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The Expanse Wiki

"Tribes" is the sixth episode of the fifth season of The Expanse.[1] Overall it is the fifty-second episode and released to streaming on January 6, 2021.


Holden and the Roci go on the hunt. Amos and Clarissa seek shelter on a devastated Earth. Bobbie and Alex fight a desperate battle. Marco makes Drummer an offer she can't refuse. Avasarala returns to a position of power.


The face of the new UN Secretary-General[]

On Luna, Avasarala is sitting in her office and watching news coverage of New York City, which has been flooded as a result of the asteroid strikes. She is visibly tearful and shaking, and picks up her terminal to send a message to Arjun, but she is interrupted by the arrival of David Paster, Nancy Gao's Secretary of Transportation. He explains that he is the acting Secretary General after Gao's presumed death, and sits down with Avasarala, recounting his memories of watching from the air as buildings collapsed and entire areas of New York were submerged. Avasarala gravely replies that she has seen the images, and Paster remembers that her family lives in New York. She tells him that her daughter and grandchildren survived and are on their way back to Luna but, when Paster asks about her husband, she lowers her gaze. Paster offers to help find him in any way he can. When his escort informs him that he is needed elsewhere, Paster confesses to Avasarala that he is out of his depth, as his career until now has been designing package delivery systems and the only reason he became Secretary of Transportation was because he believed he could do better than his predecessor. He says that they managed to beat back the attack only thanks to Avasarala, and asks her to join his provisional cabinet. She accepts and they shake hands. When he is gone, Avasarala collects herself, wiping her tears and putting her jewelry back on despite her shaking hands, and firmly walks out of her office.[2]

The road trip begins[]

On Earth, Amos and Clarissa are walking through the snowy forests, dirty and covered in ragged UN flags as their only protection from the cold, when they arrive at a UN provisions camp. Clarissa is coughing and weak, but she is reluctant to go to the camp because it is guarded by police, who would arrest her. Amos notes that there is no prison to go back to, so they would probably just kill her on the spot. They decide to covertly walk through the forest and head towards Baltimore, where Amos has contacts.[3]

The Roci gets ready to depart[]

Holden, Bull, Leveau and a crew of Belters are preparing the Rocinante to leave Tycho when Monica arrives. Despite the men's protests, she points out that they wouldn't have the Zmeya's flight plan to follow without her, that they can't know if Marco Inaros will send agents after her again, and that she has been in situations of similar danger before. They relent and, after the Roci departs Tycho, Holden tells her that she will need to be in her vac suit soon just before he enters the ship's security control and grants Monica guest level access to the ship's systems and amenities. On the screen, he sees a notification for a message that Naomi sent to him before she was abducted.[4]

Two man MCRN vet space op[]

The Screaming Firehawk is floating idly in space, when it is approached by the Belter skiff that was trading warships with the Martians. The skiff's crew connect a docking tube to the Firehawk and try to board, only for Bobbie to appear donning her power armor. She kills two of the boarders as Alex jumps from outside the Firehawk and grabs onto the Belter Skiff. Bobbie uses her armor's strength to hold on to the boarding walkway, preventing the skiff from leaving while Alex sets an explosive in its thrusters. They both get back into the Firehawk and speed away in time before the skiff activates its drive. Alex and Bobbie celebrate as the charge detonates and the entire ship explodes.[5]

Cyn stands up to Marco[]

On the Pella, Marco is furious that the Rocinante didn't blow up as he had intended and it is now in pursuit of the Zmeya, which carries the Protomolecule sample. Cyn takes the blame for letting Naomi get the drop on him, but Marco retorts that she shouldn't have been there in the first place. When Filip apologizes for bringing her aboard, Marco orders him to space her. Cyn and Filip are taken aback and start protesting, while Marco speaks over them and demands they follow his orders until Cyn screams at Marco to do it himself. The entire crew of the command deck looks at Cyn in shock. He insists to Marco that he will not allow Filip to be a part of executing his own mother. Marco and Cyn stare one another off for a moment. Then, Marco calmly defers the decision to Filip, who pleads with Marco to spare Naomi's life. Marco loudly mocks Filip's "kind heart," but accepts his decision, prompting Cyn and Filip to storm out of the command deck. Karal approaches Marco and quietly asks him if he really would have spaced Naomi, to which he replies, "What do you think?" She offers that if he does need it done, he should ask her next time.

