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‘The Expanse’ 5.06 Review: Tribes

'The Expanse' shows it's a good week to figure out who your people are.

Wes Chatham in Season 5 of "The Expanse" on Amazon Prime Video.
(Image: © Amazon Studios)

Our Verdict

The search for one's tribe brings up questions of whether such artificial divisions are at all necessary.

For

  • ☄️Amos and Clarissa continue to shine as the most compelling characters of the season.
  • ☄️Camina's tough decisions is suitably agonizing.

Against

  • ☄️It's becoming clear that some characters just aren't going to get much of a spotlight 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.

This season is a good time to be an Amos (Wes Chatham) fan. As the episodes progress and the themes of allegiance and loyalty become a central focus of the mounting war between Marco’s (Keon Alexander) Free Navy and the Inner Planets, an increased focus on Amos makes for a potent distillation of the show’s rumination on morality, intentions behind actions, and the justification of bad acts toward good ends. In spite of his Earthbound separation from the action and politics that are defining the conflict, Amos’s bid for survival so perfectly encapsulates the themes of this season that it’s uncanny.

As Amos and Clarissa (Nadine Nicole) make their way through the wilderness to reach a spaceport in a city not destroyed by an asteroid, the two share moments of intense platonic connection, giving Amos the closest thing he’s ever had to a confidant, even including the chosen family of the Rocinante. The pair discuss the absence of parental figures in their lives and the importance of the parental figures who did the work of showing up for them, ruminating on the morality this imparted to them. It’s no coincidence that during their forest trek Amos is wearing a tattered flag as a makeshift cloak, evoking images of superheroics as he leads his injured friend toward a hope of salvation, and the juxtaposition with how Amos sees himself is striking and sad. This culminates in a confrontation with a fellow survivor that places Amos as a clear, unarmed disadvantage, and the manner in which the situation resolves raises even more engaging questions about not just his moral compass, but for how people generally regard the gulf between theirs ends and their means.

The rest of the scattered protagonists continue to set up their roles for later in the season without a whole lot of particular focus. Alex (Cas Anvar) and Bobbie (Frankie Adams) fight off their Martian pursuers in the aftermath of their discovery that officers of the Martian Navy have sold warships to Marco. Holden (Steven Strait) prepares to launch the repaired Rocinante in pursuit of the Zmeya, taking Monica (Anna Hopkins) with at her insistence. Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), still shaken after the eradication of Earth’s top leadership, agrees to join the new provisional cabinet to reestablish order. Naomi (Dominique Tipper) is also sidelined a bit this episode, locked in a cell after she warned Holden of the Rocinante’s sabotage, but Filip (Jasai Chase-Owens) reveals a more childlike awe of his mother, prompting her to tell stories of herself that help to fill in the gaps of the mythic figure who was absent for most of his life. Marco clearly does not like that level of influence, so we shall see how much leeway Naomi is allowed to persuade their son against him.

The biggest focus of this episode beside Amos turns out to be Camina (Cara Gee) and her crew, who meet with Marco on hostile, yet non-confrontational, terms. Though Camina clearly struggles with her desire for revenge against Marco, the dawning realization that he has effectively declared war on behalf of all Belters, regardless of faction, means that she might no longer have a choice of whether to join his cause, as Earth and Mars will likely be indiscriminate in their ire for Belters regardless of internal Belter politics. This difficult calculus of allegiances and justice marks a turning point for Camina’s crew, and it rather perfectly complements Amos’s symmetrical bid to find his own moral compass.

The remainder of this season should see the fallout of some major decisions reached in this episode, as lines are drawn and tribes are chosen. These divisions will threaten to tear humanity apart, but perhaps the reunion of the disparate crew of the Rocinante can signal a unity that transcends the necessity for tribalism.