‘The Expanse’ Season 5 Review: Factions and Unity


Spoilers Below

The Expanse, developed by Mark Fergus and Hawk Osby (and based on the sci-fi book series of the same name by James S.A. Corey), is one of today’s best science fiction television shows because it deals with contemporary issues and humanizes marginalized groups. The series is an excellent demonstration of how one should adapt a novel into a successful TV series. Season 5 continues that trend.

In this latest season, Belter terrorist and leader of the “Free Navy” Marco Inaros threatens Earth and any peace among the three human groups. Ex- Martian Marine Corps Sergeant Bobbie Draper, Luna Ambassador Chrisjen Avasarala, and retired Martian Navy pilot Alex Kamal investigate the Martian military who appear to be selling weapons on the black market to aid the “Free Navy.” Naomi Nagata and James Holden try to stop the terrorist group from destroying Earth or hurting innocent civilians. Amos Burton deals with some unfinished business down on Earth but finds himself in the middle of a disaster zone. The season ends on a major cliffhanger that left me on the edge of my seat waiting for Season 6.

My only minor complaint is there is not a lot of Chrisjen and Bobbie scenes in Season 5. Audiences fell in love with the dynamics between these two women in Seasons 2 and 3. They turned from reluctant allies to friends. In Season Four, they only had an episode together during a state dinner in the Mars colony. But the two left on bad terms when Bobbie rejected Chrisjen’s job offer. Though at the end of the season, she accepts the job. The only problem is Chrisjen was no longer the U.N. Secretary-General. Now Bobbie and Chrisjen are in different parts of the galaxy. Bobbie sends the Ambassador progress reports on all the black-market weapons sales that she is tracking. They are only in the same room for the finale when it’s all serious business.

Even though my favorite characters are featured heavily this season, I miss seeing these two women’s snarky banter. Bobbie and Chrisjen are both protective of one another, but their intense personalities mean they butt heads sometimes. Hopefully, there will be more scenes of them together in Season 6 since Bobbie will be Chrisjen’s Martian advisor as they continue to figure out how to control the protomolecule.

Chrisjen Avasarala has transformed from a war hawk to a more compassionate leader who sees everybody’s humanity. When the series first started, Under-Secretary Avasarala was power-hungry and very Earth-centric. Chrisjen had viewed the Martians as her enemy because one of their Marines killed her son. From her perspective Belters were weak-minded worker bees who are meant to be serving Earth. She didn’t understand why they wanted more autonomy. Her friendship with Bobbie softened her stance on Martians.

In Season 3, she worked with the Rochiante crew which is made up of Belters, Martians, and U.N. citizens. Chrisjen began to see them all as people trying to do the right thing. Everything was not so black and white, especially since her government was trying to arrest her. Her election defeat in Season 4 humbled the great politician as well. Now in Season Five, Chrisjen no longer sees everybody on the Belt and Mars as the enemy.

When Inaros’ missiles hit Earth, they kill millions of human beings. Chrisjen loses her husband Arjun, who she has not seen since she was assigned to a Luna posting. The new Secretary-General Nancy Gao is killed as well. Gao’s replacement is David Paster, who used was Minister of Transportation. Paster invites Chrisjen to join his acting cabinet because of her vast experience and the fact that she prevents catastrophic attacks on Earth. Chrisjen lost a lot personally, but she is back in political favor.

The bombing of Earth leaves most of the Cabinet Members in a self-perseveration mode. Shockingly, Paster wants to offensively attack the Belt even though their sanctioned military, the OPA, and the everyday people have done nothing against Earth. The U.N. Admiralty intends to take out three Big Belter Stations, the Hygiea, Iapetus, and Pallas, where civilians (including children) live. When other cabinet members argue that the missiles would murder millions of innocents who don’t even support Inaros, the admiralty retorts the response proportional. Admiral Felix Delgado argues Chrisjen set a prescient by taking out Deimos. Chrisjen points out that the bombing of Deimos is not equivalent to destroying the three stations. Deimos Station was a military base with no civilians in sight. She believes the assault will radicalize Belters and unite them all under the “Free Navy.”

In the first season, Chrisjen wouldn’t have batted an eye at killing millions of innocent Belters. After meeting them over the years, she can longer ignore the reality that they are all human beings under all the biological changes from living in space for their whole lives. She has even bonded with Mei Meng, a young Belter girl who mad scientists kidnaped. At the end of the season, Chrisjen is back to being Acting Secretary-General. She gathers all of her allies: the Rochinate crew, Bobbie, and a couple of others from the U.N. Chrisjen gives a speech where she talks about how all these human factions fighting together for one common goal is the Free Navy’s worst nightmare. Marco Inaros’ thrives on conflict and hatred. Only when everybody comes together in friendship can humanity defeat any obstacle.

I would recommend The Expanse Season 5 to anybody who loves intelligent science fiction. If we continue to allow differences in opinion, nationality, race, religion, or sexuality to split everybody into factions, this show will be close to our actual future. Hopefully, if we band together, we can build a world full of love, understanding, and compassion.

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