The Expanse is one of the best realised science fiction series on TV at the moment. Season 5 of this show based on the books of James S.A. Corey just finished on Amazon Prime in the UK and what a ride it was.
This season has continued to impress with its scale and scope but was somewhat different to previous ones. For the first time the crew of the Rocinante find themselves going their separate ways each following a new path that eventually sees them reunite in the last episode.
The series has taken great pains to remain faithful to the books and only diverted when it made sense production wise, this season this holds true except for one key event which promises huge changes for the last season, but more of that later.
Marcos Inaros was a very good moustache swirling bad guy. He dripped venom and also a passion for the plight of the Belters, although that passion only went so far, it only lasted as long as he got the acclamation and credit for his actions. His interaction with his son and Naomi was excellent. Speaking of Naomi, the actress, Doninique Tipper, was superb. She really shined this season. She was betrayed by her son and her old crew and then abandoned on a booby-trapped ship. The whole sequence of her alone on the ship was great. She played strength and vulnerability in equal measure and really showed us great strength of character without any words.
Bobby continued in her usual way and was paired once more with Alex. Holden was side lined a bit to make way for Naomis storyline and the destruction on Earth. The season covers and awful lot. Secret cargos on Mars, Attacks on Tycho Station, cloaked asteroids, rogue martians, the OPA Free Navy, machinations of a new Earth government on the moon and a jail break in a desolated America.
The show has the ability to keep me on the edge of the seat despite having read the books and knowing roughly what is going to happen. Two things rankled a little though.
Drummer, a small role in the books, is a stand-out character and played beautifully alongside Claes Ashford in the last season was somewhat left in the wind. I could see what they were trying to achieve but her siding with Marcos in the first place felt forced and her crew seemed still too new for me to appreciate the bond they had together. Gladly we see her fiery self in the last episode.
Lastly, and this is a big spoiler, was the death of Alex Kamal. This was a huge curveball given that he doesn’t die in the books. Cas Anvar, the actor portraying Alex, did a really good job of playing the martian in fact alongside Holden and Avarasala he was my favourite in the show. Sadly, Cas lost his job due to personal indiscretions and allegations that I will not go into here, and rightly so if true, but it did leave a somewhat clumsy exit for the character although explainable in universe.
Despite this altered ending the show really is very strong and it is sad that it will end with the next season. I hope there is no time jump as with the books but either way this is very thoughtful sci fi and I for one have no problem with the series diverging from the books.