‘The Expanse’s Nadine Nicole on Her Season 5 Redemption Story
As Amazon Prime Video’s Expanse hurtles towards it fifth season finale, the brilliantly woven together sci-fi political thriller continues to deal with Big Issues, from the quest for power and representation and the rise of tyrants — to which cultures make the best cocktails.
But one universal theme stands out: The struggle to please one’s parents while becoming an independent person.
That was the Season 3 challenge for Clarissa Mao, played by Nadine Nicole .Her misplaced devotion to her daddy — the unethical tycoon Jules-Pierre Mao (François Chau), who unleashed a lethal extra-terrestrial infection in the galaxy and was imprisoned — led her to start a war and kill those she feels were responsible for her father being locked up.
Nicole, who returned as a regular this season, talks to TV Insider about her arc from killer to hero after joining the Rocinante ship’s Amos (Wes Chatham) in rescue operations during the season’s penultimate episode.
For those who don’t know, why does Amos call Clarissa “Peaches?”
Nadine Nicole: There’s a few reasons. Amos’ actual name is Timmy. He created a new life, a path away from his dark childhood, by creating a new identity as Amos Burton. In a way, by giving Clarissa that second name, he’s giving her a chance for a better life. Secondly, her undercover name when she was exacting revenge was Melba, and there’s a dessert called Peach Melba. [Laughs]
Since Amos visited “Peaches” in a high-security Earth prison and both barely survived the asteroid attacks, they’ve gotten close. How would you describe that relationship?
He’s her new hope. I don’t think she’d be alive without him. He’s really kind of her savior. They’ve grown to trust and confide in each other as they’ve been on this road trip together. Survival bonds them.
Will she appear in the season finale?
Briefly. We’ll have to see if Amos’ fellow crew on the Rocinante will let her on the ship. She had tried to kill them. But as you saw in the season’s ninth episode, she’s trying to step up and be a better person.
How do you see Clarissa’s journey from revengeful rich girl to redemption?
It’s the journey of how far a daughter would go to receive her father’s acceptance and love. She went on a path of vengeance trying to win that from him and realized that was an impossible journey. She has to forgive herself and move on. Her past life, her past self, is finally gone.
Do you see a replay of her own struggle in the warped bond between Marco [Inaros, played by Keon Alexander] and his son, Filip [Jasai Chase Owens]?
Absolutely. Filip grew up admiring his father. This season you’re seeing him shift perspective on his own moral compass. That’s exactly what Clarissa has been doing. That scene in Episode 9 where Filip breaks down [in a manipulative Marco’s arms] realizing that his mother left him again was so moving. It breaks my heart.
Can you pinpoint the moment Clarissa realized she had killed for a father who never loved or respected her?
When she was imprisoned on the ship [in Season 3] and Holden [Steven Strait], whom she had blamed for her father’s fall and tried to kill, is in the next cell. She listens to a conversation between Naomi and Holden realizing that Holden had been on a virtuous path and was right She had been blind to who her father truly was.
She’d even had forbidden implants installed that gave her super strength. How will she handle that part of her? In Episode 9, she killed a batch of bad guys with her bare hands.
She’s trying not to use those enhancement implants, but they do come in handy when she really needs them. She’s finding both her moral compass and its bad-ass aspect. She’s trying to find her own voice, especially standing up to Amos.
We e don’t know how long Clarissa or Amos will survive, but where do you expect their relationship to go?
I think they’re both too damaged to start anything romantic together, but I do hope they continue a strong friendship.
The Expanse, Wednesdays, Amazon Prime Video