REVIEW: The Expanse Series 5 Episode 9 – Winnipesaukee

The expanse

Welcome to our next installment in the episode-by-episode series review of The Expanse Season five. Today I’ll be talking about Episode 9, Winnipesaukee, so if you’re not up to where we’re up to, fire your adjusters, hit the juice, and burn hard in the other direction, now.

We start on board the Free Navy as news is received of an engagement between allied Belters and some MCRN and UN ships. Karal reports to Marco that the signal from the Chetzemoka was changed and then stopped. He’s not happy.

Alex and Bobbie are en route to the Chetzemoka in the Screaming Firehawk and Alex wonders aloud if the change in the signal really seems like random comms interference. A similar conversation is happening between Holden, Bull, and Monica on the Rocinante.

The ExpanseOn the Chetzemoka, Naomi is making dangerous runs into the atmosphereless part of the ship to get a few drops of water from the crippled ship’s systems. When she returns to the bridge, she collapses but from her position on the floor, sees a break in one of the wires connecting the ship-wide bomb together.

Amos, Clarissa, and Eric, accompanied by some toughs from Baltimore make it to one of the big houses on Winnipesaukee island (which is in New Hampshire, so a fair distance from Baltimore) on a copter and look to steal the spaceship there. They meet the winter staff in the hanger, who’d assumed any raiders would go to the house. They know Clarissa from her previous life. It turns out the ship’s reactor isn’t working so Amos goes to investigate.

Crisjen is walking through the UN offices on Luna when she sees a news report that Pallas station has been attacked. She calls out Delgado who defends his advise to the Secretary-General. They come into a security council meeting where strikes against Belter connected bases on Callisto and Tycho are being discussed – despite them being a Martian facility and Earther-owned. David Pastor says he’s expanding the ‘Pallas initiative’ and Crisjen says they should be concentrating on spinning the attack as a legitimate military response and they are not ‘at war with the belt.’

Delgado says that Inaros attacked civilian targets, so why shouldn’t they and Crisjen responds that Inaros is not a role model and his claims that the Belters are a nation are false and they can exploit that by allying with anti-Inaros factions.

Pastor shuts her down and says their–his–job is to make their people safer and reduce the enemy’s ability to hurt them. Crisjen is totally heartsick but appeals to the council that she wants, dreams about punishing Inaros for murdering her husband but connects her grief to that of those who are now grieving losses from Pallas station. Every partisan killed makes ten more.

Pastor says they can’t make emotional decisions and have to be rational (you patronising son of a bitch.) Delgado suggests hitting Ceres as it’s the major base in the belt and would force Inaros to the outer planets to resupply. Crisjen appeals tp the sheer number of people, of children on Ceres but she is talked over, so she resigns. Fully half the council follows her in walking out.

Karal and Oksana are discussing what to do regarding the Chetzemoka and Karal says they will not tell Drummer and will obey Marco’s orders when they are received. Tense.

Amos, Clarissa, and the Baltimore crew are having a good feed in the big house, but without the reactor working they’re going to get cold and not go anywhere. Eric is a bit negative but Amos points out that he and Clarissa can handle any mechanical or electronic fault, but Eric’s software skills would be useful.

A bunch of refugees from other houses arrive thinking they are relief services. Eric just wants them to go away and Amos is, quite practically sorry that they can’t help. Clarissa however, offers them a ride up to Luna. Amos eventually decides to agree with Clarissa but tells the islanders that they’re not waiting.

Marco sends a message to Drummer’s fleet telling them to engage and destroy the Rocinante. They meet this with a less than enthusiastic response, causing Karal to dress them down and Drummer to debate the sense of the order. Karal asks if they’re breaking their oath to Marco and Drummer shares a long look with some of her crew before saying no, they’ll do what needs to be done.

Karal goes to speak to Marco and Oksana coms up behind Drummer and asks for her gun. Drummer says there is no need, but Oksana says then there is no need not to.

Crisjen puts her husband’s name onto the memorial at the core of the UN facility on Luna. An officer comes up and offers her condolences, then advises Avasarala that three more cabinet ministers have resigned and a vote of no confidence has been lodged against Pastor. Will Avasarala be willing to serve again?

She asks Delgado to be in her cabinet because he’s experienced and he’s not afraid of her. He says he’s transferring to a strike cruiser. She asks him to finish his joke about the Earther, Martian and Belter in a bar. It ends up not being funny and he says it used to be funnier, looking thoughtful.

