The Expanse “Redoubt” and the Importance of Agency

The Expanse “Redoubt” Spoilers Ahead

Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata in The Expanse "Redoubt"
©Prime Video

Agency and its importance is an underlying theme The Expanse has understood from day one. It has dealt with the ramifications of taking it from someone even when its clarity isn’t as crystallized. Additionally, “everybody on this ship has something they regret” continues to be the force that exhilarates all these characters as they navigate through their choices, along with how those choices impact those around them.

In what’s a powerful fourth episode, The Expanse’s “Redoubt” orbits off of Holden’s decision in the final few moments of “Force Projection” and precisely what that means for the entire crew, Naomi especially, and his own psyche. It leads to some incredibly compelling conversations that establish the best part of this series—the quiet moments that mean more than the explosive ever could. 

It’s also an episode about the attribute that “if you want the enemy to see you as human, then you have to see them as human,” and how that’s the component that differentiates everyone fighting against Marco and the polarizing regime he’s sitting on. We’re more than halfway through to the end of it all, and if nothing else, it’s potently noticeable that this series cares about exploring the emotions that matter.


The Expanse “Redoubt”and The Exploration of Mistakes

Jim and Naomi in The Expanse "Redoubt"
©Prime Video

Naomi and Holden will always be among the strongest romantic pairs on television because they continue talking things through. And where Holden understood last week that Naomi needed to keep busy, this week it’s critical to note that both parties realize where they’re wrong.

Holden’s big on preaching that everything needs to go through him, but sometimes, he needs to take his own advice. While his choice is entirely understandable (and honorable), he shouldn’t have taken agency away from the rest of the team even though the moment demanded it. By choosing not to confide in Naomi before making his decision, Holden inadvertently takes away her agency, and simultaneously, everyone else’s. And though it’s significant to note that the spur of the moment makes it difficult, it’s still worth noting what it represents. 

It’s also essential that the conversation leads to both confronting what’s necessary about their characteristics and how they mesh together. Naomi vocalizes that he needs to stop treating her like she is broken, but Holden states that she needs to stop running away from her feeling. And it’s a moment of great importance to showcase what strength looks like.

Because ultimately, what this moment solidifies is the fact that brokenness doesn’t equate to weakness, and admitting to pain doesn’t equate to a loss of strength. Naomi Nagata is one of the strongest women in the galaxy because she continued to do the right thing even after the pain tried to break her. However, she is still very much a human being with feelings capable of governing her. And the immense trauma she lived through, plus confronting those feelings matters. More than anything, Holden wants her to understand that he sees so much of what she attempts to concealAnd her feelings matter especially to him because he knows that losing Filip is a cross she will always carry with her. It’s not a form of pain that will ever truly leave her. 

In hindsight, it’s a terrible situation for both of them to be in, but as two people who’ve decided they’re going to be partners through life, these details matter tremendously for their future. Naomi’s strength is something Holden has always valued, but more than that, it’s been her heart through everything—the emotions that have made her who she is and the compassion she’s full of. Those emotions are part of the bigger picture. Filip is a part of Naomi, and thus, Filip is a part of Holden even with so much of Marco in him. 

The entirety of The Expanse’s “Redoubt” essentially orbits around the fact that teamwork equates to having difficult conversations, but more importantly, it’s about cementing the essence of agency, which means that sometimes, before people can get to that understanding, they’re going to make mistakes. Holden’s mistake might be his decision-making, but it isn’t one he should regret. Because this decision, no matter what it leads to, at the very least, allows Filip to understand that someone’s looking out for him still. After everything he did, someone in the world believes his life is worth sparing.

Some of the best performances continuously take place on The Expanse, and the fact that there are people in the world who aren’t aware of this pains me. Because in “Redoubt” especially, everyone brings their A-game in such a way where the Lord knows what the final two episodes have in store. Dominique Tipper and Steven Strait are some of the strongest scene partners, and this moment where fire and vulnerability fought to gain control had me gripping the edge of my couch. Because before this and everything we got with Strait and Wes Chatham was just the kind of performance you’d expect in an intensely gear-shifting scene. 

The original Roci crew is looking reasonably dark as a result of the tensions flying, and while I’m sure they’ll patch things up before the series finale, it’s crucial that we see these moments where they each realize precisely what their choice entails and how it affects others.


Sparing Lives

Nadine Nicole and Steven Strait as Clarissa Mao and Jim Holden in The Expanse "Redoubt"
©Prime Video

Clarissa Mao’s character development is, without question, one that should stand as a paradigm for how to write an excellent redemption arc. Now that she’s taking responsibility for her past decisions, she’s proving that growth is plausible when you properly atone. She’s showcasing what it means to understand the weight of a person’s decisions, especially when other lives are at risk.

And Clarissa has not only rightly atoned, but she carries the kind of tremendous guilt she’s never going to be able to let go of. You can’t let go of the lives you take, and that much is clear even if you’ve never been in her shoes, but telling Holden that he shouldn’t regret the lives he spares was one of the most beautiful moments throughout the series. As a conversation two years in the making, this moment perfectly exhibits remorse and forgiveness. And this conversation juxtaposes Amos’ reaction so intricately because though his anger is plausible, Clarissa understands the darkness in a way no one else does.

She doesn’t want Holden or anyone else to carry the weight of what murdering people has done to her. Thus, telling him this, at the very least, allows him the peace of mind to know that though his choice should’ve involved everyone else, it’s a testament to who he is as a character and the utter compassion that continuously guides him. The same kind of decision he makes in “Dulcinea” changes the entire series from day one.

At the end of the day, the episode clarifies that the characters are trying to have the conversations that matter, and it’s something I’ll miss most about the series. People are going to continue making mistakes. They’re going to continue making wrong calls, but at the end of the day, at least they’re trying to be the type of people they want to see in the world—the kind of people who’ll make it better.

What are your thoughts on The Expanse’s “Redoubt?” Let us know in the comments below.


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