The Expanse S5 Episodes 1 through 3 – The Politics is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Just in time for Christmas, the Expanse is back for Season 5 and we’re so ready (and not ready). This season opens up 173 days after the events of the end of Season 4. Humanity is starting not travel through the ring gates to explore the ring worlds. Nancy Gao is getting her revenge on Chrisjenn Avasarala by having her stuck in a dead-end post on the moon where Gao can continue to embarrass her, the crew/family of the Rocinante separating to handle their own personal business. And Marcos…well Marcos is waiting for all the rocks he threw at the other worlds to hit. This is all just in episode 1.
The Expanse truly encapsulates what SciFi TV shows set in space should be. It has big, beautiful set pieces. A diverse cast. And most importantly, despite the futuristic settings, a political message that is grounded in reality and ties into themes we see today. Each season of The Expanse always manages to find a way to show how politics runs the world for both good and bad. Politics has always been the center of The Expanse and this season is no different. When you think about it, Earth and Mars really did have a cold war going on between the two of them and it turns out, Mars lost. Last season wasn’t exactly subtle about how with the threat of war with Earth gone, Mars’ economy was collapsing. This season picks that right up with some interesting dynamics. Mars is like the collapsing Soviet Union. Earth is the United States, pompously thinking they’re still the center of the universe while they are oblivious to the damage they’ve done and the damage coming their way. The Belters are like all the countries that were used and abused by the US and Soviet Union during the cold war that are now left to fend for themselves. The Belters never had a world of their own. Their footing was never on solid ground and so we get disparate groups/factions that all think their way is the best for the Belt. Fred Johnson, who isn’t a Belter, thinks the way forward is to be more like Mars and Earth (hence the building of a gunship and the alliances he tries to build). Drummer has gone back to piracy. Marcos has gone to full on terrorism but you can’t help but understand why he feels this way. This is the backdrop that The Expanse is set in and every season is more engaging than the next. We know that while the crew is all on their own separate missions, everything is going to tie back together and it's not gonna be good for anyone.
The other thing that makes The Expanse so good is that there are so many broken characters and they carry that with them each season. Normally that would be cause for worry because you would think that would mean there is no growth for the characters. However with The Expanse that’s part of what makes it so grounded. Each character has a reason for being who they are. Amazingly the most solid characters mentally seem to be the ones that are traditionally the most unstable. Bobbi has her issues but you always know where you stand with her and she is pretty much grounded in her sense of duty. Which explains her helping Avasarala. Amos, as crazy as he is, is completely grounded in who he is and what he’s doing (and despite what he says, he does have a soft spot). And now, after 4 seasons, Holden has also reached a mostly grounded point. Of course this might have more to do with the fact that once you get your mind cracked open by an ancient alien race that forces you to contemplate the entire existence of mankind, everything else just seems small.
With all this going on and the inter-humanity fighting going on it’s easy to forget there’s still an ancient alien force out there and apparently they’re very angry and not up for humanity’s shenanigans. Can't wait to see where this goes.
Premium members can listen to Ro & Kriss go into more details about the first three episodes of this season. We'll be posting spoiler reviews after every third episode, so stay tuned.