DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Expanse penultimate episode “Why We Fight” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Screaming Firehawks! It’s hard to believe we’ve reached penultimate-episode-territory on The Expanse. “Why We Fight” stands firmly as a powerful representation of this show’s crux — redemption, growth, family, identity and love. This outing showcases everyone’s reasons for fighting and does so with panache and poignancy.
Cara Gee delivers a tour de force performance in “Why We Fight,” peeling back the layers of Drummer’s hardened exterior to reveal what makes her heart thump: a sense of belonging. Her complex feelings for Naomi bubble to the surface, especially given Naomi’s penchant for siding with Holden, an Earther. Their long-awaited reunion is altogether touching and painful.
This penultimate episode beautifully illustrates everyone’s growth from the beginning to now. Our main characters seize the moment to showcase how far they’ve come, from Bobbie’s newly changed relationship with war and honor to Avasarala’s increased empathy and compassion.
The Expanse writers carefully and lovingly cultivate these character journeys, and the payoff is catharsis personified.
Ready to delve into “Why We Fight”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Cara (Emma Ho) in The Glade on Laconia, pleading with the “strange dog” to revive her brother Xan. She notices the slab his body was on is now empty. Cara hears her parents calling out for her, so she pushes the cart into the forest.
Next, Cara spots Xan (Ian Ho) sitting among not one but three “strange dogs.” He’s alive; however, his eyes emit a faint blue glow. Could it be related to the protomolecule? Xan doesn’t recall dying, but he remembers feeling scared and hearing his sister’s voice. Xan sees things Cara can’t, and he’s not the same as before. Cara embraces her brother as the camera pulls away.
Meanwhile, Admiral Kirino (Krista Bridges) and the MCRN confront the Free Navy forces guarding Medina Station near the Ring Gate. Unfortunately, Kirino and her ships fall prey to Marco’s new toys — a bevy of railguns situated on the Ring’s exterior. The guns decimate the MCRN vessels in seconds.
Next, we see Marco (Keon Alexander) watching a news segment detailing “unrest on Iapetus,” the repercussions of Drummer’s speech in last week’s episode. Rosenfeld (Kathleen Robertson) urges Marco to keep the faith. Now, they can head to Medina Station and conquer the worlds beyond the Ring Gate. She receives a notification about the victory at Medina Station on her hand terminal.
This news is cause for a celebration!
Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) receives a debriefing regarding the Medina Station situation. Marco’s acquisition of railguns changes the game. Avasarala’s council wants her to strike back — send forces to counterattack the Free Navy. However, Avasarala believes the UN/MCRN would be sending folks to their death if they don’t “give them a fighting chance.”
Our fave Sec-Gen turns to Bobbie (Frankie Adams) for advice — has she “gone soft”? Initially, Bobbie refrains from providing an honest answer. Eventually, she blows up on Avasarala, telling the latter that war involves fighting. Hey, Bobbie’s a Martian marine; war is in her blood.
Adams and Aghdashloo always have chemistry, but this scene might be one of their best.
Meanwhile, the Rocinante arrives at Ceres Station, wherein Clarissa (Nadine Nicole) informs Holden (Steven Strait) about the new armor they’re supposed to get. Clarissa finds the situation reminds her of her father. This admission ties in firmly with last week’s X-Ray, “Night Watch,” when Clarissa learns of Jules-Pierre Mao’s death in prison. It makes this moment hold more weight.
Naomi (Dominique Tipper) watches a video from Dr. Elvi Okoye (Lyndie Greenwood), who divulges critical information about what happened to the Barkeith and the Ring Gate. I love seeing a few supporting characters in the final season, notably Prax, Anna Volovodov and now Dr. Okoye. Holden believes Avasarala needs access to this info.
Suddenly, we see a horde of Drummer’s ships carrying supplies to Ceres. Admittedly, this bit made me weepy. That’s my bosmang, sasa ke?
Drummer (Gee) meets Avasarala via video call while on the Tynan, and, after exchanging pleasantries (ish), Avasarala proposes they continue their conversation in person. After all, they’re both on Ceres. However, Drummer reminds the Sec-Gen that she’s only there to dispense supplies to Belters.
Filip (Jasai Chase-Owens) finds Tadeo (Joe Perry) locked in a cell aboard the Pella. We learn that Tadeo breached protocol by sending a signal to Ceres Station to locate his missing brother. Of course, this move broadcasts to the system their location.
Josep (Samer Salem) sees a doctor with Michio (Vanessa Smythe) and Drummer at his side. The doc informs the trio that Josep can’t regrow a new arm. Instead, he must receive a prosthetic, and they need to remove the rest of the “bad arm.”
Drummer views a message from Naomi on her hand terminal. All season, we’ve seen our bosmang actively avoid Naomi. But now that everyone’s on Ceres, avoidance is no longer an option.
After informing Monica (Anna Hopkins) about Prax’s contributions to help Earth rehabilitate, our Sec-Gen visits with Holden.
