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The Expanse Wiki

"Oppressor" is the fifth episode of the fourth season of The Expanse. Overall, it is the forty-first episode. It dropped on December 13, 2019 as part of Amazon Prime streaming's full-season release strategy with season 4.


As tensions on Ilus reach a boiling point, Holden reveals a secret. Avasarala debates Nancy Gao while an emergency on the Rocinante forces Alex and Naomi into action.


Holden finds Amos[]

In a flashback on Ilus, Lucia sets explosives that she herself wired at the shuttle landing site, accompanied by the other Belter conspirators. Their goal is to damage the landing site, but the RCE shuttle arrives 10 hours early and its drive will result in the explosives destroying it. The other Belters want to leave the shuttle to its fate, but Lucia protests that this isn't what they had planned and that she doesn't want people to die, and begs the others to at least make the pad explode early so the shuttle has time to evade the damage. The others, however, don't care what happens to the Inners within the shuttle. When Lucia tries to rip the explosives off, Coop pushes her and accidentally knocks her out. She wakes up as the group are escaping in a vehicle, joking about the surprise that awaits the shuttle when it lands. In a haze, she spots the detonator in Coop's hand and, before he can react, she pushes the button on it.

Lucia wakes up startled in the Rocinante's med bay, alongside a recovering Naomi, and Alex reassures her that she is safe. She worries about her family and Murtry's threats against them, but they tell her that Holden will ensure their safety.

In First Landing, Amos is still chained to the bed in his captive quarters, and he is being annoyed by an over-talkative RCE guard. Chandra arrives and takes the guard's place but, when he's gone, she approaches Amos and the two of them start flirting aggressively, with Chandra proclaiming that Amos is "so fucking weird". They are interrupted by Holden, who is outside yelling Amos's name and trying to find him. Amos calls for Holden, much to Chandra's chagrin.

Holden walks around the settlement with a gun in hand, and finds groups of Belter families stuffed inside containers by Murtry's officers. He enters Amos's module and demands Chandra unchain him, but she demands he put down his gun. Amos asks Holden not to kill her, saying she hasn't figured out her boss is a dick yet, and tries to persuade Chandra to free him and walk away. Chandra pulls her gun out but, before it can escalate further, Murtry walks in. Holden tells him they don't have time for his vendetta with Lucia as the protomolecule artifacts are waking up all over the planet. Murtry asks Holden if he thinks they should evacuate the planet and, when Holden replies yes, he orders Chandra to free Amos. Holden and Amos don't trust Murtry and think he's violent and bloodthirsty, but Murtry feels justified that he is only responding to the Belters' dangerous behavior and points out that both the Roci crew and the Belters have been assaulting his people first. Holden promises that Murtry will be judged in court for his crimes, and Murtry replies that everyone has to answer for what they've done.

Outside, Chandra asks him if they are really leaving, and Murtry replies that they are, but only if the Belters leave first. He covertly has his people rig the Belter shuttle to explode with a proximity trigger.[1]

Chrisjen the caring matriarch[]

On Earth, Avasarala receives footage of the waking protomolecule ruins and orders for them to be kept under wraps to avoid mass panic. Her campaign manager has her do a mock interview, facing her husband Arjun, to work on her image, but she gets frustrated very quickly as she doesn't care about the minor political and administrational issues while chaos unleashes on Ilus. Her manager wants her to look more approachable, like a caring family matriarch, which enrages Avasarala and prompts her to send everyone away. Arjun reasons with her that the manager is trying to help, as this is Avasarala's first election and she needs people to like her.[2]

Ilus and New Terra plot for the next round[]

On Ilus, Jakob asks Holden where his family is. Holden replies that Lucia is safe in the Rocinante, but doesn't know where Felcia is. Holden walks into the saloon where the Belters are congregated, and tries to persuade Carol Chiwewe to evacuate, but she points out that if the Belters leave Ilus, Murtry will never let them return.

Dr. Sarkis sends a science report to Dr. Okoye, informing her that the islands where the lightning ended up are starting to generate massive amounts of heat, which perplexes them both as there is no volcanic activity on the planet. Okoye ponders that it is strange for a machine that lasted billions of years to be destroyed by a human torpedo. An officer walks in and tells Okoye that Murtry wants to see her, and Okoye notices a strange infection on the guard's eye, who waves it off as just something that itches. Murtry walks in and asks Okoye to tell him everything she knows about the protomolecule ruins.[3]

Breaking family bonds[]

