DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Expanse premiere episode “Strange Dogs” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, Screaming Firehawks! The Expanse finally returns to Amazon Prime, filling that Roci-shaped hole in our hearts. “Strange Dogs” sets the stage for what’s sure to be a rocky (Get it?) final season of our favorite sci-fi series. 

This outing showcases everyone’s current struggles. The Roci grapples with grief over Alex’s death; Marco tries to show the Inners his might and Drummer moves forward with only half of her family. Meanwhile, Avasarala navigates a solar system war as the Secretary-General. I believe “Strange Dogs” conveys the above with grace and pathos. 

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

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We open with Cara (Emma Ho), a young girl residing on Laconia. She names aloud the fauna and flora native to the planet, zeroing in on a bevy of “sunbirds.” Cara feeds one of the birds the snack she’s eating. Suddenly, a peculiar creature approaches from behind her. It looks like a space dog of sorts. 

Cara tries to figure out the space dog’s species while the sunbird she fed collapses. Cara scoops up the small animal and flees, hunting for help. 

Meanwhile, a series of news segments play out, showcasing the devastation from Marco’s constant asteroid attacks against Earth. One part announces biosphere damage to the planet, while another reveals many stations in the Belt throw their support behind Marco. 

Lastly, one clip displays a Belter telling Earthers they now know “how Belters feel.”

We see a cluster of asteroids explode before they hit Earth. Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), Bobbie (Frankie Adams) and Gareth (Ted Dykstra) are at a high-yield grain farm. Bobbie and Gareth brief Avasarala regarding the destruction of the asteroids mentioned above. Unfortunately, all Earth’s done for the past six months is take out rocks.

Still of Frankie Adams, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Ted Dykstra in The Expanse Season 6 Episode 1 "Strange Dogs"

Pictured (l-r): Frankie Adams, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Ted Dykstra in THE EXPANSE Season 6 Episode 1, “Strange Dogs.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

After Gareth departs, Avasarala tells Bobbie forlornly about the state of the grain farm over a decade ago. It flourished — now, it appears as if Earth succumbs to a nuclear winter. Even the asteroids that miss them inexplicably damage the planet. 

Next, Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi (Dominique Tipper) and Amos (Wes Chatham) square off against a Free Navy skiff in the Belt while Clarissa (Nadine Nicole) works behind the scenes. 

They successfully defeat it, but the Rocinante might not be unscathed. Amos heads outside to check the ship for scrapes. He catches a glimpse of the metal plate commemorating the Roci, including the late Alex Kamal.

Naomi sends a drone to scan the asteroid near the Free Navy ship. Holden believes the vessel couldn’t hoist a rock that size, so our crew decides to inspect the area for unseen help.

I love watching the spacewalks on this show — they’re so elegant and breathtaking. Naomi hones in on what Holden thinks is a ship protruding from the massive asteroid. However, it’s a drive, one that needs examining up close. 

Later, we arrive at Ceres Station, now under the Free Navy’s control. Filip (Jasai Chase-Owens) gets it on with a lady friend. At the same time, Marco (Keon Alexander) and Rosenfeld Guoliang (Kathleen Robertson) receive a briefing from Station Chief Administrator Nico Sanjrani (Joanne Vannicola). Sanjrani is the first nonbinary character on The Expanse that we know of, and it’s so great to see more vital representation in sci-fi. 

According to Sanjrani, Earth is too busy fielding Marco’s asteroid attacks to focus on anything else, so the Free Navy should seize the opportunity to grow their food stores on Ceres. They mention Anderson Dawes, and we learn that Marco killed Dawes. Why does Jared Harris die in everything?

Still of Jasai Chase-Owens in The Expanse Season 6 Episode 1 "Strange Dogs."

Pictured: Jasai Chase-Owens in THE EXPANSE Season 6 Episode 1, “Strange Dogs.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Filip takes his place at the meeting, but it’s too little, too late. Marco abruptly ends it after observing his son flirt blatantly with a bartender. 

Rosenfeld informs Marco about everything but the elephant in the room: Camina Drummer. He orders Rosenfeld to increase the bounty on Drummer and the Roci. 

Next, Filip unites with his pal Yoan (Gabriel Darku), and Yoan reveals he told a pair of pretty ladies that they’d get a tour of the Pella later. Filip pokes fun at Yoan for his new alligator skin vest. 

After one Belter starts a “Marco!” chant, the Commander of the Free Navy delivers a stirring, charismatic speech about making Ceres the capital of the Belt. Damn, Daddy Marco can be so charming (he’s also pretty, which doesn’t help matters). 

Later, we see a Belter bounty hunter search for the Dewalt and, of course, the Tynan, Drummer’s ship. While in hiding, Josep (Samer Salem) suggests they open fire. However, Drummer (Cara Gee) wants to strike when the time is right, so she orders Michio (Vanessa Smythe) to hit “thruster” on her signal. 

Unfortunately, due to nerves, Michio selects “test,” giving away their hiding spot and leaving them at the mercy of the bounty hunter. 

Thankfully, the Tynan speeds away.

