When we last left The Expanse, the surviving crew of the Rocinante have a long overdue reunion. However, that is the only happy part of the season five finale since Marco asserts his dominance in the Ring. Meanwhile, Earth is still recovering from Inaros’ deadly stealth asteroid attack and Avasarala fills the leadership void and looks to put an end to Marco with the aid of the Roci.
You would think the combination of a final season and reduced episode order would encourage the premiere to start off with a bang but the series continues with its usual slow methodical approach. “Strange Dogs” catches the viewer up with what’s happened since the finale with Marco’s assent with the Belters along with Earth’s deterioration.
There is a large-scale feel jumping back and forth between the different groups and locations. Avasarala and Bobbie try to keep things together on Earth. It’s sad to see the state the planet is in from the constant asteroid bombardment. Once temperate and fruitful areas such as the Mediterranean are a barren wasteland from all the atmospheric events. Shohreh Aghdashloo instills Chrisjen with the steel resolve needed of a great leader in hard times.
Elsewhere in The Expanse, the Roci is running recon missions in Belter territory to figure out what the enemy is up to. We’re treated to a tense and stunning, albeit short, dogfight between the ship and Marco’s forces. They also play up the tension between the crew including the hesitancy behind allowing one time enemy, Clarissa Mao on board.
There is also the friction between couple, Holden and Naomi. Since they overcame great odds to be together again the latter doesn’t need any additional reckless behavior from her partner, especially when their day job is already so dangerous. They do find a lead in stopping the asteroid assault so it should be interesting to see where that takes the group.
Checking in with the main antagonist, Marco, we find how good he is at accumulating power but not at really leading. His ruthlessness towards anyone that doesn’t support his cause cements his position but he’s not adept at providing for his people. He uses ceremonial gestures to drum up support but if he’s unable to actually improve the lives of other Belters, he could see a battle on another front much closer to home.
We can’t bring up Marco and not talk about the other Inaros, Filip. The character is now in the running for most insufferable on this season of The Expanse. He doesn’t have the charisma or vision of his father and he comes off as a bratty boy cashing in on the reputation of the family name. He’s that guy in the club that can’t stop leaving girls alone and by sheer shotgun method, can find at least one person to go home with. There are early signs of Marco’s lack of faith in his son and that will be put to the test as Filip finds himself in a precarious situation at the end of the episode.
Not as fully developed as the other plot lines, we do catch up with Drummer and how life on the run has impacted her and her team. The show wouldn’t come back to her if she didn’t have a significant role to play but what that is is yet to be seen.
What’s more intriguing is the opening with a young girl observing and recording the local fauna on a planet in the Laconia System. Is she part of the renegade Martian group that we saw last season or from a different group all together? I’d love to see where this leads but with so much else going on and only five more episodes left, I worry that it might not be fully developed by the end.
There doesn’t seem to be any urgency in the season six premiere despite the shortened final season, but the show builds the tense methodical story telling we’ve grown accustomed to.
New episodes of The Expanse are released Fridays on Amazon Prime Video.
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