DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Expanse episode “Cibola Burn” contains more spoilers than the number of times Amos has been shot. Why is he always the one getting shot? You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution. 

Welcome back, Beltalowda! We’ve reached the end of our The Expanse binge-athon with “Cibola Burn,” the tenth episode of Season 4. This season has been quite the ride. Everything from the acting to the writing to the awe-inspiring visuals was pitch perfect. In this action-packed season finale, we saw Ashford close in on Marco Inaros. Avasarala faced a heavy loss when Nancy Gao won the election for Secretary-General of Earth. Not only that, but she was in the throes of a marriage slump with husband Arjun. In short, our girl has fallen on hard times. Oh, and Amos had a special surprise in store for the captured Murtry. 

Alright, ready to delve into “Cibola Burn?” Time to flip and burn, Screaming Firehawks. 

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Now, we open with Okoye (Lyndie Greenwood) falling through the glowing black hole. Thankfully, her time spent within said hole was brief, and it spit her out. Holden (Steven Strait) frets over her, but she claims she’s fine. 

Meanwhile, Naomi (Dominique Tipper), Alex (Cas Anvar) and Lucia (Rosa Gilmore) are inside the Roci when the reactor turns back on. In fact, the reactors for the Barb and the Edward Israel also restart. Hooray! It would appear the protomolecule’s influence on and orbiting Ilus is no more. Probably thanks to Miller and Okoye’s hole dive. 

Pictured: Cas Anvar

Next, Holden finds Amos (Wes Chatham) laying his head on a lifeless Chandra. His hand is bleeding profusely. Holden helps his friend to his feet. Thankfully, Amos’ fingers will regrow with some tech assistance, because this is the future, duh. 

Later, we see Ashford (David Strathairn) zooming through an asteroid belt. He’s currently interrogating a Martian officer for information regarding Marco Inaros and his connection to the Sojourner. Mars technology was found intertwined with the Sojourner, which begs the question – are the Belt and Mars locked in an alliance? Are they plotting to gang up on Earth? Of course, the Martian prisoner isn’t giving up jack. 

Meanwhile, on Mars, Draper (Frankie Adams) meets with Leelee (Dayle McLeod) and her crew at their usual bar hangout. In episode 8, Esai asked Draper if she wanted out, since her debt to him had been repaid several times over. Draper washed her hands of the situation, so naturally Leelee was bewildered as to why she was reinserting herself into the mission. However, Draper reveals that she doesn’t trust Beltran. Also, why would Esai take on a mission without knowing all the details first? Leelee shares Draper’s suspicions and the pair delve deeper into the Beltran fellow’s past.

Pictured: Frankie Adams

Now, we see Holden, Okoye, Amos and Murtry (Burn Gorman) inside the chamber where the glowing back hole resided. Everything appears to be back to normal. Holden makes his ascent to the top of the mountain as per Naomi and Alex’s urging. He stands on top and takes in the view of Ilus. The flood waters have receded almost completely. It was as if the protomolecule never existed. The Roci crew reports that the protomolecule truly is inert. That black hole was its kryptonite. 

Next, Ashford’s Martian prisoner takes out one of his men. In turn, said prisoner is also slaughtered with a barrage of bullets. An eye for an eye makes the world go blind. They’re very close to Marco now, and it would appear Ashford’s XO is closing in on him. Success!

Later, everyone is back on board the Roci. Since Ilus is out of danger, the Belters will stay and rebuild the encampment alongside the Earth scientists. That includes Dr. Okoye and Dr. Sarkis (Zach Smadu). Amos and Murtry are in the med bay on the Roci. We see Amos’ hand is hooked up to some futuristic tech, and his fingers are already regenerating. 

Next, Holden reports to Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) that all is well on Ilus. Crisis solved! Meanwhile, Draper and Leelee do some digging into Beltran’s past. She uncovers a few associate who dabbled in protomolecule research. Shady. Then, she discovers that Beltran died on a train – most likely, he was murdered. 

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Now, Esai (Paul Schulze) and his crew are present for the big exchange. The big deal that’ll change everything for him and his family. Draper follows them discreetly, but notices something is amiss. Suddenly, gunfire is unleashed from the opposing side – someone who was lying in wait to ambush Esai – and Draper swoops in to save her crew. Unfortunately, Esai and the other two perish. Leelee survives, and Draper urges her to make like a tree and leave. Draper follows the culprits, but they narrowly escape. 

Next, Draper and Leelee flee the scene. Leelee reveals that she has a cousin on Ceres, so she’ll hide out there. However, our former Martian Marine is staying put. 

Later, we see Felcia (Kyla Madeira) is still aboard the Barb and she’s now en route to Tycho station. She’s going to pursue her engineering dream. We see her part ways with her mother Lucia, who’s now with her husband and their adopted son Chike on Ilus. 

