DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Expanse episode “Oyedeng” is riddled with spoilers. You’ve been warned, Beltalowda. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, Screaming Firehawks! The primary focus of “Oyedeng” was the Naomi/Filip/Marco dysfunctional family dynamic. And boy, was it spectacular. Honestly, if Dominique Tipper isn’t showered with accolades for her performance in this episode, then there’s no justice in this world. Tipper’s work is always exceptional, but she raised the bar and then some in “Oyedeng.” Not to mention, Keon Alexander, Jasai Chase Owens and Brent Sexton proffered beautifully nuanced performances on their own. It’s not often that The Expanse has an outing that’s almost entirely character-driven, but when they do, it’s a thing of beauty. If you didn’t feel something while watching this episode, then you might be the Tin Man. Fun fact: oyedeng is Belter Creole for “goodbye.” As if that isn’t a punch to the gut (it is).
Ready to delve into “Oyedeng”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with a flashback: Naomi (Tipper) is dreaming of happier times. We see Naomi with Marco (Alexander) and an infant Filip on their collective lap. They look utterly smitten with their son and each other. I hate saying they were a good looking couple given how much of a snake Marco is … but they were a good looking couple.
Back to the present! Current Filip (Owens) is sitting in his room when Papa Marco pays him a visit. Marco has a favor to ask, as per his usual. He wants to utilize Filip’s “junker” ship for Free Navy purposes. The Chetzemoka, if you’ll recall, was a gift from Naomi to Filip. Filip, hungry for his father’s approval, gives him permission to use the Chetzemoka as he pleases.
Next, Marco continues his visitation tour by making a pit stop at Naomi’s cell. Marco confesses that he only withheld Filip from Naomi as a means of luring the latter back into his arms. Alexander really shines here. Marco’s emotion looks genuine, and it’s the first time we’ve seen the Commander of the Free Navy appear to be fragile. But Naomi isn’t having any of it. She sees right through him. Marco just wants Filip to see Naomi for who she really is. Vice versa, Naomi wants Filip to see Marco for who he really is. It’s a battle of the parents here, Beltalowda. A wonderfully acted scene with Tipper and Alexander.
Meanwhile, on the Roci, Holden (Steven Strait) still has his sights set on the Zmeya. Monica (Anna Hopkins) wants to ensure that Holden’s priorities are in order. Of course, he wants to save Naomi, but snatching the protomolecule sample takes precedence. Bull (José Zúñiga) agrees with Monica. Holden and Bull reminisce about Fred Johnson. Our cap confesses that he never fully trusted Fred because it always appeared as if the Tycho station Chief of Operations was hiding something. Bull remarks that Fred and Holden were exactly alike, and perhaps that’s why they butted heads. It’s a nice scene that gives Fred more of a bon voyage than previous episodes. Then, Alex (Cas Anvar) leaves Holden a message stating he’s flying to Tycho.
Later, Naomi wanders into Filip’s room. Marco has granted her permission to freely wander the ship so long as she doesn’t try to kill anyone again. Filip finds her rummaging through his belongings. The pair partake in a monumental heart-to-heart conversation. It’s a tearjerker, so have a box of tissues at the ready. Naomi reveals why she essentially abandoned Filip and how Marco forced her hand. They embrace. There’s an overabundance of tears, but that could also be me sobbing along with them. What a beautiful scene on The Expanse. Bravo.
Then, we see Bobbie (Frankie Adams) chatting it up with Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), the latter of which is on video. Avasarala vows to put the ship profiles Bobbie transmitted over to good use. Her crew is already mobile and plans to take out any of Marco’s ships along the way. After the call, Alex inquires as to why Bobbie omitted the fact that they disabled a Free Navy ship. Bobbie begins extracting bullets from her suit like it’s no biggie. She didn’t even feel them. Why? Because she’s Bobbie f*cking Draper. Anyway, Holden returns Alex’s video message and reveals that he’s not on Tycho but following a ship that absconded with the protomolecule sample. Oh, and he wants Bobbie and Alex to keep their eyes on Marco’s fleet, particularly to ensure that Naomi’s okay.
Next, Cyn (Sexton) finds Naomi in the kitchen with a steaming cup of something. Perhaps coffee. Cyn sits across from her with a bottle of brandy and the pair mull over simpler times. Cyn reveals that he witnessed Naomi’s attempt to space herself in the past when she couldn’t find Filip. Then, he tearfully confesses that he was directly responsible for keeping Filip away from her for all those years. Cue more tears. Naomi obviously feels betrayed. However, it’s quite clear that Cyn is remorseful, so maybe he can make amends by helping her now. Each scene with Naomi so far in “Oyedeng” tears my heart asunder and then repairs it like nothing ever happened. It’s simultaneously cruel and cathartic.
