough childhood, growing up with ties to organized crime. We will probably find out how he came to be so emotionally stunted and the circumstances that led to him leaving.

Overall, Season 5 of “The Expanse” is set to be action-packed with high emotional stakes for Amos, Naomi and Bobbie in particular.  Holden is lost without a Proto molecule threat to fight, and his crew is scattered between the Belt, Earth and Mars. The team will be able to develop beyond the Rosi, especially Alex, who so far has just been the puppy-like pilot.

Obviously, the main antagonist will be Marco, who is a very believable character. People like him exist in real life that are frustrating and capable — with wits, a talent for deception, a pretty face and a charismatic personality. It will be interesting to see him face off against Avalsalra, the equally intelligent puppet-master of Earth.

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Emily Davies

Solent University
Journalism

Third year journalism student, interested in literature and environmental issues.

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