Review: The Expanse returns for season 5, excellent as ever

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The first three episodes of The Expanse season 5 are here! Leaning on character more than ever before, they set up what could be the best season yet.

The Expanse is finally back, and the crew of the Rocinante must find their way in the new world they helped usher in last season. Following the events on Illus, millions of people from all over the system have begun moving to the newly discovered Ring Systems to colonize new worlds. But Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi (Dominique Tripper), Alex (Cas Anvar), and Amos (Wes Chatham) will be traveling different paths into their unsettled pasts.

The first three episodes dropped today on Amazon Prime Video! We review all of them below, and we’ll be back with weekly reviews for the rest of the season.

Dominque Tipper (Naomi Nagata)

Episode 501: “Exodus”

The opening scene gives us our first look at Filip Inaros, Naomi’s son. The casting is on point, as he looks like both Naomi and Marcos (Keon Alexander), his father. We know exactly who he is without needing to be told.

Unfortunately, the first thing we see Filip and his team do is murder and steal from a peaceful science vessel in order to keep secret the fact that Marcos has sent asteroids hurtling towards Earth, as we saw at the end of season 4. The message here is that Filip is — or at least can be — as brutal as his father. This is the beginning to what could be a little character arc for Filip. As the son of two very powerful and intelligent people, he could be very important to the system in the future.

Naomi is just finishing up work on the Roci when Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) shows her Filip, the first time she’s seen her teenaged son. Her reaction is genuinely moving; it’s as big a moment for her as when she experienced gravity and saw a sky for the first time last season. After Naomi gets the details on what Filip had done on the science vessel, she decides she needs to reach him if there is any hope of saving him from his father.

Meanwhile, Alex and Amos both make their way back to their home planets. Alex enjoys a quiet ride to Mars in Bobby’s (Frankie Adams) Razorback, while Amos lands on Earth and starts “reliving old days” by beating up some bullies trying to take advantage of poor travelers.

Alex, whose Martian family basically cut him out of their lives, tries to connect with Bobby, but her life isn’t where it should be and she shrugs him off, leaving him to his self-pity. Amos pays a visit to Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), and the two have a mildly funny conversation filled with cheerful vulgarity.

Both men are returning to their home planets to find them emptying of people heading to the new Ring Systems; “for sale” and “going out of business” signs light up the Martian cities. Home is where the heart is, but both Alex and Amos will have a lot of work to do to stop that home from collapsing.

Of course, we could only get 26 minutes into the new season before Holden reunites with the protomolecule. Holden is worried about Fred Johnson’s personal sample after a reporter grills him with some questions. He explains about his strange connection to the protomolecule and how he can see the life that lives between the ring gates, the same life that killed the creators of the protomolecule. It’s something that genuinely scares Holden, but his warnings fall on mostly deaf ears. He’s left to worry about his crew and those traveling through the ring gates without a way to warn them of the potential danger.

Speaking of danger, in the final scene we check in with the asteroid on its way to Earth, complete with a crazed voiceover by Marcos Inaros. Though his overall goals are a mystery, his ability to achieve them isn’t in question. He’s painted as a strong, charismatic leader with a large following who are willing to kill for him.

But he just appears a little too crazy to me. None of the characters on the show are exactly like their book counterparts, but the show’s version of Marcos seems to be missing more than usual. It’s still too early to tell, but this Macros Inaros could be a much more irrational character, and a much more deadly one.

Episode Grade: B