‘The Expanse’ Season 5 Comes to an Explosive — and Tragic — Conclusion (RECAP)

Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala in The Expanse - Season 5
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Amazon Prime Video

The Expanse

Nemesis Games

Season 5 • Episode 10

rating: 4.5 stars

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Expanse Season 5, Episode 10, “Nemesis Games.”]

Throughout the past five seasons of The Expanse, the Roci crew has seemed immortal.While other favorite characters have died — including Miller (Thomas Jane) and Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) — Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi (Dominique Tipper), Amos (Wes Chatham) and Alex (Cas Anvar) are never home when the Grim Reaper visits.

And yet, in “Nemesis Games,” one of the core four can evade death no longer.

Visually, the episode is as stunning as ever, and emotional beats with Drummer (Cara Gee) and Naomi hit hard. At times, the action does drag, but the conclusion is stunning. Undoubtedly, fans are already looking forward to the sixth (and final) season.

Turning Around & Fighting

As the episode opens, the Roci is being pursued by five of Inaros’ ships (one of which Drummer and her crew are on). Holden and his team opt to take the Free Navy vessels on in a fight, which gives Alex and Bobbie the chance to get away — and to find Naomi.

Naomi manages to rig the ship so it’s in a spiral, rather than flying away from Alex and Bobbie. Their only option is to dock with the ship to retrieve her, except for the fact that both ships are heavily damaged, and doing so requires a High G burn that might cause them both to have massive strokes. Just another day in space, right?

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Listening to Marco No More

Meanwhile, things have gone from bad to worse aboard Drummer’s ship. Karal says she’ll take fire control, meaning that she’ll fire the shot that destroys the Roci — or so she thinks. As always, Drummer has a plan…and she has no intention of harming her friends. She pulls a gun on Karal and tells her to get out of the chair, and then fires a blast at her own ship, making it appear they had a malfunction. Karal fights her and one of her own joins in on Karal’s side, but Michio clubs Karal over the head with a fire extinguisher, killing her.

Drummer’s crew starts to take down the Belter ships that are targeting the Roci, and eventually, only ships that mean them no harm are left. Holden patches through to them and delivers a message: shut down reactors and stand down. The relief in Drummer’s voice is evident when she responds: “Holden, this is Drummer.”

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A Cowboy’s Farewell

Naomi throws herself out the airlock of the ship (she’s wearing a space suit this time, though!), in hopes she can get far enough from it for her friends to rescue her without setting off the proximity detonator. She doesn’t, and she has an extremely limited air supply. Thankfully, Alex and Bobbie are smart enough to figure out a way to get her without triggering the explosives; Bobbie goes out, by herself in her Martian suit, to get Naomi. She succeeds and it appears all is well, but when Bobbie radios Alex to tell him to get the auto-doc ready for Naomi, he doesn’t respondand there’s blood dripping from his nose. He’s had a fatal stroke.

Having a very bad day is Marco Inaros, who has learned about Drummer’s betrayal. He uses that treachery to send her a message by sending out of the airlock a member of her crew he traded for Karal several episodes earlier. He then sends Drummer the man’s recording of his final moments, as he begs for his life and pleads. The plan — and its impact — splits Drummer’s family down the center. “You knew this would be the price,” Oksana (Sandrine Holt) says, angered. She and one other of Drummer’s family leave, while two remain with her. Of course, Drummer is devastated.

A New Family Member?

Thankfully, some things have gone right. Holden and Naomi reunite aboard the Roci, and he consoles her, saying Alex’s death wasn’t her fault; she doesn’t seem to believe it, but she’s happy to be back with the man she loves. Amos is safe on Luna, along with Erich and Clarissa (Nadine Nicole). Erich proposes they work together again, but Amos turns it down — he has to go back to his family.

He finds his family has lost a member, though, and he, Naomi and Holden process that loss together. After they finish reflecting about Alex, he asks to talk to Holden alone, and he reminds his captain of a time when Holden once said he would put Amos down if it came to it (that was a long time ago!). He asks Holden if he meant it at the time, and Holden says that was a long time ago, there’s no hard feelings and “they’re family now.” Those are just the words Amos wanted to hear: He says, “She’s going to stay with us,” and thanks Holden for “being cool about this.” Holden looks horrified at seeing Clarissa Mao again and the fact that she’s now on his ship, but what choice does he have?

The Roci crew is then invited to a government soiree, and it appears the tides have turned and they have the upper hand over Marco. Avasarala delivers a rousing speech ending with “this is how we win.” But have they, really?

Marco’s Knife in the Darkness

Across the galaxy, Marco is delivering his own speech. “You must always have a knife in the darkness,” he tells his son, maintaining that this will be something talked about by generations yet to come. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Protomolecule sample the Belters had is still out there; it wasn’t destroyed when the ship it was on self-destructed. At the party, Avasarala tells Holden and his crew to come with her: there’s been another attack at the Ring.

That’s Marco’s knife in the darkness — he’s attacked the UN ships at the ring gate, using Medina Station, which has coordinated with him. Oh, and he has Martian ships on his side, too, so they’re firing at everything that isn’t on the Free Navy’s side, too. As the Belters around him chant his name, Marco smirks, pleased with his victory, while Filip looks on, seemingly disheartened.

What Does Mars Know?

Back on Luna, Avasarala and Bobbie are wondering how a whole fleet of Martians went rogue and sided with Inaros. Holden knows why. “He may have bought them,” he says. Avasarala ponders aloud why they would want the Protomolecule after what it did on Ilus, and Holden says, “maybe they know something we don’t.”

That certainly seems to be the case. In the final scene, a Martian commander (Sauviterre, from earlier in the season) and crew member approach the Ring and receive a transmission from Marco, declaring the planet his and thanking a man named Duarte for his help. They receive a transmission from Cortazar — you know, the Protomolecule scientist from two seasons ago? — declaring the Protomolecule has arrived on the planet and they are seeing “great results,” including towering structures in the sky. Sauviterre and his crew member start to go through the Ring, but, surprisingly, as their ship enters, the Ring goes from blue to red and the ship appears to dissolve. How? Why? Those questions, it seems, are for Season 6 to answer.

The Expanse, returns late 2021, Amazon Prime Video