Ricky Church reviews the penultimate episode of The Expanse…
With the series finale of The Expanse arriving tomorrow, the penultimate episode ‘Why We Fight’ did a nice job reminding us what is at stake with a quiet episode focusing on much of the interpersonal and galactic drama. It sets the stage pretty well for what is sure to be a climactic finale as nearly everything has come together neatly against Marco Inaros and his Free Navy.
‘Why We Fight’ was very much a calm before the storm episode as Holden, Avasarala, Drummer and even Marco regrouped before the final push was made. It was inevitable Mars’ attack on the Ring would fail, especially after Marco’s secret weapon was teased, but it was still surprising how thoroughly the Free Navy defeated the MCRN ships using several rail guns which were likely built with the Protomolecule. Despite the setbacks Marco has suffered recently, it’s a sharp reminder he still wields a lot of power and is a few steps ahead of many others. It’s a sore spot for Avasarala who always prided herself on her ability to predict and outthink her adversaries and could be relatively ruthless. The fact she told Holden about the Belter she tortured all the way back in the series premiere, one of her introductory scenes, illustrates just how much she has changed by either “going soft” as she puts it or, more likely, regaining a bit more of her humanity.
The character dynamics were on full display whether it was between Avasarala and Bobbie or Holden, Amos and Bobbie or Naomi and Drummer. In the case of Drummer, Cara Gee once again did an excellent job showcasing Drummer’s conflicting emotions as she balanced the line between cold captain, bitter Belter and angry friend. Much like Dominique Tipper last season, Gee has bene this year’s MVP for her powerhouse scenes. The reunion between Drummer and Naomi was quite an emotional one with Gee and Tipper pulling out all the stops for it. There’s always been an undercurrent of romantic/sexual tension between them, at least on Drummer’s part (something The Expanse webisodes this season also brought up), and Gee and Tipper perfectly play off that with Drummer’s distant act, calling Naomi by her last name and accusing her of being a lackey for the Inners.
Gee even got to show off more of her skill against Shohreh Aghgashloo, one of the few members of the cast Gee has never been paired with. Drummer and Avasarala meeting in the halls of Ceres was quite an exciting way to end the episode and both actresses were great together. It did seem though like Drummer was holding back a bit as she didn’t demand terms of Belter independence given her intense hatred of Inners, but then again she isn’t arrogant enough like Marco to speak on behalf of all Belters so her telling Avasarala to remember the Belters’ sacrifice in their joint fight against the Free Navy may have been enough.
As postulated a couple reviews ago, one of the main themes of the season has been the search of one’s humanity and not only was that on display with Avasarala, but with Holden and Amos as well. As moral as Holden is to try and reach some type of accord with Marco in the graver threat of the Protomolecule and whatever destroyed its creators, it is naive of him to think Marco would listen to reason if not attempt to turn it to his advantage in some way, even if Holden is right to recognize what they should all be fighting against. Amos, meanwhile, has been pretty cynical this whole season about fighting in the war and his place in it but finally realized some sense of purpose thanks to Bobbie. Amos has always been a guy who puts loyalty to his friends/found family over a cause and Wes Chatham displayed Amos’ realization of sticking by his people to cover their backs very well.
The beginning scenes at Laconia still feel out of place even if they tie into the Protomolecule, but they feel so far removed from the main plot and with everything else going on it’s unclear where they’re heading toward in the finale, if anything at all. At this point, given the fact that this season covers book six of a nine novel series and this storyline is teasing future events, it would be a surprise if there was not some type of plan after The Expanse ends to cover the last three books in some shape or form.
‘Why We Fight’ was greatly focused on the character driven aspects The Expanse has done so well previously. The writing and acting were on point and it serves as very intriguing set up for the finale, especially with regards to how Filip and others on the Pella could play into the climactic battle. With the finale being an extra-sized episode, one can only imagine what tense action awaits and how it will affect the characters.
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