The Expanse Season 3 Finale, ‘Congregation/Abaddon’s Gate’: Women Save the Day

Beltalowdas, I can’t believe we made it this far … but here we are at the end of season three. And what a season it’s been, onscreen and off, with our heroes battling to prevent the end of the universe while the fans battled to prevent the end of the show.

And, we’ve made it to the two-part season finale — based on the previous eleven weeks of nonstop, breathless action, audiences should be primed for excitement. With no more ado, lets get to it.

Clarissa is now in custody, strapped into a couch in the medbay so she can be pumped full of drugs to block the adrenaline boosting effects of that implant in the top of her mouth. Anna and Amos arrive so Clarissa mouths off about murdering poor, tipsy Tilly, which earns her a backhanded slap from Anna. Well damn! Amos is figuring out Clarissa is guilty for the framing of Holden, and calmly realises she’s dangerous enough they should just kill her, then deal with fixing the mess she created later. Anna, taken aback but apparently an Amos Whisperer, convinces him otherwise.

Up on the bridge Naomi has fixed some of the comms — they can’t send, but now they can receive messages. They work out Holden is on the Behemoth and also catch one of Ashford’s transmissions inviting other ships to get medical care in the gravity well of the ship’s drum. Naomi realises something must have happened to Drummer and so just like that, the whole team is bouncing over to go get their captain back. HELL YEAH!

Speaking of the devil; Holden is still cuffed in a cell, having already been questioned once, and refusing to say more until he speaks to his crew. A Martian captain, Lucas, fails to get anything out of him so Ashford, clearly swinging all the goodwill he’s recently garnered, is allowed in, promising to hook Holden up with his crew just as soon as Holden talks.

Holden somehow believes the OPA-sigil-wearing former pirate can swing this with the Martians, and starts talking about Miller and what he saw in the nucleus. He explains the species who made the Station and the Protomolecule (who I’ve opted to call the Builders for clarity’s sake) once had a huge network of Rings, connecting systems. Earth was not targeted or attacked the way we think. We were just incidental; ants being paved over while the Builders added a new road. The Station is trying to contact the Builders, but it can’t reach anyone because they are all dead. Something swept through their network and killed them. All of them. The station? It’s a graveyard.

Ashford emerges onto a deck on the Behemoth and declares his belief that Holden, with his talking to ghosts, is insane … which, Ashford, my dude, where is your ship right now? Is it in an Alien waystation? I think it is, so ‘insane’ or ‘impossible’ … you know, avoid these ideas. Put them on pause. Bobbie is concerned at the OPA interference but Captain Lucas, who I’m just assuming has a case of shock or severe head injury, seems to trust him. Ashford offers to keep Holden onboard under constant guard; Bobbie and her crew can stay too, but can’t wear their power armour. Said armour is given to Diogo to ‘safely’ lock up. Again, Lucas agrees. What the shit lady, you are standing next to Ashford and can’t detect how sneaky he is?!

Thankfully, one captain on this ship is paying attention; Beloved Drummer is alive, but paralysed. She can be healed, though she’ll be out of commission for the duration. Or she would be if she wasn’t Drummer, but she is Drummer, so she throws the doctor out and drags her gurney over a nearby shelf and retrieves … a mech suit. Drummer is not here to play.

Over on the Prince Anna’s friend, the science officer with no name, is not allowed to travel to the Behemoth, and thinks the ship’s powerful comms array might be able to send an SOS out through The Ring. The Prince’s current captain promises to talk to the Behemoth’s captain.

On the Behemoth Ashford is told the Belter crew is getting antsy about all the new passengers, about Belters now having to work double-time to help Inners and worse yet … they’ve run out of synthetic blood, so can’t keep treating people. Ashford opens ship’s comms and calls for all crew to report for mandatory blood donation. Then he heads off to medbay to donate. Because … he might be a decent captain; I honestly can’t tell. On a transport pod heading to the brig, Bobbie works to keep the peace on a hangar, the Roci crew have arrived and have to give up all their weapons before being allowed any further. On top of that, Diogo wants to arrest Naomi. Amos is about ready to Rampaaaaaaaaaage, but Naomi jumps in and promises to find out what’s going on.

She’s led up to the bridge, and finds the Belters at once hostile to her return, and Ashford barely able to contain his smug about being able to tell her Drummer was injured saving his life, knowing Naomi suspected mutiny. He tells her Holden is crazy, and won’t let her see Drummer or Holden unless she helps fix the ship’s power grids. He points out that the ship will die if she doesn’t help, so Naomi promises to deal with it, but once she’s organised teams she wants to see Holden.

Down in the Brig, Clarissa is locked up and for the first time, we get to see her seem truly vulnerable as now she lacks the ability to fight. Left alone, she looks to the opposite cell and sees the other resident … Holden, who has no idea who she is, asks what she’s in for. She laughs.

On the Prince, Anna’s friend watches the tight beam message as it’s sent. At least someone is listening to good sense.

Back on the Behemoth Alex and Amos hit the medbay in time to see a message from the Martian ship that picked up Monica. She’s gotten herself a job ‘presenting’ communications. They made it!. Amos talks to Anna, who is giving medical aid. She speaks about her work as a nurse at her clinic, and they bond over being people who just see what needs to be done, and doing it. Aaaw! That was nice.

