The final episode of Season five of The Expanse dropped this week, and surprisingly, so did one of it’s main characters.
If you’re not caught up on the latest season of the hit Amazon Prime show, abandon this post here. If you’re suited up and ready for hard vaccuum, scroll ahead.
**MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW**
In “Nemesis Games,” the tenth and final episode of Season five, pilot Alex Kamal and Gunnery Sargeant Bobbie Draper rush to rescue Naomi Nagata from a trap meant to lure the Rocinante and her crew to certain doom. Instead, with air and health running low, Naomi flings herself from her hold ship, the Chetzemoka, and tumbles into space. Kamal and Draper complete a hard burn maneuver in the Razorback in an attempt to rescue Naomi. While the operation is successful, not all crew members survive.
As Bobbie rescues Naomi from hard vaccuum, Alex can be heard communicating via radio. By the time the grab is made and the two women are heading back towards the Razorback, Kamal has fallen silent – a shot of the interior of the ship shows Kamal, seated in his pilot’s chair, with blood floating near his face. We learn just a few moments later that Kamal had suffered a stroke, which had been teased previously in the episode as a possible consequence of hard burn.
Fans of The Expanse were shocked.
@Casanvar So angry at @TheExpanseWR and sad right now. Thanks for 5 great seasons. RIP Alex Kamal.😢😢
— RouviM (@McRouvi) February 4, 2021
I think Alex Kamal should have gone in other circumstances. He was an experienced pilot, not a newbie, and dying because a stroke after fast deceleration?. Ate least this character deserved a more dramatic death. @ExpanseOnPrime
— MetalMoney (@nelsonpm) February 4, 2021
When asked about the shocking death scene, The Expanse showrunner Naren Shankar spoke to ComicBook.com and offered these details:
“We started talking about it very early in season five, actually, because as we were developing the story, what we realized is that we’re telling a story about war and people who do very violent things and a group of people that we care about struggling to reconnect with each other and help each other and find each other in the midst of this tremendous cataclysm all around them. And it started to dawn on us that we were telling a story about all of those things with no consequences. And it felt like we were running into that same old issue in science-fiction — not only, but often — this idea that certain characters have ‘plot armor,’ that danger to them isn’t real, that consequences don’t occur, that they don’t really experience loss. And so we started talking about losing a major character on the show.”
While this narrative about killing off Alex Kamal works in a vaccuum (pun inteneded), anyone that followed the production of Season five of The Expanse knows that there’s likely more to the story.
In June of 2020 actor Cas Anvar, who portrays Alex Kamal, was credibly accused of sexual misconduct. Numerous women came forward and shared images of Anvar sliding into their DM’s…unasked for…on Twitter, and the accusations were quickly compiled into a now-infamous Reddit thread. To their credit, actors, the writers of the books upon which The Expanse is based, and even Naren Shankar himself voiced support for the victims and vowed to get to the bottom of the situation. Shortly therafter, production company Alcon Entertainment set in motion an internal investigation into the allegations.
In November 2020, shortly before the debut of Season five, it was confirmed that Anvar would not be returning to the show. With Season five having wrapped production before the allegations surfaced, fans were left wondering about Alex Kamal fate. Would he be killed off? Would he simply leave the Rocinante crew and go back to Mars to be with his family? Or would he exit stage left and not be heard from again?
After the Season five finale, however, we’ve got our answer.
A Cop Out?
While “Nemesis Games” put a nice bow on the story of Alex Kamal, rumors have suggested that quite a bit of work was required to get the ending we saw. It has been suggested that Anvar’s character was digitally removed from scenes in the final episode, including the dinner party on Luna. Others claim that additional shooting and ADR was required from some of the other actors to include mention of Kamal’s stroke. Some have said the reason the episodes were released in a serial format was so that this extra post-production could be completed in time. Whatever the truth is, Shankar doesn’t mention it in his comments. Instead, he glosses over it without mentioning the gritty details that ultimately got Cas Anvar fired. Instead of a final rebuke against Anvar’s actions, Shankar chalks it up to storytelling.
“And so they are tough decisions to make, but what it does is, at the end of the day it’s a creative choice to really give context to what the characters are going through. And the loss of this character is so important, with the show at five seasons, in this way, saving the life of somebody else is something that hangs over the show going forward. And this is something that, dealing with that loss, dealing with how to continue and fight through it, that’s part and parcel where you find our people in season six. So it’s a tough thing to do. It’s always a tough thing to do, but there’s an honesty to it.”
An honesty to it, huh?
Ironic. Any honest explanation of the situation must mention Cas Anvar’s indescretions – any version of this story that leaves that element out is incomplete at best, and deceptive at worst. Alex Kamal wasn’t even featured on most Season five promo materials. Instead, the full story about why Cas Anvar was spaced for Season six will remain last year’s messy news.
Check out the full interview with Naren Shankar over at ComicBook.com.
What do you think of Naren Shankar’s comments? Let us know below, or find us on Twitter at @LRM_Exclusive and Instagram at @LRMExclusive.