I’m a sucker for a good Holden/Avasarala scene. He shows Avasarala Dr. Okoye’s discovery — those who travel through the Ring Gate vanish, without a trace, just like the Barkeith. Holden proposes they share this information with Marco. Why? Because every time someone passes through the Ring Gate, they risk potentially damaging the solar system.
The Ring Gate shares a connection with the Ilus artifact, and whatever’s in there is quite angry.
Of course, Avasarala shoots down Holden’s proposal instantly. So, she reveals footage of Marco’s railguns situated outside the Ring Gate.
Avasarala inquires about Drummer, and Holden reminds her that, while Drummer loathes Marco, she despises the “Inners” just as much. Drummer went from possessing little to flying into Ceres with eight ships and ammo aplenty. She would make a significant ally.
While on Ceres, Amos (Wes Chatham) grabs some libations at the bar. He chats it up with Bobbie after visiting a brothel. Amos sports scratches, glitter and lipstick marks in equal measure. Let me say what we’re all thinking — Amos can get it.
Anyway, the flirtatious pair share a back-and-forth about war and honor. Bobbie learns Holden disarmed the warhead trained on the Pella. Amos wishes to stay on Ceres and wash his hands clean of the battle. But Bobbie transforms his perspective about war. In the end, it’s about fighting for whoever has your back, good or bad. Nothing emphasizes Bobbie’s growth more than this statement.
I’ll miss these poignant, thought-provoking conversations that only The Expanse provides.
Before heading back to the Roci, Amos asks Bobbie if she wants to join him at the brothel. She wants clarification — does he mean with him or with him? As usual, Amos is great with either option. The camera cuts away before we see what transpires next. I dig that this series allows us to reach our respective conclusions; the writers don’t need to spoonfeed us the story.
Meanwhile, on Ceres, Michio informs Drummer about staying at the station with Josep while he heals. Drummer tells Michio that she doesn’t love their PolyAm Belter Fam because they’re fighters; she loves them because they’re builders. She gives Drummer permission to keep fighting.
Cue the sound of my heart ripping in two.
Rosenfeld shows Marco footage of Filip’s speech after Drummer’s transmission. Filip’s monologue is proof Daddy Marco is a good parent! Alexander does an excellent job of conveying Marco’s vulnerabilities.
Later, Filip goes snooping for information about Tadeo’s brother. He revisits Tadeo and drops the bad news — the latter’s brother died on Ceres amid the explosion. Tadeo breaks down, blaming himself for his brother’s death. He cites that Marco ordered them to rig the dock with explosives, and the Commander of the Free Navy reassured them no Belters would suffer harm. Of course, that was a lie.
Filip sits beside Tadeo and comforts him. The image mirrors the scene from Season Five when Naomi embraces Filip, reminding us that everything on The Expanse serves a purpose. Nothing is inconsequential or irrelevant—what a beautiful moment depicting Filip’s inner Naomi.
Drummer waits in a security check line, but a guard urges her to cut to the front since she’s Camina Drummer. Initially, Drummer is content with waiting her turn, showcasing her humility. But when another Belter persuades her to cut, Sanjrani (Jo Vannicola) asks Drummer what it’s like “being the Inners’ pet.”
Then, Drummer reunites with Naomi on the Tynan, and it’s undoubtedly a frosty one. Naomi learns what happened to Drummer’s PolyAm Belter Fam, that Drummer essentially lost them all because she chose to save the Roci, putting her on Marco’s s**tlist.
Naomi urges Drummer to meet with Avasarala in person while on Ceres. Drummer vehemently accuses Naomi of choosing the Inners’ side every time, sacrificing her people. Naomi asserts she carves her path. She asks Drummer what they can do to remedy the situation. Is there another way besides banding together with the enemy?
Naomi believes all they can do now is fight for their loved ones. That might come across as insensitive given Drummer’s situation in that department. Drummer curses out Naomi, but the latter embraces her friend. This scene is, without question, my favorite Drummer/Naomi bit. The wait was long and arduous, but the payoff was worth it.
Next, Avasarala and Drummer finally meet, in the flesh, face-to-face. Monica records the occasion while Avasarala convinces Drummer to join forces to take on Marco Inaros. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?
Drummer asserts that her people will only receive orders from her, not Avasarala. The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Bosmang of Space shake on it.
Thus, a badass alliance blooms before our eyes.
Avasarala and Drummer’s meeting undoubtedly checks a monumental moment off my Expanse bucketlist. Two space queens doing their thing and getting s**t done!
“Why We Fight” lays the groundwork for what’s sure to be an epic, balls-to-the-wall series finale, and I’m simultaneously excited by the prospect and saddened by its finality. Folks, I’ll be inconsolable next week. Marco my words.
Do you think Bobbie went with Amos to the brothel? Will we see an all-out war transpire at the Ring Gate with Marco’s forces fleeing to Medina? Is Josep getting a prosthetic bringing him one step closer to becoming The Winter Soldier of The Expanse?
Next week’s when it all comes to a head, Beltalowda, so let’s flip and burn.
The series finale of The Expanse will be available to stream on Friday, January 14, only on Prime Video.
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