The Expanse season 5, episode 8 recap – Naomi is still in a lot of trouble

January 20, 2021
Daniel Hart 3
Amazon Prime, Weekly TV


“Hard Vacuum” increases anxiety, sending the audience into a spin as Naomi is not yet out of danger. Season 5 is truly solidifying itself as a great installment as we approach the last three chapters.

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“Hard Vacuum” increases anxiety, sending the audience into a spin as Naomi is not yet out of danger. Season 5 is truly solidifying itself as a great installment as we approach the last three chapters.

This recap of Amazon’s The Expanse season 5, episode 8, “Hard Vacuum” contains significant spoilers.

The opening

Well, if you felt that the last episode was stressful, then “Hard Vacuum” gives you another dose of anxiety, mostly involving Naomi’s situation on her ship. But before we get into that, Episode 8 returns to Amos and Clarissa who are slowly making it through murky lands on electric bikes. The meds are flushing out of Clarissa, and she feels way better; she can finally focus. The pair are making decent progress. Clarissa finds a group of body bags with deceased older people. Amos believes they have reached a care home. Clarissa believes Amos needs to get out of here as it’s a different world now. The slow realization that Earth will never be the same again is sinking in as each chapter passes.

Another tragedy but Naomi’s risk pays off, kind of

Cyn is dead, and Marco is upset. Marco assumes that Naomi is dead and asks Filip how she came to her demise — it’s almost like he’s hoping Naomi is dead rather than knowing so. Filip believes his mother wanted to die. Marco then flips out as per and accuses Filip of killing Cyn and asks him to leave. Meanwhile, after taking a calculated and dangerous risk, Naomi wakes up on her ship. The shock of the situation makes her throw up, and then she sobs. It’s a desperate ordeal, finely acted by Dominique Tipper. It’s getting more desperate for Naomi who learns the ship systems are badly damaged — it’s also rigged and essentially a floating bomb. Naomi is out of the frying pan and into the fire in “Hard Vacuum”, and this is where the anxiety-inducing experience begins.

No sign of the protomolecule

Holden, Bull, and Monica monitor the Zmeya and cannot see any evidence of the protomolecule. Holden plots a course to get to the Razorback, but Bull is concerned that Holden is planning a suicide mission to save Naomi. Technically, he’s unintentionally right.

Pastor takes the mantle

David Pastor gives a speech on the Lunar; he talks about the great tragedy and how he takes office with a heavy heart. He refers to Avasarala and Admiral Delgado and states how they were the reasons they saved lives and that he will have them by his side. David then moves to Marco Inaros and how it will be the biggest manhunt of all time. This is a rousing speech and politicians are impressed with his words. It’s fascinating how the series separates the politics; it represents how wooden it still is, and how speeches are more important than the act itself for these people.

Amos meets Eric again in sh*thole Baltimore

Amos and Clarissa return to Baltimore. Eric is not pleased that Amos has returned and claims he cannot help him, but Amos and Clarissa state they are here to help him. Clarissa talks about wealthy enclaves, and Amos asks him if he can help them get there because Baltimore is turning into a sh*thole. Clarissa tells Eric that starting over is not a bad idea. Eric appears to be on board.

Alliances hold a meeting, but there are early disagreements

Back to the Lunar and politicians do what they do best — disagree. Pastor and others hold a meeting about Marco Inaros and his possible whereabouts. He believes that Inaros might make destroying the rings his next objective. Pastor wants to apply pressure — Admiral Delgado suggests cutting Marco off at the knees and attacking a Belter station, but there’s a concern there will be innocent people on there. Avasarala is worried that killing innocent people will radicalize Belters to Marco’s cause. The usual terrorism conundrum; by attacking terrorist locations, you produce more terrorism — The Expanse is giving the present-day vicious circle.

Naomi’s ship is essentially a bomb

Naomi continues navigating her ship and struggles to come to terms with getting out of her crippling situation. Her breathing is panicky as she keeps looking for solutions. Using all her strength, she manages to lift a vent, and the pain is apparent in her voice. There’s an automated distress signal that sounds like her that is luring the Roci to her station. She’s essentially a deadly lure. She manages to fix a radio, and she sends out a message stating that the distress signal is fake and that her ship is essentially a bomb with a proximity detonator. Naomi confirms that she is locked out of the ship’s comms so she can receive messages. She begs for everyone not to approach this ship. The only problem is, she has no idea what radio channel she is on, and she has no certainty that her message is working.

And then it goes from bad to worse. Bobbie and Alex receive the automated distress signal (the fake one) and alert Holden of Naomi’s whereabouts.

Naomi thinks on her feet

The Expanse season 5, episode 8 puts Naomi in a compounding situation that escalates — it’s the kind of situation where you have to think on your feet repeatedly and it feels like a nightmare. Alex sends a message to Naomi and tells her they are on their way. She’s in a severe life and death situation but not just for her, but anyone who gets close to the ship. With one last idea left; Naomi keeps repeating the fake automated message to herself at the same time as the distress signal and enters the frays of the ship where oxygen is lacking; she’s looking for the signal wiring, which means checking out every box — every time she runs out of oxygen, she has to run back to safety and get her breath back. She tries again and again while repeating the automated message and timing herself.

Suddenly, Drummer and her crew receive the same automated message; Drummer wants to help her but Karal strongly suggests that Naomi is dead and calls her a traitor to the Belt.

The ending

And here we go folks; like at the end of episode 7, our dear character Naomi has our heart racing again. Naomi continues to enter the ship’s frays, repeating the automated message to herself while finding the right wire to toil with. Eventually, she finds the right wire and continues to fiddle with it as she repeats herself the message; it’s a strikingly emotional and desperate moment.

Karel tells Oksana that she knew Naomi once and she stopped believing what they were fighting for. She feels Naomi truly only cares about herself, which is oddly ironic as Naomi is currently grafting her life away to stop people from dying. Karal then receives the automated distress signal from Naomi but this time it is muddled: “This is Naomi Nagata — tell James Holden I’m in — control”.

To explain what Naomi has done; she’s purposefully fiddled with the transmission wire to cause disruptions to the automated message, which is why she kept timing and repeating the message to herself while going to each wiring box on the frays of the ship. By breaking up the message, she’s trying to hint that she does not need anyone to come to her ship — “This is Naomi Nagata, tell James Holden, I’m in control”. Let’s hope it works!

The Expanse season 5, episode 8 increases anxiety, sending the audience into a spin as Naomi is not yet out of danger. Season 5 is truly solidifying itself as a great installment as we approach the last three chapters.

Additional points
  • Drummer is still coming to terms with making allegiance with Marco. Oksana tries to get through to her but she’s struggling to.
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3 thoughts on “The Expanse season 5, episode 8 recap – Naomi is still in a lot of trouble

  • January 20, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    Hi, just wanted to say thanks for explaining what the purpose of Naomi repeating the message to herself was. I didn’t quite piece that one together on my first viewing.

    • January 20, 2021 at 6:57 pm

      No worries at all. It took me a while to understand what she was doing!

  • January 21, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    I know I’m late to the game, but I’m bingeing the whole series again before the last six. I noticed where Naomi sees on the explosive gizmo a warning not to tamper with it once armed. Obviously that was meant for us to know why she couldn’t disarm the bombs. But wouldn’t that also mean she always has the last resort option of yanking a wire and blowing herself up were the Roci to not get her tricked out message in time? It’s certainly in character that she would choose to do that.

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