The Expanse S5E07: Oyedang

(The title is Lang Belta for “Goodbye,” by the way)

Let us take a moment to thank the increased budget of the last two seasons for giving us the improved visual effects on display tonight. We’ve seen ship-to-ship combat on The Expanse before, but the Roci’s PDCs were a thing of beauty in taking out the torpedoes launched their way by the fleeing (empty?) Free Navy ship.

Mind you, I thought the flipping of panels à la Transformers was a bit much: It’s not like the ship needs to be aerodynamic, right? And it took a second for them to flip around… in the case of sudden combat, I’d want that second, you know? But whatever; it looked neat, and that’s fine.

There was little stuff, too, but I’ll get to that when I get to Naomi’s storyline. First, Holden (and Bobbie). The latter gets not much time this week as last, but an appropriately badass moment when she pulls out a bullet which she seems to have gotten from one of the Belters winging her. She and Alex send the info they have to Avasarala and to Holden before going on the hunt for Naomi, and that’s that.

Holden, meanwhile, grapples with the death of Fred Johnson, and his relationship with him and the Protomolecule, in a couple of very nice scenes with Bull and with Monica. Jim’s surety in his own moral compass has been near-absolute throughout much of the show’s run. (“I saw a button, and I pressed it!”) And even though we the audience knows that his attitude can be tiresome and lead him and others into disaster, I liked seeing him consider that Fred Johnson, a man older than Holden, who’d dedicated himself to first the cause of the UN and then to the Belt, was no less sure of himself, just tempered with experience and more capable of humility. I like Holden a lot more as a character than I did in season 1; the last 3 seasons in particular have brought him, and Steven Strait, a long way in my eyes.

Speaking of eyes. I don’t know how well this still image I took captures it (and I could use video capture to get a gif but nah), but a nice detail the show captured was the freezing off of the tears around Naomi’s eyes as she floated in vacuum. Nice stuff. In fact, there was a lot of stuff to like about the Nagata storyline this time out, just as there continue to be elements that frustrate me or spark impatience.

In the latter category is Filip. His character makes sense. He’s a 20-something (I think?) kid desperate for his father’s approval. His emotionally abusive father, I might add. So yeah, I get why he does what he does.

Still, it doesn’t mean I sighed any less heavily when he forgot, in an instant of emotional manipulation, his father’s sneering about Filip’s “weakness.” His dad literally said what his mom told him: That Marco sees other people only as extensions of himself. And yet that’s all out the window as the belters around him chant “Filip! Filip!” in what could have been a moment Marco rehearsed with them; I don’t know. Plus Filip full-on struck his mother, which was a truly dick move. I didn’t like that.

Naomi’s journey was more palatable, as she dealt with rediscovering her son (and losing him again); the disappointment of Cyn, and her smugness towards, and then hatred of, Marco Inaros. I still am less interested in weepy Naomi than I am in a lot of other parts of her character, though. And Dominique Tipper has a lot of weepy scenes this time out.

But I liked what the show did with Cyn. I’ll be honest: I don’t remember a lot of Naomi’s plotline from “Nemesis Games.” So I didn’t remember what happened to him in the books. But here, he’s pretty much a perfectly set-up character. He’s likable, and has good qualities. We don’t doubt his remorse at hiding Filip from Naomi so many years ago. We also don’t doubt how much he wants to help mold Filip for the better. Cyn sees himself as a good guy. But he’s not. When Marco rubs Naomi’s face in his plan to murder her friends and then her (and Filip, good boy, stands by Daddy) Cyn turns his back on her. Naomi asked him to help her, and after getting slapped down by Marco, Cyn folds. Also, not for nothing but Cyn’s unburdening himself for his past sins to Naomi did nothing to help her. That’s the worst kind of confession: The kind that seeks absolution while just causing more pain to others.

So it’s sad to an extent that Cyn dies. He tried to be the hero and save Naomi from suicide. That’s noble and all. But Cyn’s last act is to try and grab Naomi as she goes out the airlock. Grabbing her wouldn’t have saved her. They’d have both asphyxiated. Rather, when it became clear that Naomi was, in fact, about to risk her life to be free of Marco and save her friends? The very thing that Cyn asked Marco to do earlier in the show, to let her go? Cyn was trying to stop her from escaping. He was going to die either way, but he wanted to make sure she couldn’t help stop Marco’s plans.

Karal is the more abrasive character; just a real asshole to Naomi and pretty much everyone. And I hope Drummer and her family kill that one dead. But Cyn? He was a real villain.

What do you all think? I had fun with this episode, but I’m ready for more Camina and Avasarala in my life. And Amos. Always Amos.