The Expanse: Tribes
January 5, 2021 5:54 PM - Season 5, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Holden and the Roci go on the hunt. Amos and Clarissa seek shelter on a devastated Earth. Bobbie and Alex fight a desperate battle. Marco makes Drummer an offer she can't refuse. Avasarala returns to a position of power.
posted by ShooBoo (46 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't think I've mentioned lately how much I love Drummer? She's the best.
posted by Kyol at 6:50 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


(although I swear she used to have more gravel in her voice. I mean, she hasn't slipped into her natural bubbly west-coast vibe, but she used to sound like she was half growling all the time.)
posted by Kyol at 6:58 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Ok, I don't understand what happened with Bobbie and Alex. They dumped their reactor at the end of the previous ep, and it got nuked. Then after killing their pursuers, they lit up another one? A racing yacht has a spare fusion reactor?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:07 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


What was going on with Bobbie and Alex? If they dumped their core last episode, how did they light up the engine at the end. What was Alex attaching to their ship? I thought maybe they were trying to board the Martian/Belter ship to hitch a ride but I just ended up confused.
posted by rikschell at 7:08 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Jinx, I guess, rhamporhynchus.
posted by rikschell at 7:09 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Did they dump their core, or just a big ol' blob of fuel and lit it off just before the missile hit?

Anyway, my take was that Bobbie provided a distraction while Alex hopped over and planted a grenade in the other ship's engine bell. When the belters (? it didn't look MCRN) lit up to get the fuck away from the crazy Martian marine, the grenade exploded, taking out the engine bell and causing a cascade explosion.
posted by Kyol at 7:12 PM on January 5


General Reddit opinion on the book scene is that dumping the reactor core means dumping out all the currently fusing fuel, not the reactor itself or any major parts of it. I guess a racing yacht carries enough spare fuel to relight its reactor. So that's a shame, I think I'd have enjoyed that scene more if I'd known the stakes, and what they were trying to achieve.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:40 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


I agree that the stakes in the Alex/Bobbi scene were very unclear. The "dumping the reactor = dumping the currently burning fuel" explanation makes sense, in hindsight, but wasn't clearly telegraphed earlier. Then again, if they'd made it more clear in the last two episodes, we would've been into the bad old days of "Well, as you know, Bob" tell-don't-show sci-fi writing. I think to do this right you would've needed to slip the explanation somewhere into a previous season so it was ready to draw on here without explicitly calling it out.

Can we talk about the weird look of the "Peaches Smash!" scene? My wife and I laughed out loud; it looked like something out of a low-budget 80s horror film, between the strobe lights and incoherent flailing. This stands in stark contrast to, say, the scene where Clarissa-as-Melba murders the other technician on the ship she's bombing towards the beginning of S3. That was brutal and really sold the enhancements' costs and boon. I think if I'd been directing this and been faced with low budget / COVID constraints / whatever caused them to eschew fight choreography, I would've cut away and let the sound and/or Amos' expression tell the story. The flailing+strobes business did not work for me.
posted by Alterscape at 8:11 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


(On failure to preview and fully think it through: the weird Clarissa action scene stands out because so much of what surrounds it is pretty great character acting from Wes Chatham and Nadine Nichol. The little mini arc from Amos and Clarissa discussing their families through to the bit with Amos reacting to Clarissa's poem, which IIRC is never said aloud in the books, was powerful and worth dealing with the weird low-budget action in the middle).
posted by Alterscape at 8:13 PM on January 5


Yeah, the reactor thing was a cheap cop out.

Loved the entire Peaches and Amos arc. I know the overall vibe is a little trite, but it's done well and - it's not wrong (ie., dead don't care, be wary of kindness, preppers are an obvious loot point). I'm ok with the film-school strobe effect.

In particular, the evolution of Amos' desire for family, and how he goes about immanentizing it.
posted by porpoise at 9:51 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


I agree that the stakes in the Alex/Bobbi scene were very unclear. The "dumping the reactor = dumping the currently burning fuel" explanation makes sense, in hindsight, but wasn't clearly telegraphed earlier. Then again, if they'd made it more clear in the last two episodes, we would've been into the bad old days of "Well, as you know, Bob" tell-don't-show sci-fi writing. I think to do this right you would've needed to slip the explanation somewhere into a previous season so it was ready to draw on here without explicitly calling it out.

