The Expanse season 5 ends with a stunning space battle, while villains old and new strengthen their hands. Here are all the unanswered questions.
Here are the biggest questions left over from The Expanse season 5. With the execution of Klaes Ashford in season 4, Marco Inaros announced himself as far more than another nuisance troublemaker from The Belt, but few in The Expanse were prepared for the extent of his evil as season 5 began. The leader of the Free Navy launched unprecedented attacks on Earth and Mars, while also striking against any Belters who so much as smiled toward the Inner planets. Finally acknowledged as a major figure, Marco turned his cult of personality onto the Rocinante, and hatched a devious plan to have The Expanse’s merry flagship destroyed.
Not only did the Roci survive Marco’s attentions, she did so without her usual compliment of crew members. Holden remains in the captain’s chair throughout The Expanse season 5, but Naomi is taken prisoner by Marco after an ill-fated attempt to rescue her son, Amos is caught up in the chaos on Earth, and Alex conducts his own investigations alongside fellow Martian, Bobbie Draper. On Luna, meanwhile, Chrisjen Avasarala continues to prove the incompetence of everyone around her, and is duly reinstated as UN Secretary General with war against Marco Inaros looming.
With only one season remaining, The Expanse has plenty to cover, and season 5 arguably poses more questions than it answers, especially when it comes to the extra-terrestrial presence skulking ominously in the background. As the Rocinante burns into The Expanse’s final stretch, here are the show’s most pressing unanswered questions.
What Are The Unknown Aggressors & What Do They Want?
Long before Earth became a spare-faring civilization, an unnamed race of aliens created the Protomolecule and used this super-advanced biotech to dominate the galaxy. Their ancient alien empire was wiped out in the blink of an eye by a second race of extra-terrestrials currently known as the “Unknown Aggressors.” Having remained inactive for centuries, the use of Protomolecule in the Sol system is gradually waking this slumbering giant. James Holden and Elvi Okoye were already aware of the threat, but now the Unknown Aggressors have made their first proper move, destroying the Barkeith as it traversed into the Laconia system.
With these angry wraith-like aliens finally awake in The Expanse season 5, it’s time the big questions were addressed. Who are these beings? Where do they come from? Is the black, wispy design their true form, or merely a weapon? Digging deeper into The Expanse’s mythology, why does this alien race despise the Protomolecule so much, and why are they attacking Martian vessels heading through the Ring Gate? These mysteries haven’t been fully solved even in The Expanse’s original novel series, so with season 6 ending the show early by comparison, the final season has plenty of ground to cover in its overarching alien plot.
What Next For Marco After Securing The Ring Gate?
Despite a botched attack on the Rocinante, Marco Inaros refuses to rest on his laurels, immediately making his next big move. With his fleet in tow, Marco takes out the Earth ships patrolling the Ring Gate entrance. It’s then revealed that Medina Station (the Belter ship located within the Ring’s lobby-esque Slow Zone) has already declared allegiance to the Free Navy, when the mammoth facility joins in the attack, helping out Marco’s team. The Expanse season 5’s Marco Inaros storyline ends with the villain in full control of the Sol system’s exit.
This means the displaced residents of Earth can’t simply hop on a colony ship and escape to a brand new system. The Free Navy is going to make the Inners suffer by keeping them on a planet with dwindling resources and three big, fresh holes carved into the surface. As somewhat of a showman, Marco’s master plan is hardly a secret. He seeks to shift the power balance between The Belt and the Inner planets, making himself the dominant figure of the entire Sol system, while Earth and Mars dance to the The Belt’s tune for once. Marco may have dealt Earth a crippling blow, but he’s still a long way from reaching that goal, and the next step is, inevitably, open warfare. As Avasarala herself admits, Earth cannot win a contest of power with the Free Navy as things stand, and with the Ring Gate under his jurisdiction, the time is right for Marco to launch a full-frontal attack on Earth and Mars. Exactly what this will look like remains to be seen.
Will Filip Betray His Father?
Despite Naomi’s attempt to rescue Filip from Marco Inaros, the boy remains completely under his father’s spell. By leaving the Pella in favor of rescuing the Rocinante, Naomi also played directly into Marco’s hand, as he could spin her departure as another instance of Filip’s mother abandoning him. But those chickens must come home to roost eventually, and The Expanse season 5 did tease potential cracks forming between Filip and his megalomaniac of a father, albeit only through a handful of telling glances. Will Naomi make contact with Filip again, or has she done enough to make her son question his Marco’s morality?
How Does Earth Respond To The Free Navy?
Since Marco Inaros has the upper hand, it’s only natural that he’ll strike while the Free Navy iron is hot, but how does Earth respond? The Expanse season 5 concludes with an opulent party on Luna, which dissolves into panic as news of the Ring Gate battle begins to trickle through. The UN now has a crumbling planet, a desperate population who can’t escape, and a war in which Earth is drastically outgunned. Now Avasarala is finally back in charge, what will the Inners’ next move be in The Expanse season 6?
