The Expanse 5×09 Review: “Winnipesaukee”
The tension is ramping up on The Expanse in “Winnipesaukee” as the situation gets more dire virtually everywhere in the galaxy. While Amos and Clarissa contend with other survivors, Holden and the others continue to head into a trap, Naomi fights for her life, and Drummer is asked to make an impossible choice.
Amos, Clarissa, Erich and his crew head to the titular Winnipesaukee in order to hijack a shuttle from the island’s wealthy residents and discover that the ship they are there to liberate doesn’t want to start. Also, naturally, the families left behind all of their winter staff when they evacuated. Erich and Amos are hostile to everyone they meet, but Clarissa argues for peaceful solutions.
This obviously causes discord in their small group, because violence and distrust are essentially all Amos and Erich have ever known. And it’s a little bit funny that Clarissa, who can do so much damage with her bare hands, is the one making the bid for peace. But she has a point. She refers back to Amos’s explanation on how humans are tribal, and adversity tends to cause tribes to shrink. Erich believes that “growing the tribe”, as in adding the butlers and cooks who were abandoned in houses with limited food and no power, was not the right decision. But Clarissa argues that people shouldn’t have to prove themselves useful in order to be allowed to survive.
Everything going on in The Expanse right now is meant to parallel the events surrounding the September 11 attacks in the United States, but the lessons the characters are learning could just as easily be applied to our current global situation. Now, we’re learning that most essential members of society are often the ones who are treated the worst – appalling work conditions, unsustainable hours, low salary. But when society is functioning normally, these jobs are often looked down on as low-skilled. The important thing to take away is that a human being’s worth should not be based on their usefulness, as though everything in life is transactional. The staff deserved to live because they’re people, not because they could hold their own in a fight.
Also, they had a lot of nerve trying to argue they should leave the staff behind while the staff is literally serving them.
However, on the opposite end of the spectrum is the “security” group that tried to shake them down for supplies. They come back later and attack. Though Amos and the others are able to launch, most of Erich’s crew are killed in the escape. So perhaps the moral of the story is that sometimes violence is the only answer, and sometimes you need to give peace a chance.
“Winnipesaukee” also explores the idea of rationality and revenge. Chrisjen has accepted that Arjun is most likely dead, even adding his name to the memorial on Luna. When she learns that the Secretary-General went ahead and attacked Pallas, she is livid. She gives a very impassioned speech about loss and pain and how their actions have just continued the cycle. When Paster states he’s intending to “expand the Pallas Initiative”, she resigns in disgust. This prompts a flurry of resignations, and eventually, Chrisjen is offered the chance to lead once more.
The frustrating thing about this is that Chrisjen’s speech in “Winnipesaukee” is dismissed as being emotional at a time when they need to be rational, when that is the exact opposite of the point she was trying to make. What she was saying is that she had every right to be vindictive and angry and she didn’t want to be. She made very logical suggestions about how Marco does not represent the Belt and how they should be allying themselves with Belter factions who oppose what Marco is doing. I loved the exchange between her and Delgado, where he reminds her that Marco killed civilians, and she asks if Marco is their role model.
I don’t think it’s coincidental that the first three Cabinet members who stood up after Chrisjen were all women. Women have been derided throughout most of modern human history for being “too emotional”. After all, wasn’t one of the most repeated arguments during the 2016 election was how women were too emotional to be President? Look how well that went for us.
What Paster and Delgado were arguing for was not rational. It was motivated by revenge. They wanted a proportional response and to show strength, but instead of mobilizing the fleet and attempting to track down Marco’s Free Navy, they attacked a civilian location and declared it a victory. Just because you sound calm and composed when you speak doesn’t mean you’re not making decisions based on emotions.
It was actually quite heartening to see that multiple members of the Cabinet resigned their positions after Chrisjen did. It’s a direct callback to when Admiral Souther resigned after the attack on Deimos. Chrisjen’s opinion back then was that resignation was silly, as he would be giving up any influence he had over those decisions. But sometimes, you have to make that stand. You would hope that politicians would show some moral character in situations like this and would act with their conscience. Sadly, this doesn’t usually happen in real life, which means that on a show where humans have literally mastered space travel, the most unbelievable thing that happens in “Winnipesaukee” is that politicians have character.
His importance was short-lived, but I enjoyed Paster’s arc. It’s an excellent example of someone getting promoted beyond their experience level and being corrupted by the power that goes along with it.
While Holden, Alex, and Bobbie don’t have much to do at the moment other than chew scenery while their ships get to wherever they’re going, Drummer is faced with an impossible choice in “Winnipesaukee”. Marco orders her to intercept the Rocinante and destroy it, an order which she doesn’t see the point of, considering last week she was told they were being led into a trap. Oksana also reveals to her that there is a possibility that Naomi may be alive. Drummer knows that she has to go along with Marco’s orders or her crew’s lives are forfeit, but you can see that it is getting harder and harder for her to swallow her tongue and play good little soldier.
I hate seeing Drummer sidelined like this. I understand she’s in a tenuous position, but I’m very eager for her to get the chance to fight back. I can only hope that we’ll get some indication of that in next week’s episode, because who knows how long it will be until season 6, and I’m not sure how long I can wait!
And I have no idea at all what Naomi was doing throughout “Winnipesaukee” but I am 100% here for it.
This review is already getting pretty long, but I would be remiss not to reiterate how much I hate Marco. No redemption arc for this guy; I hope Drummer kills him. It’s hard to be angry at Filip, who has been brainwashed all of his life, but come on. Is he really so surprised that Naomi would want to escape, considering they beat her, kidnapped her, announced they were going to kill her friends, and implied they were going to kill her, too? The fact he accepted Marco’s bs excuse of “she abandoned us again”… He really is indoctrinated.
There is only one episode left in this season, and we’re obviously headed for a doozy. My only real complaint about this season is that we’ve seen nothing about what’s happening on Mars. Their Parliament was bombed and it’s only a passing mention in one episode and then we never get any more detail on it.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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