We’re at episode four of The Expanse’s six-episode final season, which means all the drama that’s been simmering is about to start boiling over. Thanks to a pair of exclusive clips io9 debuted this week, we know Amos and Naomi are going to confront Holden about one of the biggest shocks in episode three, “Force Projection.” But so much more awaits us in “Redoubt.”
By now, it’s no surprise we begin with the Laconia storyline. So far its connection to the main events of season six has been tangential, but in “Redoubt” we meet an important figure from The Expanse books in an exposition-heavy scene that takes place as Cara’s family mourns the sudden death of her little brother, Xan. (We learn he was hit by a speeding car—perhaps driven by the same person who almost mowed over Cara back in episode one? We also learn that the culprit will almost certainly face a firing squad as punishment.) As a melancholy Cara watches over Xan’s body, she’s suddenly approached by Admiral Duarte, someone we’ve heard mentioned along the way but haven’t met until now. After all that build-up, he turns out to be… sort of odd, but rather friendly. He breaks the ice by talking to Cara about Paris—she was supposed to be heading there with her scientist parents after their time on Laconia. O of course, that’s not happening now… is there even a Paris left?—but the little girl says she’s never been to Earth, and she doesn’t care about not going there. Duarte says he hasn’t been to Earth, either; as book readers well know, he is from Mars.
He soon steers the conversation toward dealing with grief, equating Cara’s sadness over losing her brother to his own sadness over losing “the dream of Mars,” because “having something you love that you can’t protect is terrifying.” To cope, he tells her, he “needed something to make it more than just death. I needed to make it a sacrifice… it’s to give something up and make it sacred. When you think about it like that it doesn’t fix anything, but it makes losing them hurt less.” Laconia is helping him fill that void, and Duarte’s job, he says, is to “keep us safe, or at least try.” This tender but seriously cryptic moment is interrupted by the entrance of Cortázar—the protomolecule scientist, frantically chaotic as always—who bursts in tell Duarte “my new coordination protocol returned a coherent reply pattern,” which is big enough news that the admiral hurries away to see for himself. There’s a shot of the glowing blue thing orbiting Laconia, and then we see Cara wheeling Xan’s body into the forest, and, well… you just know she’s hoping the “strange dog” will be able to resurrect her brother like it did the dead bird. Uh-oh.
Speaking of uh-ohs, Ceres Station is in turmoil after the water tank explosions we saw last week. Station administrator Nico Sanjrini is trying to keep the Belter faithful in line , while also noting there’s no telling who actually caused the disaster, and then begins leading the assembled in a rousing chant of “Beltalowda!” The camera pulls back and we realize we’re watching a news report alongside the Ceres-adjacent Mars and Earth leaders, including Admiral Kirino and UN Secretary-General Avasarala. These folks know the mining charges, which killed several people from all sides, were Belter in origin—more than likely set by Marco Inaros and his Free Navy on their way out the door. They also know the Belters left on Ceres won’t easily turn on Marco. Unsurprisingly, Mars—a place where military culture has reigned supreme for generations—is ready to strike back, with a plan to put Marco’s strategically crucial Medina Station out of commission and take back control of the Ring itself. Avasarala isn’t into the idea; she thinks it’s exactly how Marco expects them to react, and says UN forces won’t join the plan. When Kirino passes on the message, the reply is almost instant: Mars is “prepared to go it alone.”
After last week’s near-miss with Marco and the Pella, the Rocinante is still en route to Ceres. With the damage assessment complete, Naomi’s turned her laser focus to a new project: compiling all the data the Roci gathered on the Pella and sharing it with the entire fleet. “Someone will find that ship,” she tells Holden, and the implication hangs heavy in the air: Someone will find it and destroy it, finishing the job the Roci failed to complete. Elsewhere on the ship, Amos and Bobbie are noodling on repair projects, both still furious about that “dud” torpedo that hit the Pella, when the music they’re listening to changes over to some Hank Williams twang. “This is Alex’s music,” Amos realizes, and they share a moment crooning along and remembering their fallen friend. Then, Peaches summons Amos to another part of the ship to show him something she’s discovered: while checking and re-checking the remaining weapons to avoid another dud situation, she’s uncovered the uncomfortable truth that the missile wasn’t a dud. As viewers well know, but all the other characters have yet to discover, it was in fact disarmed by Holden at the last possible second. Amos, who’s already had some doubts about the captain of late, reacts stoically, but you know a confrontation is a-comin’.
The Roci crew is in turmoil, but that’s nothing compared to the scene aboard the Pella. Furious about the Free Navy ships that turned tail when the Pella was battling the Roci, Marco orders the captain of one ship to space the two most senior officers of the other ship. Then he turns to a startled Rosenfeld and says if the captain contacts her to try and get Marco to change his mind… that captain will also be spaced. Meanwhile, below decks, Filip—who’s been demoted after directly challenging his father—heads to his new assignment as a repair technician, working with an easygoing Belter who’s a bit taken aback at having the boss’ son as his new underling.