On the Rocinante, Naomi is enjoying floating freely in space when she gets a call from Dr. Sarkis asking her to share surface data from Ilus with him. Naomi is at first reluctant, saying that Sarkis's boss Murtry was trying to kill her some hours ago, but Sarkis replies that Murtry is not his boss, and that he is "kind of an ass". Naomi is convinced and sits down to help him. Meanwhile, Alex picks up a call from Jakob, who is furious and demands to talk to Lucia. He yells at her, asking if she knows where her daughter is, and is very displeased when he learns that Lucia was part of blowing up the shuttle landing pad. She retorts that her choices were not easy, but someone had to fight to protect them, but Jakob tells her that the RCE is rounding them up to leave, their new beginning has been stained by death and violence, their daughter is missing and their family is fractured. Lucia begs him to fight back and not let them lose the settlement after all she's done to protect their claim, but Jakob replies that all her horrible actions have accomplished is to ruin the last thing they had left. He hangs up and she starts to cry, before realizing that she is bleeding heavily.[4]

Ilus broadcasts their situation[]

On Ilus, a couple of RCE guards patrol through the Belters' quarters with their guns on display. The Belters assault them and take their weapons.

Holden enters Dr. Okoye's quarters to pick some equipment up, and she tells him she wants to talk. He notices that she is angry, and asks if she's mad at him, but she just leads him over to her computer screen. She confronts him with her observations of how, every time something happens on Ilus that is protomolecule-related, he is always involved somehow but always deflects her questions. He tells her it's complicated, which Okoye notes proves her point, and demands he stop withholding information from her. He relents but, before he is able to explain, they hear shots being fired outside, and Holden throws Dr. Okoye to the ground to protect her from a barrage of bullets that puncture the walls of the compartment.

The Belters hold the two RCE guards hostage, and the RCE security, led by Chandra, demand they free them, resulting in another tense stand off with everyone pointing guns at each other. The Belters fire shots into the ground to warn the RCE to refrain from advancing, but this results in an all out standoff with everyone firing shots. Holden arrives next to Chandra and Amos and asks what happened, and Chandra shows him a declaration from Carol Chiwewe in which she says that RCE has forced them into lockdown with armed soldiers, executed them without trial and now is trying to force them to evacuate. She assures that anyone who wants to leave can go in peace, but that they refuse to be pushed out of their homes again. Murtry arrives, and Holden points out that he looks pleased with the way things happened. He tells Holden that he intends to gas every Belter in the camp, kill anyone who has a weapon and force the rest to leave, regardless of what Holden thinks.

Avasarala holds her first public debate against Nancy Gao in Copenhagen. The first question regards how they will deal with protecting Earth from the possible dangers of the new world, and avoid causing another Eros Incident. Gao believes in a forward-thinking and progressive approach, stating she wants to embrace the possibilities offered by the new worlds and stating that the real danger of Eros was that humanity reacted to it out of fear. Avasarala retorts that the real danger was that it almost wiped the entire Earth, and points out that it was her who prevented the first Eros incident and brought Mao and Errinwright to justice.[5]

Let Belters decide for Belters[]

Holden has a call with Naomi, telling her he disapproves of the Belters' strategy and that he needs to do something to get them to safely evacuate, even if it means allying with Murtry, but Naomi retorts that no one has the right to force them to leave. Holden feels responsible, stating that if they die, it will be his fault, but Naomi points out that Holden isn't the sole catalyst of history: The Belters came here because the Martians destroyed Ganymede, The protomolecule was unleashed because of Jules-Pierre Mao, Avasarala is to blame for sending them to Ilus and some long-dead aliens are also at fault for building the protomolecule in the first place. Ultimately, it would also be the Belters' fault for coming to Ilus and staying despite Holden's warnings. She convinces him to just tell them the full truth and let them make their own decisions.

Alex finds Lucia unconscious from blood loss. He and Naomi rush to save her, but they don't know what to do as Lucia is the medical technician. Lucia begs them not to help her and refuses to tell them how to help, but Alex gets her to cooperate by mentioning her daughter, and Lucia instructs them on how to stabilize her. Alex comforts a sobbing Lucia, and Naomi tells him to stay with her while she cleans up. Lucia laments that she can't even die right, leaving Alex deeply concerned.[6]

Holden being Holden[]

Amos and Chandra talk about the Belters' tactical positioning advantage. Chandra says she enjoys being on the same side with him for once, but Amos replies that he's not on their side, he just doesn't want to see her get killed over Murtry's conflict. They watch as Holden approaches Carol Chiwewe and tells her he wants to talk.

In the debate, the next question regards job opportunities for people on basic assistance who cannot get into the apprenticeship program. Avasarala uses it as an opportunity to attack Gao's cheating to get her first job, citing a culture of corruption and nepotism and saying that Gao used her connections to steal someone else's job. This backfires when Gao points out that Avasarala is a member of an aristocratic political dynasty, and that this election is the first time she has ever had to interview for a job. Gao admits she jumped the line, but uses Avasarala's accusation to reveal that she gave jobs to the people whose position in the lottery was given to her and helped them rise up. She points out that the lottery system relies on lack of work in an overpopulated Earth but, with the new worlds, it would be possible to offer countless new jobs to Earthers of all walks of life. The debate is interrupted by a security alert, and Avasarala is dragged out of the room by her security guards, much to her displeasure.

