Wednesday, February 3, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Expanse' - A Daring Rescue Produces Lethal Results While the Rocinante Battles the Free Navy in 'Nemesis Games'

Amazon's The Expanse - Episode 5.10 "Nemesis Games"

Holden and the Roci face off against Marco's forces and Drummer, while Alex and Bobbie attempt a dangerous rescue of Naomi. The balance of power in the Solar System shifts.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season finale of Amazon's The Expanse.

"Nemesis Games" was written by Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck & Naren Shankar and directed by Breck Eisner

This season fundamentally delved into the consequences awaiting each of the characters the moment they stepped out of the positions in the story they have always functioned within. It was a fascinating structural device. It had many isolating moments. It was important for the characters to largely be separate. It basically states that the protagonists can accomplish anything when they are able to work together. Their individual sense of heroism enhances each other. They make the team better because of the skills they bring and the camaraderie they have forged. It's a dynamic that is difficult to mimic. Avasarala is Secretary General again. She knows how to enact the powers of this government role. And yet, the world she commands is vastly different now than the last time she was asked to step into this power. Elsewhere, Drummer has been the captain of a crucial and powerful ship before. However, the pressures of leading an independent ship like the Rocinante always pledges to be incredibly complicated and grueling. She and her crew were given no choice when it came to aligning with Marco and the Free Navy. They had to in order to continue surviving in this world after Marco declared war on Earth. That decision ultimately places them in a pivotal position to save the Rocinante when the odds seem stacked against the ship. However, Drummer is the one who makes that crucial decision. She takes control and fires the missiles at the other ships in this assault. Her crew pays for it. Moreover, they feel betrayed because they weren't a part of that decision. Once again, they weren't given a choice in the matter. It's easy to understand why Drummer made this decision. She has a close connection with the crew of the Rocinante. She wants to help her allies. She doesn't want to fire against them on the opposite side of this war. But again, she carried that burden herself. Some of her crew can respect that leadership. Others see it as a detriment to the mission this crew signed up to be in the system. Again, it's all complicated because of these personal dynamics. Marco and his cause aren't a complex story. He lashes out the moment his plan fails. Filip has the rational response of knowing there is nothing that can change that outcome. Instead, they simply have to forge ahead with the next stage of their plan. They are still capable of surprising the entire universe. Avasarala wants to reassure the world that leadership has returned to Earth. It just comes at the exact time that control of the Ring falls and Marco takes over. Countless systems are now within his grasp. His influence extends far and wide. It's easy for him to win this battle. He has the support of Martian leaders. They too have their own agenda. The story focusing on these character conflicts has meant the protomolecule and the threat to the world at large has been put on the back burner. It's still a concern though. This resource is still out there. People carrying it through the Ring only further alerts their presence to the universe at large. That may signal to the more nefarious and looming threat out there that this development is taking place. The Martian leadership hopes to succeed after Earth failed. The disaster on Ilus was costly enough for every sensible person to conclude that this resource was dangerous because of its unpredictability. To Marco though, it's simply a commodity to help him gain power and kill anyone who stands in his way.

Death doesn't come for Naomi though. She is safely rescued from her dire straits. It's still precarious though. It's gripping to see her take another jump through space hoping to land somewhere safely on the other side. When she escaped Marco and Filip, she did so to save her friends. The same is true now. She doesn't want anyone to die as a result of this trap. She tried her best to warn everyone not to approach and dock. She succeeds in that endeavor. The ship is safely destroyed with no one aboard. And yet, another person Naomi cares about dies. In this instance, it's Alex. It's once again because he is doing everything to save her. Now, his actions are much more practical and genuinely heroic than Cyn's were earlier this season. Cyn thought he knew his old friend. He feared she was committing suicide because of what Marco had done. Instead, she was taking a leap of faith to show her resilience and determination to prevent further disaster. Alex similarly believes that he can overcome the difficulties to land the damaged ship onto Naomi's after she sends it into a spiral. It's a risky maneuver. But again, the focus is on Naomi. She pushes herself to the brink of death over and over again. It's the only way to survive. And yes, not everything may be rational. However, the risks pay off in the end for her. Bobbie notices her body has left the ship. She has the resources to safely retrieve her. Alex dies alone though. He is a pilot who has simply done too many risky maneuvers in the hopes of survival. That is the cost of this war. Naomi's friend still dies as a result of these tragic circumstances. She blames herself. However, she knows just how powerful and loving the time spent together was. It's unfortunate that they have been forced apart for so long. They rally to be together once more. Amos and Clarissa safely arrive on Luna. They part ways with Erich. New opportunities await everyone who escaped Earth. That planet is dying. New ambitions can be found in the Ring worlds. That's where everyone is going. The typical power structures are falling. And yet, Avasarala still sees the ideal of citizens of Earth, Mars and the Belt coming together for a united cause. Holden still asserts the independence of the Rocinante. The crew has changed. The mission hasn't. They must prevent the protomolecule from being used to further corrupt and destroy this world. They have people worth fighting for. They must be protected at all costs. It may still lead to this tragic ending. That is fine as well. It's the risk they take every time they endure these brutal journeys. It's what they signed up for. The delay can still be agonizing. Hope is still fleeting in this world. But again, they all have that perfect moment of unity that Avasarala upholds so much. It doesn't last long. They soon see the latest destruction as a result of Marco's grand strategic operation. It creates an uncertain future. However, many of the protagonists have now confronted what was waiting for them outside the roles they've had for so long. It's been an ugly examination of their personal lives. Some were absolutely more compelling than others. Holden had a pretty static journey this season that didn't amount to much. Alex's death feels a little tacked on just to create some drama and consequences at the end of the season. And yet, the viewer should still be intrigued and excited to see what comes next in the final season of this brilliant science fiction show.