Yeah, and I think the producers have just sort of accepted that everybody who is still watching at this point are dedicated enough to the show's concept that they can take those sort of "work it out for yourselves, you're smart" narrative shortcuts.
posted by Kyol at 6:37 AM on January 6


Regarding the reactor thing. In ep 5, it scanned to me as dumping the fusing ball of stuff inside the reactor, and not the reactor itself. The vulnerability is then in re-starting the fusion reaction afterwards, while all enemy scopes are laser focused on determining whether the target was destroyed.

Remember in Season 4, fusion stopped because of protomolecule shenanigans on Ilus. The Rocinante kept trying to re-start its reactor by dropping some tiny pellet inside the reactor chamber and setting it off. But it wouldn't start fusing.

I assumed it was the same thing this season. They aren't permanently adrift because they dumped the core, but they are extremely vulnerable because they need time to restart the reactor and doing anything to restart the reactor would make them extremely visible on all scopes.

That said.... I haven't actually watched the episode yet... there may be something I am missing here heh.
posted by theony at 6:48 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


There were a couple of filming/editing choices that confused me somewhat:

1. When Avasarala was looking at the footage of Manhattan, from the glimpse of her screen that we got it was very unclear just what was different. It was only when the new Secretary General was talking about all of Midtown being under water that I got an idea of how bad it was.

2. The long shot on Earth ending up with Amos and Clarissa outside the relief camp. At first I thought it was going to the Holden compound, and then back to the prison. I'm not sure what we got out of the extra seconds of snowy forest. Just start with Earth (I could recognize the Great Lakes right away but the missing Florida threw me for a bit) and then an overhead of the camp and we'd be OK.

3. The inside of the prepper's house. I'm guessing that the "son" at the second gun was just a dummy but the pan to it inside the house was too quick for me to be sure of that. Give me another second or two to make it obvious so that I'm not wondering if there's a son or not.

Up to now everything has been shot so that I knew what I was looking at (even if understanding would come later) so I'm wondering what was up with this episode.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:24 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


The "son's" rifle barrel, seen from the yard, is iced over. It hasn't moved in a while, so probably just a prop.
posted by porpoise at 11:33 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]


"I need to get back to my crew" is a good line for an episode where I was thinking throughout that this was the first time we've seen Amos operating on his own (admittedly while looking after someone else).

He still has a pretty amoral compass.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:08 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


2. The long shot on Earth ending up with Amos and Clarissa outside the relief camp. At first I thought it was going to the Holden compound, and then back to the prison. I'm not sure what we got out of the extra seconds of snowy forest. Just start with Earth (I could recognize the Great Lakes right away but the missing Florida threw me for a bit) and then an overhead of the camp and we'd be OK.

The trees in the forest were blown over ala a Tunguska event. I had to rewind a couple of times to figure out why they were spending airtime lovingly showing what looked like a forest.
posted by Kyol at 12:50 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


That makes sense and I guess establishes that Amos and Clarissa are now outside of the worst affected areas but it doesn't really show us anything. Last episode we saw that the upper floors of the large prison were completely destroyed so seeing trees knocked down isn't much of a surprise. The snow and weak sun more than anything made me feel that 'holy shit this is real'. The shot doesn't start at the prison so we can't even use it to see how far Amos and Clarissa traveled. They could have shaved a couple of seconds off this and add it to the newscast of Manhattan or the "son" in the prepper's house.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:32 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Loved loved loved Avasarala pulling herself together in those few seconds after the acting Sec-Gen left the room. Then putting on the ring and the necklace like a warrior putting on armor.
posted by Mogur at 4:45 PM on January 6 [18 favorites]


I'm really interested in how Abasarala progresses going forward. She was just broken this episode and it seemed like the only things she wanted were to either find out that Arjun was alive or to find out he was dead so that she could grieve him and do nothing else. She'd stopped caring about the bigger picture and just wanted some kind of personal resolution. And then this Minister of Infrastructure or something comes in and basically hands her the keys to the UN and at that point I don't think she wants it. The Avasarala of a couple of days ago would have known exactly who he was and would be angling for a way to influence him and would be giving out high-fives in her head not believing her luck that he was pretty much asking her to run things. But she doesn't want that anymore, or at least right now, so yes she puts on her armour, and prepares to go back to the war. I wonder if her heart is in it anymore.

