In season three of The Expanse, Clarissa Mao was an enemy to all aboard the Rocinante—but with the passage of time, Amos Burton came to see another side of her. Their friendship was cemented during their post-apocalyptic Earth adventures during season five, and as season six begins, they’re crewmates aboard the very ship Clarissa, or “Peaches,” was trying to sabotage.
During a recent Expanse press day, io9 got the chance to speak with actors Wes Chatham and Nadine Nicole about their characters. “At the start of season six, Clarissa is in a place—it’s big shift from season five, where she’s coming out of a lot of guilt and shame and just questioning her own sense of worth. So having a new chance to possibly have a tribe or a little bit of a family with a friend who protects her, that she trusts—obviously that’s the best-case scenario for Clarissa right now,” Nicole said. “I think she’s really taking advantage of that, working really hard to try and prove herself and build the trust back. Then, even though we’ve been at war for hundreds of days, there’s this weird sense of chipperness to Clarissa, like all of that hope has given her a little a little joy in her heart of trying to lift up the people that she could now care for, or vice versa.”
It’s a quite a bit different for Amos, as Chatham explained. “Amos’ mindset in the beginning of this is, we’ve been in this battle for a long time. We’re exhausted. We’re in very dangerous situations. We’re barely scraping by. We’re losing a lot of the money that we’ve acquired for all the hard work that we’ve done,” Chatham said. “And he’s just trying to understand: why are we in the center of this storm? Why are we involving ourselves when we really don’t have allegiance to any specific faction or any specific planet? And I mean, look, if we’re in it to get paid, I understand that, but if we’re doing it for free and we’re risking our lives and we’re putting this crew, the only family I care about in danger—why are we doing this?”
Despite coming from very different backgrounds, there’s a deep sense of understanding between Amos, who hails from the streets of Baltimore, and Clarissa, the daughter of a billionaire, that makes their friendship unique. “I think that they both have seen the darkest side of humanity, and they recognize that maybe that they could help one another, that they could be a lifeline to sanity,” Chatham said. “They’re both in a place where they’re just trying to survive, and they know they can lean on each other.”
Added Nicole, “[They both] understand that regardless of your situation, you can be lost, depleted, not cared for, no one out there for you, alone. You’re still trying to survive, whether emotionally, spiritually, and obviously physically.”
While Amos has Clarissa’s back, the other Rocinante crew members—Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi (Dominique Tipper), and Bobbie (Frankie Adams)—are reluctant to warm up to her. It’s something she understands, but she doesn’t let it discourage her. “I think there’s a part of Clarissa that knows she’s always going to carry some of that guilt and shame with her for what she’s done,” Nicole said. “But having a friend like Amos protect her for no reason and her feeling so undeserving of that—and then him doing it out of his understanding that she’s just super vulnerable and needs it because of what he’s been through, that just in and of itself would give someone hope.”
Amos protecting Clarissa reveals a lot about what kind of person he is; it’s no surprise that the character, and Chatham himself, have become such fan favorites over The Expanse’s run. “What I’m going to miss the most is the relationships,” Chatham said of his time on the series. “We’ve been together for almost eight years now and the crew, the cast, the writers that we have, we’re kind of like a family, and this has been one of the most creatively fulfilling, satisfying jobs that I’ve ever had, playing one of the most complex and interesting characters. And it’s just been an honor, it’s been a true blessing. Also, the relationship that I’ve had with the Expanse fans is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of. There’s an enormous amount of respect and gratitude. That’s why we worked so hard to try to stick the landing and try to make season six live up to the expectation that the rest of the show created. It’s been a really incredible experience for me and I’m going to miss it all.”
Speaking of season six, here’s Chatham’s take on the theme it aims to explore the most: “For me, personally, I think it’s hope. Something The Expanse does really well is [the idea that] pure evil doesn’t really exist. True goodness doesn’t really exist. It’s always somewhere in between. There’s a lot of gray, but overall, the good side of humanity does win. There’s always this constant struggle of morality on a society level and an individual level, but I think that ultimately, the good is a little bit stronger. I mean, I might be an incurable optimist, but that’s kind of what I see, and that’s the theme I got from season six.”
New episodes of The Expanse arrive Fridays on Amazon Prime.
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