Flying away from Earth on the UN One, Avasarala is informed by Lipson and Franck that a ship is on a collision course with their asteroid spotters, but they can't destroy it because it reported a computer system failure and is full of people, including children. If they wait too long to destroy it, however, the debris could compromise the Earth's defenses. Another report pops up, saying that the ship in question has the same drive signature as the Sojourner, which was supposedly destroyed by Marco Inaros. Avasarala orders for the ship to be destroyed.

The event gives a foothold to Nancy Gao, who gives an interview on television, citing that, if Avasarala hadn't barricaded the Sol Gate, stranding all the unarmed colony ships in space, they wouldn't have been easy bait for pirates and none of this would have happened. Arjun tries to comfort Avasarala with a drink, but she is not in the mood. She understands the timing of this attack after the debate will probably cost her heavily.[7]

A path where you are where I am[]

Naomi visits Lucia in the med bay and starts to clean the blood off her face. Lucia says she didn't deserve to be saved, and Naomi smiles, pointing out that moments ago she was lecturing Holden about letting people make their own choices, yet now she won't let Lucia choose to die. She tells Lucia that she has been in shoes before: She was young, met a boy with a crazy plan and wrote a code that could hack into reactor controls, with the idea that they could turn off the reactors, let them get adrift and rescue them for a price. It would get them money, and it wouldn't look like piracy, because the ships would be grateful for being saved. Her smile fades as she says that was the story the man told her, but it wasn't the truth. The first ship they used the code on was the Augustin Gamarra. The man she loved, and father of her child, used her code to blow up the ship, killing 516 people. Lucia says it's not the same, as Naomi was tricked, while she chose to do what she did. Naomi replies that she chose not to see what kind of man her lover was until it was too late, and when she left him, he took her son away from her. Naomi confesses she almost killed herself, and Lucia doesn't understand why she's telling her this story. Naomi replies that she built a new family and, unexpected though it is, she loves her family and they love her back, and she has a life that she likes living. Lucia laments that she hasn't had that in years, and Naomi tells her she can't stop her if what Lucia wants is to die, but that if she wants to live, there is a path from where Lucia is now to where Naomi is. She and Alex bought Lucia a little more time. Now she gets to decide what to do with it.[8]

It is not conscious but parts of it are[]

Holden stands between the furious crowds of Belters and RCE personnel. He gets them to stop attacking each other, and confesses that he hasn't told them the full truth. Dr. Okoye listens intently as Holden explains how he can see The Investigator, and how he has been trying to contact the protomolecule's builders to no avail. Okoye is incredulous at Holden's claims of visions and alien contact and, though Amos backs him up, Holden is unable to convince anyone. Chiwewe explains that, regardless of what happens, the Belters have no other place to go to. Ilus is their only hope, and they can't give it up. Okoye asks if Holden leaving would deactivate all the ruins, but Holden declines. When Murtry insults the Belters, the arguing starts once again and Holden tries to stop it, to no avail.

Alex is in the command deck of the Rocinante, trying to wipe off some blood off his hand. He is startled by an intense energy reading on the surface of Ilus, and when he approaches the screen, he is shocked: One of the islands has exploded, sending a large shockwave across the entire planet.[9]



Guest Starring[]




  • In the episode, Murtry laments that everyone thinks he is a bad guy, saying "Maybe I've just got that kind of face" . This is an allusion to actor Burn Gorman often getting typecast in villainous roles.
  • In the chapter/scene titles, as viewed in the X-Ray feature as of 2021-Feb, uses the term "belter" uncapitalized which does not follow traditional North American English writing standards for names of proper groups.


  1. Season 4, Episode 5: "Oppressor" ("Holden finds Amos" [00:01:13])
  2. Season 4, Episode 5: "Oppressor" ("Chrisjen the caring matriarch" [00:07:50])
  3. Season 4, Episode 5: "Oppressor" ("Ilus and New Terra plot for the next round" [00:09:30])
  4. Season 4, Episode 5: "Oppressor" ("Breaking family bonds" [00:12:03])
  5. Season 4, Episode 5: "Oppressor" ("Ilus broadcasts their situation" [00:16:51])
  6. Season 4, Episode 5: "Oppressor" ("Let Belters decide for Belters" [00:21:31])
  7. Season 4, Episode 5: "Oppressor" ("Holden being Holden" [00:28:40])
  8. Season 4, Episode 5: "Oppressor" ("A path where you are where I am" [00:35:18])
  9. Season 4, Episode 5: "Oppressor" ("It is not conscious but parts of it are" [00:39:34])

External links[]