The Expanse S6E5: “Why We Fight” — Loyalty and Its Discontents

Bobbie laughs, sitting with Amos at the bar on Ceres

The following contains spoilers for The Expanse S6E5, “Why We Fight” (written by Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck and directed by Anya Adams) but no book spoilers

The title of The Expanse S6E5—“Why We Fight”—poses a question, so perhaps a decent place to start is with the answer it posits, which seems to boil down to something along the lines of the old cliché of fighting for the guy who’s fighting next to you. We get this once as Bobbie and Amos talk over drinks at the bar on Ceres, where it seems to get him over his doubts about going back to the Rocinante, and again towards the end of the episode as Naomi convinces Drummer to team up with Avasarala, though it’s clear the actual reason she does this has more to do with a lack of other options than anything else.

Perhaps that’s the general truth of the sentiment, when placed within the context of war: one fights because there’s no other choice, for oneself and for the others who also have no choice. That’s laudable enough, but it doesn’t get to any kind of justification for the fighting (or the war itself) in the broad sense, and it’s not clear that it offers any answer as to why someone like Marco fights.

Probably instead we’re supposed to think of him as a narcissistic egomaniac—and he is!—but there are indications that Marco might think along similar lines to this truism about fighting for those you hold dear, if from his own perverse point of view. I at least think it would be interesting to take it that way for a moment. Because this would have to lead us to consider the whole conflict overall in terms that boil down to tribalism, which is indeed an interpretation The Expanse has offered fodder for before.

Is the whole solar system now in the churn? And if so, can we blame Marco for what he’s doing, or what he’s been doing all along?

Marco looks downward and to the side, thinking, as Rosenfeld looks on

This strikes me as the big weakness of this idea that we fight for the ones we fight with. It takes something bigger than that to get at the problem with Marco, which surely lies in his failure to properly value those he feels no personal bonds to. And it’s from that point of view, too, that Amos’ worry about Holden makes sense—if we’re not fighting to win, and if winning doesn’t feel justified, then why not drink and f*ck on Ceres until they run out of one or the other?

It’s not there is no other choice insofar as it would usually be possible to survive without fighting. Drummer has lost her #PolyAmBelterFam completely by the end of S6E5, as she laments to Naomi. Michio and Josep will stay on Ceres, and surely Camina could too, perhaps changing her appearance to hide amongst the rabble.

Michio sits beside Josep as he lies in his hospital bed

At stake is not just survival but a life worth living, and this is what pushes Drummer to finally agree to team up with Avasarala. It is in this sense that it is the only option. To no longer fight, to give up…she wouldn’t be able to live with herself.

Michio knows this, and expresses it clearly. It’s a heart wrenching scene, as Camina says she wanted to build something with her family, not fight with them. We have to remember where she was at the beginning of Season 5 and hold together in thought everything that has occurred to make all of this fall apart.

In a way, she should blame Naomi, but of course more deeply she has to blame Marco. Marco who killed Klaes Ashford, and Fred Johnson. We’re told he killed Anderson Dawes. He killed Serge. He is the one who destroyed the life Camina wanted to build, and who made it impossible with his “big dreams.”

Avasarala and Drummer stand facing one another in the halls of Ceres

Still, to side with the Inners is hard to swallow. For as much as Avasarala says she’s changed in how she views Belters, and as much as Naomi attests to this, the pet analogies hold for so long as beltalowda aren’t viewed and treated as equals, and nothing about fighting Marco together can guarantee any change in that after the fact.

It’s not that Avasarala is lying, but that this gets to class dynamics that go beyond the direct control of individuals. Ebenezer Scrooge can learn the error of his ways, but that does nothing to capitalism. It is similarly ultimately irrelevant if Avasarala has had a conversion in her heart of hearts. Probably Bobbie’s right and the hatred and conflict between Belters and Inners will continue for generations. The biggest problem is that they’ll have cause for it.

Bobbie stands next to a computer screen

Meanwhile, Dr. Okoye makes an appearance on Naomi’s screen and ours to give the Roci crew information about the Martian ships that disappeared going through the Ring. It would seem that there is a risk any given time a ship passes through, which provides an opportunity to revisit the way Holden claimed he could feel the anger of entities unseen when he went through himself (perhaps for some reason due to his connection with Miller).

So that’s exciting. I just hope we get some payoff next week. Given that it is the final episode of the season, I can’t say I’m holding my breath for it, since presumably the focus will be on wrapping up the story arc of Marco Inaros.

Naomi and Jim, looking wistful as they stand together on the Rocinante

Equally, the scenes on Laconia that have opened each episode in Season 6 feel destined to remain a dangling thread. S6E5 shows us Cara bringing her dead brother to the strange dogs as expected, and they seem to have resurrected him. He says everything feels weird, and indicates that he is seeing things he hasn’t seen before, so maybe there is some connection with the protomolecule and the entities James has talked about.

To be honest, I find the existence of resurrection in the universe of The Expanse to be a troubling development, even if the boy turns out to be a protomolecule zombie, which I guess is what I’m hoping for. But I suppose I do have to admit that there have been some elements along these lines going all the way back to what happened with Julie Mao and then Miller, so I just hope it might tie together in a compelling way.

Cara's brother looks on, after his resurrection

There is only one episode left, though, and obviously The Expanse the TV show won’t be able to weave all of its threads together in that amount of time. That’s OK, I’m just hoping for some amount of thematic closure.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

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