Before they can get started, though, Rosenfeld pops by for a chat. She’s of the opinion that Marco and Filip’s ongoing squabble is distracting from the much, much larger war the Free Navy is currently engaged in—as we’ve seen, Marco’s so emotionally unstable he’s ordering Free Navy captains to space each other—and tells Filip he needs to be the bigger Inaros and apologize. He looks thoughtful but he doesn’t commit; instead he settles into learning the ropes of his new job, patching the many holes in the Pella. When he fumbles right off the bat, he blames his co-worker for distracting him by putting the news while they work, but he eases off his bitchiness when the man explains his brother’s a dockworker on Ceres, and he hasn’t been able to reach him since the explosions. As they talk and get to know each other better, Filip gets a look in his eye we’ve seen him have before—the look of someone who’s starting to realize his father isn’t actually the center of the universe, even for Belters. (And in case you were wondering what happened to that “dud” warhead, well, it’s lodged into the hull of the Pella, waiting to be discovered by Filip and his new buddy. Filip’s eyes widen when he sees that the display reads “DISARMED.”)
Aboard the Roci, or more specifically on a space walk outside the Roci, Amos and Holden are working on repairing the battle-damaged ship. This is the moment Amos takes to bring up you-know-what, saying he can’t understand Holden’s choice. Why was sparing Marco the right thing to do? When Holden calls it “a gut decision,” Amos lays it on him: “If we’re not trying to win this fight I don’t know what I’m doing out here.” When Holden snaps back that he doesn’t need to explain himself, Amos wonders if maybe Holden is angry because he can’t explain himself.
After that Holden knows his next move has to be coming clean to Naomi, and he admits why he did it: “I couldn’t kill your son.” Naomi is furious, saying if Holden decided not to blow up the Pella on account of Naomi’s feelings, that makes her responsible for all the deadly damage Marco’s bound to do from here on out. Though they’re upset with each other, Holden and Naomi are so good at expressing their feelings respectfully that it ends in tenderness. Naomi tells him she did everything she could to save Filip—and indeed she did, as we saw last season—and made her own choice not to martyr herself in the name of motherhood: “I know I tried. Please don’t take that from me. It’s all I have left.”
Later, Holden enters the Roci kitchen just as Bobbie—the only crew member who doesn’t know the truth—is blustering on about letting the Pella get away. After Bobbie storms out, Clarissa tells Holden she’s the one who actually told Amos the truth about the dud. Then their conversation shifts to the ongoing cycle of violence they seem to find themselves trapped in. “Here we are, still trying to kill our way to a better tomorrow,” Holden says ruefully. Clarissa, still regretful about trying to kill Holden (and actually succeeding in killing many others), says she’s haunted by all the death she’s caused. “Killing someone is a terrible thing and you can never take it back,” she says, as the scene shifts to show us Naomi looking at a video of Filip on her hand terminal. “Don’t ever feel bad about not killing someone.”
Elsewhere in the Belt, Drummer and her band of pirates are scoping out one of Marco’s secret supply depots—basically an array of shipping containers lashed together to create a makeshift station. As they begin to inspect the cargo, there’s a firefight with a handful of Free Navy soldiers who were apparently there to gather supplies for an imminent pickup, though from her post on the Tynan, Michio insists no ships are incoming… yet. As everyone hurries to take care of business, one more Free Navy guy pops out and in the skirmish that follows, Josep’s arm is pinned under a crate. Michio—a trained medic—hurries to help, but the only thing to do is chop the arm off before he bleeds to death; despite the jittery blunder she made in battle earlier this season, she’s cool as can be while hacking Josep’s limb off (even OPA veteran Walker, who’s no doubt seen all kinds of carnage in his day, is impressed).
On Ceres, we get a look at what embedded reporter Monica was recording just before the explosion. Remember that aging Belter with the cat she was talking to? Well, the cat’s name is “Lucky Earther” because she is “fat and lazy and I give her whatever she wants.” His voice-over continues over footage of the aftermath of the explosion. “I don’t hate anyone. I want air and water and freedom… it’s not the inners and the Belt, it’s the people who want more hate and the ones who just want to live. I’m so tired of the hate.” Avasarala doesn’t like it (“This makes us look weak”), but Monica presses her. “If you want the enemy to see you as human, you have to see them as human.”
While Josep recovers on the Tynan, Drummer decides it’s time to open a wide-band channel and throw the gauntlet down as only she can: “This message is for the traitor, the coward, Marco Inaros. You hunted me and mine and still we are here, unbent, unbroken, unbowed. And you? You are nothing.” They speed off, towing the supplies behind them. On the Pella, Rosenfeld breaks the news to Marco that while the first two Belter officers were spaced, the captain—who did ask for mercy for them—was not spaced as Marco had specified. “You were angry when you gave the order, I assumed you meant it rhetorically… [that punishment] would have made you look scared and weak. Now you look merciful.” Of course Marco’s not a fan of being spoken to like this, but as Rosenfeld points out, “Somebody has to. Because all the people that used to are either dead or sulking around below decks picking up trash.” Then she pivots to a pep talk, telling him he can’t let the crew know he was shaken by the Roci confrontation. “You’re Marco Inaros. Things like this roll off you.”
Less hard to shake, perhaps: Drummer’s message to the universe, which inevitably hits the news feed aboard the Pella, where we hear the rest of her speech: “You stole from your own, you abandoned Ceres to the inners and left Belters to starve. You called yourself a champion and then you ran… I will always be the one who took back what you stole. Camina Drummer did this to you. Live shamed. Die empty.” When the ever-mercurial Filip hears his co-worker make a crack about how at least it wasn’t inners who stole their supplies, he leaps to his feet to give a Marco-style speech, eager to remind everyone that Drummer may be a Belter, but she’s still their enemy. “This is war and it won’t be over until we are dead or victorious… there’s no turning back now!”
Only two episodes of The Expanse left after this! Ever! How is all this gonna wrap up in two episodes? The show streams Fridays on Amazon Prime.
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