DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Expanse episode “Churn” is rife with spoilers. You’ve been warned, Beltalowda. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, Screaming Firehawks! The Expanse Season Five keeps chugging along with another stellar episode in “Churn.” This time, the majority of the spotlight was on Amos and his elusive backstory. As a non-book reader, I was taken aback to discover that Amos is not his real name. Well, I should’ve known better, since it was revealed in Season Three that Amos had mafia ties. Regardless, this was a fascinating dive into Amos’ former life. But something tells me we’re just skimming the surface. Meanwhile, Holden raced against the clock to save Monica, who was being held hostage in a storage container on Tycho. She knew too much and had to be stopped! Avasarala faced pushback from Secretary-General Gao, but is that going to stop our favorite political potty mouth? Hell no!
Ready to delve into “Churn”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with Drummer (Cara Gee) verbally intimidating some pirates as they attempt to raid a stranded vessel. She’s able to shoo them away in time to signal the United Nations to send aid to said stranded ship. Huzzah! That’s because nobody messes with Camina Drummer. She celebrates the victory with her small crew. Thankfully, despite the pirates swiping a few valuables, no one was spaced. Drummer muses on how the “Inners” can only be distracted with their own turmoil for so long before they turn their gaze on the Belt. That’s when one of her crew members makes a remark that’s quite intriguing: “Inner tension is measured by Belter corpses.” God, that’s a great line.
Then, Drummer learns that Ashford’s old ship, Tynan, has resurfaced. Apparently, she’d been on the hunt for Tynan for a while.
Meanwhile, Amos (Wes Chatham) is back in Baltimore, baby! He knocks on an apartment door. A man named Charles (Frankie Faison) answers. Apparently, he was the paramour/companion of Amos’ dearly departed friend Lydia. Amos notices that Charles is in the process of moving. The elder man notes that Lydia had always hoped Amos would return. Oh, and his real name isn’t Amos — it’s Timothy. Timothy! I know his last name isn’t Burton, but I like the idea of Amos really being Tim Burton.
Anyway, Amos/Timothy learns that Lydia had an aneurysm in her sleep. Charles is packing up because one of Lydia’s mob friends, Erich, owns the apartment. He wants it back. Amos urges Charles to cease packing because he’s about to pay Erich a visit. Amos is on the case! Side note: Chatham is so wonderful in this scene. You can see Amos is emotional, but he suppresses it. And Amos awkwardly trying to comfort Charles emitted a chuckle from me.
Then, Holden (Steven Strait) receives a message from Monica (Anna Hopkins). She reveals that she’s certain someone else has the protomolecule, and to meet her later in person. Holden, reticent as always to get involved, decides to get involved. However, when he arrives at Monica’s room later that day, he notices that the door is open. The room within is in total disarray, with blood smeared on the wall. Not only that but Monica’s phone was left on her bed. Suspicious! Holden calls Fred Johnson to report what is clearly a kidnapping.
Later, Alex (Cas Anvar) makes a pit stop at Bobbie’s (Frankie Adams) apartment. He believes she’s under duress. Bobbie reveals the storage facility that’s housing her growing collection of black market purchases. She informs him that Avasarala is funding her investigation. Bobbie truly believes that Martian weaponry is being sold illegally to Belters. Given that Filip was on Mars and Marco is utilizing Martian stealth tech as we speak, the math checks out. Alex recognizes one of Bobbie’s potential culprits as Admiral Sauveterre (Tim DeKay). He refuses to believe that the admiral is involved in anything illicit. Alex decides to chat this guy up for info.
Meanwhile, Amos tracks down Erich’s right-hand lackey and demands the latter to give his boss a message. “Amos Burton wants to talk,” Amos says. He swipes said lackey’s gun and sends the poor man on his merry way.
Now, we see Monica is alive, but hanging upside down in a shipping container. Holden tells Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) what has transpired. He insists that it’s not a coincidence that Monica was attacked after she revealed what she knew of the protomolecule. Someone is trying to silence her. Back on Mars, Alex sits in on Admiral Sauveterre’s lecture. Afterward, Alex asks the admiral if he would like to have coffee. Alex can dish on what it was like to set foot on Ilus and to be one of the first through the Ring Gate. The admiral brusquely refuses, citing that Alex piloted a stolen MCR vessel under the command of an Earther. Thanks, but no thanks.
