The season 4 finale of The Expanse was a wonderful melting pot of all that makes this series so compelling – and at times frustrating (but in a good way). For all the positive vibes that episode 10 thrust our way, there were certainly an equal number of unsettling developments that leave you wondering what will happen next – and that we want that “next” pretty badly. It’s a nice little moment in time when we want resolution, but are happy we don’t get it.
And therein lies the beauty of what The Expanse is and what it means to those who are fans. We love the journey and uncertainty as much as we love the clarity and bumpiness of the road we travel on with Holden, Naomi, Amos and the gang.
But before we get too far along, I want to once again register my sadness and dismay at the loss of Wei. Jess Salguiero was a shining light that brought a nice chemistry with Amos to the screen this season. Watching Amos have to kill her was gut-wrenching. I’m still not over it. There, I have cried my last cry over it. Wei..love you, lady. (sniff, sniff…).
One of the things I’m looking forward to seeing explored in the next season (note that optimism!) is this burgeoning relationship between Marco Inaros, his followers and what appears to be a rapidly decaying Martian military complex. It would seem that the black market is really a raging thing on Mars, and Marco is taking advantage of that for a very evil purpose. We see that play out in the season finale, don’t we?
So in the final, we’ve got the Martian-Belter relationship being viewed from two sides. Klaes Ashford is hunting Marco on the one end, while Bobby Draper, Esai and the team are dealing (or about to deal) with it on Mars. While it seemed initially that the two separate stores might have some small relationship, we learn through the episode that they are very much connected. And in a terrifying way.
And by the end of the episode, another of my favorite characters is forced out an air lock to his death. Yes, Klaes Ashford finally finds Marco and boards his ship. Through a hailstorm of fire, he fights his way to the bridge only to be confronted not by a weapon-toting Marco (Nice shot, Klaes), but Naomi’s son, who is packed and loaded. It’s a disappointing moment in that we see the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. The anger of Marco has been, it would seem, transferred to the son, exactly what I suspect Naomi was afraid of and what Ashford warned of on his own ship. The passing down of old hates – tale as old as time.
But it gets worse than that. In the end, it is Ashford who gets pushed out an air lock. It’s a moment that struck me hard, a moment I didn’t really want to deal with, but also one that perhaps was what the character needed. David Strathairn really infused this character with so much depth and soul, and the pairing with Cara Gee’s Camina Drummer was oft-times magical. Watching him float into space with that peaceful look and a song on his lips, I couldn’t help but wonder if the pain (mentally and physically) of a lifetime of struggle was finally over and that look on his face was a calm acceptance of a peace he has long sought.
I will miss Ashford moving forward, I will miss his keen mind and ability to analyze situations for what they are, not what others pretend for them to be. However, let us note that he got a message away, so we’ll see how that plays out moving forward. Could he be saved? Or, was that a dying man’s last clue left for – dare I say it – Drummer? I’d enjoy Drummer taking the measure of Marco, wouldn’t you?
I do look forward to seeing Marco come to a horrible end. He’s the kind of guy who simply can’t adjust to the changing times and for all the talk of needing to put away the old hurts and hate, he’s a prime example of how hard that is – and how many simply don’t want to. They’ve lived one way so long, with one thought process, it’s all they know and are comfortable with. And the results promise to be dire.
We got a dose of that on Mars when Bobbie follows Esai and his team to a meet that she knows is sketchy. Too easy, too much money, too little information. In the end, it was all a set-up to get some stealth technology off the planet and kill Esai and everyone else. In the end, Bobbie is just a little late, a firefight breaks out, and the Belters get away with the stealth tech and bring down the glass dome. It’s a huge level of destruction and while Bobbie is able to save a life and make it out, it’s clear that Mars is not as it was. “Oh, how the mighty have fallen,” Ashford tells a Martian Naval Officer early in the show, and he’s absolutely right.
One of the things that kind of stood out to me through much of this season was this subtle sense of desperation so many people had as things moved on. The Belters were desperate to make Ilus work, the company desperate to drive them off, Holden desperate to understand Miller and the protomolecule, Bobbie desperate to find a place to belong, Esai desperate to escape a Mars that he no longer recognized, etc. Sometimes it was overt, at other times it was subtle, but the sense of desperation and tension was always kind of hanging there for so many of our characters.
They could see these wonderful, potential-filled possibilities, but so often were stymied in their attempts to reach the goal. It’s a great example of the struggle to make positive change when the vision isn’t shared – or corrupted.