Meanwhile, Holden is also drinking coffee on the Roci (aw, I like the mirroring between Holden and Naomi here). Monica slides into the chair across from him and the pair have a completely different conversation from Naomi and Cyn. Monica believes that Marco must have Martian supporters. Otherwise, how did he seize control of MCRN frigates and warships? Holden agrees with her. He also divulges that he did harbor a protomolecule sample, but Naomi handed it over to Fred. Monica already knew that because Monica knows everything. Suddenly, Bull calls them to the bridge. They have Zmeya in their sights.
Then, Marco is nestled in his cozy MCRN warship doling out orders and looking mighty tense. He’s well aware that the Rocinante is closing in on Zmeya. He has a verbal scuff with Cyn. Cyn questions why Naomi is still around at all. Why doesn’t Marco release her? It’s a power play, of course. He really wants to push Naomi out of the airlock to show Filip what “failure” looks like. “Father of the Year” right here, Beltalowda. Marco chastises Cyn for feeling guilty and showing weakness. So much toxic masculinity.
Now, the moment of truth hath arrived. The Roci orders Zmeya to turn off their reactors and prepare to be boarded. Holden’s plan is to steal pertinent information regarding Naomi’s whereabouts and swipe the protomolecule sample. Kill two birds with one stone. However, all is quiet on the Zmeya front. That is until they send over a bevy of torpedoes. Thankfully, the Roci decimates them all. Bull isn’t a terrible pilot after all. But that’s not all the tricks the enemy vessel has up its sleeve! It explodes. And boom goes the protomolecule and everything that could aid Holden in his search for Naomi. Well, or so he thinks. Chances are Marco already has the sample and is the orchestrator behind this whole rendezvous.
Later, Filip waltzes into the bridge with a request for his dear papa. He wants command of his own ship. Filip longs for Belters to know who he is. Marco, being the poisonous viper that he is, takes Filip’s request as a stab against him. He turns his son’s words around and asserts that Filip is nothing without him. After some verbal berating, he does a 180 and vows that Filip will take over the command when Marco dies. Then, the bridge bursts into a chorus of cheers for Filip. Talk about a slap in the face. I’ve known too many people like Marco who cower behind their verbal abuse.
Next, Naomi is summoned to the bridge. Filip pats her down for any concealed weaponry. Cyn silently looks on. Marco reveals that Naomi is free to leave his ship, but only after she watches him destroy the Roci. It was, according to Marco, Filip’s idea, after all. Filip will obliterate the Roci while Naomi watches from afar. What a prick move on Marco’s part. Filip refuses to back down because Daddy Marco’s light is shining favorably on him. Marco accuses Naomi of poisoning Filip and attempting to turn the boy against him. Cyn turns his chair back on Naomi. Naomi is escorted off the bridge as she screams that she hates Marco. God, Tipper is so damn brilliant. She deserves all the awards and she needed them yesterday.
Then, Marco is preparing to lure in the Roci with the Chetzemoka. Once the Roci is within range, he’ll fire upon it. Cyn does a surreptitious scan for Naomi. He finds her standing in front of the airlock just like she did several years ago. He races toward her. Filip also takes note of her presence by the airlock and appears as though he might follow Cyn.
Cyn urges Naomi not to go through with this. He asserts that he’ll do all he can to remedy the situation with Marco. However, Naomi simply replies that he shouldn’t have followed her. We see a syringe is in her hand. Suddenly, Naomi opens the airlock and soars through it. Cyn rushes to catch her. Unfortunately, he’s exposed to space and instantly dies. Filip is watching the scene unfold from inside the ship. We see Naomi soaring through space toward another ship. Presumably, it’s the Chetzemoka, as it doesn’t resemble the Roci. We can see blood pooling in Naomi’s eyes as the effects of being exposed to space begin to show. She stabs herself with the syringe. Naomi is able to quickly open the airlock to the neighboring ship and float inside, discarding the syringe along the way. We see the marks on her face slowly fade. Holy sh*t, Batman.
What an ending! This scene was definitely giving me a whiff of Star Wars: The Last Jedi a la General Organa Force-speeding through space. However, I think The Expanse executed this scene to perfection and did a much better job with it. Admittedly, I was nervous that Naomi was actually committing suicide until I saw the syringe. This show never fails to leave me with my jaw on the floor. The effects in “Oyedeng” are stunning as well, particularly in the final scene when Naomi is soaring through space. Tipper deserves all the praise that’s sure to come her way with this installment. I’d say she carried the episode on her back, but Alexander, Owens and Sexton are also consummate performers. They all killed it this go-round. I’m sad to see Cyn go.
The Expanse manages to deftly weave character development and action into one seamless story thread, and “Oyedeng” proves that. While the blatant action was scant the plot propelled forward, especially with Naomi’s escape. This show is a masterpiece in storytelling and performance.
Do you think Holden will fall into Marco’s trap with the Chetzemoka? Will Bobbie and Alex arrive in time to find Naomi? What else does Marco have up his sleeve? Join me next week as I recap The Expanse, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Expanse Season Five episodes are available to stream Wednesdays, only on Amazon Prime.