DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Expanse episode “Tribes” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned, Beltalowda. Proceed at your own peril. 

Welcome back, Screaming Firehawks! We’re past the halfway point in Season Five of The Expanse, which is simultaneously heartbreaking and exciting. Is it too much to ask for each season to be 100 episodes? Amazon is a cash cow, so I don’t see why this should be an issue. Anyway, “Tribes” amps up the action slightly from last week’s slower outing. Frankly, I enjoyed the scenes in this episode that were dialogue-heavy, especially with Amos and Peaches. We saw a softer side of Sears — I mean, Amos. Peaches reflected on her past deeds. It was an intriguing retrospective and deep-dive into these normally stoic characters. Marco and Drummer squaring off was a thing of beauty. Just give me all the scenes with Drummer, please. 

Ready to delve into “Tribes”? Let’s get to it. 

RELATED: The Expanse Recap: (S05E05) Down and Out

Now, we open with Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) sitting alone in her office on Luna. It appears she’s been crying. Still no messages from her husband Arjun. Then, in walks a man named David Paster (Sugith Varughese). Initially, he was in charge of transportation in Earth’s Parliament. But since Sec-Gen Gao’s unfortunate plane crash, he’s now the Secretary-General of the UN. Quite the promotion. He reveals that he’s not exactly qualified for this role, and he wants Avasarala on his provisional cabinet. You know, since she saved Earth from more destruction courtesy of Marco Inaros. Side note: Aghdashloo is always fantastic, but her vulnerability in this scene is remarkable. The slight trembling of her hands as she fidgets with her necklace. There were these nuances she imbued that stood out to me. 

Still of Shohreh Aghdashloo in The Expanse.

Meanwhile, Amos (Wes Chatham) and Clarissa (Nadine Nicole) stumble upon what appears to be a military base on Earth. They’re trudging through snowy, windswept terrain. Clarissa is reticent to enter the base because she doesn’t want to go back to prison. Amos suggests they make their way to Baltimore since he knows people who can help them out. He probably has a whole army of people that “know things” at his beck and call. That’s why we love one Amos Burton.

Next, we see Holden (Steven Strait) is still aboard the Roci. The sabotaged reactors situation seems to be under control, so now the crew is ready to launch. Time to follow the Zmeya! Bull (José Zúñiga) and Holden are both taken aback to find Monica (Anna Hopkins) joining the fray with a large backpack in tow. Road trip! Holden asserts that this mission is a militaristic one and not for civilians. But Monica puts her foot down like the badass she is and convinces the pair to let her stay. Holden heads back to his office to find a new message from Naomi with the subject line alluding that things may go awry. It’s The Expanse, so of course they will. 

Then, Bobbie (Frankie Adams) and Alex (Cas Anvar) are floating aimlessly in space aboard the Razorback. A ship tries to board them, but Bobbie busts out guns blazing and kills the crew. Meanwhile, Alex finagles with the other ship and manages to swipe what they need to get the Razorback up and running again. Bobbie and Alex speed away from the other ship. Sorry, I’m not an aficionado when it comes to mechanics and such and stuff. But at least our heroes got away. Huzzah!

Later, Marco (Keon Alexander) is irate because Naomi secured access to a comm and warned Holden about the Roci’s reactors. He demands she be spaced. Filip (Jasai Chase Owens) and Cyn (Brent Sexton) are not about that life. Suddenly, Cyn explodes and demands Marco space Naomi himself if he really wants it done. Marco asks Filip what he wants to do and the latter urges his father to let Naomi live. Filip and Cyn storm out. Karal (Olunike Adeliyi) is watching the situation unfold and looks as though she needs a big tub of popcorn for the occasion. She tells Marco that she’ll send Naomi out of the airlock herself if need be. 

Next, Filip pays Naomi (Dominique Tipper) a visit. He tells her she’s going to pay for what she did, which means that Holden and co. are safe. She tries to convince Filip of Marco’s misdeeds and his overall slimy nature, but the boy is having none of it. He’s too brainwashed. Once again, Tipper is a force of nature, even while locked in a small cell. 

Still of Dominique Tipper in The Expanse.

Meanwhile, Amos and Peaches are walking through a snow-covered forest. Amos comments that he didn’t know so many trees could exist in one spot. They talk about trees for a bit. Amos finds a dead guy. He snags the corpse’s coat and shoes. He promptly puts the shoes and coat on Peaches like the gentleman he is.

