In just a few days, the sixth and final season of Amazon’s beloved sci-fi series The Expanse will premiere. This new season is only going to be six episodes, so you know it’s going to hit the ground running—and you gotta be prepared, beltalowda! Here’s a crash course for fans on where things stand.
In short, a lot. A hell of a lot. The Rocinante crew was mostly separated throughout various storylines. While James Holden (Steven Strait) tried to track down the last sample of the alien protomolecule, Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) had a heartbreaking reunion with her long-lost son, Filip (Jasai Chase Owens)—a relationship complicated by the fact that the teenager’s father is the charismatic yet cruel Belter leader Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander). Captain Camina Drummer (Cara Gee) was doing just fine running a salvage operation with her polyamorous family until Marco’s plan for galactic domination got in their way. That plan involved flinging a devastating array of asteroids at Earth, where Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) happened to be paying a visit to his old home in Baltimore, with a side trip to check in on the imprisoned Clarissa “Peaches” Mao (Nadine Nicole).
Working with Luna-based Earth diplomat Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams) and Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) headed out to investigate clandestine deals involving Martian weapons and Marco’s Free Navy. Looming over everything: the Ring Gates to other solar systems, the destructive yet fascinating protomolecule, and the mysterious, ancient entities connected to the protomolecule that seem worrisomely ready to come back into existence.
If you haven’t seen season five, not sure why you’re even reading this, but juuust in case...
Thanks to her own bravery and survival instincts, Naomi was able to escape from Marco and hang on until help arrived in the form of Alex and Bobbie. However, she had incredibly mixed feelings about leaving an obstinate Filip behind with his father. In a sad turn for the Roci crew, Alex did not survive the rescue mission (a death written in for reasons that had nothing to do with The Expanse). After being strong-armed into fighting alongside Marco, Drummer decided not to follow his orders to destroy the Rocinante. A furious Marco spaced one of Drummer’s crew members in retaliation—the last straw for some of her beloved family members, who decided to leave her in the aftermath.
Meanwhile, after a daring escape from post-apocalyptic Earth, Amos returned to the Rocinante with Peaches in tow—giving an astonished Holden no choice but to accept a new crew member in the form of a woman who tried to kill him back in season three (and who’s also now a fugitive from justice). Avasarala, one of few Earth leaders left standing, stepped back into the role of UN Secretary-General—and hosted a reception on Luna attended by Bobbie, Naomi, and Holden (the latter two’s relationship now stronger than ever, despite all the chaos they’ve been through) in what’s maybe the series’ most mellow and happy scene ever? Addressing her assembled guests—Earthers, Martians, and Belters alike—Avasarala gave a little pep talk: “This is what Marco Inaros hates. This is what he is afraid of... this is how we win.”
‘Course, there’s no counting out Marco, who’s as determined to keep his iron grip on Filip as he is determined to be the guy who puts the Belt on top. Mid-party, big news dropped: a UN ship was destroyed at the Ring, attacked by missiles that somehow came from inside the Ring. Also at the Ring: an MCRN ship, the Barkeith, one of the vessels involved in Marco’s secret dealings with Mars. Holden voiced his suspicion that Marco “bought” Mars using the stolen protomolecule, taking it through the Ring despite the events of season four because “maybe they know something we don’t.”
The last few minutes of the finale really set up season six in a big way. Aboard the Barkeith, rogue MCRN Admiral Sauveterre (Tim DeKay) took a video call from Marco. As they talked, Sauveterre mentioned Admiral Duarte, a major Expanse book character as-yet unseen on the show, as well as the “mine field on our side of the Ring,” which “is now active to prevent any unauthorized transits in the future,” which sounded entirely ominous. Marco then mentioned the planet Laconia, a key location in the books. Then, in came another video message, this time from loopy protomolecule scientist Cortazar (Carlos Gonzalez-Vio). He happily (and vaguely) reported “beautiful results” after receiving the protomolecule on Laconia, where we can see Ilus-like structures behind him and in the sky above. But just as the Barkeith passed through the Ring... well, remember those mysterious, ancient entities that wiped out the protomolecule builders? It’s heavily implied they’re the reason the Barkeith suddenly disintegrated in a sinister swirl of bright red plumes.
There are tons of lingering questions, and with the compacted length of the season, expect lots of action and rapid-fire plot maneuvers to get to some kind of conclusion. We’re obviously going to learn more about Laconia, Duarte, and whatever use the protomolecule—introduced in season one as a potential weapon, though humans have had a hard time controlling it—is being put to. Presumably, the Rocinante crew will be back together this season, minus Alex but plus Peaches, and will be working with Avasarala to address the ongoing Marco Inaros problem. (The season six trailers suggest space battles will be a major component of the season.) Naomi is no doubt still haunted by her encounter with her son and her toxic ex, and Drummer has a lot of pieces to put back together after going against Marco and losing so much of her family. And for his part, Marco will obviously continue his quest to control the galaxy while doing his best to control his son. Again, it’s a lot. A hell of a lot. And somehow it’s all going to be contained within six episodes. The Expanse has pulled off miracles before, so we have high hopes the show will do it again one last time.
The Expanse premieres December 10 on Amazon Prime. This season will be a weekly drop, with new episodes arriving on Fridays until the season finale on January 14.
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