Season 6, Episode 1 of Amazon Prime‘s The Expanse, entitled “Strange Dogs”, takes place a few months after the finale of Season 5. It provides a quick-paced overview of where all the factions and main characters are now, setting them up for what will likely be an explosive final season.
This short beginning, especially the repercussions of her interaction with a very odd-looking dog-like creature, aren’t addressed in the episode itself, so I wonder how it will tie in later.
The Queen of Earth doesn’t do a lot in this episode (aside from float in Zero-G), but she has the critical job of explaining the aftermath of Inaros’ attacks to us viewers. While the initial asteroid strike caused massive fallout (as witnessed in Season 5), Inaros has continued to send asteroids against Earth. The bombardment has a trifecta of effects:
- It pins the Earth and Mars space navies in orbit around the planets to shoot down the asteroids (rather than go on the offensive against the Free Navy)
- Any asteroids (or secondary fragments) that make it through the guard cause immense destruction and death (a “low” count is five hundred people)
- The asteroids are destroying the biospheric integrity of the planet (there is too much CO2 in the air and the scrubbers they’ve created are not working) – every hit from an asteroid weakens the planet a little more.
As such, Earth is growing more and more post-apocalyptic.
Despite all this destruction, Avasarala still manages to have a killer wardrobe. That winter coat (below) is legit.
We also get a bit of Monica in this episode, where she butts heads with Avasarala and calls her out: “you have constituents and not subjects.” Monica has come a long way in her career from when we first met her.
We only get a brief segment with Camina in this episode (but there’s an Expanse game featuring Camina in development!) where she has to make some tough decisions after avoiding a bounty hunter. It’s clear she’s under immense pressure and struggling to balance keeping her people safe with sticking to her principles.
I was very happy the first time we see the Roci in this show is during a space battle! I’ll never get tired of those rail guns.
The crew isn’t faring very well in their new reconnaissance task, though it’s less about competence than team dynamics. No one is comfortable with Clarissa, except for Amos, and Naomi is suffering from both the loss of Alex and guilt surrounding hunting down people who used to be her friends and family.Amos is testy, and Holden tries to cheer Naomi up! You know things are bad when Mr. Broods-a-lot is attempting a pick-me-up.
We get some cool cinematography this episode, including how the camera follows Amos as he walks in a vacuum around the Roci, and the harrowing scene with the scrap metal magnetized against the thruster.
Most importantly, the crew learns two essential facts: 1) the asteroids are fitted with a propulsion system and are sent to Earth after receiving a coded burst at a specific frequency and, 2) there is a small spotter ship guiding the rocks. So now the crew has a target.
And, of course, I have to mention Amos and Clarissa – are they or are they not a couple? That look he gives her at the end of the episode? Come on!
The Free Navy
Now in control of the space stations, it’s clear the Free Navy is less focused on helping the Belters they claim to be serving than carving out an unequivocal command structure with Marcos at the top. This is the furthest thing from a surprise. We also meet Rosenfeld Guoliang Inaros’ second-in-command (it appears), who seems just as ruthless as he is.
But this episode focuses less on Marcos than a rage-fueled Filip. Not only is he a teenager with a manipulative father, but the fame of being what is essentially a prince has gone to his head. Filip doesn’t enjoy the sex he seeks, treats everyone like a servant, makes demands of a bartender, and then, in a moment that truly surprised me, shoots his friend, Yoan. As much as Filip is responsible for his actions, it’s not hard to see how Marcos’ direct and indirect influence has twisted him from a conflicted boy in Season 5 to a hateful young man. Perhaps this terrible mistake is Filip’s rock bottom and he will turn himself around.
An Apocalypse in the Making
Earlier in the episode, Yoan shows off his alligator-skin jacket, which Filip critiques as synthetic. Yet, Yoan replies, it doesn’t matter if it’s synthetic or genuine – what matters is that anything from Earth will be rare and therefore in demand. We rarely see this in post-apocalyptic media: those who are watching an apocalypse happen from a distance and profiting off of it. We often see people hoarding supplies or trying to carve out an empire as the world crumbles around them, but The Expanse gives us a unique view from those unaffected by the destruction.
Or are they? The state of Earth also raises some implications about the future of humanity. The Belters, as we know from previous seasons, have been physiologically altered due to living in space. Naomi, in Season 4, was unable to travel to Ilus IV due to her inability to withstand the gravity. How will this impact humanity going forward? If mainly Belters survive, will they be creating a species that can only live in Zero-G or “spin gravity”? Will any survivors on Earth develop their own mutations and evolutions due to the Earth’s growing inviability? Has this war created a far greater divide than Inaros’ intended?
Yoan and Filip’s exchange also makes me wonder. While the Belt is self-sustaining to a point, what are they going to do when the immense manufacturing and food-producing factory that is Earth is no longer producing these goods? It’s already causing issues in the Belt (with Inaros’ deciding to cut off Medina station), so it’s only going to get worse.
Perhaps the only humans left at the end of the season will be on Laconia.