Ricky Church reviews the eighth episode of The Expanse season 5…
With only a couple episodes left, The Expanse slowed things down a lot for ‘Hard Vacuum’ by setting the board for the finale in some interesting ways, but ultimately didn’t feel like much had really happened. It was still bolstered by the performances of the cast, but was hampered by the pacing and the focus more on the set up.
‘Hard Vacuum’ caught us up on some developments that we hadn’t seen for a little while, such as the damage to Earth the asteroid strikes caused with tsunamis flooding cities and the response Earth was looking to give Marco Inaros and all Belters. Those held some pretty interesting moments, especially for Amos and Clarissa as they met with Amos’ old gangster friend and spoke about how his way of life will no longer be the same. It was still a bit of a shame we didn’t get to see more of a first-hand look at how the asteroids damaged cities or other parts of the world, but their conversation still conveyed the severity of the situation. Likewise was the meeting with Earth’s leaders as many sought vengeance against Belters no matter the faction or whether or not they would be more civilian casualties than terrorists. Only Avasarala and one other in the room seemed to be speaking common sense instead of heated emotion with some pretty interesting moral arguments.
Unfortunately, though, not much else of note really happened. Naomi was stuck on her ship, which she discovered to be booby-trapped to explode when Holden would arrive to rescue her while Drummer’s worst fears were realized and Holden and Alex looked for Naomi. There was not very much pushing the main plot forward as so much of the episode moved them around slightly to get them into the right places for the final two episodes. ‘Hard Vacuum’ didn’t have much of a story of its own, but rather little vignettes to bring characters up to speed. The only story which felt significant was Naomi’s as she worked to break the destructive sabotage and warn Holden it was a trap. Dominique Tipper gave a great performance throughout as Naomi struggled with the pain of getting exposed to the vacuum of space for so long and her desperation to save her friends. Likewise Cara Gee was very strong as Drummer, showcasing her growing resentfulness at having to take orders from Marco and the clear division growing in her crew. The characters and actors are the best aspect to the episode, but it just doesn’t hold up quite well since the story is more focused on setting up the finale and getting the characters from point A to B.
‘Hard Vacuum’ is still a good episode for The Expanse, but it is the weakest one of the season since its pacing if off with the slowness of the story and setting up the finale. Some of that set-up was fine, but none of the character’s stories or arcs felt hugely important save for Tipper’s. The cast still gave fine performances, particularly Tipper and Gee, but they aren’t enough to hold the foundation on their own. Hopefully setting up for the finale has been completed and next week will feel more like a typical outing for the series.
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