In the elevator, Filip apologizes to Cyn, who is tense but remarks that he is sorry too. Filip is shaken by seeing Marco and Cyn almost come to blows, but Cyn replies that it wouldn't be the first time.[6]

Filip talks to Naomi in her cell[]

Filip furiously approaches Naomi's cell and tells her that she deserves to die for what she did. Naomi's response is relief, as she realizes her people are safe. Filip points out that she doesn't even think of their family as her own anymore, which Naomi confirms but adds that she is more sorry about that than Filip can ever know. Filip shifts to Naomi's failed assassination attempt on Marco, telling her she would have never succeeded and would just have been killed herself, and Naomi replies she knew that from the start but she would have been at peace if it was the last thing she ever did, as it is her last option to help Filip. He is angry as he believes in his father's mission, that he is a visionary and will lead the Belt beyond what any other Belter has ever dreamed of and free it from the Inners' control. Naomi interrupts him and points out that Marco made Filip a murderer, with the blood of millions of ordinary innocents on his hands, and that he hasn't felt the price of it yet. Continuing, she tells Filip that he will one day realize what Marco has done to him. Filip insists that Marco made him a fighter and that he loves Filip, but Naomi retorts that Marco only loves himself. She knows Marco wouldn't die for Filip, but he would easily allow Filip to die for him. Filip storms off, leaving Naomi deep in thought.[7]

Quantum state parent figures[]

Amos and Clarissa are still walking through the forest, and Clarissa admires its beauty, while Amos says he didn't know that there were so many trees in the world. Clarissa explains that the forest is one of the first reforestation trials in North America, started by her own grandfather, and reminisces about coming there as a student to plant a tree and learn about the carbon cycle, but Amos has no connection to her experiences, as he grew up in a vastly different world. They stop for a bit after Clarissa starts having muscle cramps due to the blocker drugs wearing off, when Amos finds a dead man on the ground. He helps Clarissa into the man's coat and boots, and they share the remains of his food while they talk about Clarissa's father, who has not talked to her since she got put in prison, and whom she calls "Schrödinger's parent": A parent who simultaneously exists and doesn't exist until you check on them yourself. Amos, on the other hand, doesn't even know nor want to know who his biological father is, to which Clarissa postulates that, philosophically, he doesn't really exist at all. Amos tells a curious Clarissa about his biological mother who died young, and about Lydia, who took care of him. Clarissa reasons that, since Lydia showed up unlike all the rest, then she is a parent that actually existed. She tells Amos that Lydia sounds like a good person, and he replies that she lived like she was. When Clarissa is confused, he explains that there are ways for someone to have a good person's life, even if they aren't exactly good themselves. Clarissa replies that she likes that thought.[8]

A tribe of two[]

They keep advancing, and Clarissa ponders about the Moon: how at first it was unreachable, then slowly humanity evolved until it was eventually trivial to get there, and now it is impossible once again after the catastrophe. Amos points out that it is the sun they're seeing, however masked by the thick haze of dust and ash, but he receives and understands her point. They find a man sitting at a campfire, and he claims they'd be wasting their time if they were looking to rob him but then invites them to sit, explaining that he is heading to the UN relief camp. He tells them of a nearby man who is walled up in his property and who shoots anyone who approaches. He offers Clarissa a drink, but Amos gets suspicious and they get up, leaving the man behind.

As the night falls, Amos stops and looks back to make sure the man from the camp is not following them. He explains that civilization keeps people civil, but with its collapse, they have to be watchful. He tells Clarissa that growing up he learned that people are tribal. The more settled things are, the more people can unite together in one large tribe, and when the churn comes around, the tribes get small again. In the current situation, Amos and Clarissa are a tribe of two. She replies that it is better than a tribe of one. Realizing the man is not coming after them, they keep moving. Clarissa notes they are heading towards the "crazy asshole who's shooting people," which Amos confirms.[9]

Marco offers Drummer a position[]

In the Dewalt, Drummer is heading towards a meeting with Marco Inaros. Meanwhile, a naked Oksana asks an equally naked Josep if he is worried about Drummer. As she helps him get dressed and kisses him, he replies that he is worried about all of them, but especially Drummer, who has suffered a lot of losses recently. Oksana is worried that this will cause her to do something rash in the meeting with Marco, but Josep comforts her and reassures her that they will be together and keep Drummer in check. Suddenly, their communications are jammed as they are approached by a cluster of MCRN and Belter ships. At first they believe it is an ambush, but they are sent a message of welcome by the Free Navy and realize that Marco Inaros somehow has control of Martian warships, putting Drummer's fleet at a heavy disadvantage.

