The Expanse S5E08: Hard Vacuum

Like last time out, The Expanse this week centered on the story of Naomi Nagata. But instead of family-drama Naomi, we instead are treated to grease-monkey Naomi. And I like grease-monkey Naomi Nagata. In fact, the only Inaros action this time out is a single scene where Father of the Year Marco blames Filip for Cyn’s death and then kicks him out. So, you know, good call on your choice of parent there, Fil.

The eyeliner, y’all

And BOY does Nagata take a beating this episode, huh? Of course, surviving the “hard vacuum” of the title did some rough stuff to her body, bursting blood vessels and probably giving her just a smidge over the healthy dosage of rads. And then began the pulling apart of panels with her fingertips, the muscle strain and abrasion of hands, and many, many times nearly asphyxiating herself on her own CO2.

It’s a great performance by Tipper in this episode, and I’m not talking about the acting out of trauma alone; the acting and the writing smartly doesn’t explain every move of what Naomi’s doing, though eventually it leads us to understanding, from her abortive attempt to broadcast a real message outside, to the later, successful modification of the deep-fake message. I was wondering why she was memorizing the message and its timing before going outside of the inner hull time and time again, but it was a clever way to send a signal. Only picked up, unfortunately, by the baddie Karal, fresh off of telling Camina Drummer that Marco has killed her friend (and lover?) Naomi.

Last episode was nearly all Holden and Naomi, this episode cuts down on both, but especially Holden’s time (Naomi’s probably on screen a lot less but her dialogue-free scenes don’t need to run as long to convey what they need to). In exchange, we check in with lots of others, in particular with the Drummer contingent. And this is the saddest plot line, for sure, seeing the fracturing of the seven people (six now, as Serge is serving on the Palla) and their family, under the stress of working in the Free Navy, scavenging from Marco’s victims. Karal tells Oksana that the other group shot first, but it’s an open question if she’s telling the truth. Besides, it’s not like Marco gave the non-aligned Belters much choice. I was worried the last scene would involve Karal recruiting Oksana as a mole, given how fearful she is about the prospect of disobeying Marco Inaros. That may yet come, but the ending is more ambiguous. Also, after Camina has drunk away the grief over Naomi and her fractured family with Klaes Ashford’s single malt Scotch, I hope she’s one step closer to killing Karal dead. That one’s a snake.

Avasarala is back to doing what she does best, being the voice of reason in the UN, to a less-than-capable Secretary-General. It’s pretty discouraging to see her ally Delgado take the hard line on Inaros, advocating the killing a whole bunch of citizens of the Belt on Pallas Station. I really don’t know which way Secretary-General Paster is going to jump. Here’s hoping he’s not like the Bobblehead and listens to Chrisjen.

I suppose I should mention Holden, Bull, and Monica, who are under the impression that the Protomolecule they were chasing has been destroyed. However, (and thanks given to the sharp-eyed enuma) it looks entirely possible that the last torpedo fired by the Zmeya seemed to fly off into space once the others took aim at the Roci. And really, considering that Holden himself did that same trick a few seasons back, he should at least have thought of it.

Lastly, and happily, Amos and Clarissa have gotten to Charm City, and after taking stock of the situation, convince Timmy’s old buddy Erich to clear out of Baltimore, as trying to hold onto power amid a planet dealt such a blow, and with cities set to become war zones, is a prospect that even commensurate survivors like him probably won’t be able to pull off. So they’re on their way up to New Hampshire, with some of that good tequila to replace the bottle Amos nicked and presumably got blowed up with the UN penitentiary building.

Next week, Winnipesaukee! I imagine it’s going to be an Amos and Clarissa-centric episode, which we should all be able to enjoy. I’d personally dig some more Avasarala whose story has a lot of room to grow yet unlike most of the cast at this point, who are all converging. Bobbie too, whom I’m hoping gets to take point on any Naomi rescuing, but mostly Chrissy.

What did y’all think? I’m not giving letter grades these days, but I’d say this week felt better than last week, not as good as “Tribes.” I love the Drummer faction, even if they’re not really critical as a group. I’ve also never been one to mind table-setting though, so I wonder if some folks’ patience isn’t wearing a bit thin. I’m predicting something exciting next time.