The Expanse Review: “Tribes”

The show has taken some dark turns, and this week’s episodes handle these with extraordinary acting, writing, and visuals.

Even in the darkest times, people can find hope.

Title: “Tribes”

Director: Jeff Woolnough
Writer: Hallie Lambert
Adapted from the novels by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (as James S.A. Corey)

Wes Chatham as Amos Burton
Steven Strait as James R. Holden
Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal
Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata
Nadine Nicole as Clarissa Mao
Sandrine Holt as Oksana
Frankie Adams Roberta “Bobbie” Draper
Cara Gee as Camina Drummer
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala
Keon Alexander as Marco Inaros
Bahia Watson as Sakai
Tim DeKay as Admiral Sauveterre
Jasai Chase Owens as Felip
José Zúñiga as Bull
Olunike Adeliyi as Karal
George Tchortovas Leveau
Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama as Tycho Engineer
Martin Happer as Doomsday Prepper
Ricardo Betancourt as UNN MP
Samer Salem as Josep
Stephen Tracey as Bertold
Sugith Varughese as David Paster
Tony Munch as Rugged Man


Amos Burton and Clarissa Gao make their way towards Baltimore, while debating their ethics and their place in the worlds.

Draper and Kamal engineer a narrow escape.

The Belters realize they’ve been dragged into a war whether they want it or not. Drummer, in particular, is not pleased with the available options.

Avasarala receives a visitor and an invitation.

After an incident with his parents, Filip realizes that he doesn’t have the entire story, and things may not be as they appear.

The Roci is ready to go again.

High Point

The journey undertaken by Amos and Clarissa ranks as the strongest among several well-handled arcs, unified by the tribal natures of human societies, and the shifting understanding of who our tribe might be, how they’re formed, and how our innate tribalism can both elevate and endanger us.

That theme felt disturbingly timely.

Low Point

The events in Washington yesterday constitute such a low point in American history that it taints everything else that has happened this week.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 6/6 The visuals this season have been outstanding and often haunting.

Acting: 6/6 This episode focuses on some of the show’s strongest characters, and the actors deliver.

Emotional Response: 6/6

Story: 6/6 The Expanse has improved its ability to focus the drama, so that the storylines integrate smoothly.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 6/6

In total, “Tribes” receives 39/42

6 replies on “The Expanse Review: “Tribes””

  1. Says a lot about an episode when the low point isn’t even from the episode. Can’t say I disagree with the choice of low point, either.

    The plot clearly requires a bit of “moving pieces around the board”. Many series would have basically done just that with a sort of cardboard episode with basically an “and” plot[1]. Instead, Expanse used it as an opportunity to develop characters and even expand on how things have been developing as a result of recent events.

    [1] “and” plot: where a thing happens and another thing happens and another thing happens and then it ends and it adds up to nothing, really.

    • > [1] “and” plot: where a thing happens and another thing happens and another thing happens and then it ends and it adds up to nothing, really.

      Never heard this term, it is accurate and I am keeping it.

      • I recommend it heartily to would-be writers, especially of SF and Fantasy. It’s a series of guidelines, rather than rules (I can think of Tabloid Weirds that work, for example), but they’re very good guidelines.

  2. Amos’ “Tribes” speech was excellent when I first read it in the books. But having him deliver it yesterday or all days, was heartbreaking.

  3. > That theme felt disturbingly timely.

    Yes, it felt almost like it was edited to match current events, though I also strongly suspect “current” events were current at the time of filming, too.

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