As Drummer, Josep and Oksana board the Pella, they are greeted by Karal who demands Drummer's weapon. When she asks what would happen if she refused, Karal retorts that they are free to leave, but doing so would make them enemies of the Free Navy. Drummer relents and they are escorted to the command deck. On the way, Drummer notices that their escorts belong to very powerful but separate factions of the OPA, realizing that Marco is concentrating power under his rule. Oksana points out that, having earned the allegiance of the powerful factions, the rest of the OPA is bound to follow suit.

Marco gives a warm welcome to Drummer, who is nonchalant and confrontational, much to Marco's amusement. She brings up Marco's murder of her friends Klaes Ashford and Fred Johnson. He declares that they died for betraying all Belters and aligning themselves with the Inners. He points out Drummer refused to be part of that, but she sharply retorts that she is starting to regret her decision. Oksana and Josep try to cool down the confrontation, stating that they are there to talk about the future, not the past, and asking Marco how he plans to supply Belters with food after he attacked Earth, the Solar System's only source of live soil. Sharing Sanjrani's projection report, Marco offers that it will take time, but they have the knowledge, technology and access to the new worlds to free themselves of the Inners' colonial control. He tells them to go back to their ships and discuss before reaching a decision, assuring them that if they decline, they will be allowed to go in peace but will not have Marco's protection. Drummer replies that the only reason they need protection is because of Marco, who forced the entire Belt into a war with the Inners, making peace impossible. Marco retorts that there was a war already, she just couldn't see it because they were being killed slowly. As Drummer leaves, she notices Filip and stares at him intently, which Filip and Marco pick up on.[10]

Talking trade[]

Amos and Clarissa approach the gated property, finding fresh blood just outside the perimeter. Amos leaves a weak Clarissa outside and approaches the house, announcing himself and asking permission to enter. When no one answers, he jumps over the fence, but the house's spotlights turn on and he is approached by a man holding a gun, who points to an ice-coated rifle protruding from a window and claims his son is also armed inside. Amos tries to barter with the man, saying he just wants a weapon to hunt for food and he will exchange it for a water recycler. The man forces Amos to take off his clothes to prove that he has no weapons on him, which Amos does. The man then tells Amos that he will take the water purifier, but he doesn't need Amos to go get it. He is about to kill Amos when Clarissa activates her implants and brutally murders him before collapsing to the ground herself, unconscious.

Amos takes Clarissa into the house, where she starts to puke. He looks around the house, where the man has set up a doll holding a sniper rifle as his "son" that he mentioned earlier. He also finds a motorcycle, and a bunch of blankets which he uses to cover Clarissa. He listens as, in her sleep, she mutters something about being afraid of a monster.[11]

Voluntary conscription[]

Drummer's family/crew are discussing Marco's proposal. Drummer doesn't trust Marco, Michio does not want to align herself with a terrorist and a mass murderer, Serge is pragmatic about the fact that the Inners will be hostile towards all Belters regardless of their professed allegiance, and Josep believes their safest bet is to follow Marco and gain his protection. Oksana listens thoughtfully and only speaks once, to quietly remark that Inners have always mercilessly killed Belters who were in their way, regardless of innocence or guilt. They keep arguing until Bertold points out that they don't really have a choice, despite Marco presenting it as one. Earth and the Belt will go to war, Marco Inaros will accomplish his goal, and their only choices are to join him, or to die.

