The Expanse Season 4's slow burn built up to a massive payoff. The Roci crew ventured to Ilus, a colony planet just beyond the Ring Gate, to prevent the spread of the insidious Protomolecule. Holden caught up with his old pal Joe Miller, Naomi experienced planetary gravity for the first time, and Amos made a new ladyfriend. Back in the Sol system, we saw our first indications of a dramatic power shift away from Earth and Mars, in favor of the long-downtrodden Belters.
Thanks to a New York Comic Con panel celebrating the series on October 8, we finally know what to expect from the upcoming episodes, and when we can expect to watch them. (Good news — it's soon!)
Here's everything we know about The Expanse Season 5.
When is the release date for The Expanse Season 5?
The first three episodes of Season 5 will premiere December 16, with new episodes available each Wednesday following, culminating in the season finale on February 3, 2021. The entire arc will consist of 10 episodes, as has been the case for every previous Expanse season.
Filming for Season 5 wrapped way back in February 2020. Shohreh Aghdashloo, who plays Chrisjen Avasarala, confirmed in late April that the cast had finished filming before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down film and television production worldwide.
The ninth book in the series upon which the show is based, Leviathan Falls, is due out in 2021. That means it's shaping up to be a pretty great few months for Expanse fans.
Is there a trailer for The Expanse Season 5?
There sure is! The showrunners revealed a new trailer for Season 5 of the Amazon sci-fi hit at a panel during the all-online New York Comic Con on October 8. You can check it out below:
The trailer gestures toward the full, terrifying scope of Marco Inaros' plans to shift the balance of power in the Sol System in favor of the long-oppressed Belters. We first see Holden chilling out on an awesome-looking space station, but he's finding it tough to relax and enjoy a little shore leave while the Protomolecule's still romping around the galaxy unchecked.
Elsewhere, Amos wants to head back to his old stomping grounds of Baltimore, despite Avasarala's misgivings. A weary but determined drummer assumes command of Ashford's ship as Bobbie and Alex work to uncover some shady doings within the highest ranks of Mars' rapidly floundering power structure.
How can I watch the NYCC Expanse panel?
Hosted by series star Dominique Tipper, the October 8 panel can be viewed on the NYCC YouTube channel, which we've embedded below. There's some delightful banter between Tipper and the showrunners, as well as six members of the cast.
"The family of the Roci crew is really kind of settled in, and we get to see Holden and Naomi in a more domestic situation than we ever had previously," said Steven Strait, who plays Holden. "It's the first time we see him doing okay at the beginning. So you know for sure the rug is coming right out from his feet when that happens!"
What do we know about the plot of The Expanse Season 5?
Book readers will already have a pretty clear idea what to expect from the next installment of the story, but it seems as though we'll be learning more about the shadowy pasts of certain members of the Rocinante crew, namely Amos and Naomi. The Sol system faces a terrifying new threat at the hands of Marco Inaros and his newly-minted Free Navy. At the same time, it seems as though our dynamic foursome will largely be split up for a good chunk of time.
At the NYCC panel, showrunner Naren Shankar called it "the most epic and the most personal season we have ever done, simultaneously."
"I call this our Infinity War," said Tipper of the stakes of the upcoming episode, making a comparison to the dramatic Avengers team-up movie that was the culmination of more than a decade of Marvel movie storytelling.
Here's an official synopsis for the upcoming season, courtesy of Amazon:
Season 5 of the series picks up as multitudes of humans leave the solar system in search of new homes and vast fortunes on the earth-like worlds beyond the alien Ring, and a heavy price for centuries of exploitation of the Belt finally comes due and a reckoning is at hand. For the crew of the Rocinante and the leaders of the Inner Planets and the Belt, the past and present converge, bringing forth personal challenges that have wide-reaching repercussions throughout the Solar System.
Amos (Wes Chatham) returns to Earth to confront his past and the legacy of the life he fought to leave behind. Naomi (Dominique Tipper) reaches out to her estranged son in a desperate bid to save him from his father’s toxic influence. Bobbie (Frankie Adams) and Alex (Cas Anvar) confront the collapse of Mars as they chase a shadowy cabal with ties to terrorists and criminals. Holden (Steven Strait) wrestles with the consequences of his own past with the Protomolecule, the aliens who built it, and the mystery of what killed them. Drummer (Cara Gee), with a new crew, fights to escape who and what she used to be. And Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), refusing to be relegated to the sidelines, fights to prevent a terrorist attack unrivaled in history.
Who's in the cast of The Expanse Season 5?
Most of your favorites will return for the next season, with the notable exception of David Strathairn, who played Klaes Ashford. The character met his untimely end in the Season 4 finale, but he had one hell of a good sendoff.
While Avasarala lost the Secretary-General race to Nancy Gao, we wouldn't rule out seeing foul-mouthed fan-favorite Shohreh Aghdashloo in Season 5. Last we heard from her in the Season 4 finale, she's headed to Luna with Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams) to work on a secret project to help protect Earth from the impending threat from the belt. Judging from the new info out of New York Comic Con, Avasarala will continue to be a major player in the upcoming season.
Keon Alexander, Jasai Chase Owens and Nadine Nicole have been bumped up to series regulars for Season 5. They play Marco Inaros, Filip Inaros, and Claire Mao respectively. The Inaros men play major roles in the fifth novel from James S.A. Corey, so expect to see a lot more of both of them.
Back in late June, numerous women accused series star Cas Anvar, who plays Rocinante pilot Alex Kamal, of sexual misconduct. Alcon Entertainment, the studio which produces The Expanse, is conducting an independent investigation of the charges. As of late July, it is not clear whether this will affect Anvar's role on the show going forward, or the release of Season 5.
Which of the Expanse books is Season 5 based on?
The Expanse Season 4 finale already dipped a toe into Nemesis Games, ending with the cliffhanger of Marco Inaros' stunning attack on Earth. Season 5 will pick up where that left off, tracing Naomi's attempt to halt her former lover's rise to power.
If you want spoilers about Nemesis Games, you can find them pretty easily online. We won't ruin it for you here if you haven't read them. Suffice to say, though, that book five is widely regarded as a bit of a game-changer for The Expanse. Back in 2015, io9 called it the "James S.A. Corey's Empire Strikes Back." So expect some big drama and stunning reveals.
Will there be a Season 6 of The Expanse?
Amazon has not yet renewed the show beyond Season 5, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. The show's cast and writers certainly seem eager to make it happen. Wes Chatham, who plays Roci engineer Amos Burton, told Inverse they've already talked about completing the serious through a ninth season.
"We always thought, wouldn't it be amazing, wouldn’t it be great if we can really stick the landing and deliver a story that we would love to see. That's definitely something we sit around and talk about," Chatham told Inverse in a May 2020 interview. "My hope is that before we get to 2030, we have completely told the whole Expanse story that includes all the novels through nine. I would love to be able to complete the full story and tell The Expanse at its highest expression."
All four seasons of The Expanse are streaming on Amazon.