TL;DR – With the new season of The Expanse coming out in less than a week, we will catch you up on where all the characters are before the show explodes back onto our screens.
The Expanse: Season 5 Primer –
With the next season of The Expanse coming out in under a week, I thought I would stop fretting and counting down the time until release and put that energy into something productive. With that in mind, below you will find a primer for the new season to catch you up on everything you need to know before Friday. For the sake of spoilers, we will be covering everything that has been released in the show so far, and the couple of early clips that have been released from the season but no more. To make this easy, we’ll first give a general overview before explore where each of the main characters are at the start of the season.
The general overview is that the new season of The Expanse will drop on Amazon Prime this Friday/Saturday depending on your particular timezone. However, this season, not all the episodes will go live at the same time. The Expanse will be following the lead of The Boys earlier this year that released the first three episodes at once and then weekly from thereon. Personally, I found this to combine the best features of both binging and weekly release, and it worked great with The Boys, so I am looking forward to it here.
Of all the characters on the show, Amos’ (Wes Chatham) history is the one we know the least about. We know he is a Baltimore native, thus he is an inner, and that he won the Apprenticeship Lottery when he was 15 and got off Earth became a mechanic and eventually ended up on the Canterbury. However, this is a story that does not add up, and indeed back in Season Three Monica Stuart (Anna Hopkins) was quickly able to poke holes in the narrative. However, while there is not a lot we can know, there is a lot we can infer about his childhood, and it is not pleasant.
The one lifeline that we have had into Amos’ past that feels real is the reference to a lady called Lydia, a sort of surrogate mother figure. We have seen Amos, tacitly checking up on her throughout the seasons but not wanting to make contact. At the start of this season, we see Amos returning to Earth on his own because he has “personal business in Baltimore”. The last time they were in orbit of Earth when he was talking to Clarissa Mao (Nadine Nicole), or as he calls her Peaches. Here e made it perfectly clear that he had nothing he wanted to go down-well for. Something has changed for Amos, and there is only one person who can get him to go back home alone.
Back in Season One, Mars was adamant that Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) was OPA, and was indeed ready to throw her under the bus for that. But that didn’t fit who we knew Naomi to be, but it was clear she was running from something. Throughout Season Four, we finally got her story, first being told by others, and then told by herself. When she was young, she fell into the orbit of charismatic OPA fighter Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander). They fell in love and had a child together. Using Naomi’s coding ability, they develop a scam where they could remotely shut down the engines of a ship and then swing in for the rescue for a fee, and it would not look like piracy because the ship would be grateful. But this was a lie, Marco used it to blow up the ship in the docks at Luna killing all on board.
In the Season Four final episode, Naomi gets a ping on her hand terminal letting her know that the OPA has but a bounty on Marco’s head. This is the push she needs to finally call in that favour that Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) owes her. She needs him to find her son Filip (Jasai Chase Owens). From the trailer, we see that this is precisely what he has down for Naomi, and she needs to get him out of the trouble that his father has dumped him in and this is something she needs to do alone. So she jumps on a freighter to Pallas Station with not even a moment of hesitation. But what she does not know is that Filip is a core part of his father’s organisation and led the attack on the Martian shipyards.
It has not been a good year for Chrisjen (Shohreh Aghdashloo), while everyone else was off at Ilus, she was trying to hold the government together while also running for the role of Secretary-General for the United Nations. A position she inherited when the last guy resigned, and not a role she has ever had to win before. She relished the chance to have a clean fight who she knew who her enemy was, but Nancy Gao (Lily Gao) proved to better at the game than she was.
After several political blunders, Chrisjen lost the election but possibly more importantly on a personal level she lost her husband Arjun Avasarala (Michael Benyaer) who decided to stay on Earth after she was summoned to Luna by the new government. While she lost the election, Chrisjen is still a Member of Parliament and is still working at what she knows best pulling apart enemies intentions. However, now she is doing it for an almost exile up on the Moon. But this does mean that she gets to intercept a certain Amos on his way down the well (side note: I have been waiting to see this scene since Season One and I am so glad we are getting it).
