‘The Expanse’: Drummer’s Grief Boils Over & Naomi Takes Control (RECAP)

Spoiler Alert
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The Expanse

Hard Vacuum

Season 5 • Episode 8

rating: 4.0 stars

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Expanse Season 5, Episode 8, “Hard Vacuum.”]

No other character has lost as much during the course of this season as Camina Drummer (Cara Gee). First, she finds out Klaes Ashford (David Strathairn), her friend, is gone. Then she discovers Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) had been killed. It seems bosmeng Camina can’t stop losing people — and all at the hands of Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander).

In “Hard Vacuum,” Drummer takes another loss, and it pushes her over the edge, revealing a side of her character we’ve rarely seen before. Elsewhere, Amos (Wes Chatham) and “Peaches” (Nadine Nicole) continue their journey to Baltimore, and Naomi (Dominique Tipper) fights for survival.

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Changing the Message

Aboard her ship, Naomi’s situation goes from bad to worse. Sure, she survived doing a “hard vacuum,” but Marco’s people have rigged the ship to blow with proximity detonators. On top of that, the ship is transmitting a distress signal in her voice: “This is Naomi Nagata, of the Rocinante. Tell James Holden I am in distress. Comms are not responding I have no nav control. Please re-transmit.” She tries to modify the message being broadcast, but a vac suit with no oxygen connection means she can only complete pieces of her work at a time. While she works, Alex (Cas Anvar) and Bobbie (Frankie Adams) receive the call and transmit it to Holden (Steven Strait) who, obviously, thinks it’s real.

New Mission, Same Drummer

Drummer’s having a hard time adjusting to serving Marco, especially when she and her crew are salvaging the wreckages of ships that once contained Belter factions who disliked him. Her crew tries to argue their role hasn’t changed — they’re still stripping ships of data cores and other useful tech — but Drummer won’t hear it. “Marco kills those who defy him, and we pick the bodies clean,” she snarls.

That anger is woven through her later conversation with Oksana (Sandrine Holt), who tries to calm Drummer, telling her they had no choice and that they’ll get through this together. “I’m not sure I can,” Drummer says. Tensions are eased among the crew, well, except for the one Belter Marco sent to their ship to work with them. After Drummer hears Naomi’s (fake) distress call, she says she saw Naomi go out an airlock. Strictly speaking, that’s true; she has no idea Naomi survived.

“You’re lying,” Drummer hisses, her temper flaring. “That was her voice.” The crew member proceeds to say the message was faked (which is also true), and she calls Naomi a traitor to her people. Drummer yells at her and storms away into a storage room, where she lets out a heartrending scream of pure grief. She then opens the bottle of whiskey she’d once planned to share with Ashford and chugs it, takes her hair out of its elaborate style, and cries.

Amos’ Journey Continues

We also check in with Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) this episode, who’s making her return to politics…and finding it more bloodthirsty than she anticipated. The new UN President wants to strike back, hard. Avasarala’s fine with that, but she’s not fine with authorizing a strike against Pallas Station, which Admiral Delgado (Michael Irby) suggests. Pallas is a civilian ship with 13,000 people at the heart of the belt, and there are plenty of innocents housed there.

“If we start murdering innocent Belters, we’ll radicalize every Belter who does not support Inaros,” Avasarala argues. But Delgado meets with the UN president on his own, and it appears the leader sees his side.

Amos and Clarissa make it to Baltimore, where they find Erich (Jacob Mundell). At first, Erich’s welcome is frosty — after all, Erich did say he’d kill Amos if he ever came back! — but he warms to the duo once Clarissa suggests a new plan for survival. Their best chance of making it off of Earth, she says, is to head for the nearby Winnipesaukee Island, which had vacation homes for rich people (a former wealthy person, she would know). Once they’re there, they can steal a shuttle, and voila! Freedom to Luna. Erich agrees to go with them. What choice does he have, really?

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It’s Not Impossible

As the episode ends, Naomi finally succeeds in her quest to modify the message, which now reads: “This is Naomi Nagata of the Rocinante. Tell James Holden I am…in control.” Oksana and Marco’s crew member hear the modified call, and Oksana suggests it could be Naomi.

“That’s impossible,” her companion says. “She’s dead.”

Stay tuned.

The Expanse, Wednesdays, Amazon Prime Video