Earth’s immediate priority will likely be finding allies, or other factions who want Marco dead as much as they do, at least. Now that the Martian mystery has been solved and the culprits have revealed themselves, it seems likely that the dregs of Earth will align with whatever’s left of Mars to rally against a terrorist who would see both planets ground into dust. Naturally, the Rocinante will play a big part too. Aside from being well-armed and chock-full of protagonists, the Roci has more experience than anyone when it comes to tangling with the Free Navy. On previous missions, Holden’s gang tried to maintain a level of neutrality, but now the Roci’s guns are aimed exclusively in Marco’s direction. Even with allies from Mars and the plucky Rocinante, however, Earth still has to overcome a considerable disadvantage.
Will Drummer’s Crew Join With Earth?
One possible option for Earth is to align with the Belters who don’t buy into Marco’s “us or them” rhetoric. Cara Gee’s Camina Drummer was an undoubted highlight of The Expanse season 5, as the space pirate reluctantly led her crew into the Free Navy family. Try as she might, Drummer simply couldn’t look past how Marco treated her nearest and dearest, and she committed mutiny in dramatic fashion, siding with the Rocinante. By the final episode, Drummer’s polyamorous group has been split, with only Michio and Josep remaining by her side.
There’s a big question mark over where Drummer goes next, since the character knows only too well that being an enemy of Marco Inaros isn’t conducive to a quiet, peaceful life in The Belt. Instead, Drummer may adopt the classic “enemy of my enemy” philosophy and jump into bed with Earth. This is foreshadowed by a news conference, in which Avasarala assures honest Belter citizens that they are not targets of the UN’s wrath. Chrisjen might be keen to separate hostile Belters from innocent civilians, but those law-abiding Belters need a leader. Drummer is the perfect candidate, but would she be willing to work so closely with Earth after falling out with Fred Johnson for doing something similar?
Who Rides The Rocinante In The Expanse Season 6
Holden’s crew will be lining up alongside Earth’s forces in The Expanse season 6, but it remains to be seen who, exactly, boards the Rocinante for that final voyage. Holden, Naomi and Amos all return, but Alex died of a stroke while performing high-g maneuvers to rescue Naomi from the Chetzemoka. This situation looks to have been forced upon The Expanse following controversial allegations made against Alex actor, Cas Anvar, prior to season 5’s premiere. Viewers can count on Clarissa “Peaches” Mao being a main character in The Expanse’s final season, after Amos coerced Holden into letting her on board. Season 5’s finale also more or less confirmed Bull as the Roci’s new pilot, with José Zúñiga’s character sitting in the driver’s chair and drinking from Alex’s old mug. Holden orders him to fire a missile, and Bull does as instructed, while acknowledging Jim as “captain.”
With Clarissa set in stone and Bull all-but-confirmed, that leaves only Bobbie Draper. Following Alex’s death, the Rocinante crew desperately need a representative from Mars, and Bobbie is the only possible candidate. Additionally, Avasarala seems to acknowledge Bobbie as part of Holden’s crew during the finale’s party scene. However, the new Secretary General also refers to Bobbie as her “new liaison” which could imply a job for her on Luna. It’s possible that Frankie Adams’ no-nonsense former marine could perform both duties – acting as Avasarala’s liaison while riding the Roci. The full lineup won’t be truly known until The Expanse season 6 begins.
What Is The Protomolecule Doing On Laconia?
In the closing moments of The Expanse season 5, it’s revealed that the Protomolecule sample Marco Inaros stole has been given to the Martian defectors who aided his cause. The sample was sent through the Ring Gate to Laconia, which is where the renegades plan to settle and build their new empire. In a video message from Paolo Cortázar, the Protomolecule is busy at work, bringing a giant structure in the sky to life, and the eccentric scientist excitedly reveals Laconia is similar to Ilus in the sense that Protomolecule structures run through the crust of the planet. But where Holden fought to render the Protomolecule inactive on Ilus, the Laconia settlers want to exploit this oft-misunderstood alien power. As suggested by Cortázar, the sample will “awaken” the planet, giving the colonists a head-start in building a new civilization.
s for the structure in the sky, both Cortázar’s description and the original books by James S.A. Corey would suggest this is a ship left over by the creators of the Protomolecule many years ago. The Laconians want to use their stolen sample to gain control of this super-advanced vessel and any others like it. Of course, fiddling with the Protomolecule is often pure folly, and the Laconians could fall victim to the same mistake. As revealed by The Investigator (a projection of the Protomolecule inside Holden’s mind), the blue stuff is hell-bent on figuring out who destroyed its creators all those years ago. While being put to use on Laconia, the Protomolecule could be hatching a plan of its own.
Will The Laconian Empire Stay Put, Or Attack?
As the Barkeith makes its fateful journey through the Ring Gate to Laconia, Admiral Sauveterre and Marco Inaros bring their arrangement to an end. The Martian rebels look to have claimed the Laconia system for themselves, leaving Marco to take the Sol system from Earth and Mars. But if that’s the end of Laconia’s role in The Expanse, why tease the ominous Protomolecule structure in the final credits? Surely, this suggests the Martians will be coming back sooner rather than later.
Laconia’s future role in The Expanse depends entirely on how the TV adaptation interprets the source material. After the end of the Marco Inaros story in book 6, there’s a 30-year time jump, and only then does the Laconian Empire begin to threaten the Sol system with their retrofitted alien ships. Since The Expanse season 6 is confirmed as the show’s last on Amazon, there may not be time to introduce this major new villain, which would leave the season 5 tease frustratingly open.