It has also not been a good year for Bobbie (Frankie Adams), on her return to Mars she was dishonourably discharged from the Marines for her actions which helped save the lives of everyone in the Ring system (and conversely everyone in the Solar System) but led to the deaths of her fire team. Without her military pension, she took up a job breaking down military ships as Mars looks to wind back its military effort. Along the way, thanks to her nephew, get got stuck with a group of black-market smugglers looking to make a quick buck off the salvaged military tech.
However, as time went on, she became concerned about where they were getting their information from, because the source was too far down the military hierarchy to know the classified details. This meant that the source was more than they seemed or there was a real rot in the Martian Military … or both. Her suspicions were confirmed when during their last hand-off everyone tried to them, tying up all the loose ends. Still, many a person has tried to kill Gunnery Sergeant Roberta Draper and few are alive to testify that that was a bad idea. When Alex (Cas Anvar) comes to Mars, he finds that she has been working with Chrisjen to work out how far up the conspiracy goes in the military hierarchy.
If there is anyone in the cast that is a true Bealter in every sense of the word it is Drummer (Cara Gee). She knows the Belt, she knows its people and its ways, and she knows its politics. She knew that even though it pained her personally, it was better to let Marco go because killing him would have only started a civil war. Which is why Fred Johnson’s betrayal of her by leaking Marco’s location to the inners (which they botched up) pained her so. Marco was from the Belt, and while he should die, it should have been handled by them, the greater politics be damned. With this personal betrayal, she resigns as captain of Medina Station and instead decides to go out alone and ‘stay out of politics’
Of all the main cast, Drummer’s story is going to be the hardest to predict because it is the one that is the most changed from the books. Over the seasons, several supporting character’s stories have been incorporated into Drummer’s character, which if you have seen Cara Gee perform for five minutes, you know what a genius idea that was. What we do know is that she is tracking down what happened Klaes Ashford (David Strathairn), who we watched get murdered by Marco. For those who have read the books, my best guess they will be incorporating some elements of Michio Pa story into hers, but we will see.
All throughout Season Four, one of the core question that was being asked was just what was Marco up to? On the surface, he was thumbing his nose at the inners and the parts of the OPA that had allied with them. Breaking the treaty and stealing colony ships, and then lying to the OPA about it. It all felt overly reckless, but it was all a cover. The ship attack was to isolate Fred Johnson from the inners and parts of the OPA. The flinging of the colony ship at the asteroid detector was a test, and also while all this was going on, no one was noticing what he was getting up to on Mars.
In the final moments of Season Four, we see those plans put in motion, he has covered asteroids with Martian stealth composites and launched them at the Earth. There has always been this fear as to what happens if someone starts dropping rocks on planets. Indeed Chrisjen voiced such a concern to her grandson all the way back in Season One, and it looks like those fears were founded. We know a lot about how Marco operates from his past like how he took Filip away from Naomi when she announced she was leaving him, making he chose between her own son of staying with an emotional abuser. He is narcissistic to a tee, though I should take this small moment to apologise to Keon Alexander that when I mentioned on Twitter “they have no redeeming qualities and is a colossal douche canoe” I was referencing the character and not your performance of it.
From the moment he broadcasted his face around the Solar System as the Martians closed in James Holden (Steven Strait) has been one of the most recognised people in the galaxy with his face being spray pained onto every wall in The Belt and beyond. To some, he is a champion, to some he is an antagonist, to others still, he is a royal pain in the arse. He was the first person through the gate, had a protomolecule ghost of The Investigator (Thomas Jane) talking to him and him alone, and has held the fate of worlds in his hands. None of this he wanted, and he has always tried to do the right thing, which is why his crew still follows him after all this time.
In Season Five, we find a Holden with nothing to do, he is stuck on Tyco Station, but at least he still has his family. But then one-by-one they all go to face the demons of their past leaving him with nothing to do and also all alone. It is nice not being at the centre of the universe anymore, but when you have been it for such a long time, well then it because a hard habit just to let go of.
That ends our primer, as the new season drops this week and into the new year, we will be reviewing every episode, so make sure you check back and read them as they come out, because this season is going to change everything.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Expanse