The Cast and Crew of The Expanse Discuss Season 5

By Miclpea

In this time of Covid-19 and no conventions, there are fewer opportunities to meet with the cast and crews of genre series. However, The Expanse sponsored a virtual press junket and made some of the cast and crew available for interviews. These exciting conversations revealed information about Season 5, as well as some of the obstacles that they had to overcome in filming the season. Here are some of their comments and observations. 

Naren Shankar, Daniel Abraham, and Ty Franck

Naren Shankar (executive producer and showrunner), Daniel Abraham (co-executive producer), and Ty Franck (co-executive producer) talked about some of the problems they had to solve in filming Season 5. One of the biggest issues centered around Cara Gee’s pregnancy. They had to film all of her episodes across the entire season in two weeks in December of 2019 to avoid having to fly her back later in her pregnancy. This effort required coordination between directors, crew, and writers. They also needed to bring in one of their directors early to complete the filming of her scenes.

Another impediment that the writers faced was condensing the novel, Nemesis Games, with its myriad of storylines into 10 episodes without losing any of the complex drama present in the novels. The main characters each follow their own story arcs but at the same time, their overarching storyline revolves around Marco Inaros and binds all of their stories together. The writers have brilliantly succeeded in capturing all of the rich storytelling of the novel.

Despite all of these hurdles, the writers still promise to maintain scientific accuracy throughout the season. An excellent example of this occurs in a later episode, where fans will witness a scene that is both scientifically accurate and dramatically compelling.

Dominque Tipper and Keon Alexander

Tipper and Alexander are involved in one of the most important storylines in Season 5. Their former relationship, as well their relationship with Filip, their son, is the center of some of the most explosive and emotional scenes this season. Both Naomi and Marco change throughout the season as they interact with each other. Tipper and Alexander both commented on the difficulty of their scenes together because of the emotional baggage of both of their characters. 

Both of them discussed how difficult it was to portray the nuance of two people who once shared a passionate love for each other that eventually turned to intense hatred. Their performances are brutal, passionate, and moving. Their performances are worthy of Emmys. 

Alexander provided additional insight into his portrayal of Marco and the real passion that Marco feels about helping the Belters. Alexander explained that as a child he took part in a public service project where he visited an indigenous tribe in his native Canada. The conditions were so appalling that even as a child, he wanted to start a crusade to end this abject poverty. Alexander related that he brought this fervor to help disenfranchised people to his portrayal of Marco and Marco’s need to help the Belters against the Inners. However, he noted that Marco’s choice differed from Naomi’s choice, which led to their schism. Both Alexander and Tipper agreed that their characters have grown but unfortunately, their experiences have made them grow apart. 

Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Cara Gee

Season 5 has seen dramatic changes for Holden, Avasarala, and Drummer. Avasarala has to take a subordinate role while Drummer becomes the captain of her own ship. Meanwhile, Holden is on Tycho overseeing the repairs on the Rocinante.

Holden remains on Tycho alone as the rest of the crew leaves to deal with issues from their past. This Holden is a far cry from the Holden viewers met in the first season. Strait revealed that the length of the series has given Holden the opportunity to evolve as a character who has risen to the challenge to deal with truly unusual situations. He has maintained his moral compass through truly trying times, such as his PTSD caused by his encounter with the Protomolecule as well as his initial reluctance to accept leadership responsibility to finally become the captain that the crew of the Rocinante needs.

Strait explained that Holden eventually accepts his responsibility for his part in opening the Gates to humanity and the potential for the devastation it could mean if humanity does not heed his warning about those who destroyed the Gate builders. Holden is the voice crying out in the wilderness but unfortunately, no one listens to his plea for caution.

Meanwhile, Drummer has left the OPA and captains her own crew. Cara Gee explained that this new crew more clearly illustrates the true Belter culture as it is a polyamorous crew. Ironically for Drummer in returning to her roots, she cannot really escape her past political and personal connections with the OPA. In Season 5, the viewers will get to see a new Drummer who is learning to be vulnerable as she discovers the love she has for her crew and her new life.

Aghdashloo talked about how Avasarala in Season 5 is different from the Avasarala in earlier seasons. She stated that although this is a different Avasarala from earlier seasons, the foreshadowing from the first season pointed to where she is now, trying to thwart Marco Inaros. Aghdashloo further explained that for Avasarala, the political process remains the way to address the problem, even with her diminished influence.

Both Gee and Aghdashloo admitted that in Season 5, their characters have to deal with highly emotional issues that test their fortitude. These issues reveal vulnerabilities that viewers have not previously seen in either Drummer or Avasarala.

There is no doubt after talking with the cast and crew that Season 5 will be the best season thus far. It will be an emotional roller coaster ride that will test each character to their limits and for some, beyond those limits. One can only hope that the Emmy committee recognizes the exceptional work of the cast and crew.

To learn more about Season 5 of The Expanse, you can visit The Expanse Aftershow hosted by Wes Chatham and Ty Franck on YouTube.

If you want to continue this discussion, please join us on the FoCC Forum (click here).



I love going to conventions around the US. I'm an ardent fan of all things science fiction and especially The Expanse. I'm a staff writer for Friends of CC and I have co-written a science-fiction script called Punctuated Equilibrium.

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