Pictured (L to R): Dominique Tipper, Cas Anvar, Wes Chatham and Steven Strait

Meanwhile, Holden and the crew scrub out the last bit of protomolecule blue goo that was nestled inside the Roci. Holden launches it into the Sun, and has a brief memorial for Josephus Miller. Ceres cop extraordinaire. Saver of lives. The hero of the Belt. Everyone – Amos, Naomi, Alex and Holden – watch the blue goo collide with the burning star. It’s nice to see the gang back together again! Especially with Amos’ brand new fingers!

Next, we see Naomi catching up on the news. She learns of Marco’s resurgence in the media. Then, she leaves a message for Fred Johnson, telling him that she’s upheld her end of the bargain, and it’s time he do the same. She wants him to find her son Felip. 

Later, Amos has a little chat with Murtry. He knows the day would come when the two would battle it out. Holden wants Murtry to be tried in a court of law for his crimes. However, Amos has other plans. Murtry strikes Amos in the face and, with blood spilling from his mouth, the latter “thanks” the former. Suddenly, Amos lays a brutal smack down on Murtry, and it’s not clear whether the chief will survive it or not. Our little psychopath is back to his psychopathic ways. 

Meanwhile, we learn that Nancy Gao (Lily Gao) beat Avasarala in the race. Gao is now Secretary-General of Earth. Arjun (Michael Benyaer) reminds Avasarala that she initially didn’t want the position. Perhaps it’s for the best that she lost. Avasarala reveals that she’s been summoned to Luna, and that she’d like Arjun to join her. However, after the incident with the memorial, Arjun is conflicted. He urges her to take this trip solo. Uh oh. I sense a disturbance in the Force. 

Later, Avasarala retreats to her office for one last task – she leaves a lovely message for her successor Nancy. She proffers sound advice for the role and reminds Nancy that they aren’t “queens.” They don’t wear a crown. Pretty solid advice. Right up there with “don’t stick your d*ck in it – the situation is f*cked up enough already.” 

Suddenly, Avasarala receives a call from Draper. Draper now wishes to work for Avasarala, if the offer still stands. She reveals that something’s afoot on Mars, and the red planet and the Belt are in cahoots on some shady dealings. Well, Avasarala is no longer Sec-Gen, so you’re a bit late to the game, Draper. 

Pictured: David Strathairn

Next, we see Ashford and the Tynan close in on Marco’s ship. We see Marco (Keon Alexander) within his own ship, holding the command and barking out orders. They’re boarded by Ashford and his crew. Ashford literally comes in guns blazing – one in each hand. It’s like something out of The Matrix. So very bad***. However, things take a turn for the worst when Marco’s men begins taking down Ashford’s crew. 

Now, Ashford is face to face with Marco himself. We see a young man (Jasai Chase Owens) emerge from the shadows, gun brandished at Ashford. His name is Felip, and he’s the son of Marco and Naomi Nagata. Plot twist! Felip is completely under his father’s thrall. Marco rambles on about a day of reckoning yet to come, and how Mars is not the same Mars of yesteryear. 

Next, Ashford is trapped in the airlock of Marco’s ship. He appears comfortable and fearless, despite knowing that he’s knocking on death’s door. Ashford begins singing to himself and, once Marco opens the airlock, our favorite commander is blasted out into space. Still singing until his dying breath. No no no! I’m heartbroken. Ashford became a favorite of mine, and Strathairn played him to perfection. RIP. However, during his final words with Marco, we see him recording a message on his wrist communicator. Once he’s spaced, we see the message is sent. But to whom? We don’t know yet. 

Now, after Ashford’s spacing, we see Felip and Marco planning their next move. Marco wants to take on Earth. He’s harnessed some stealth tech and plans on aiming his weaponry at Earth. With the help of Mars, naturally. “Earth will never see it coming,” he whispers. Uh oh. Sh*t is about to go down. 

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Holy guacamole, Batman! Ashford’s death was a shock to me. Now, I can’t imagine Drummer will continue “staying out of politics” once she discovers that Marco is responsible for her friend’s death. Seeing Naomi’s son was another plot twist. Not to mention, Marco’s deadly threat to Earth. I’m tickled pink to see our Roci crew together again. This season was a blast from start to finish. No detail felt out of place or frivolous – everything held weight. Every part of the story was vital to the overall arc. At its core, The Expanse is about humans just trying to get by – achieving their objectives through sometimes questionable means. Totally relatable to contemporary society in all respects – from a scientific and political standpoint. 

Now, I may need to re-watch The Expanse in its entirety. Again and again and again. At least until Season 5 is dropped on Amazon Prime. 

Until we meet again – Yam Seng, Beltalowda!





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