The finale of Amazon Prime’s The Expanse, entitled “Babylon’s Ashes,” gives us some fantastic fights but leaves us with a space container of unanswered questions.
Did I enjoy the final episode? Immensely.
Did it leave me somewhat frustrated? … yes.
In truth, it felt a little sloppy. Rather than having a couple of open-ended questions that are fun to muse on, the show leaves us a few dangling ends that lack that satisfying tug of a thread knotted.
The story arc surrounding Laconia is somewhat confusing in its purpose. Cara’s brother has clearly been infected with the protomolocule (given his eyes and sight match that of Holden’s when he was infected), but what does that have to do with the rest of the season? Why include this at all?
If the entire Laconia plot exists to show why Admiral Duarte denies Marco his weapons and access to the colonies, that makes sense, but then why is the focus on Cara? Given Amazon knew they weren’t continuing with the show after season 6, why not take some creative liberties and alter some plotlines to provide us with more closure? Hopefully, this “leave plotlines open in hopes another studio will pick it up” approach does not indicate what we should expect from shows in the future.
Quite frankly, while I found the Laconia plot interesting, its lack of overall relevance was frustrating.
The first scene with the Secretary-General sets the action in motion. We learn Inaros has three battle groups, so Earth, Mars, and the Belt will send three groups in return to meet him. Avarsarala isn’t impressed with this strategy, complaining we’ve been “massing battleships since the age of sail.” Or, in other words:
Along with the typical battle formation, Holden plans to take the Rocinante and attach it to a hauler called the Giambattista to get them close enough to Medina to storm the gates and take control of the rail guns.
Avasarala takes a position at the front of the line for strategic purposes, according to her. But we all know she doesn’t like to miss an opportunity to be in command.
Camina’s role in the battle is to lead the Belters to take down one of Marco’s battle groups, which includes a freighter. Walker convinces her to leave the freighter alone to steal from it later. This allows her to notice, albeit too late, that the freighter is not just a freighter. The ship bursts apart, only to reveal the Pella (previously thought to be in the main fleet facing Avasarala), which unleashes hell on the Belters. Camina wakes up to find her ship has a new, large picture window. She decides to do a suicide run on Marco, but Walker, already dying, says he’ll do it. He sends his ship at full impulse towards the Pella, crashing into it.
Reeling from the attack, Marco receives the news that Duarte will not be sending him any extra weapons and is denying him access to the ring.
After Guoliang dies from the collision, Filip tries one last time to see if his dad gives a modicum of a crap about anyone. But, as it’s clear he does not, during his dad’s final rousing speech, Filip closes his eyes in what appears to be world-weary fatigue.
As the Pella heads to Medina, we see some amends being made around the Roci (as people tend to do when they think they might die). Naomi extends an olive branch to Clarissa in front of Amos, showing that she accepts her. Amos and Naomi reminisce about their similar working relationship years ago, which seems to cement the idea that Amos and Clarissa are nothing but colleagues. Oh well.
We also learn Amos is going down with the ground assault, which we all wanted to see anyway!
But then Clarissa gets a lightning headache, shortly revealed to be due to “complex endocrine collapse syndrome.” Some endocrine disorders are related to the adrenal glands, and given Clarissa shoots those into overdrive when she uses her implants, it appears it’s wreaking havoc on her system.
This ties into previous issues she’d had after using her implants (remember when she threw up in her helmet?). It’s not explicitly stated that if she uses her implants again, it’ll worsen, but we’re left to assume this is the case.
When the main thruster needs repair mid-battle, we are led to expect Clarissa will use her implants and possibly die (albeit saving the ship)? If you recall, I predicted something like that last week. So it was nice to see an obvious set-up thwarted! But with a ratchet strap? Would that really hold?
Big Guns on Medina
This was an incredible scene and the highlight of the episode! We have containers blowing up, railguns blasting, the Rocinante taking fire, and a whole manner of elegantly-directed chaos that was so much fun to watch.
And then, to make it even more exciting, we get the troopers landing. Amos stumbles to the walkway, but Bobbie lands without even needing to catch her breath. As I predicted last week, Bobbie makes a badass move. She attempts to storm to the gates despite heavy fire and near-certain failure!
With her armor (and body) taking quite the bashing, she manages to release her missiles and destroy the railguns. Amos attempts to shield her with covering fire (and his body), and the Rocinante rescues them both.
If you recall, their purpose in taking the guns was to use them on Marco. With the guns down, Naomi comes up with an idea to trigger the ring gates. They hope that throwing enough mass at the ring will wake the entities as the Pella grows near.
As a mother, I can understand Naomi’s utter anguish at having to press that ignite button. While having someone else do it would have been less emotionally devastating for her (Amos would likely have said, “sure” and pressed it instantly), Naomi needed to do it as a form of closure. Still, it was a brutal scene following all she went through with Filip in Season 5.
Following the battle, we get the politics. As to be expected, Drummer will not back down to Avasarala’s demands for what is essentially fealty. She raises valid points, such as “we’ll have a vote as long as we can be voted down,” but it’s also not hard to see the issues Mars and Earth would face if the Belt had too much power.
Because Holden is involved in everything apparently, they suggest he become the head of an independent Transport Union headed from Medina station.
Sometime later, at a large press conference, we’re given Avasarala’s last outfit of the show, which is a long dress that was oddly bride-like and reminded me of Queen Elizabeth I.
And then, in a fun twist/backstab, Holden declares that Drummer is his vice-president, then resigns! This makes my girl Drummer the president and gives the Belt the power it deserves. Avasarala is, understandably, pissed.
We get a few follow-up scenes, such as Bobbie piloting the Rocinante and Naomi telling Holden to put work and duty aside for five minutes and relax with her.
We also see that Filip, finally sick of his dad’s nonsense, jumped ship on a maintenance skip well before the Pella reached the ring. Does this negate Naomi’s emotional sacrifice? Kind of. Filip realizing the error of his father’s ways and suffering guilt from his actions was a satisfying enough arc for me without him having to physically survive.
And lastly, why did we get such intense flirting between Amos and Bobbie only to get nothing from it? We don’t even get a hint of a post-battle hook-up or anything! Way to fill up the tank but not even turn the key, The Expanse.
Overall, while I wholly enjoyed The Expanse, this final episode left a lot to be desired in terms of closure. I guess I’ll have to read books 6-10! Or wait to see if this hope of a spin-off comes true? … I guess?
Of all the seasons, 4 was my favorite.
What was your favourite season of The Expanse? Did you find the finale satisfactory, or did it leave you wanting more?