And now we can share that feel of desperation as Marco, having spaced Ashford, has revealed his plan – send an asteroid cloaked in stealth tech to earth. Is this an extinction event type of thing or just a massive damage type of thing. “The Earthers will never see them coming,” Marco tells his son. By that simple statement, despite seeing only one asteroid launched, we can assume there are multiple asteroids on their way to earth.
In the end, for all his talk, Marco is, indeed, a terrorist. Seems pretty comfortable with that, too. And as Ashford said, quite naive. But as we ended the episode, it would appear that earth is about to be attacked by Belter asteroids outfitted with black market Mars stealth technology. Anyone here think that’s going to end well?
With Nancy Gao now the Secretary General, I’d say her first few weeks in office should be interesting. With Chrisjen Avasarala losing the election, we see the toll the campaign took on her marriage. Her husband is not pleased with who she became and the tactics she used in attempting to win the election. Once again, tensions run hot and he turns away from her, not wanting to be with her on a trip. This is a man who has suffered in supportive silence as he sees a new side of the woman he loves. It’s a sad moment, an honest moment that tells you a long-time marriage may be in trouble.
I thought her video message to Gao was poignant and tinged with irony. The things she had learned in a post she didn’t seek out. And now, at the end of things, the clarity of the price the office exacts is very much in her voice and her words. Shohreh Agadashloo is such an interesting and engaging actor and she just blasts this character off the screen in nearly every scene.
But I’m with her husband, I wasn’t a fan of who she became as the desperation to win an election took hold. Too many compromises, too much politics. In short, too much bullshit. It was painful to watch at times.
It was interesting to me that in her message to Nancy Gao she reiterates that “This chair is not a throne. We are not queens.” Yet, I think we saw her take on that kind of vibe in this season and it was a bit unpleasant. A lesson learned a little too late, perhaps?
And in the end, Holden, Alex, Naomi and Amos pull it all off. Miller is able to flick the “off” switch with a big boost from Dr. Okoye, who gets her own little experience with the protomolecule, something she now shares with Holden. In the end, the waters recede showing a massive ancient civilization spread throughout the planet. Amos and Murtry are in various states of pain via the gunshot wounds they received previously, Holden finds out Naomi, Alex and the other ships are okay (Alex was just dying to light up the Edward Israel, wasn’t he?).
The long struggle that was season 10 is over and you can see the signs of relief etched all over Holden’s face as he calls for pick-up. And amidst all that struggle, all that pain and unpleasantness, Holden ends up being able to do something really extraordinary – let Lucia off the hook for her part in the initial explosion of the shuttle in episode 1.
It was a thoughtful and just thing to do when he didn’t have to. With that, Lucia and her husband are part of the Belter group staying with the remnants of the company expedition to rebuild the settlement. Their daughter Felcia? She’s off to university like she’d always dreamed of. It was a nice moment of giving in what had been a season of taking. I loved it. Good call, Holden and good luck Felcia. I hope we see that character again.
So we get resolution and some satisfaction. Perhaps the most satisfying moment for me was the final and welcomed showdown between Murtry and Amos. There’s always been a great dynamic between the two men, one that was fueled by a mutual recognition of who and what they were. The looks Amos gives Murtry in the relic and then in the ship speak to the animosity he feels after being forced to kill Wei. Amos simply wants to do violence to a man he sees as the root cause of the pain in his heart.
We finally get the moment I’ve been wanting to see. And while I was hoping for a full-on donnybrook, perhaps the way it was done was better than what I’d envisioned. With his fingers grown back and Murtry fully healed, Amos gets the chance to unleash that pain and fury.
Fortunately, Murtry strikes first and the look in Amos’ eyes is priceless as he slowly turns back and says “thank you” with blood pouring from his mouth. It’s powerful and without throwing a punch, Amos delivers a picture of what’s about to befall Murtry. It was good, it was powerful and it fulfilled my deep-seated lust for Murtry to get his butt kicked. I was satisfied.
There’s so much good work here that it’s hard to really touch on it all in something like this. From Steven Strait to Frankie Adams to Cara Gee to Keon Alexander’s wonderful work as Marco Inaros, there’s so much to like, so much to think about and so much to look forward with The Expanse. I suppose that’s about as good a recommendation for loving this show as I can give. From writing, directing, wardrobe, acting and more, The Expanse takes sci-fi space action in a deeper direction that just about anything else out there today. And the genre and fans is richer for it.
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