The Expanse review: “Redoubt” delivers an emotional respite


Could things possibly get any more intense in the final season of The Expanse on Amazon Prime Video? After last week’s space dogfight in “Force Projection,” I was fully expecting to get a break, maybe some room to breathe and take in the scenery on Ceres.

But while the sci-fi epic’s latest outing, “Redoubt,” does give us a bit of recovery time, it also delivers some of the heaviest punches of the season so far. There’s a lot to break down this week, so let’s get right to it. It’s another weekly recap / review of The Expanse season 6!

As always, there will be SPOILERS APLENTY below for the latest episode of The Expanse.

The Expanse

What are you doing with that body, Cara?!

As always, we open on Laconia. It’s definitely become a trend at this point to have a cold open on the colony planet, which I firmly expect to continue through to the end of the season. The scene is a bit more somber this time around, as the camera pans across the wake for Cara’s brother. Points once again need to be given to the snappy background writing here, which delivers tons of great information that you can easily miss if you tune out for even a second. Like that the driver of the car that accidentally killed Cara’s brother is most likely going to be executed via firing squad?! Talk about frontier justice.

Regardless, the viewpoint stays firmly fixed on Cara (Emma Ho) as it has in every one of these Laconia scenes, but this time we get a lot more info and the single best Laconia scene to date when Admiral Duarte (Dylan Taylor) sits down next to her. This is Duarte’s first appearance in the show, but it seems pretty easy to put together the pieces about who this guy is (and book readers will certainly know). He’s the one calling the shots on Laconia, responsible for the safety of the colony and whatever protomolecule-related project is floating around the planet in orbit. Duarte and Cara have a fantastic conversation about grief which gives the admiral a lot of depth, before Cortázar (Carlos Gonzalez-Vio) barges in looking for him, saying that his “new coordination protocol returned a coherent reply pattern.”

Now this guy we have seen before: he was the protomolecule scientist that was abducted from Ceres Station back in season 2, and later showed up on a video call with the rogue Martian defectors that were working with the Free Navy during the finale of season 5.

Cortázar’s last words as he and Duarte rush from the room are “I think I can turn it on. I know I can.” You can bet that has to do with the protomolecule and that giant ship-thing that’s floating around the planet.

But as usual, such mysteries are left to be followed up on next week. The Laconia section ends with Cara stealing her brother’s body and carting it off into the woods, presumably to try to get her dog-creature friends to resurrect him. What could go wrong?

Ceres frays at the seams

From there we head to Ceres and the fallout of the water tank explosion during last week’s episode. Sanjrani (Jo Vannicola) urges the Belter citizens of the station to resist aid from the Inners. Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) resists the press of her advisors to abandon the station and just move on. There’s a brief bit where the leader of the MCRN forces tries to convince everyone that they should go attack Medina Station (formerly the Behemoth / Nauvoo, which is now a crossroads space station in the center of the Ring Space). After Avasarala turns her down, the commander sends a message to let Mars know of the disagreement. Foreboding.

The star of the Ceres segment of the episode is Monica Stuart (Anna Hopkins). We find out that she survived the explosion and has managed to put together a really compelling documentary showing the human toll the war is taking. This episode might have had my favorite acting from Hopkins from The Expanse’s entire run, as she records her thoughts on the dead while helping zip up body bags. The documentary is moving as hell, and despite Avasarala’s objections that it makes Earth look weak, it seems that Stuart wins her over.

The Rocinante and the Pella

Another place where “Redoubt” spends some much needed time is with the crews of the Rocinante and the Pella. It’s here that we get a break from the action, as both crews take time to repair and recover from their showdown. The writing is top notch, with callbacks to prior events and development of myriad character relationships all handled with precision.

The biggest of those callbacks is the brief moment that Amos (Wes Chatham) and Bobbie (Frankie Adams) share in the machine shop of the Roci. As they fix their gear and commiserate over the fact that the torpedo meant to kill Marco Inaros failed to explode, some twangy country music comes on. The music was a favorite of Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar), the former pilot of the Rocinante who died last season while pulling a dangerous maneuver to save Naomi (Dominique Tipper) from drifting away into space. Behind the scenes the story was much more complicated, since Anvar was let go because of a shocking number of sexual assault allegations. It’s a difficult spot for the writers because Alex plays an important role in the show (and lives on in the books). This slight nod to the character’s Mariner Valley roots felt like the perfect way to acknowledge this without glorifying the actor.

But just because things are quiet on the Pella and the Roci doesn’t mean all is well. Word that Holden (Steven Strait) disarmed the torpedo last episode to spare Naomi’s son quickly gets out, since the spaceship keeps full logs on its equipment. By the end of the episode, everyone in the crew except for Bobbie is aware of what he did, and they react in a variety of ways. My favorite was the mess hall conversation between Clarissa Mao (Nadine Nicole) and Holden, where she advises her new captain to never “regret not killing someone,” saying that all the lives she’s taken haunt her whether they were good people or bad. It’s a powerful moment that drives home the humanity of the situation, that at the end of the day everyone will have to live with the actions they take during this time of war. Strait’s quiet reactions perfectly match the power of the conversation. I don’t know that I’ve ever liked Holden as much as I have this season.

This theme is present on the Pella as well, with Filip bonding with his new maintenance partner. And even Marco is leveled when Rosenfeld (Kathleen Roberston) decides he needs more people around him who speak plainly. Robertson deserves a special nod this week, as she totally stole every scene she was in.

The Expanse

Unbent, Unbroken, Unbowed

Speaking of stealing scenes, we have to talk about Camina Drummer. Actor Cara Gee is always fantastic, but whoo boy was this week a doozy for her. If many of the other plotlines gave us a chance to catch our breath, Drummer’s raid on Marco Inaros’ supply depot was like a hard burn through dark space. The sequence began with a stomach-churning space maneuver as Drummer and her team used grapnels to hook onto an orbiting supply depot, then grew even tenser as they made their way through its vacant halls.

Once the guards showed themselves, things got crazy. The actual firefight wasn’t quite as top-notch as some of the others in The Expanse‘s run, but it carried plenty of emotional weight. The amputation of Josep’s arm is one of the most brutal things I’ve seen onscreen in a while. Michio, who Drummer was considering kicking off the crew just two episodes ago, got a redeeming moment when she come to Josep’s aid, doing a difficult thing that no one else could have. And it was heartbreaking to see Drummer’s polyamorous family go through such a traumatic event together.

It all led to Drummer’s climactic speech, where she broadcasts to the galaxy at large. “Live shamed, and die empty,” she taunts Marco Inaros, claiming she will return the supplies he stole to the citizens of the Belt. There was even a nod to Game of Thrones‘ House Martell in there, when Drummer proclaims that despite being hunted, she and her crew are “Unbent, Unbroken, Unbowed.”

Take that Marco.


“Redoubt” provided us with just enough of a rest from the action so that our guard would be down for the intense climax. The character development across the board was fantastic, and I appreciate the episode immediately starting to open the lid on Holden’s fateful decision to spare Marco Inaros. The emotional intelligence of the writing this season has been engrossing, as has its sound design, which really shone this episode because of the mix of quiet space scenes and interior scenes.

The only thing that knocked this episode down a hair for me was the firefight in the supply depot, which was a little hard to follow at points. But the sequence was saved by its intensity and Drummer’s final speech. All in all, another extremely strong episode from The Expanse’s final season.

Grade: A

Next. Shohreh Aghdashloo in talks to join The Wheel of Time. dark

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