Ricky Church reviews the seventh episode of The Expanse season 5…
The latest episode of The Expanse both advanced the ongoing plot and delivered a very strong character driven story for Naomi, diving into the full extent of Marco Inaros’ manipulative and abusive tactics toward her and the people serving under him. ‘Oyedeng’ pushed the narrative forward in a very exciting way, ensuring the last couple episodes of the season will only get more tense from here.
Naomi Nagata has played a pretty pivotal role throughout the fifth season as it has given her a focus the previous seasons have not by the nature of her story as she is forced to confront her past in ways she did not expect. It was already evident before how much of a negative influence Marco was and still is in her life, but this episode delved a bit deeper with the brief flashbacks to their ‘happy’ time together and more of an explanation on how Marco forced her to leave. The revelation she nearly committed suicide due to his kidnapping of their son was a heartrending one, helping further inform the damage he inflicted on her and how it shaped her into the woman viewers met at the beginning of the series to now. Dominique Tipper is giving some of her best performances this season and ‘Oyedeng’ may just be her stand out.
Tipper, Keon Alexander and Jasai Chase Owens all have great chemistry together as this dysfunctional ‘family’. Tipper and Owens in particular feed off each other quite well as Naomi is very earnest and honest to him and Filip goes through some slightly conflicting emotions about her and his place in Marco’s plans. Meanwhile Alexander furthers his case as to why Marco is becoming the series’ most compelling villain as he balances Marco’s natural charisma with his manipulative tactics and switches between the two on a dime. The scene where he mercilessly dress down Filip before stoking his ego is one of the best scenes of the episode while Naomi delivers quite a few emotional gut punches in her scenes with Marco and Filip. This trio is very good together.
While Naomi’s story was very much character driven with a bit of plot progression toward the end, Holden’s pushes the main plot forward in some significant ways as he finally links up with Alex and Bobbie. It also provided a very cool, if brief, action scene as the Rocinante engaged one of Marco’s Free Navy ships. The way the scene was shot and edited together made some great visuals and a sense of worry with the amount of missile the Roci faced down. It’s not to say though their story was without character moments as Holden reflected on Fred Johnson and his passing, offering some interesting insights into how Holden and Fred not only viewed each other, but were much more similar than Holden previously thought.
‘Oyedeng’ had a very nice balance of the character driven story and plot progression through using Naomi’s past and relationships to shape the future of the season. The trio of the Inaros/Nagata family is some of the best pairings The Expanse has had to offer with the performances from Tipper, Alexander and Owens while the main plot only raises its intrigue with whatever Marco and the conspirators on Mars have planned. It is definitely one of the strongest episodes of the fifth season for its character insight.
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