REVIEW: The Expanse Series 5 Episode 7 – Oyedeng

The expanse

It’s Wednesday and that means more from The Expanse. As always, we’re going to talk through this week’s episode, so if you don’t want to know what happens, then it’s time to make for the escape hatch.

The past few episodes have been quite slow-paced as we build the tension in the aftermath of the asteroid impacts on Earth and Marco Inaros’s power play for primacy amongst the Belters.

This episode’s title is Oyedeng which means goodbye or farewell in the Belter creole. Given that no episode of The Expanse is titled without meaning, that’s a worrying omen.

The ExpanseBefore the title sequence, we see a quick recap of last week and how Naomi is starting to get through to Filip while still a prisoner of sorts on Marco’s ship. Then we see that Marco is watching and listening to their conversation.

We see Naomi recalling Filip’s childhood and happy family times between her and Marco. Meanwhile, Filip is reading up on the Behemoth and Naomi’s actions during the activation of the Ring Gate. Marco comes to visit him and asks if he can use the ship that Naomi gave to him and Filip agrees readily.

Marco goes to speak to Naomi and they have a tense conversation where their differing viewpoints bounce off each other. Marco still believes that Naomi betrayed him, their son, and the belt while Naomi feels that he had gone too far and she realised how he uses people.

Speaking to Filip afterward Naomi admits that she almost spaced herself when she realised she had to get away from Marco, but Marco kept Filip from her and she couldn’t find him. She was so desolate that she almost killed herself, but she realised that it wouldn’t change anything for Filip.

Cyn finds Naomi in the mess and emotionally admits he helped to hide Filip from her back on Pallas before she left. Naomi asks him to help her.

The Rocinante with Holden, Bull, and Monica on board is pursuing the Belter ship with the protomolecule. They make contact with Alex and Bobbie who are en route back from Mars and swap information about the protomolecule, Naomi, and the Martian ships in the Free Navy.

Monica speaks to Holden and suggests that Inaros is paying for the Martian ships with the protomolecule and Cortezar (the scientist) as there is no way he could get his hands on enough to justify at that point they get a sight of the ship they’re chasing and make a hard burn in pursuit.

Marco is angry that the Rocinante has located the protomolecule and has a very tense confrontation with Cyn about how sentimentality regarding Naomi has put their plans at threat.

Getting within weapon range, the Rocinante misses with torpedoes and has to move sharply in order to avoid defensive missiles and take them out with their PDCs. They incapacitate the Belter ship with a railgun shot. There is some tension between Holden who wants to board and get information and Monica who wants the ship and the protomolecule safely blown up. The point seems moot when the Belter ship refuses to power down and then self-destructs.

Filip confronts Marco and asks for more responsibility, a command of his own. Marco says that his weakness cost them so much. Marco tells him that he is nothing without his father who’s name is chanted by loyal Belters across the Belt. Marco goes on to tell him that he played a part and those who matter know that. One day, if he follows his father’s path then people will be chanting his name–a chant that is taken up by the bridge crew.

Naomi is brought to the bridge and told she is free to leave, once Marcos uses her ship to lure the Rocinante and destroy it. Marco says it’s Filip’s plan–Naomi appeals to Filip who slaps her and calls her an Earther-loving well wall. “You are everything that I’m not.”

Marco follows up with, “Did you really think you could get my son to betray me?” and Naomi is marched to her cell.

As Naomi’s ship is set to autopilot and detached from the flagship, Cyn decides to check on Naomi and sees that she is not in her cell but is at the door of an airlock.

Naomi steps into the airlock and Cyn squeezes in just as the door closes, intending to talk her out of apparent suicide. Naomi says that he shouldn’t have gotten into the airlock and reveals that she has palmed a syringe and opens the airlock, leaping into the void. Cyn asphyxiates in the airlock as Naomi leaps into the void, and with the help of her syringe, manages to make it over to her ship and gets into the airlock as the episode ends.

So, what do we think about Oyedeng?

For all that it held to one plot thread (minimal amounts of Holden and Alex and nothing of Amos this week), Oyedeng absolutely flew past, feeling like a fraction of its runtime.

The emotional weight of the intensely personal plot between Naomi, Filip, and Marco is immense, for all the wider space opera playing out around it. The actors–Dominque Tipper, Jasai Chase Owens, and Keon Alexander respectively–all turned in exquisite performances that stand out in a series that is packed with them.

I have to give a quick nod to Brent Sexton’s performance as Cyn, as he’s been a key player in this pivotal relationship and he’s played the line between an old friend, adoptive uncle, and loyal soldier with aplomb. He’s regularly been the sounding board through which the main players have been able to expose their internal thoughts and if there was any justice he’d have had a better end than being almost inadvertently spaced. It’s a very Belter way to bid Oyedeng, though.

That episode title–Oyedeng–is so fitting as much of the episode deals with farewells, both reminiscing about Naomi’s long-ago farewell to partner and son and this second farewell from the Inaros boys. In both cases, Naomi had an option to be reactive and allow others to chart her path, but she chose to be stubborn and take a long shot at achieving something.

Marco is every inch the narcissistic master manipulator. The way he plays Naomi, his son, and his crew off one another to ensure loyalty and adherence is quite terrifying to behold.

Filip is delightfully portrayed as the young man on the edge of adulthood, so keen to be his own man but so easily swayed by both the impassioned entreaties of his mother and the artful manipulations of his father. The scene where Marco breaks down Filip only to build him up again is sublime and horrific.

Aside from this emotional pressure cooker, Oyedeng contains one of the finest space combat scenes we’ve seen since in a few seasons as the Rocinante engages with the Belter ship containing the protomolecule. Once again, the commitment to realistic space physics and engagements that so characterised the early days of The Expanse is front and centre. Furthermore, it offers some contrast to the high drama of the rest of the episode.

So, with the Rocinante on an intercept course with the Free Navy and Naomi possibly now free to be a factor in that confrontation, it seems like we’re heading towards a high stakes encounter sooner rather than later.

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

Episodes 1-7 of Season Five and all prior seasons 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.