The following contains spoilers for The Expanse S5E3 “Mother” and assumes knowledge of all preceding episodes and seasons of The Expanse, but contains no book spoilers.
The Expanse S5E3 ends with an asteroid (presumably sent by Marco Inaros) impacting Earth. From the best I can tell, the location is probably in South Africa, or perhaps Zimbabwe, given that the sign on the beach, which reads “Sukungena Ibhorho yeNqanawa Ivaliwe” seems to be in Xhosa and translate to “do not enter the closed bridge” according to the internet (I’m not sure the bridge part makes sense but it seems on the track of what you would more or less expect overall). So it would appear this is not the asteroid shown on a projection at the beginning of S5E3, unless I am getting something wrong. The coordinates shown there (41°24’15.0″N 75°41’03.8″W) seem to indicate Scranton, PA. And I doubt that the team behind The Expanse would have put that detail in if it weren’t relevant. Though “Mother” was directed by Thomas Jane, and Miller has been known to mislead us before…I know I’m conflating actor and character there.
It’s no surprise, though, if further asteroids are on their way to Earth. And with apologies to Dunder Mifflin and Washington DC, if one is headed towards Scranton it’s Amos—who we last saw in Baltimore—that I’m most worried about. How the time in which one scene is set relates to that of another isn’t always easy to parse in The Expanse, but the narrative has generally seemed to be linear. Regardless, 22 hours isn’t a lot of time, and we know that our friend wasn’t quite ready to leave the planet when he called “Chrissie” from the docks at the end of S5E2. It seems likely that he wants to see Clarissa Mao (Nadine Nicole). It will be interesting to see how all of this shapes up.
Much of the runtime of S5E3 is taken up by various characters trying in one way or another to prevent Marco’s attack on Earth, whether they know that is what they are doing or not. One might worry that this is all obviated as the asteroid crashes into the planet in the final scene of “Mother” but clearly it isn’t if it was a different one shown on the projection at the beginning of the episode. Plus, we have always known that there have been multiple asteroids. The only question is whether Inaros has a sophisticated enough plan to prevent the others from being stopped at this point. Given that I haven’t read the books, I can’t rule out the possibility that the narrative of The Expanse might be so bold as to extinguish life on Earth. And part of me thinks that we’d have it coming.
Delgado (Michael Irby) begins to tell Avasarala a joke at the beginning of S5E3 before he’s cut off by the arrival of Alaoui (Danny Waugh). The Belter and the Martian at the bar both order drinks to help them think like their enemy. Surely the punchline lies in what the Earther will order, but we don’t get to find out. My guess is it might be a beer, showing a certain indifference to interplanetary politics that would mirror the kind of myopia so common among Americans (like me) in the world we live in, who may have some idea what is going on around the globe but allow it all to feel so far away.
And that hubris is on display when Alaoui at first evades the question as to the potential impact of an asteroid of the size he has conjectured—he says instead that it would never make it to the surface because of the planet’s defenses. And Gao’s government refuses to listen to Delgado, who they know is something of a mouthpiece for Avasarala. Apparently they think he is spouting conspiracy theories. If, as Marco says, even the dreams of the Belters are small, even the rationality of the Earthers is limited by their hubris.
So perhaps the Earth will (meaningfully) be destroyed in The Expanse. If we follow the logic of plot armor, we may note that Avasarala is safe on Luna. Amos could well escape before the planet burns, along with however many others—Earthers become refugees. I don’t know that this is where the writers of The Expanse are taking us, but I wouldn’t put it past them.
Or perhaps this will be prevented. S5E3 sees Alex and Bobbie more or less proving (to themselves at least) that Admiral Sauveterre (Tim DeKay) is in fact involved in the black market arms trade on Mars. Though Alex continues to be a bit up his own ass if he was thinking that Babbage (Lara Jean Chorostecki) was into him prior to being attacked as he made his way back to his room. That was a pretty awkward “date” but then I guess it fits with the character for him to fail to read a woman well (cf. the way he tells Bobbie he’ll be able to reconcile with his wife when they first meet on Mars—did he see the same woman in that apartment that I did?)
Also the carpet in Alex’s hotel is patterned like the carpet of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Does this portend a frozen death for our Martian friend, or is he maybe just staying in a strangely themed resort? Maybe the people are Mars are big Kubrick fans.
Drummer finds a recording of Ashford’s final moments on the Hynan. Marco’s words are just as striking heard over again in this differing context (and then again at the end of S5E3 when Aversarala receives the message). But though plot-wise this whole arc is going to lead to Chrisjen finally having the proof she needs (too late, really), the weight of Drummer’s scenes in “Mother” pertains to her grief over her dead friend.
As she tells Oksana (Sandrine Holt), she wonders if perhaps Ashford would have succeeded and survived if she had gone after Inaros with him. Her own words to spare Marco ring in her mind as she searches the Hynan. Camina feels guilt over what happened, even if she is not guilty—even if it is not her fault that Klaes is gone. That make sense, and humanizes her even further. She wants to hunt down Marco at first, but Oksana is able to talk her out of it. That’s not who Drummer is anymore. She’s found a new family and is thriving in the hustle of the churn. This is what happiness looks like for Camina Drummer. I just hope it doesn’t push her out of the story of The Expanse, because she is maybe my favorite character.
Holden, Fred Johnson, and Bull are on the track of whoever kidnapped Monica. They view footage of an attack on Ceres where Paolo Cortazar (Carlos Gonzalez-Vio) has been taken. You may remember him as the guy who has had his empathy removed and who is very interested in the protomolecule (not so much in consideration for human suffering). And they track the shipping container to Duru Freight, but those guys are dead. Someone is taking great pains to cover their tracks, but if their goal was to keep the information Monica has from getting out, it’s hard to see why they didn’t just kill her. Instead, they must have had some use for her and have actually wanted her delivered in that shipping container. This all has me thinking a bit about the Mao family, but I’m not sure there is quite enough to speculate with at this point in Season 5. We’ll just have to see where The Expanse takes us. Or maybe I’ll be speculating next week.
Naomi finally reunites with Filip and—surprising no one—things do not go well. But even I couldn’t have predicted that the young Inaros would physically attack and abduct his mother, somehow managing to make the acceptance of her gift of a ship an act of theft at the same time.
The Expanse has given us the story of what happened between Naomi and Marco from the perspective of both. Filip makes clear that he believes his father’s version of events—Naomi abandoned him. And I must say she does not acquit herself well in S5E3. It’s as though she has forgotten how to interact with true Belters. She’s become too removed from the Belt. It was naïve of her to go to see Filip in the first place—anyone could have told you that—but her plan and her demeanor displays the depths of that naïveté.
She really should have known better, and the frustrating thing is that we know Naomi well enough by now to know that at some level she did know better, but we’ve also seen her lead with her heart enough times for it to track that she’d lose sight of reason to try to save her son. Because that’s what she’s believed she was doing—or at least giving him the chance to save himself. And perhaps she did give him that chance, but anyone could see that he wasn’t going to take it.
Now she’ll get a front row seat to whatever is coming.