This The Expanse review contains spoilers.
The Expanse Season 5 Episode 5
There’s a sense in The Expanse season 5 that with all of the characters separated, each one is going to get their chance to shine. Naomi and Amos take center stage in “Down and Out,” but the episode also expertly foreshadows future confrontations and highlights the consequences for going after conspirators, whether with Holden’s aborted pursuit of the Zmeya or Alex’s narrow escape from the Barkeith. In this way, the show is able to maintain tension in the background even as drama unfolds on Earth and aboard Marco’s ship.
In the case of Alex and Bobbie, it was a desperately needed boost. Not that we would wish for them to dump their core and be drifting in space, but their storyline was in danger of becoming too procedural and expository. Alex is at his best when piloting, and besides confirming with Bobbie that the Martian military has been selling frigates to the Belters (something we kind of already knew), it was nice to see the Razorback in action.
Plus now we know that their recovery from that dogfight will be exciting to watch, just as it’s clear that the brief scene involving Drummer will yield drama in a future episode. It may appear at first as though Drummer’s decision to meet with Inaros is ill-advised, but Marco had set up a “either with us or against us” scenario. The only way to take down these terrorists may be from within, and we can always hope that Drummer’s crew can effect a rescue for Naomi may as well.
Naomi’s confinement, however, has given us some of the best acting from Dominique Tipper we’ve seen in The Expanse. We can almost feel her hunger and discomfort as she navigates the ship, supposedly free to go where she wishes. It may not have been the best idea to take a knife to the bridge, but Filip’s interference (“I saved your life!”) gave her the hint she needed to warn Holden about the sabotage onboard the Rocinante.
Interesting timing, that! Marco’s ships are either very close to Tycho or her transmission delay was just short enough to arrive just in time — an understandable narrative allowance for The Expanse as a TV show rather than a book. Holden’s small progress was made more thrilling by this narrow escape, and without that moment of drama, all we would have is his fruitless interrogation, his uncovering of Zmeya’s flight plan, and the fact that Bull will be accompanying him as pilot.
The fact that Naomi inferred Marco’s use of her Augustin Gamarra code is quite telling of her past with the extremists. Marco is clearly very manipulative of his son, and it’s likely he was just as controlling of Naomi in the past. Despite the fact that Cyn defends Naomi against Marco’s power games, his attempts to take her mind off of her imprisonment fail spectacularly but also give Naomi the opportunity she needs to let Holden know where she is. Very effective storytelling!
But of course all eyes in this episode of The Expanse are on Amos as he extracts himself and Clarissa from the underground prison. The slow ascent is somehow made more entertaining by the group’s dependence the super-strong Konechek, both through his cavalier attitude and through Amos’ use of the nickname “Tiny.” Even though the eventual betrayal is unsurprising, the battle leading to Amos throwing the prisoner down the elevator shaft was everything we could ask for in a fight scene.
Poor Clarissa, though, activated her berserker mode for nothing! Where she and Amos will go now is anyone’s guess, but we know the journey will be a highlight of The Expanse season 5. In the meantime, “Down and Out” stands as a perfectly balanced episode with the necessary plots taking the spotlight while the other pieces move into place. The overall effect is to create anticipation while delivering on action, something at which this series excels.