‘The Expanse’ 5.09 Review: Winnipesaukee

Maybe a better title would be ‘Escape from New Hampshire.’

Steven Strait as James Holden in 'The Expanse'.
(Image: © Amazon Studios)

What to Watch Verdict

'The Expanse' takes a crack at 'Walking Dead'-style survivalist moralism.


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    ▪️Clarissa and Amos get amazing moments of meditation.

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    ▪️The conflict between Erich's group and the survivors is understandably difficult and gripping.


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    ▪️Again, many of the show's main characters don't have 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.

As the season rushes toward its climax, the disparate pieces of the plot’s bigger picture start rushing together. Revelations by Alex (Cas Anvar), Bobbie (Frankie Adams), Holden (Steven Strait), and Camina (Cara Gee) bring them hurtling toward one another, and ideological strife pushes Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) against Admiral Delgado (Michael Irby) in Earth’s surviving cabinet. Marco (Keon Alexander) continues to manipulate Filip (Jasai Chase-Owens) into feeling abandoned by his mother with the revelation that Naomi (Dominique Tipper) is alive, and Naomi herself appears to have an unknown objective to further divert an attempted rescue from the sabotaged Chetzemoka. The pieces are all maneuvered into place for a finale that, while likely not a full takedown of Marco’s military strength, will be an ideological reunification that pushes against the division he has sown through humanity this season.

You see this theme expressed most clearly in Amos’s (Wes Chatham) and Clarissa’s (Nadine Nicole) bid to get off-planet. Breaking into a wealthy family’s summer home on the shores of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee with the help of Erich’s (Jacob Mundell) followers, they find a shuttle in the garage that refuses to lift off without substantial repairs. This only becomes more complicated as local off-season staff for the wealthy community starts noticing their repairs, as well as a militia of former local security who threatens to take command of the shuttle by force.

In essence, this is The Expanse taking a crack at Walking Dead-style survivalist moralism, but the substantial difference is the humanism with which it explores its conflict. Amos’s struggles are more singularly focused on his desire to reunite with his own chosen tribe, but Erich is a voice of cynicism that rejects the bids of abandoned workers to hitch a ride off Earth without having any labor or value to offer. Clarissa, surprisingly enough, turns out to be a moral center to the episode, purposely putting herself between cross-pointed guns and advocating for making their tribe as large as possible so that the need for individual worth becomes irrelevant.

In a microcosm, this episode distills the overarching themes of the Belter-Inner Planet conflict. One group has something that another group wants, and the harshness of survival would dictate that force should be necessary in order for that resource to be capitalized upon by the party left without it. But Clarissa represents an idealism that the show strives for even as individual characters push against it.

There is hope in allowing other people into your circle and in working cooperatively for the greater good of all. Maybe not everyone will get a ride on the shuttle, but there’s no reason to cram as many people in as possible for the short ride to Luna. No one has to die for the sake of getting a spot onboard, and a spirit of cooperation could set up the karmic possibility for being saved in the near future. It’s that idealism, in spite of the harsh environmental realities of space and the unknown, that makes The Expanse so interesting. And all of that is encapsulated in the redemptive musings of a former self-styled assassin. Go figure.

Leigh Monson

Leigh Monson has been a professional film critic and writer for six years, with bylines at Birth.Movies.Death., SlashFilm and Polygon. Attorney by day, cinephile by night and delicious snack by mid-afternoon, Leigh loves queer cinema and deconstructing genre tropes. If you like insights into recent films and love stupid puns, you can follow them on Twitter.