Drummer returns to the Pella for a mandatory "crew exchange," which Marco insists is not a tribute, but just to promote unity in the fleet. Drummer says goodbye to Serge, who trades places with Karal, telling Marco that Serge is not just crew, but family. Marco smiles and calls Filip to come forth, introducing Drummer as a patriot and a good friend of Naomi. He remarks that Drummer and Naomi were together on the Behemoth, before Naomi abandoned Drummer for "her Inners." Drummer retorts that, in doing so, Naomi saved humanity. Filip says he would like to hear that story, but Marco tells him it is for another time. Trying to hide the fact that he is holding Naomi hostage, Marco tells Drummer to make sure she informs Naomi of what a fine young man her son has become. Drummer turns to Filip and asks him if there is anything he would like for her to tell his mother. Filip starts to say that there's no need, as he can tell her himself, but he is stopped by Marco glaring at him and he reframes his answer to a succinct, "No." Drummer catches on but says nothing, and Marco hurriedly sends her away, shooting a glance at Karal before the airlock doors close between them. As Marco leaves, Drummer and Filip hold eye contact through the door's glass pane.[12]

Filip asks Naomi about her time through the ring[]

Later, Filip enters Naomi's cell with a beverage cup, offering it to her. He sits with her and asks her to tell him the story of the Behemoth and the Ring Gates. She begins telling him about how everyone united to work together, as Marco watches through the security camera in the command deck. He dismisses the camera footage and turns to a tactical display of the Rocinante chasing the Zmeya. He looks on thoughtfully as the display shows a possible route to intercept the Rocinante on the way.[13]

Because monsters aren't afraid[]

On Earth, Clarissa wakes up as Amos is tending a fire. She groggily asks, "Did we win?", to which Amos replies that they did win "this round," as they now have weapons, food and transportation. He asks her whether she is okay, and Clarissa points out that he has been doing that all day. She says she is fine, and that this is what happens every time after she uses her implant. Amos remarks that it is not a very good design, and Clarissa says that she wasn't thinking about the consequences when she got it, she was only thinking of revenge. As he finds medical equipment to cast her broken hand, he reassures her that he won't let her get hurt, for which she thanks him. He asks her about the thing she muttered in her sleep, and she tells him it was something she wrote for creative writing class in prison: "I have killed, but I am not a killer. Because a killer is a monster, and monsters aren't afraid." She confesses that she is afraid all the time, of how sure of herself and how justified she felt when she was doing all the terrible things she now regrets. This forces Amos to consider inwardly whether he himself is in fact a monster. She asks Amos why they came here despite the danger, and he tells her that she was sick and needed rest and supplies, which they now have. She asks him if it bothers him that they killed the man who lived here, and if they would have acted differently had he not been a violent creep. Amos matter-of-factly repeats that they needed supplies, but Clarissa laments that they went out of their way to murder someone and take his stuff just cause they needed it. She says that is not something a good person would do, not even a bad person trying to live like a good one. Amos thinks for a moment and then agrees, realizing Holden would have never approved of what they did today. He states that he needs to get back to his crew.[14]




  • At the beginning of the episode, Avasarala looks through her contacts on her terminal to send a message to Arjun. Her contact list is fully comprised of characters from other TV shows who were recast, including Vivian Banks, Gregor Clegane and Dr. Who. This is a joke on the fact that Arjun himself is a recast role.
    • This was pointed out by Avasarala's actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo, in a tweet
  • This is the first episode of Season 5 where every single main cast member appears.
Note: This is a generic section stub. Expand it by clicking Sprite-monaco-pencil.png Edit to right of the section title.


  1. Icon-wgaw-24x24.png
  2. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("The face of the new Secretary-General" [01:20])
  3. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("The road trip begins" [04:50])
  4. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("The Roci gets ready to depart" [06:56])
  5. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("Two man MCRN vet space op" [10:14])
  6. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("Cyn stands up to Marco" [13:21])
  7. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("Filip talks to Naomi in her cell" [16:22])
  8. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("Quantum state parent figures" [18:09])
  9. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("A tribe of two" [23:40])
  10. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("Marco offers Drummer a position" [27:08])
  11. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("Talking trade" [33:51])
  12. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("Voluntary conscription" [39:57])
  13. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("Filip asks Naomi about her time through the ring" [43:23])
  14. Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("Because monsters aren't afraid" [44:32])

External links[]