The universe got a lot bigger to humans last season of The Expanse as the Ring Space provided access to numerous pristine inhabitable planets. This resulted in a “Wild West” mentality with members of all three factions looking to stake their claim on these territories. Since these were still unexplored regions, many dangers were uncovered involving the protomolecule. Luckily, the crew of the Rocinante come to the rescue but elsewhere the Belter pirate, Marco Inaros, has been scheming and launches asteroids cloaked with stealth technology on a collision course to Earth.
[Slight Spoilers Ahead!]
Season five begins shortly after with the Roci docked at Tycho Station for repairs. Since it’ll be a while until the ship is flight ready, the gang take advantage of the downtime and disperse to settle their personal business they’ve neglected while they were away. Amos heads back to his hometown of Baltimore after learning of his maternal figure’s passing. He wants to make sure all her affairs are settled but must confront his dark and mysterious past during his visit.
Naomi and Alex look to reconcile with their families. The former, with some help from Fred Johnson, receives a tip on the whereabouts of her son, Felip. Fearing that his involvement with Marco will eventually get him killed, she wants to convince him to leave the lifestyle. The latter returns to Mars hoping to reconnect with his ex-wife and son, which proves to be difficult. While there, he meets up with Bobbie and becomes caught up in her investigation on the black market sales of Martian tech and weapons to Belters. The pair hope to take advantage of Alex’s military connections during their probe.
Elsewhere, Marco is the most wanted man in space and has some high-profile people searching for him. Chrisjen Avasarala tries to hunt down the Belter through her network of contacts (including Bobbie) while also figuring out his plans. Similarly, Drummer amasses a fleet to track down the elder Inaros and cash in on his considerable bounty and to avenge Ashford’s death.
With his crew scattered throughout space, Holden stays at Tycho Station where he’s informed by Monica that someone is still experimenting on the protomolecule. When he confronts Fred with this knowledge, the two realize there is something more sinister going on with bad players infiltrating the station.
The fifth season of The Expanse benefits from the multiple episode drop in its first week. Much of the premiere moves slowly setting the stage with where everyone is currently and what they’ve been up to since we last left them. However, once the viewer is caught up, the pace picks up drawing you into the story.
There are both pros and cons to breaking up the Roci crew. It provides a chance to explore each of the characters deeper and more personally. In Amos’ case, we receive a rare look into the past of the normally secretive person. It’s interesting to see that even so far into the future, Charm City is still the same with boys working those corners to deliver people their fixes. For fans of the source material, the show nicely and seamlessly incorporates elements of The Churn novella into the overall narrative and finds a clever method for flashbacks that reflect Amos’ mental state.
By spreading out the characters to various locations, we can see how the story develops from different angles. Bobbie and Alex, Naomi, Avasarala, and Drummer are all involved in some way with Marco and although there might be a general idea of what’s happening, it should be interesting to see how each of their parts are interconnected as the show progresses. In addition, with so many separate investigations, we receive even more of the science fiction/detective noire mystery mash up The Expanse has done so well previously.
Unfortunately, it can also feel there are too many storylines to keep up with. Moving back and forth between everyone this early makes it a bit frantic and there are times where we might not see someone for an entire episode. Add in the introduction of more characters and it can be a little overwhelming and confusing.
As usual, the series continues to impress with its high production value. The depiction of weightlessness always amazes and the special effects never come off cheesy or artificial. You’ll be rocked by the epic game changing cliffhanger.
Although it can be overbearing to keep up with all the assorted characters, locations, and storylines, these three episodes of The Expanse explores more of the Roci crew individually and effectively sets up the fifth season by approaching its main antagonist and conflict from different perspectives.
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