The Expanse Finale Ends With An Epic Battle In 'Babylon's Ashes'

We're finally here. This is the last episode of "The Expanse." While a lot of the big character moments and arguably some of the best scenes of the series came in last week's episode, the series finale, "Babylon's Ashes," ties up most (but not all!) of the major threads of the season.

Read on for a breakdown of what happened and where the show's creative team have left us when those end credits came up for the last time.

Warning! Spoilers before for the series finale of "The Expanse," "Babylon's Ashes."

Meanwhile, on Laconia...

Like the five episodes before it, we get one more vignette on the ring plant of Laconia. That protomolecule relic in the sky is bluer than ever, and we get an image of Duarte (Dylan Taylor) looking ambitiously up at it before looking in on Cara and Xan (Emma and Ian Ho). After some "Pet Sematary" vibes where their parents aren't excited to see a protomoleculed Xan, the two children disappear into the woods. "If I die, the dogs will fix me," Cara says as we pan once again to the protomoleule relic in the sky and head back to our solar system.

This is where the story of Laconia ends, and it's also where the novella "Strange Dogs" ends. Those who've read the rest of book series, however, know Cara and Xan's story doesn't end at this moment. But for now, we're leaving them here, an ending that's the beginning of something else.

The War Is Coming to a Head

The penultimate "Expanse" episode saw the unlikely alliance between the Inners led by Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and the Belter faction led by Drummer (Cara Gee). The alliance is hammering out a plan of attack against Marco (Keon Alexander) and the Free Navy, with the Rocinante going on its own mission to try to take out the rail guns on the ring station. While the UNN-MCRN-Drummer side is grimly getting ready for battle, Marco is almost giddy to get into the fight once again.

Before the battle begins however, there's a calm before the storm — a series of scenes on the Rocinante between different characters reflects this. There's a moment between Bobbie (Frankie Adams) and Holden (Steven Strait), where they pay remembrance to Alex, and then another touching scene with Naomi (Dominique Tipper) and Amos (Wes Chatham) where they reflect on their relationship as well. We also see Clarissa (Nadine Nicole) try to find her place in the Roci family, and while she isn't there yet, as we see her cook everyone a meal they all sit down for. "She wants to wash the blood off her hands," Naomi says as her and Holden (AKA mama and papa bear of the Rocinante) look over everyone else. Naomi is finally ready to give her that chance, recognizing that's all she wanted for her son, Filip (Jasai Chase Owens). It's a touching moment, and a scene that gives the audience a chance to pause and spend some time with the Roci crew before we're thrown back into the fight.

The Battle Outside The Ring

A large portion of this episode is the battle between the Free Navy and the rest of the solar system. It happens on two main fronts: the major fleets going after each other and the Rocinante's stealth mission to capture the rail guns.

I'm going to get into the specifics of the battle, because I do that in great detail in this post here. I will, however, highlight a few moments. We get another phenomenal scene with Drummer as she aims to take a collision course to the Pella after her ship is severely damaged. Gee gives an amazing performance here showing Drummer's determination and also her emptiness — Marco has taken everything from her, and she's willing to give up everything to stop him.

We also have a meaningful moment between Marco and Filip on the Pella after Walker (Stuart Hughes) beats Drummer on that collision course and hits the Free Navy ship so badly that many die, including Rosenfeld (Kathleen Robertson). After Filip watches Rosenfeld die, he goes to his father and asks him how he deals with it all. "After all this time you still don't see what you've been given," Marca says to his son. "I do now," Filip says. What he sees, however, isn't what Marco expects, something that we see on his hesitant face after Marco gives a Shakespearian speech when the surviving Free Navy is heading to the ring unhindered with only the Rocinante to stop them.

The Battle In The Ring

The Rocinante's secret mission involves a freighter called the Batista and a whole bunch of containers, some of which include fighters looking to take over the rail guns on the ring station.

The plan is an ingenious one — there's too many containers for the rail guns to shoot down — and some of the soldiers, including Bobbie and Amos, make it down to the surface.

I'm again not going to get into the details of the fight here, because I outline this in another post, but the show captures the harsh reality of war well. When Bobbie and Amos first land on the ring station, for example, there's no music to start with — just the grim exchange of gunfire and the brutal randomness of death. Bobbie ultimately destroys the rail guns, which saves them from immediate death. Now, however, there's nothing between them and the rest of the Free Navy burning toward the ring.

And Just Like That ... It's Over

Back in the ring, Roci crew is battered. They start trying to prepare for a final battle with the Free Navy they know they'll lose when Naomi has an idea to save them all. Remember those red ring entities gobbling up those who pass through the ring? Naomi thinks she can wake them up right when Marcos and the Free Navy pass through if they blow up the Batista at just the right time. It works, and just like that — Marco and the Free Navy threat is gone.

The moment is almost an anticlimactic one, and also a heartbreaking one, as Naomi thinks she's killing her son as she blows up the Batista. We see her screaming into Holden's shoulder after the fact, and it's heart-wrenching. I'm glad the audience knows that Filip ultimately got away, leaving on a shuttle before his father before going through the ring and taking Naomi's surname. I just wished Naomi knew that or comes to know it someday.

In the denouement, the winning side — Earth, Mars and Drummer's Belter faction — are now arguing over who should control access to the ring gates. Holden — someone who all sides equally trusts and equally dislikes — ultimately gets appointed to be President of the Transport Union. His first act, however, is to resign and give power to Drummer.

And so we end the episode and the series back on the Rocinante, with Bobbie and Clarissa both on board and part of the new Roci family. The last scene is of Holden and Naomi together in their bedroom. Holden starts fretting about all the things still left undone — the ring entities, the missing protomolecule, all those new ring planets — and Naomi shushes him and says, "Let's just stay here, for a minute."

And so we leave them there, the two holding hands as the Rocinante travels through space. "The Expanse" television series is over, and fans will miss watching these complex characters in this even more complex universe. It's a satisfying ending, but a bittersweet one. And we can only hope we'll see the Roci crew once again on screen. 

Other Thoughts

  • A quick screen shot of when Clarissa finds out that she's dying says that high salt intake is a symptom — that's why Clarissa was pouring so much salt on her food earlier this season!
  • There are so, so many opportunities for more stories in this world and the show has just left them dangling there. As I said in my non-spoiler review, however, that's how life is — no definitive endings and no definitive beginnings. I'm just grateful we got six seasons of this show and there's still hope we'll see more "Expanse" in the future.