Also, I guess Nancy Gao isn't coming back but I really liked the fact that her actor's last name is Gao.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:41 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


And then this Minister of Infrastructure or something comes in and basically hands her the keys to the UN and at that point I don't think she wants it.

I read that differently: to me it looked like Avasarla realizes she's about to be back running things, and it scares her how much she wants it and how hard a job it's going to be.

And fuck yeah Drummer! Captain Black Eye Makeup 4EVA. It took me a little while to realize what happened last episode (or the one before?) when she started to open Ashford's bottle, then put the lid back on. She's waiting to drink it until after she completes Ashford's mission. This episode, watching her try - and succeed - in getting intel on Naomi from Marco and Filip is a thing of beauty.

So presumably Filip has to turn on Marcos eventually? Do we think refusing to kill her and then starting the conversation about the Behemoth is the start of him going Team Mom?

Amos and Peaches on the run is pretty interesting. I wonder how they are going to make it out of this.

And maybe Holden could start doing something useful? Dude seems mopey and useless without his crew to prop him up.
posted by medusa at 7:09 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Mogur - putting on the ring and the necklace like a warrior putting on armor

Spot on. It's part of who she has to present as, as a politician - just as Bobby is enhanced by her Marine armor.

I thought the books did it decently; part her enjoying a particular thing, sometimes as an inside joke or pure sentimentality or that it just looks good, to her using it to make psychological points, to her resenting needing to do it but acknowledging that it's a necessary tool.

I really want to think that Amos sincerely has a crush on Avasarala Crissy and knows she digs the compliments, rather than that he just reads that she gets kicks out of compliments to manipulate her.

Amos told Peaches that he has friends in Baltimore, so that's the destination. Presumably that's a communications link that doesn't automatically go to spam. Once he can hook up with Crissy Avasarala, presumably they can get priority for a shuttle to the moon.

How they get convicted modified supervillain Clarissa Mao (Peaches) through customs...
posted by porpoise at 7:34 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Poor survivalist nut! He was prepared for anything except the greatest danger of all: Falling into a Wes Chatham thirst trap.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:06 PM on January 6 [21 favorites]


I'm really interested in how Abasarala progresses going forward. She was just broken this episode and it seemed like the only things she wanted were to either find out that Arjun was alive or to find out he was dead so that she could grieve him and do nothing else.

You are reading that way differently than I did. I think that it's been pretty clear for a while now that Avasarala loves her job more than her husband and they both know it. She's on the moon while he's on earth, and the most she does after the rocks hit is to leave some voicemail, because her true dedication is to her job. When the Minister of Being Overwhelmed basically says to her "you want to puppeteer the Earth response to the oncoming conflict through me?" She immediately says "Of course" because that's just who she is. I'm not saying her tears were insincere, just that I never really had any doubt where her priorities lie.

So presumably Filip has to turn on Marcos eventually?

My money is on the other way around. The minute Filip brought Naomi with him back to the Free Navy, the fuse was lit on Marcos eventually throwing Filip under the bus.
posted by axiom at 8:28 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


So axiom in your version, Marcos kills Filip and then Naomi and Captain Black Eye Makeup kill Marcos together?

I think in my version Naomi turns Filip and Marcos is going to kill then both, then the Roci crew and Captain Black Eye Makeup save them and kill Marcos. Bobbie definitely helps too. Fuck it, why not have Avasarala there too so every character I like can simultaneously kill Marcos.
posted by medusa at 8:45 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Poor survivalist nut! He was prepared for anything except the greatest danger of all: Falling into a Wes Chatham thirst trap.