Back on Winnipesaukee and private security have come up to the house, saying they are collating all the food on the island to a central location. Eric says “this is the most pathetic shakedown I’ve ever seen. You must be new at this.”

This escalates into a standoff and Clarissa tries to talk the men with guns down. Amos tells them to walk away. Eric and the Baltimore crew were more minded to have the shoot out and be done with it, but Amos says let’s get this done before they come back.

Drummer confronts Oksana because she feels that she’s keeping secrets. Oksana asks her if the polyamorous crew of their fleet are as important to her as Naomi was. Drummer says yes. Oksana tells her that Naomi *might* be alive on the Chetzemoka. However, she says Drummer can’t save Naomi and that going up against Marco would see them all dead and appeals to her to respect that.

Eric and Clarissa discuss that their parts of the ship are now functional and she asks why he calls Amos ‘Timmy’ and he says best not to ask.

Amos has a small heart-to-heart with one of his old Baltimore pals and works out why the ship isn’t working.

Eric and Clarissa have a neat discussion about their varying views, expanding on Amos’ idea of tribes from a few episodes ago. Eric finishes with ‘where did Amos find you’ and Clarissa admits that it was ‘in jail for multiple homicides.’

Amos tells them he’s fixed the issue, the reactor is online and Eric puts a 15-minute warning out for departure.

As they start to get the various refugees from the island inside, the private security attack from the tree-line.

The Baltimore crew and Amos get pinned down outside the house while Clarissa hears attackers coming into the bunker. Amos leads the crew back into the hanger, losing a few of the Baltimore crew along the way and find Clarissa on her knees, having eviscerated a bunch of attackers.

They get into the shuttle, with Amos dragging his friend along after they get shot and they take off. Once they hit space, Amos finds his friend is dead and then clicks on his magnetic boots and looks out the window at Earth.

Marco goes to see Filip as he’s been keeping to himself following Cyn and Naomi’s apparent death. They both apologise, but Marco tells him that Naomi is alive and frames her leap to the Chetzemoka as a cowardly escape ‘she left us both, again.’ Marco hugs Filip as he cries.

Onboard the Chetzemoka, Naomi has attached a wire to the exposed part of the bomb wiring and now has access to a tactical screen on the helmet of her suit. It shows the Chetzemoka with a yellow ring around it marked ‘arm’ and a smaller red ring marked ‘detonate’ with the Screaming Firehawk approaching. She cries as she realises her friends are still coming, but then wipes some of the water off her arm and has an idea, then goes back into the hard vacuum in the rest of the ship.

Thoughts on Winnipesaukee

Winnipesaukee was a really intense episode even with the action jerking back and forth between several very different settings.

On the Chetzemoka, Naomi continues her desperate struggle to stay alive and save her friends from their appointed fate.

The tension on Drummer’s ships is skyrocketing as the crew loves her, but she wants to save/avenge Naomi, with Karal holding the whip hand and Oksana trying to steer the path to their survival.

On Luna, Crisjen deals with the loss of her husband while attempting to reign in the more hawkish tendencies amongst the UN cabinet, eventually resigns and ends the episode as the new Secretary-General.

Most of the action in this episode takes place on Winnipesaukee island as Clarissa leads Amos and their crew of Baltimore rogues to find a way off the planet. The exchanges between Clarissa and Eric are fantastic as their very different worldviews clash in a philosophical conflict that is arguably closer to the core of the whole series than the actual physical battle which occurs towards the close of the episode.

There is a common theme between the plotlines on Drummer’s ships, within the UN and on asteroid scarred Earth where our protagonists are left with tough choices, most of which boil down to doing the thing that makes you feel safe or the thing which is more compassionate.

The similarity of all three choices despite the wildly different circumstances leads to a very effective episode, full of great performances and high drama that yet again cranks up the tension before the final episode of the series next week.

That said, for my money, the acting award this week goes to the Shohreh Aghdashloo who displays poise and range as Avasarala goes through every emotion, trying to do the right thing in the face of personal tragedy and no small amount of patronising nonsense.

I’ve been expecting some climactic confrontation for weeks now, but it seems The Expanse showrunners were keeping everything building right to the last. While Amos now seems safely in space and Crisjen is once again in charge of the UN we have the Rocinante and Screaming Firehawk rushing to save Naomi on the Chetzemoka while Drummer and company are ordered to destroy them. I bet Marco and the Free Navy aren’t far away either.

I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

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

Episodes 1-9 of Season Five and all prior seasons of The Expanse can be streamed via Amazon Prime  –  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.