Episode 4 of The Expanse Season 5 is easily one of the best episodes of this show and – dare I say it – the most tense and exciting episode of TV this year. We begin on The Screaming Firehawk; Alex and Bobby fly together between Mars and the Belt.
Given what they’ve found out about the military on Mars, Alex finds himself struggling to comprehend what they could be involved in. However, he’s interrupted by UN emergency flight restrictions that stop all inbound ships to Earth. As it turns out, alongside the asteroid blast on Earth there was a simultaneous explosion at the Martial parliament. Marco Inaros has made his move.
At the UN Penitentiary, Amos finds himself forced to hand over his belongings before heading deep into this prison dubbed “The Pit.” Amos certainly isn’t phased by what lies in the basement as numerous criminals sport body modifications. Because of this, they’re forced into having more guards than prisoners. The one Amos is interested in though happens to be a woman called Clarissa Mao.
She’s on a heavy dose of blockers and with surgery out the question, Clarissa is forced to be hooked up to his machine for the time being. Amos is clearly torn up about this though as Clarissa eventually cuts to the chase, “Why are you here?”
Amos claims to be there to help but she scoffs at his suggestion. Only, alarms suddenly wail as they’re forced into lockdown. An explosion causes the walls to begin cracking as a second rock hits Earth – 40 km North of Philadelphia.
Avasarala’s worst fears come true. Despite Delgado by her side, she struggles to get through to Nancy and the others. Realizing they’ve been blacklisted, Avasarala phones the chef who in turn hands a tray of food over to Nancy with the phone there.
Now Avasarala can get her message across, pleading with her to listen as she details how the rocks crashing down are covered in martial stealth spotters. It’s Marco Inaros behind this not Mars and she needs to trust her. The Watchtower satellites need to be linked to the spotters. If they don’t do this, millions more may die. She puts the command in but another explosion outside sends the plane tumbling through the air. The wings break and communication is severed.
Back at the Belt, Bull and his men wait inside the shipping container but it turns out this gruff leader is claustrophobic. Zmeya show to pick up the cargo as all our characters stand by ready to make their move. Only, Holden realizes something isn’t right. At the last second they realize it’s a trap.
The Zmeya fires at the shipping container, Sakai kills Fred Johnson and another missile rips through the part of the station housing Fred Johnson’s quarters.
With Johnson’s dying breath, he tells Holden that the Protomolecule sample is inside his quarters. As Holden hurries off, a robotic drone shows and begins searching for the Protomolecule in the room.
With Sakai there too, Monica wrestles with her for control as Holden shows up and tries to stop the robot. It’s no good though as it takes off with the sample leaving the Belt in dire jeopardy for now.
Earth is in crisis and with half of Gao’s cabinet wiped out, Avasarala and Delgado are left to wonder exactly what to do next. Delgado apologizes for losing faith but Avasarala reminds him that this fight is far from over. The watchtowers get a hit as they hone in on a giant asteroid bound for Earth. Thankfully they manage to take it out before it obliterates any more of the planet.
Meanwhile, Naomi recovers from her taser blast to find herself held captive on Marco’s ship. He takes her to Marco Inaros. They take her to Marco Inaros as the two confront one another about their changing ideologies about the future of the Belt.
As he steps back, he shows numerous images from Earth of the explosions rocking the planet. This act of terrorism is seen as a movement toward freedom. Naomi reminds him that millions of people are dead and they have blood on their hands. Marco is having none of it though and rallies the troops in a chilling speech about superiority.
With Naomi stuck in her chambers, Marco Inaros broadcasts a message to the entire system confirming he has the last sample of the protomolecule. Any transgression from either Mars or Earth will see him unleash that on them. Marco tells the Belters to rise up as all our characters watch the broadcast grimly, knowing a new world order is upon them.
The Episode Review
Wow, what an episode. From the goosebump-inducing, chilling speech at the end from Marco Inaros to the action-soaked opening shots of the terrorist attacks on Earth, every part of The Expanse’s latest episode was crafted to perfection.
But let’s start with that speech. It’s true The Belters have been oppressed for a long time but I’m not sure anyone in this system expected Marcos to strike both Mars and Earth at the same time. Even worse, now that he possesses the final sample of the Protomolecule, he’s essentially managed to bring both planets to their knees. In turn though that also means an alliance between both planets seems like a very likely outcome from this.
That speech though was so pitch perfect in terms of tone, persuasive language and eerie string segments in the musical score that it’ll arguably go down as one of the best moments of this season. This will almost certainly see a massive insurrection with the Belters though and with the Alien Rings under their control too, things certainly don’t look good.
This will obviously have massive consequences further on down the line and it’ll be interesting to see exactly how that plays out. With a shorter run-time of 43 minutes this time, The Expanse squeezes as much as it can into every second of its run-time, bowing out with one of the best episodes of this sci-fi series and – dare I say it – one of the best episodes of TV in 2020.