Every X-Ray bonus episode of The Expanse, explained

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It’s hard to believe The Expanse is over. The show that saw humans colonize the solar system, discover an alien substance called the protomolecule, and travel through the Ring Gates to distant worlds has had one hell of a run, first for three seasons on the Syfy Channel and then another three on Amazon Prime Video. James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have a special place in the hearts of so many viewers, as evidenced by the passionate fanbase the show has gathered over these past seven years.

Yet all good things must end. I still hold out hope that the show may one day return to adapt the final three novels of the book series by James S.A. Corey, but that’s a story for another day.

For now, we celebrate the end of the show’s run on Amazon Prime. Now that the epic 63-minute conclusion of The Expanse has aired, you could hardly be blamed for giving this latest season a re-watch. However, there’s one bit of bonus content you may have missed, and which is pretty much essential to getting the most from the show’s sixth and final season.

A newer trend on Amazon Prime Video is for the studio to release X-Ray bonus content for its original shows. We saw this in the form of animated lore videos with The Wheel of Time, but for The Expanse, the producers gave us something truly special. Each of the first five episodes of season 6 has a short five-ish minute bonus episode attached; when strung together, they make up a mini-series called “One Ship.” These can be accessed by going to the “bonus content” section of each episode’s X-Ray, though it should be noted that they aren’t accessible on every kind of device (for me it works on my computer but not my PlayStation 4, for example), so some experimentation may be necessary.

The “One Ship” videos are no throwaway scenes, but extra mini-episodes that give powerful looks into the motivations of certain characters. There’s even pretty crucial information in some of them, including a character death which is never mentioned in the main series.

There will of course be SPOILERS for season 6 of The Expanse ahead, as we’ll be discussing and breaking down when you should slot these X-Ray episodes in for the most complete viewing experience. Without further adieu, let’s get to it.

The Expanse

X-Ray 1 — “Ankwala”

When to watch: After Episode 1, “Strange Dogs”

"Belters have a creed. The doctrine of One Ship. As cells are separate but also make a body, so a ship is made from a crew, and a people from their ships."

The first X-Ray bonus episode of The Expanse comes out of the gate swinging straight for the feels, which should be no surprise considering that it’s about Camina Drummer (Cara Gee) and her polyamorous family. “Ankwala” picks up with Drummer’s crew right after “Strange Dogs,” and we immediately see some of the fallout from the episode proper. The X-Ray opens with Josep (Samer Salem) discovering that Marco Inaros has just raised the bounty on Drummer’s crew. We then get a brief scene that highlights the conflicted feelings Drummer and Josep have over the fact that Michio (Vanessa Smythe) is going to be removed from the crew, owing to her freeze-up during battle that almost cost everyone their lives.

Drummer has a call with Liang Walker (Stuart Hughes) — who we formally meet in the next episode, “Azure Dragon” — and we learn that they’ve had to reschedule their drop-off meeting for Michio, which also takes place in that episode. This is something that’s referenced during the meeting, so it’s cool to get a bit more behind-the-scenes context.

But the real heart of “Ankwala” is when Michio confides in Josep that she snuck a look at Drummer’s hand terminal…and that she was upset to find that the only recordings on it were of Naomi (Dominique Tipper). Drummer has saved a video of Naomi singing her happy birthday, a recounting of the Roci crew’s trip to Ilus, and even a video from just after Naomi’s rescue in the finale of season 5. In it, Naomi thanks Drummer, saying that Holden told her that if it wasn’t for Drummer’s aid the Roci would never have been able to save her. Which cost Drummer dearly, as it led to Marco Inaros murdering one of her family members and placing a bounty on her.

Michio claims this as a sign that Drummer is still pining after Naomi, and only settling for her polyamorous family members. For his part, Josep tries to put it behind him and encourages Michio to as well. “None of us came here without a past,” he tells her. After convincing her to promise not to look at Drummer’s terminal again, the two break down into tears and hug, because Michio is soon to leave the crew and they’re all struggling to accept it. Both Salem and Smythe do an incredible job of selling these difficult emotions, and it’s great to see their relationship brought to the forefront in this bonus episode.

The episode ends with Drummer deleting all of Naomi’s messages that she had been saving. This gives so much more context for their tense meeting during the season’s fifth episode, “Why We Fight.” Like I said, straight for the feels.

“Ankwala” gives a taste of just how integral these X-Ray episodes are to the overarching story of season 6, but there’s a lot more to come.