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Josep informs Drummer that besides transporting the Dewalt crew over to their ship, they also salvaged food and munitions. Well, only one torpedo, bringing their missile collection to a total of three. 

Meanwhile, Holden lands near the drive on the asteroid, and Naomi directs him from the Roci. Overcome with emotion, Naomi realizes it’s the first time she’s piloted the Roci — ever. Naomi suggests Holden look for a nav log or any files they can extract. 

Suddenly, Holden inadvertently starts the reactor, and Naomi urges him emphatically to get off the rock. Of course, Holden, being Holden, smacks the thing repeatedly until it shuts off. When in doubt, hit a piece of machinery until it powers down. Naomi, shaken, tells Holden to return to the Roci. 

Still of Dominique Tipper in The Expanse Season 6 Episode 1 "Strange Dogs."

Pictured: Dominique Tipper in THE EXPANSE Season 6 Episode 1, “Strange Dogs.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Then, Amos confronts Naomi regarding her treatment of Clarissa. Naomi expresses resentment toward Amos for thinking Clarissa could replace Alex. Amos reminds her that she’s made past decisions without consulting the crew. He asks her to cut Peaches some slack. I’m Team Amos here. 

Drummer and Josep discuss what to do with Michio. Sure, people make mistakes, but this particular mistake almost cost them their lives. Drummer informs Michio that they’ll drop her off at the nearest station, where it’s safest for her. She vows they’ll return for her after the war is over. 

I’m not a fan of this. #PolyamBelterFam forever!

Later, Filip and Yoan party it up with some lady pals aboard the Pella. Filip finds Marco and Rosenfeld on the bridge, growing weary of hearing Yoan heap an overabundance of praises on him for pelting asteroids at the Inners. 

Here, we see a softer side of Marco (Sears). Marco appears to take his foot off the gas regarding his usual abrasiveness when around Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld urges Marco to abandon Ceres — they don’t have enough supplies to help the people there. Even after proclaiming Ceres as the Belter capital? Typical smoke and mirrors from Marco Inaros.

Upon hearing this, Filip demands Rosenfeld do her job and aid the Belters on Ceres, but he provides no solutions. Once again, Filip’s father shuts him out of the conversation brusquely.

Holden shows Amos something peculiar on the Roci. We see footage of the Barkeith, the rogue MCRN vessel responsible for decimating UN forces stationed at the Sol gate, slipping through the Ring. It reminds Holden of the artifact on Ilus, which destroyed the protomolecule builders. 

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Naomi reveals her findings to Holden and Amos on the files derived from the drive. She pinpointed a series of transmissions situated in a strange pattern. These transmissions are signals, ones that launched the asteroid attacks against Earth. 

Now, the Roci crew needs to find the source of these signals. They surmise a spotter ship is at play, and Naomi tells the guys she saw the term Azure Dragon pop up quite a bit in the files. That must be the name of the spotter vessel. If they can locate it, they can significantly decrease Marco’s ability to fire asteroids. 

Still of Steven Strait, Dominique Tipper, and Wes Chatham in The Expanse Season 6 Episode 1 "Strange Dogs"

Pictured (l-r): Steven Strait, Dominique Tipper and Wes Chatham in THE EXPANSE Season 6 Episode 1, “Strange Dogs.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Next, Holden apologizes to Naomi for his recklessness while on the rock. Naomi confesses that going against Belters, people she once called her own, is stretching her thin, and understandably so.

Aboard the UNN Zenobia, Bobbie shields Avasarala from a horde of reporters, including Monica Stuart (Anna Hopkins). Monica urges Avasarala to disclose something to her constituents instead of leaving everyone in the dark.

Filip reunites with the bartender on Ceres and tries not-so-smoothly flirting with her again. She rejects his advances, and he responds rather poorly. Yoan attempts to rein him in, tries to quell Filip’s outburst. Instead, Filip turns on his friend, and the pair duke it out. 

But Filip brings a weapon to a fistfight, and he fatally shoots Yoan. 

Bobbie finds Avasarala floating in zero-g in her quarters. Avasarala enjoys the weightlessness and not feeling pinned down by the planet, for once. She recognizes that Bobbie doesn’t enjoy being her liaison — Bobbie’s a Marine, a fighter. After divulging Holden finding the Azure Dragon, Avasarala reveals she has plans in store. 

Avasarala’s speech about everyone forging ahead despite their brokenness is, as the kids say, “a mood.” 

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I’m curious to see what transpires on Laconia, especially given the introduction of the “strange dogs.” Bobbie reuniting with the Roci crew means we’re in for some brilliant scenes, and I can’t wait for that reunion. 

While dwindling in his father’s enormous shadow, Filip’s struggle is fascinating to watch, and Chase-Owens delivers the goods. He’s the episodic MVP for me. 

“Strange Dogs” methodically and effectively builds on the storm brewing from previous seasons, and I feel it won’t be long until everyone, and everything, erupts. 

New episodes of The Expanse are available to stream every Friday on Amazon Prime. 

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Melody McCune
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