Stage 1: No Spoilers
After an explosive start to this season, the back half of the episodes all the way to this week’s episode nine have involved getting the new lay of the land and positioning characters for the redrawn battle lines in the solar system. Like last week’s episode, “Winnipesaukee” feels mostly transitional. After two Naomi-centric episodes, though, this week evolves other characters’ storylines–notably Amos/Clarissa and Avasarala, and not, somewhat remarkably, Holden. The supposed central protagonist and hero of the series continues to feel like he’s riding shotgun to his crew’s more interesting threads this season. It seems he, like Amos and all of us, can only look forward to getting his team back together again.
Stage 2: Episode Spoilers
A few episodes ago, “Tribes” was focused on that titular idea: how and why we form up in tribes. Now, with “Winnipesaukee,” we have a counterpoint to Amos’s observation that when the you-know-what hits the fan, tribes shrink down to focus on survival. This time, the theme is building back up those fractured tribes–a theme that Clarissa gets to make explicit instead of Amos.
The scene of Marco and Filip mourning Naomi’s abandoning them more than they had mourned her death highlights this. Filip had brought her to the Pella to reintegrate a fractured tribe–and Marco had implicitly wanted the same thing. But she instead wants to protect her chosen family over the family that betrayed her and she remains desperate to warn off Bobbie and Alex in the Razorback (Yeah, sorry, Alex. It’s just a better ship name) as the Roci tribe moves closer to reunion.
And along with the theme of rebuilding tribes comes the question of what each will stand for. Clarissa, quite literally, takes her stand and commits to trying harder to be that bad person pretending to be a good person. But so does Avasarala.
In the Amazon-official after-show, the cast and show runner noted that in Season 1, Avasarala would’ve been all too happy to blast Pallas station as Paster did. But her experiences, from being out of power and on the run with the Roci crew, to losing Arjun’s trust and then losing Arjun himself, have all chastened her, made her more aware of the need for empathy, for balance. That’s why, I’d say, she still chooses Delgado even though he broke from her about the military response.
So now she is back in power and Amos is heading her way. The rest of the Roci crew and Bobbie are about the come together. I think some fans of the show were hoping for a big showdown with Marco this season, but with only one episode left, I think it’s clear that this is an Empire Strikes Back season–our heroes get knocked down and have to regroup–and the resolution to the season we’re looking at is simply a reunion for the main crew and a new resolve to take on Marco and save the solar system in Season 6.
Assorted Musings (Full Spoilers):
-We get only rumors of wars in this episode, with Marco’s Golden Bough allies’ engagement being reported second-hand and the Earth’s strike on Pallas station only reported after-the-fact. I wonder if we’re going to get any action in episode 10? As I noted last week, I can’t really remember where book 5 ends and 6 begins, so I’m very fuzzy about what to expect next week.
-New contender for Avasarala’s best line ever: “Is he our role model now?”
-I initially expected Avasarala to have to lead a coup. Paster’s regime folded a lot faster and easier than I’d thought. It’s a little disappointing, but it makes sense for where her character is now vs. where she’s been. She can’t be the ruthless, power-hungry figure we knew. She’s learned too much after losing Arjun…
-Marco’s really pushing his luck assigning Drummer’s team to take on the Roci. Five to one doesn’t sound like enough against that ship. Yeah, I’m also gonna go on record with “F’ you, Oksana.” I can’t wait until Drummer breaks ranks and spaces Karal.
-Erich’s kind of fun. “That just means it could be one of anything that exists.” I wonder if–given that it’s Clarissa who asks about the fake ID–his forgery skills are going to be dusted off to give Peaches a new identity once they hit the moon. Also, “Not sure what your collection of scullery maids and butlers adds to the team.”
-I just knew they’d be weaponizing that Epstein drive. He he.
-There have been few disappoints in my life as big as the punchline to that Belter, Martian, Earther joke. I saw many better ones on Expanse fan boards. My favorite: The Earther says, “Give me Brandy, Earth Brandy…I’m my own worst enemy.”
-I’ve seen lots written about how well Cara Gee is doing as Drummer. Her “how much shit” speech is exhibit, um, Z for the case to give this woman an Emmy.
-“He calls you Peaches?” “Yeah.” “Why?” “I don’t know.” Nadine’s delivery of that “I don’t know” is frickin’ priceless. Also, great delivery on, “Serving a life sentence for multiple homicides.” In the books, I was never a big fan of Peaches joining the main crew, but damned am I glad Nadine Nicole is sticking around.