On season five of The Expanse, we really got to know Marco Inaros, the charismatic villain who bombards the Earth with asteroids as part of his plan to grab power for the Belt (and himself). His reign of terror continues in season six, and as part of a recent Expanse press day, io9 got a chance to ask actor Keon Alexander what it’s like to play the show’s most infamous Belter.
“I think to Marco, being a Belter means being sidelined. I think his experience of it is not so much as a culture as it is being marked to be relegated. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect being a Belter or the culture—but I think he is aware that the culture that has developed amongst the Belters has developed [as something] intertwined with their oppression,” Alexander told io9 over video chat. “I think that he believes that as valuable as that is, that is not their true essence—that is them surviving and not them thriving. And so he is not precious in those terms. He does not have the markings that the others do. He is not bound to upholding that tradition. He is committed to breaking those traditions to actually allow and unleash what they’re capable of and not hold on to the traditions of what they have always been.”
Season five went well for Marco. On top of his successful plan to rock-bomb Earth, he also struck an alliance with rogue members of the Martian military to help build up his Free Navy, knocked off other Belter leaders who threatened his standing, and managed to maintain control over his teenage son Filip (Jasai Chase Owens), whose loyalty wavered when his long-lost mother, Rocinante engineer Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) tracked him down. When season six begins, Marco is definitely in his element—but victory’s not quite how he pictured it.
“Marco is his own dream come true when we find him at the top of season six. He has occupied the throne, as I like to joke, but the question is the way that he has built his being to be able to achieve this, from nothing, from childhood architecturally designing exactly what he needs to be to accomplish this. He has everything invested in that one basket of being the warrior that can lead us to win this battle,” Alexander said. “What happens when the battle is over and it’s now time to rule? It’s a different set of tools entirely. And we’re meeting him at the beginning of this and when he’s in his full glory, but as also really sitting in the existential crisis of ‘What now, who am I, now that I have actually won this battle? I’m not interested in bureaucracy!’ That switch for him starts revealing what’s underneath all the facade, the cracks in his psychology start becoming apparent. We are meeting him at a really pivotal moment when everything’s about to change. And that’s what happens throughout the season. Everything changes for him.”
One of the things that changes for Marco in season six is his relationship with Filip, whose encounter with Naomi still haunts him, and whose questioning of his father’s methods begins to become a real problem. “Filip is at the heart of every single one of Marco’s aspirations, his vision. It’s the experience of a single father being responsible for this new life and vowing that this child will not have the same experiences of injustice, oppression, and the violation of humanity that he has experienced—and being willing to do whatever it takes in his life to make sure that this kid doesn’t have to go through the same things that he had to,” Alexander said. “In his heart of hearts, the root of this is actually love. And what makes it difficult is that level of investment, that level of stakes placed on a child is actually really stifling. Especially [for] a teenager [who starts] developing their own independent notion of what their parent is.”
It’s already a very, very complicated relationship, and Filip’s growing rebellion makes things even more shaky between them. “That’s exactly what we’re watching, the process of Marco’s control loosening and the source of all his stifled love and the object of his whole mission, the person for whom he’s willing to actually sacrifice everything turning against him and questioning him. Which feels like a loss of everything, because he is literally the closest person to him. And even though he feels that love for him, he cannot express any of it. There’s too much in the way for him to even bring himself to articulate any of that,” Alexander said. “And so it’s messy, it’s really messy. I think it’s an archetypal relationship between sons and fathers that we see around us. It’s the gap between generations. It’s the emotional intelligence that’s missing in order to build those bridges between people in generations. And I think that the writers and the producers did a really good job of setting up that arc.”
We really see two sides of Marco during The Expanse’s sixth season: his public persona, which involves a lot of rhetoric-spewing and satisfied smiling while his adoring followers chant his name, and the slightly less confident self he shows behind closed doors. As Alexander explained, though he may not really show it, Marco’s still nursing some deep emotional wounds after the events of last season.
“I don’t think he believes in regrets, but I think in his heart, the most devastating experience he’s ever had and the possibly the greatest vulnerability he’s ever had was with Naomi. And I think that if he had succeeded in overcoming his own hurdles in meeting her again and had succeeded in mending some of that, I think we would be in a very different place,” Alexander explained. “There’s a lot about this that I think has to do with the meeting of poles. Marco and Naomi have decided to go in different directions; when they meet, they have a magnetism that pulls them together, but in this instance that did not succeed to overcome what repels them from each other. And if there’s anything that he might consider calling a regret, it would be not having that experience in his life because other than Filip, there is is no one else left really at this point.”
As The Expanse enters its final season, Alexander said he’ll miss everything about his experience on the series, especially the opportunity to work with actors like David Strathairn, who played legendary Belter leader turned Marco foe Klaes Ashford in seasons three and four. But also? “The speeches were kind of fun,” he admitted with a chuckle. “I might miss speechifying for a little while.”
The Expanse season six premieres Friday, December 10 on Amazon Prime. We’ll have a lot more Expanse coming up on io9 this week, so stay tuned!
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