They walk for a while longer until they wander into a lone traveler’s makeshift campsite. Said lone traveler warns them of traversing to Baltimore, especially considering the chaos caused by Marco’s space gift. Additionally, the man urges them to steer clear of a survivalist that shoots folks on sight when they so much as step near the border of his home. After sitting for a brief spell by the fire, Amos and Peaches leave. While Amos keeps watching to ensure that homeboy isn’t following them, he imparts a piece of solid wisdom. “The thing about civilization is, it keeps you civil. Get rid of one, you can’t count on the other,” he tells Peaches. My man Amos dispensing wisdom and punches in equal measure. The lone traveler isn’t tailing them, so naturally, Amos wants to hit up the cranky survivalist’s zone.

Later, Drummer (Cara Gee) meets with Marco. Oksana (Sandrine Holt) is worried Drummer will make rash decisions regarding Marco’s discussion since she just lost Ashford and Fred Johnson. Oksana accompanies Drummer as they board Marco’s stolen MCRN ship. Marco warmly welcomes Drummer into his war room, which is sorely lacking a golden throne.

He tells Drummer and her crew that his plan to expand the Belt’s agriculture may take 10 years to fully implement, but in that time they’ll far exceed Earth in that respect. It’s a convincing speech and oozing with Marco’s signature charisma. He wants to team up with Drummer. Marco is rallying separate Belter factions to his cause, namely Black Sky and Golden Bough. He’s successfully uniting the Belt into one, singular entity. Something Anderson Dawes and Fred Johnson only dreamed of doing. Marco urges Drummer and her crew to ponder over his offer. 

Next, Amos and Peaches are standing on the perimeter of the survivalist’s zone. Within, we see a small house. Amos hops over the fence and convinces the man to put down his gun. Amos has a water recycler that he’d like to exchange for a rifle. It’s hard to hunt in the wilderness without one. Survivalist dude refuses to lower his brandished gun. He demands Amos strip down to his underwear to prove the latter doesn’t have weapons on his person. Any excuse, right? I’m not mad about this. 

Still of Wes Chatham in The Expanse.

Suddenly, Clarissa launches over the fence and attacks the survivalist with lightning speed. And, in the blink of an eye, she shoots him dead. Amos is covered in blood. Naked and covered in blood. Just a normal day on The Expanse. Clarissa collapses and Amos carries her inside the house. Hulking out really takes a toll on her. 

Back on Drummer’s ship, we see our favorite polyamory Belter family debating the merits of joining Marco’s revolution. Protection, for starters. A united Belt. Drummer is, naturally, hesitant. He killed two of her most beloved friends. However, she’s ultimately overruled. We see her return to Marco’s ship. She trades one of her own for one of his — Karal. “Tributes,” as they’re called. Marco introduces Filip to Drummer and reveals that she’s good friends with Naomi. That they worked together on the Behemoth. Filip almost lets slip that Naomi is currently their prisoner. You can see that Drummer is getting suspicious, but she leaves before anything pertinent is unleashed. 

Still of Keon Alexander as Marco Inaros and Jasai Chase Owens as Filip.

Then, Filip brings Naomi a steaming cup of something. Maybe coffee? He sits down beside her and asks her what it was like working on the Behemoth. Entering the rings. Ilus, presumably. Marco watches them on video like the sneaky snake he is. I hope Filip is genuinely trying to connect with Naomi and this isn’t some ploy of Marco’s. 

Meanwhile, Clarissa wakes up after a nice nap post-Hulking out. She reveals that every time she enacts a mod it leaves her weakened in the moments after. The price you pay. She didn’t think about the consequences at the time, “only revenge.” Clarissa divulges her fears to Amos. She’s spent a lot of time reflecting on her past. The dark moments especially. She wonders whether going out of their way to kill a man for his belongings was something a good person would do. Amos believes that Holden would be against everything that unfurled during Clarissa’s rampage. Then, he realizes that he needs to get back to his crew. Reunion time!

RELATED: Catch up with our recaps of The Expanse here!

This felt like a retrospective episode of The Expanse to me. Drummer musing whether a man who slaughtered her friends in the past is worth joining in Belter solidarity. Clarissa mulling over the skeletons in her closet. Filip bringing up a part of Naomi’s past for reflection. Lots of thinking and pondering happening. While the ending wasn’t like the cliffhanger of last week, it hopefully marks the beginning of our core four reuniting. Like “Down and Out,” this episode was a mite on the slower side with some active scenes here and there. Bobbie having her badass gun moment in space was a sight to behold. Clarissa Hulking out. My episodic MVP goes to Nicole. Clarissa is growing on me and her subtle, genuine performance is a shining star of “Tribes.” 

Do you think Holden will find Naomi soon since the Roci is now on the prowl? Will Amos head back to space and take Clarissa with him? What else does Marco have up his sleeve? Join me next time as I recap The Expanse, here on Geek Girl Authority. 

The Expanse airs new episodes Wednesdays on Amazon Prime.




Melody McCune
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