Show: Amazon Prime’s The Expanse
Featured Characters: Naomi Nagata and Jim Holden
Genre television has forced us to believe that relationships need to go through tireless hurdles to be deemed excellent, but that was never the case with The Expanse‘s Naomi Nagata and Jim Holden (Nolden). For six seasons, from the moment they got together, their challenges weren’t back and forth nonsense, but instead, they grew even while they were on different planets—they grew even more in love while separated.
It’s necessary to note that apart from ardent love and loyalty, understanding the importance of agency is critical for every romantic relationship to be at its healthiest. And that’s a detail Naomi and Holden understood all too well, even while making mistakes in those areas. In a universe where Earthers and Belters wouldn’t have been as strong together, they set the model for what the world could look when differences are put aside, and there’s a selfless compromise in the mix. Though first there’s reluctance and a rightful lack of distrust on Naomi’s end, the budding friendship that’s fundamental in a firm romance starts to begin over shared drinks.
And when it finally turns into something more—when it becomes the vessel of hope they both need, there’s seldom a reason to continually remind each other of their love because it’s a force they ceaselessly show instead. The life they’ve had to lead never made any part of their journey easy, but being together through the storms and the quiet moments of solace has undoubtedly made it bearable. Solid from the moment they get together and stronger than they are apart, Naomi Nagata and Jim Holden cement the fact that real love isn’t a faux band-aid to solve all problems, but it’s a light to fight through the darkness. From reluctant friends to lovers and partners, their romance has made The Expanse beautifully noteworthy.
Namoi Nagata and Jim Holden and Needing Each Other to be Okay
“Okay” is a simple word, but it means everything when it is packed with love and substance. When there’s the colossal heart behind the intent to ask and when it’s a way to allow the other person the safe space to vocalize their troubles, it’s a form of communication that encapsulates every ounce of what’s brewing within. Sometimes, they can’t talk things through because circumstances aren’t allowing them the quiet solitude to do so, and in those instances, asking each other if they’re okay, needing them to be okay as a couple speaks on behalf of the careful compassion that’s within each of them individually.
In the stillness of stopping whatever it is to ask if they’re okay, Naomi and Jim clarify that though the world relies on them to complete the task at hand, they’re each other’s priority in finding the necessary glimmer of hope. They need the sentiment of okay to bring them back to the place where they’re better, stronger, and aware of the fact that someone has their back. Someone’s looking out for them when they’re looking out for the rest of the world.
The Expanse isn’t a romance series, which means we generally don’t have the time to dig into their relationship extensively. Still, we try to do so through these quiet moments where nothing is more apparent than the fact being in the same room, being in the same bunker makes everything easier for them.
“Okay” is an uncomplicated word, but it packs a punch by being the one word that lets them know exactly how their partner is feeling and thinking. Because sometimes, okay means “we’ll talk about it when I’m ready,” and other times, it equates to “I got this.” It’s reassurance, and it’s adoration in a way that’s unique to them. It’s theirs alone when nothing else will suffice—okay and foreheads touching do the trick, barred and armored at times, but fervently connected nevertheless.
Conversations and Quiet Reflections
If more couples on genre television talked the way Naomi Nagata and Jim Holden do, we wouldn’t have cheap drama looming over love stories. We’d have depictions of healthy relationships instead where people authenticate the fact that good communication is critical to endurance. And on top of their means of clarifying when they’re okay, talking things through as best they can is where they’re at their strongest.
The beauty in this relationship lies in the fact that there’s nothing off-limits—they know, without a shadow of a doubt, that their partner is the one person who’ll never judge them even if the confession correlates to something like seeing Miller’s ghost. Whatever the pressing issue might be, when given a chance to, and when they’re ready, they’ll often tell each other the truth behind their sleepless nights. They’ll notice the darkness before a word is even spoken—they’ll reflect on it, and they’ll do everything they can to ensure that the one who’s passing through hurdles isn’t alone during it.
They might not have chosen every fight that’s in their path, but they choose how to navigate through the darkness it brings together—they decide to look deeper. They decide when to talk and when to let things go by understanding the other’s needs after every new development. And while the entirety of the series is an excellent showcase of this—the final season does the best job of nailing it shut. When nothing else makes sense, both Naomi Nagata and Jim Holden know when to approach, when to stand down, and when to divert the attention. And when to look onward.
The couple that gives each other the space to do as they please while holding onto one another for dear life is bound to be legendary. The fact that there’s never any jealousy, never any external threats, but rather a clear understanding of how loved they are is an actual scarcity on television.
Whatever is his, Naomi will love without reservations, and whatever it is hers, Jim will try to protect like his own. Naomi and Jim always saw each other for the person they could be, and they felt safe in the love they fortified. The initial animosity between Earthers and Belters seemed like it’d never end, even in the final season, but that was far from their reality. When every part of the universe wanted to pull them apart, they stood firm in the face of it all instead.
They each go through too much on their own, but knowing that they have someone to hold onto, someone to lay their heads on, and to fall asleep next to who’ll do anything to keep their demons away is a beautiful thing that was ceaselessly transcendent on The Expanse. If I hadn’t read the books and if I didn’t know the outcome, I still would never doubt them because the unwavering loyalty between them bursts more lustrously than an enormous explosion.
The love they share is so noticeable that the whole team knew they were an item before making it official. And it’s that same we love that we feel as viewers when they’re separated. When all throughout Season 3 and 4 you could feel the weight of their longing because you understood how fiercely they missed each other. You felt every ounce of their love for one another in a single crushing hug that made it clear they never wanted to let go. And with every slow, achingly burning kiss, you could feel the colossal depth of their adoration.
Naomi Nagata and Jim Holden are as perfect as the performances Dominique Tipper and Steven Strait consistently brought to the forefront of their scenes together. Whether in the same room or apart, you understood that what they share is a powerful force, nothing, and no one could crack through because in loving one another as they are, they were tirelessly learning how to become better versions of themselves. The meticulous attention and compassion that went into evolving this love story as the beacon of hope for everyone on the show is worth commending. At the same time, we must acknowledge that a romance doesn’t break a genre series’ mold with its happy ending, but instead, it provides the disclosure that human beings are always stronger when they allow themselves to care for another.