REVIEW: The Expanse Series 5 Episode 5 – Down and Out

The expanse

The last episode of The Expanse really shook us up from every angle, with the Rocinante crew scattered across the system. And if you haven’t watched Episode 5 of this season, you need to leave right now. Spoilers abound; you have been warned.

There have been multiple asteroid impacts on Earth, where Amos is now trapped in a high-security jail. Alex and Bobbie are tracking some black marketeers. Naomi is now the prisoner of terrorist/freedom fighter Marco Inaros and their son Filip, while Holden just saw Fred Johnson assassinated and the protomolecule stolen by Inaros’ ‘Free Navy.’

Can we keep the pace up in Episode 5, Down and Out? Let’s see.

The episode starts with a quick recap of what’s gone before then moves to Drummer’s pirate fleet where the crew react to the news from Earth and Inaros’ pronouncement of the Belts freedom. Drummer receives an offer from Inaros to meet to discuss the future of the belt and decides to accept.

Amos wakes up under a pile of rubble inside Clarissa Mao’s cell, bathed in red emergency lighting. A guard helps Amos open the door but initially wants to keep Clarissa under lockdown. Amos says she’s responsible for his safety and he’s taking responsibility for Clarissa’s. The stairwell and elevator have been put out of action by the impact but Amos says there will be a maintenance ladder in the shaft. They can’t open it and Clarissa is still too doped, so they release another inmate to get the lift shaft open. It’s the same intense individual we saw last week.

Holden is on Tycho and trying to contact Naomi–he can’t contact his parents, Amos, or Alex. He and Bull interrogate Sakai, who is full of defiance.

Amos and the guards hatch a plan to go up the lift shaft with the aid of the modded inmate to rip open the panels concealing the maintenance shaft. I can’t see this going wrong at all.

Bobbie and Alex have resolved to keep tracking the black marketeers and watch them change course into a convenient rendezvous point.

Naomi is dropped off in the mess to have lunch with her old pals, plus Marco and Filip. She wants to leave but Marcos says she is free, but reminds her that she gave her ship to Filip. Naomi leaves and Marcos asks Filip what he hoped to achieve by bringing his mother. High level manipulation there.

Naomi tries to access a console but is locked out. Her old friend, Cyn tries to get her to help with some tech stuff but she turns on him and says she’ll never forgive him for allowing Marco to influence Filip. Cyn makes an impassionate case for why Belter extremism is justified.

Back at the jail and they are climbing up the lift shaft when one guard ‘falls’ while going up with Tiny, the modded inmate. Following this and aftershock rumbles through the ruins and lift falls down the shaft and there is daylight up ahead. Where there should be a building.

Naomi goes back to the now-empty mess to eat and her other old pal, Karal comes in and says she was glad when Naomi left before, cause she always thought she was better than everyone else. Karal reminds Naomi of the code she planted to blow up a ships reactor for Marco and says nobody is coming to save her. Naomi palms a knife from the mess.

She goes to the bridge and asks to speak to Marco, intending to kill him. She is so close to doing it, when Filip intercepts her and marches her out of the bridge, covering for her but dismissing her.

The group at the prison reach the surface and we see that the above ground portion of the prison has just been levelled. Tiny kills the guard nearest him and goes after the other. Amos tries to save her but gets ragdolled by the larger, modded man. As Tiny gets Amos in a choke grip and looks to drop him down the shaft, the surviving guard manages to shoot him and this allows Amos to backdrop him down the lift shaft. Fatality.

Amos tells the surviving guard to get clear, as Clarissa is clearly feeling her mods come back online. There is a panning shot showing the remains of the prison on the edge of a huge water-filled crater, which I guess used to be most of New England.

Certain that Marco has planted the reactor explosion code on the Roci, Naomi attacks Cyn and gets a message to Holden just in time before the Roci explodes.

Bobbie and Alex are watching the black market transfer and realise its whole ships being sold, then they get spotted and have to run from a missile. Eventually out of moves, Alex has to dump their reactor core and the episode ends with their fate uncertain.

Down and Out is a much less immediate episode than last week’s intense Gaugamela but it serves an important role in embedding the big hits from that episode. Basically, the situation remains desperate for everyone. On Earth, Amos is no longer stuck underground but he is with a psychologically unstable and physiologically modified felon and it’s clear that things like law, order, utilities, and communication are all out of commission for the foreseeable future.

Near Mars, Alex and Bobbie have discovered that the black market to Belter trade is more significant than they’d assumed and after discovering that are either dead or adrift.

With the Free Navy, Naomi finds herself in a hopeless situation with her old friends and child showing that loyalty to Marco outweighs loyalty to her and the possibility of getting away, never mind foiling him or saving her son seems remote.

Finally, out on Tycho, Holden has seen his best ally assassinated and his ship compromised, while also worrying for his missing girlfriend and family on the edge of an impact zone. He can’t hold his own house together, never mind save the system.

As usual, I want to draw attention to Naomi’s code-switching between English and Lang Belta–this week between different people in the same conversation. I love the attention to detail there, in both the writing, direction, and Dominique Tipper’s performance. Similarly, the performances of Belter defiance from the manipulative Marco and devoted Sakai are highlights of this episode.

Looking ahead, what lies in store for Naomi in the lair of her enemy? Can Amos survive Earth and/or Clarissa? Will Bobbie and Alex be alright and what can Holden hope to do to help any of them, or even himself?

What did you enjoy in this episode and what are you looking forward to as the story continues?

Episodes 1-5 of Season Five of The Expanse can be streamed via Amazon Prime  – https://www.primevideo.com and new episodes are coming every Wednesday.

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Chris Napier

Chris Napier lives in Glasgow, Scotland with his wife, two young sons and a head full of utter nonsense. An ecumenical geek, he especially delights in stories of hope in dark places and finding beauty in desolation. In between writing his own stories and posting to his Chaotic Good Story Club, he attends the Glasgow SF Writers Circle and contributes to Big Comic Page and Grimdark Magazine.