A woman named Lt. Babbage (Lara Jean Chorostecki) comes forward and accepts the offer for coffee. She works closely with the admiral. After Alex walks away, Sauveterre urges Babbage to figure out why Alex is on Mars. Shady!
Later, Amos is watching a woman with a young boy in the rain. The boy has a blood-caked face. Erich’s henchman returns and tells Amos to follow him. Erich will see you now!
Next, we see Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) with her daughter Ashanti (Nazneen Contractor). Ashanti urges Avasarala to mosey on back to Earth to make amends with the former’s father. She simply doesn’t understand that Avasarala is doing critical work. Avasarala refuses, citing that she’s needed on Luna. Later, Avasarala is in a meeting with Secretary-General Gao (Lily Gao) and Admiral Delgado (Michael Irby). Avasarala believes they should be focusing on the science ship that vanished outside of Venus. Marco Inaros must be behind it. Additionally, Avasarala voices her belief that Martian tech is being illegally sold to Belters. Gao is incredulous and dismisses Avasarala’s concern. She demands that Avasarala continue to focus on why she’s on Luna in the first place.
Meanwhile, Holden, Johnson and Bull (José Zúñiga) discover that Monica’s phone is recording her surroundings. They see that she’s inside some kind of container. But where? Monica wriggles free of her wrist restraints, uses a metal bar to free her feet and utilizes her boot to open the doors. Talk about survival mode! This scene is beautifully shot too. The Expanse is quite adept at capturing zero gravity on camera. Unfortunately, the boot trick doesn’t pan out. Instead, she punctures a hole in the door, and it’s only a matter of time before she loses oxygen. We see she’s inside a shipping container and still on Tycho.
Later, Amos enters a lavish penthouse overlooking the cityscape. I want to live there. He reunites with Erich (Jacob Mundell). The pair used to be pals and they climbed their way up the crime syndicate ladder together. Oh, and as it turns out, Lydia was Amos’ surrogate mother after his birth mom passed away. Erich also secured an identity for Timothy after the latter killed the real Amos Burton. Amos assures Erich that he isn’t there to stir the pot. He just wants to ensure that Charles can remain in his home for as long as he lives. Erich is relieved that Amos only wants peace. The pair share a drink. Erich vows that Charles is safe and can stay in the apartment despite Lydia’s death. Then, he overtly threatens to kill Amos if he ever sees him in Baltimore again. Good friends are good friends!
Then, Holden and Bull don suits and head over to the shipping containers to retrieve Monica. The first container was a bust as it held live soil, hence the “atmosphere” it created. Thankfully, they find Monica in the nick of time. Well, she did almost die, but Holden injected oxygenated blood into her veins so she’s good now. Success!
Meanwhile, Avasarala and Delgado are having drinks together. She surreptitiously convinces Delgado to join Team Avasarala, since Sec-Gen Gao appears to be undermining her every step of the way. They must first investigate why the science ship was at Venus in the first place, then go from there. Avasarala is hellbent on proving that Marco and his team made that vessel vanish.
Later, we see the woman and young boy in Baltimore from earlier. In fact, this is the third time we’ve seen them through Amos’ eyes. And it’s actually a flashback of young Amos/Timothy with Lydia. He’s getting his first taste of violence, and she’s not exactly the mothering type. But he can think of her that way if it helps. The Expanse doesn’t often rely on flashbacks, but when they do it’s damn masterful. I didn’t realize Amos was seeing a memory earlier in the episode until this scene unfolded. It’s a seamless weaving of past and present narratives.
Next, Amos is reminiscing on this memory at the docks when a couple of youngsters attempt to get the jump on him. Naturally, Amos intimidates them by his mere stature and demeanor. He proceeds to call Avasarala and asks for her help in securing a meeting with a mysterious someone when a ship takes off behind him. Who’s he going to meet? Only time will tell.
Holy backstory, Amos! I loved delving ever-deeper into the ocean that is Timothy/Amos Burton. His scene with Charles was immensely touching. Additionally, I dug his rapport with Erich. Chatham was the MVP of this episode for me. Monica kicked all the survival ass in “Churn,” so I have to give her props for that. I’m also curious to see who tried to silence Monica from getting the word out regarding who has the protomolecule. Who’s Amos meeting with now? Will Drummer seize control of Tynan? How far away is Naomi from Filip’s location? I have so many questions, folks — so many questions. Thankfully, we’ve got another episode to go!
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