How The Expanse’s Season 5 Finale Set Up The ‘Defining Conflict’ For The Final Season

Steven Strait as James Holden in Season 5 of The Expanse.

Earthers be warned, there are serious spoilers for the Season Five finale of The Expanse below. If you aren’t caught up on the finale this article will be diving into the biggest conflicts and reveals, so proceed with caution.

The Expanse just wrapped up its fifth and penultimate season on Amazon, where it was eventually saved and renewed after the science fiction epic was canceled by Syfy at the end of its third season. Since being taken under Amazon’s wing, the show has expanded (ha, get it?) its scope and budget, and the Season 5 finale that aired Wednesday night was a game changer for those who have been watching since the beginning. It definitely set up some major conflicts going into The Expanse's sixth and final season.

Steven Strait, who plays the planet jumping captain of the Rocinante, James Holden, explained to Collider just how huge those reveals were in "Nemesis Games," and how they come into play for the show's final season:

I think the end of Season 5 sets up just how much the paradigm has shifted in every conceivable way. Within the plot metaphorically, character-wise, the war has truly begun. In Season 5, it really starts with an enormous statement with what Marco has done to earth and the flipping of the balance of power within the solar system. The end of the season at the end of the finale, I think in every conceivable way it really sets up what will become the defining conflict that decides the way the system will function and how people will live within it. Mars who nobody would ever think would deviate from the program for Mars, the most kind of staunchly nationalistic, patriotic blah blah blah blah falling to pieces, parts of it are breaking apart and siding with Marco, and what they're doing with the protomolecule and how that's shaping the way things are going to be, it has completely flipped the script. And I think the end of the season really, really sets that up in a really... Viewers are going to be thrown into what is being set up here.

In his interview, Steven Strait noted that the subversion by Mars, the escape of Marco Inaros, and the protomolecule will all come into play as the ‘defining conflict’ of The Expanse. At the end of "Nemesis Games," Earth was left in tatters, the Rocinante was down one of its original crew members and the Martian federation seemed to have splintered into separate factions.

As Strait mentions, the balance of power in the universe has dramatically shifted, which left Earth and the crew of the Roci in an intergalactic war on two fronts. The Ring gate security was breached and booby trapped by the Martians, who were complicit with Marco Inaros.

Season 5, which some of the cast thinks is the best yet, took a more personal and emotional look at the crew members of the Rocinante. Each character was forced to address their skeletons in the closet after the off-world escapades in Season 4.

The cast and crew of The Expanse are clearly already gearing up for the sixth and final season. Fans of the novel series that the show is based upon may be anticipating the upcoming time jump, and those involved with the show are confident that it will be pulled off in a satisfying manner.

While there is no confirmed release date for Season 6 of The Expanse, Amazon has been relatively consistent in pumping out a new season once a year. Plus, the early renewal order gave the production team more time to prepare for the end of the space saga. Optimistically, fans can hope that the final season will release sometime in late 2021, but there are no guarantees considering the state of entertainment in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Until we can hit the after-burn with the crew of the Rocinante again, be sure to check out CinemaBlend’s Winter and Spring TV Schedule for the latest heading to your home screens, and let us know what you thought about The Expanse's Season 5 finale in the comments!

Braden Roberts

Into tracksuits by Paulie Walnuts, the Criterion Channel and Robert Eggers.