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‘The Expanse’ 5.05 Review: Down and Out

This week finds Amos and Naomi dealing with different forms of escape.

Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata in Season 5 of "The Expanse" on Amazon Prime Video.
(Image: © Amazon Studios)

Our Verdict

This week finds Amos and Naomi spotlighted as they attempt their escapes.

For

  • ☄️"Tiny" is a hilarious character.
  • ☄️Amos shines as a reluctant leader.
  • ☄️Naomi's story is revealing itself as the emotional core of the season.

Against

  • ☄️It's starting to feel like Alex and Bobbie won't get much to do this season.

This article contains spoilers for The Expanse. Check out our review of last week's episode here. And check out our preview of The Expanse Season 6.

In the aftermath of a traumatic event, it’s natural to want to escape, to get away from the problem and do something proactive. Sometimes that proactivity is like Holden’s (Steven Strait) desire to leave Tycho Station in the wake of Fred Johnson’s (Chad L. Coleman) death, leaving behind the chaos of the protomolocule heist in favor of wanting to find the radio-silent Naomi (Dominique Tipper). Sometimes it’s a literal escape, like the heart-pounding chase through space that Alex (Cas Anvar) and Bobbie (Frankie Adams) find themselves in at this episode’s end. Sometimes, however, the escape is a little more nuanced, equally symbolic for its psychological significance as for its literal traversal from Point A to Point B. Amos (Wes Chatham) and Naomi embark on such journeys this week, and theirs are the arcs that carry this episode.

Amos finds himself trapped underground in the maximum-security prison that housed former assassin Clarissa “Peaches” Mao (Nadine Nicole). Amos, Clarissa, and a handful of security guards have no idea what has caused such a foundational collapse or that Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander) has pulled off the most catastrophic terrorist attack in human history. Much like everything in Amos’s life, the problem of getting back to the surface is a matter of strict black and white morality, as he places himself in charge of Clarissa’s safety while acknowledging that the lives of the guards also matter in their mutual bid for escape. When faced with an elevator shaft that can deliver them to safety but is hindered by a hazardous climb up a steel-encased ladder they need to pry open rung by rung, the group makes the hard choice to recruit one of the implant-enhanced prisoners in the escape.

“Tiny” (Boomer Phillips), as Amos disparagingly calls him, is the highlight of the episode, a gleefully psychotic musclebound monster who is barely kept at bay at gunpoint but recognizes the need for the guards' biolocked weapons to shoot fingerholds into the ladder’s protective plating. The performance is equally silly and menacing, and it draws a stark contrast against Amos’s supposed sociopathy. Though Amos is a man driven by a very specific set of values and is willing to commit great violence at a moment’s notice in service of those values, he isn’t a self-serving monster like Tiny, and the contrast makes it apparent that Amos is escaping that perception of himself just as much as he’s escaping the bowels of the Earth.

Naomi, meanwhile, faces off against another form of monstrosity, the narcissistic mind of Marco Inaros. Ostensibly, Marco claims that she is free to traverse his ship at her leisure, as she is a guest brought aboard by their son Filip (Jasai Chase-Owens). But her ship was “given” to Filip, so she has no means to leave, nor is she permitted any contact with the outside world so as to not give up their location. She’s pulled into interactions from her old life, with Belters she knew back when she and Marco were in a relationship, people who Marco pulled into fanaticism after Naomi left him and Filip so many years ago.

Naomi’s attempts at escape are reminiscent of real-world struggles against domestic abusers, people who treat their partners as things to be possessed, regardless of each other’s happiness. Yes, the added dimension of Marco’s delusions of grandeur in his bloody conquest for Belter rights – a cause grounded in legitimate economic concerns for Belters after the revelation of the ring gates – makes for a larger-than-life twist on the story, but Naomi is still simply in a position of trying to escape her abuser, just as she did years prior. Her narrative purpose on the ship might be just to give us an insight to the Free Navy, but Naomi is also one of the driving forces of this season’s emotional resonance.

Holden, Alex, Bobbie, and Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) took more of a backseat this week, but that’s alright for this show to not get bogged down by every character’s arc and motivation in every episode. Now that escapes have been attempted, the question remains what these characters will do, whether they got away or not.