BRB, need to tweak my apocalypse plan in a few places.
posted by medusa at 8:48 PM on January 6 [8 favorites]


Also, you could pretty much watch the gears turning in Amos' head during the poem discussion. Monsters aren't afraid...well I'm not afraid...so that makes me...
posted by medusa at 8:52 PM on January 6 [11 favorites]


Also suddenly not sure if it's Marco or Marcos.
posted by medusa at 8:53 PM on January 6


It's Marco but I unconsciously aped your spelling. I think Drummer springs Naomi in the process also dealing a blow to Marco, who blames Filip and spaces him in retribution (the desire to space Naomi, and actually doing it to Ashford, is foreshadowing). On the remote chance I'm accurate I should say I have not read the books, I just think it'd be unwieldy for the show to keep Filip around (and the actor playing him is doing a good job of portraying an annoying little shit so I would not mind if Filip died).
posted by axiom at 10:37 PM on January 6


It's "Marco Inaros."
posted by Alterscape at 10:37 PM on January 6


I was so excited to see Sugith Varughese as the Minister of Transportation / interim Director General. I love him on Kim's Convenience and it was great to see him in a very different role. I feel like the "stumbling in lunar gravity" thing wasn't done too well. Instead he should have bounced toward the ceiling. But I guess that would have required wires and a lot of budget.

This season is really "this is a 10-part film" rather than "this is an episodic show." The individual episodes don't have arcs, they just build on the overall arc of the season.
posted by rednikki at 12:48 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


He's from Kim's Convenience? That makes two KC alumni! Omma was captain of the Donnager.
posted by Mogur at 3:28 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Marco knows that Drummer knows about Naomi, doesn't he? That's why he was working out an intercept course for one of his ships to Drummer's fleet.
posted by Mogur at 3:29 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


“There are ways you can live a good life without being a good person.”
Such a simple yet profound observation. Been thinking about this a lot since watching that scene, probably at least in part as a response to *waves arms at last five-or-so years*

Naomi seems to have finally found her spine when interacting with Filip. Seeing her own the damage her leaving did to him but refusing to apologise for who she is now is the first time she’s really felt like Naomi to me this season.

Everything about Drummer’s crew makes me like them more — that lovely discussion between Oksana and … Josep? … specifically, showing their concern and support for her. Wondering which flavour of bad it’s gonna get on the Tynan now they’ve got Karal as a potential fifth columnist on board.

It was a small thing but Bull immediately calling Monica’s “If you want me off this ship you’re gonna have to drag me” bluff was a great character moment for them both, as was the fact she had a few more arguments in her back pocket when that didn’t work out.

I wasn’t sure how well the Marco character would translate from the books, as we lack Naomi’s inner monologue to give shading to his actions and how they influence/affect those around him. But there seems to be a believable balance between the narcissism and ego/vanity, and the logic and twisted genius to his vision which, along with his charisma, make it possible to understand why so many people would follow him. And with just a few scenes they’ve managed to give a pretty terrifying picture of what it’s like to be trapped in a relationship with a charismatic and manipulative emotional abuser.


Petty observations: 

There were much more important things going on in that opening scene, but all I could think was how much I hoped Shohreh Aghdashloo had negotiated keeping Avasarala’s entire wardrobe into her contract.

I miss Naomi’s mohawk.
posted by myotahapea at 8:56 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Porpoise: Amos' crush on Chrissy is entirely sincere. In a previous-season episode, he made a point of asking Holden what she was wearing in a meeting. He digs her, and rightly so! :D
posted by Mr. Excellent at 10:29 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Marco knows that Drummer knows about Naomi, doesn't he? That's why he was working out an intercept course for one of his ships to Drummer's fleet.

It was subtle, but I think pretty clear, when Filip slipped up and said something about telling his mother himself to Drummer before Marco cut him off. She didn’t react openly, but now 1) she knows Naomi’s on the Pella, 2) Marco knows she knows, and 3) Filip knows, if he didn’t before, that Marco wanted that kept secret.
(Not sure but I think he was plotting an intercept to the Rocinante/Zmeya.)


I really want to think that Amos sincerely has a crush on Avasarala Crissy and knows she digs the compliments, rather than that he just reads that she gets kicks out of compliments to manipulate her.

