The Expanse Review: “Force Projection” and “Redoubt”

…for in such dangerous things as war, the errors which proceed from a spirit of benevolence are just the worst.
–Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Chapter One
(trans. J.J. Graham)

“Here we are, still trying to kill our way to a better tomorrow.”
–James Holden, “Redoubt.”

Earth and Mars take the war to Marco Inaros, Holden makes a controversial decision that stirs dissent among his crew, and Drummer issues a challenge.

Titles: “Force Projection” and “Redoubt”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Jeff Woolnough, Anya Adams

Written by Dan Nowak, Julianna Damewood, Glenton Richards
Adapted from the novels by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (as James S.A. Corey)

Steven Strait as Jim Holden
Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata
Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal
Wes Chatham as Amos Burton
Frankie Adams as Roberta “Bobbie” Draper
Nadine Nicole as Clarissa “Peaches” Mao
Keon Alexander as Marco Inaros
Jasai Chase Owens as Filip Inaros
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala
Cara Gee as Camina Drummer
Kathleen Robertson as Rosenfeld Guoliang
Anna Hopkins as Monica Stuart
Joanne Vannicola as Nico Sanjrani
Samer Salem as Josep
Ted Dykstra as Gareth
Stuart Hughes as Liang Walker
Gabriel Darku as Yoan
Vanessa Smythe as Michio
Conrad Coates as Admiral Sidiqi
Krista Bridges as Admiral Kirino
Craig Arnold as Lt. Hannu
Daniel Jun as Gary
Dianne Aguilar as Dot
Emmanuel John, Kristian Kadirgamar as Pella Officers
Emma Ho as Cara
Ian Ho as Xan
Jai Jai Jones as Sergeant Ebron
Dylan Taylor as Admiral Duarte
Mikael Conde as Dewalt Crewman
Nathaniel Bacon as MMC Marine
Douglas Netter Roman Pesino as Santiago
Tim Dowler-Coltman as Laconia Ensign
Virgilia Griffith as Tynan Crew Member
Vieslav Krystyan as Owain
Joe Perry as Tadeo
Chantele Francis, Siddhartha Sharma as Laconian Civilians
Adrienne Kress as Distraught Mom
Ava Cheung as Distraught Daughter


Strange doings continue on Laconia after the accidental death of Cara’s brother.

In our system, Earth and Mars take the war to Inaros, Avasarala boosts the propaganda front, and James Holden makes a decision that troubles his crew.

The inhabitants of Ceres wonder who they can trust.

Rosenfield makes unauthorized adjustments to Inaros’s orders, Filip gets reassigned, and an angry Camina Drummer calls out Inaros.

High Point

Despite its scope, the show always remains focused on the characters. Several of these– most significantly, those in leadership positions– make flawed but credible decisions that have real repercussions for everyone. I don’t agree with Holden’s decision but I understand why he made it. The riffs between Inaros and his son, and his second-in-command, stem from character flaws that he shares with too many real-world people in positions of power.

Low Point

I look forward to the Laconian plot every week.

I do wonder whether, however, with only two more episodes, we will get a worthwhile payoff for the time spent on it. It sets in motion more than the final season can address. That aside, they do an excellent job of making the themes of the plot connect to those of the main plots.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 6/6

Acting: 5/6 The lead actors remain very strong as they try to communicate the rationale behind difficult and not always logical decisions.

Cara Gee as Camina Drummer, meanwhile, kills it as a captain facing challenges and in her rhetorical middle finger salute to Inaros.

Emotional Response: 6/6

Story: 6/6 These episodes benefit from strong parallels among the plots. Is benevolence ever wrong? Or, as Von Clausewitz insists, in battle, is it usually wrong?

Production: 6/6

Overall: 6/6

In total, “Force Projection” and “Redoubt” receive 38/42

The final two episodes “Why We Fight” and “Babylon’s Ashes” will be reviewed together on January 15.

7 replies on “The Expanse Review: “Force Projection” and “Redoubt””

  1. Not sure if people have been catching them but there have been short bonus scenes with the episodes so far. I couldn’t see them with my streaming device but I could watch them with my web browser. There are going to be five for the season.

    Also, if you want to hear some behinds the scenes stuff, there is an after show series with Ty Frank, Wes Chatham, and guests. The one for Force Projection was interesting to me as the guest was Keon Alexander. Lots of talk about Marco and what makes him tick.

      • Sorry, missed this reply. I was able to view these scenes via my web browser. Go into Amazon, search for “The Expanse” in Prime video, select the first episode of Season 6, and hit pause as soon as you can On the left top, there should be some icons for X-Ray saying “Bonus Content Video and Photos”. From there you should be able to play the video for that episode.

  2. On the “worthwhile payoff” in the low point, I’m going with them sticking with the conclusions of both the main book and “Strange Dogs” novella pretty much as-is at this point. That’s a payoff of sorts, but I’m not sure if fans of the show who have not read the books will see it as such (unless it encourages them to pick up the books and get their fill that way).

    It does however firmly leave the door open for someone other than Amazon to pick up the show and, with the timeskip in the books, potentially recast the crew depending on how they want to handle it – actor’s contracts permitting. Both “Babylon 5” and “Game of Thrones” had a similar problem with too much source material vs. too few episodes and arguably blew it with their approaches to providing a conclusion, so if the producers of “The Expanse” want to roll the dice on pick-up and at least go out with a consistently high standard to the (possible) end that’s fine by me.

    It’ll be even finer if someone else decides to pick up the show for another three seasons, of course. :)

  3. I’ve been wondering about the low point myself. I haven’t read the books so I have no idea what sort of payoff that has.

    I know it’s wishful thinking, but I am wondering if there’s some sort of plan behind the scenes that we don’t know about, though. I’ve noticed that producers seem to be getting better at keeping secrets like that, so if there is something in the works, it’s entirely likely we wouldn’t know anything about it.

    • In short, the “book ending” would draw a line under some parts of the story, but also set out the stage for the other arcs that have been hinted at since the start to play out. It’s basically the conclusion of the middle act of three, and does provide some kind of stability to things at the close, but it’s definitely not one you’d write “The End” after.

      I’m expecting a few changes on the show, given they’ve already diverged from the books to some extent (not too much though, other than writing Alex out). The inclusion of the Laconia arc, even after they knew of Amazon’s decision, is an interesting choice though – it strongly suggests that there might indeed be some kind of plan, or maybe just a Hail Mary hope of finding another network willing to pick up the show in time.

      Either way, if you’ve not read the books and want to find out what happens next, you could just start with Book 7, allow for the differences like Alex still being around, and it would all just naturally flow on to the conclusion. If you enjoy epic SF works and trying to figure what’s going to happen next though, then I’d definitely recommend the whole set including the novellas as there’s a lot more nuance and clues to be had.

  4. If there is a time jump, I don’t mind the show going away for a bit and wrapping thing ups for itself.

    But then I eagerly await the rest a few years from now. Perhaps a few seasons of “The Rings” or “Laconia” maybe.

    I do think I may read the books to find out the how that series ends though.

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