The intense and thoughtful sci-fi series hasn’t lost a step

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The fifth season of The extent doesn’t have much protomolecule action going on. In this respect it is different from season 4where the crew Rocinante found themselves thousands of light years from the solar system on a planet full of ancient alien technology.

But even if the protomolecule doesn’t directly interact with humans this season, it’s still the impetus for everything that happens in the show’s last 10 episodes (or the last nine episodes, at least; the number that’s been made available for this review without spoiler).

Since season 1, the geopolitical balance of the solar system – the dynamic between Earth, Mars and the Belt – has been upset by the protomolecule. It is not until this season, however, that the ramifications of the protomolecule, particularly the creation of the ring gate, become painfully clear. And the consequences are serious. Very severe.

As usual, we see how bad things are on the interplanetary level through the experiences of the Rocinante family. Like many families these days, the crew find themselves in different parts of the solar system, unable to reconnect for various reasons. Their separation, however, gives us an on-the-ground glimpse of what’s going on in the worlds humanity has carved out for itself. And so we see what is happening on Earth through the eyes of Amos (and also through those of Avasarala, although she is on Luna); we see what’s happening with Mars through Alex and Bobbie; and we see what’s happening with different belt factions through Naomi, Holden, and Drummer.

There are a lot of moving parts, and in less skilled hands it could be easy to get lost going back and forth between different locations and storylines. However, viewers orient themselves to each new location, not only because of the excellent storytelling, but also because of the time invested in creating each location, from the awesome shots to the look of each Martian building and the Belter ship.

And of course, viewers become invested in what happens to civilization because of what specifically happens to The extentcharacters. Like previous seasons, Season 5 also dives into the personal, especially for Naomi and Amos. We know from the trailer that Naomi’s son Filip will be in the final episodes, and it’s hardly a spoiler to say that there are a lot of painful emotions for everyone involved when It’s about a possible reunion between Naomi and the son she hasn’t seen since he was a baby.

And then there is Amos. The show suggested he had a checkered past in Baltimore, and we learn more about where he comes from this season, including how his upbringing has defined his worldview, including how he knows people will behave when there are no institutions in place to keep humanity’s basest instincts in check.

In short, season 5 of The extent is great television, and it’s great because it makes you think as much as it makes you feel. And it will make you feel a lot, maybe more than you are ready to feel given that we are in the tenth month of a global pandemic. But if you’re in the headspace to experience it – and I have a feeling most Extent fans will be – the season is rich, and the one that will leave so many marks on viewers (well, almost as much mark) as the protomolecule left on human civilization.

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The first three episodes of season 5 of The extent drop on Amazon Wednesday, December 16. The remaining seven episodes will then air weekly on Wednesday, with the season finale falling on February 3, 2021.


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