My read of Amos is that he’s not a manipulator in that way (which I see as a very different thing to, e.g., his drawing out of the prepper). Not just that he doesn’t engage in it, but that he’s not wired to even think that way. That flirtation is 100% legit, which is what makes it so enjoyable. I might even go one further to speculate that he's not saying these things because he knows she likes it — he's just speaking his thoughts, unfiltered, and that's why she likes it: because she can see there's no bullshit behind it.


It took me a little while to realize what happened last episode (or the one before?) when she started to open Ashford's bottle, then put the lid back on. She's waiting to drink it until after she completes Ashford's mission.

I had a slightly different interpretation of it; she was at a crossroads of sorts, contemplating that bottle. One path started by sitting up in the small hours of the morning, necking her spaced friend's bottle of whisky, allowing herself to get lost in the anger and grief and going after Marco with singleminded vengeance. The other, harder path was putting the booze away, sitting quietly with that grief, enduring the pain and going back to work and and finding the smarter way to avenge Ashford, the way that will also work for the good of the Belt rather than simply taking an eye for an eye.


How they get convicted modified supervillain Clarissa Mao (Peaches) through customs...

I’m guessing that, much like there are no prisons anymore, customs really isn’t going to be a concern. Everything's caught up in the Churn.
posted by myotahapea at 10:59 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


I’m guessing that, much like there are no prisons anymore, customs really isn’t going to be a concern.

My prediction is that Amos finds a way to contact Avasarala and they get their own VIP transport off the planet.
posted by medusa at 5:53 PM on January 7


He's from Kim's Convenience? That makes two KC alumni! Omma was captain of the Donnager.

Three, actually: Simu Liu shows up briefly in season three as a Martian marine.
posted by mightygodking at 9:52 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Was rewatching it, intending to count how long between Alex voice commands the reactor to start up and when apparent peak acceleration was reached.

It was less than 1 second.

The other ship started up their own engines about 3 seconds (in show) after the voice command.
posted by porpoise at 10:36 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Well, the Razorback is very specifically a racing yacht. It is designed to do one thing very well, which it does.

Presumably, Alex and Bobby were hoping that the pursuing vessel would assume that it had scored a near-miss that had knocked out the Razorback's systems.
posted by Major Clanger at 2:29 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Peaches taking out the survivalist did look cheesy but I'll bet they did it for budget reasons, which I'm ok with. A little cheese is ok if other parts can be made to look better.
Also, Avarsarala has both Doctor Who and Gregor Clegane (a.k.a. The Mountain from Game of Thrones) on speed dial.
posted by Zack_Replica at 4:08 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


So, as Amos strips off, with each item he takes another step towards Survivalist Dude, reckoning (correctly) that said Dude will be too distracted by naked!Amos to notice that he is now ten feet closer.
posted by Mogur at 6:34 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Also, Avarsarala has both Doctor Who and Gregor Clegane (a.k.a. The Mountain from Game of Thrones) on speed dial.

They're all roles with cast changes.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:48 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


I don't read Avasarala as loving her job more than her husband; I read it has her prioritizing her job in the moment (and then the next moment, and the next, and the next). She's absolutely right that the strength of her marriage is, in the greater scheme of things, less important than the fate of the system and Earth; it's still true that that means that she's neglecting him. But I find it hard to call that the wrong decision when we see how messed up UN organization is--a snake like Errinwright was able to suborn powerful naval commanders; Gao, while competent, didn't have enough advisors willing to push alternate decisions. She has a savior complex, but the show makes that savior complex kind of the right thing for her to be doing.
posted by pykrete jungle at 9:40 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


It's "Marco Inaros."

My new brand of pre-packaged seasoned-tofu sushi pockets will be called Marquess Inari.
posted by pykrete jungle at 9:42 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


> Then putting on the ring and the necklace like a warrior putting on armor.

There is a thing in the Corpse household whenever someone on TV or a movie pulls off a necklace by yanking on it: we yell "Necklaces don't work like that!" I greatly appreciated Avarasala putting on the necklace and having a moment of difficulty with the latch because that is, really, how necklaces work.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:11 PM on January 12 [8 favorites]


"I know he wouldn't die for you, but he would let you die for him."

Damn, that's a good line, Naomi.
posted by straight at 1:54 AM on April 29


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