Naomi has found a way onto Drummer’s medbay, and is taken aback by how badly Drummer is hurt. Drummer, I have to point out, has found a way to replace her trademark eye makeup since we last saw her. I love her. Naomi at once helps Drummer with the mech suit (and it’s a lovely touch that her accent deepens and fades depending on who she’s around), and talks about her hope she can help Holden. Drummer knows helping Holden means shenanigans are afoot, though she’s onboard for whatever  — especially since Drummer is the captain, and can walk Naomi right into the brig. Aaaaw yisss.

Ashford talks to Anna’s science friend, who has a plan to send a payload of nukes to blow up near the Nucleus, believing it will disrupt whatever mechanism is keeping the ships trapped in orbit. The Prince crewman from earlier (the new captain?) thinks this is too dangerous not to mention, and is worried over the limited number of skiffs which may be needed to ferry people back to The Ring. Ashford promises to find something to spare on the Behemoth and to the other captain’s doubts, thinks the risk is worth taking.

On the medbay, Alex is trying to get pain relief for the injured, and can’t get anyone to listen. Anna is sitting with a man who has died and Amos can’t quite understand why, but gets it on enough of a level to offer to bring her some food. Aaaaaaaaaaw!

Ashford is donating blood and talks to the Belter doctor who is okay with helping, while concerned over discrepancies in medical supplies, fearing some have been stolen. Ashford at once collars a nearby Diogo who is meant to be in charge of supplies, then calls to the crew and puts every damned one of them on watch, under threat of death. Wait … is Ashford … like, legit?

Anna goes to see Clarissa and gets a frosty reception; she isn’t there to make friends. She’s struggling over the death of Tilly, and needs to try and see Clarissa as a person. She admits it’s exhausting caring for everyone and that she wanted to let Amos kill Clarissa, but she didn’t. Anna wants to see everyone as human, with reasons to make them act the way they do. She’s tried to give Clarissa every excuse, but is at a point of hoping she has a brain tumour. Anna only stopped Amos out of vanity, so she could think better of herself. Clarissa thinks Anna should have let Amos do it and Anna tells Clarissa she doesn’t get the easy way out.

Damn. Solid scene.

Outside, the Doctor from the Prince and Ashford are launching a spare skiff with an overloaded engine to explode near the Nucleus. The explosion triggers something and while they’re not underway yet, it’s given him some data to Science with. But on the Behemoth, the Belters are pissed they just wasted a nuke. I sense a mutiny a-brewing. Drummer has her power legs on and she and Naomi march down to the brig, and letsNaomi in to see Holden.

And now we will all take a quick cry break while they hug, and she tells him everyone is okay. (She calls Alex and Amos ‘the boys’, and now I have died). Holden learns about the sudden stop, and just tries to be happy Naomi is there. Holden tells her about Miller, what he saw in the Nucleus and it’s clear he’s traumatised. He blames himself since it appeared to him and nobody else.He insists he has to fix it. Clarissa can hear all of this and it looks as if she might be figuring out she got Holden completely wrong.

On the bridge, Ashford learns what the Doctor has — the Nucleus is focussing a beam of energy on The Ring and it’s growing in strength every hour. In seven hours, something big will happen. Ashford remembers Holden’s words, about the solar systems being destroyed, and looks troubled.

On the medbay, Monica’s latest report explains the skiff explosion and somehow, has information about the energy focussed on the gate. She finishes on a demand for answers.

Back up on the Bridge, Ashford is officially Team Holden and explains that the Nucleus destroys threats and is likely about to destroy our solar system because of the experimental bomb. It’s possible to damage the Nucleus, so he wants to destroy it, but points out The Ring remains open so the weapon could still destroy our solar system. Their only hope is to fire the Behemoth’s powerful comms laser directly at The Ring, destroying it, while they work to lay waste to the Nucleus inside.

The UNN and Martian captains realise what this means; everyone inside The Ring will be trapped … but the entirety of humanity will be saved. Ashford isn’t wrong when he proclaims it a decent way to die.

Back on the Brig, Holden is trying to reach out to Miller, begging him to come back and explain what’s going on. Clarissa can hear, and Drummer and Naomi watch him on cameras, looking like they think he’s crazy.

On the Bridge, the plan is underway and Captain Lucas has called Bobbie to organise guards and crowd control, calling it a contingency. Bobbie would like to know what she’s guarding against, though she’s not getting any answers. On the Brig, we don’t see him, but Miller has appeared and Holden is talking. He has a one-sided conversation, then runs to the camera in his cell; he knows how to fix it.

Drummer messages Ashford with the news they have a plan, admitting she’s been talking to Holden, and with Naomi, and she’s in the Brig. He agrees to talk to them about the plan, but Drummer is savvy enough to hear the tone in his voice and knows it’s a trap. Drummer goes to Egon, the prison guard, taking his gun and offering to tie him up so he’s not harmed for helping. Egon shrugs. He’s with them.

Almost at once, Holden is sprung and talking to Amos and Alex via a Deck and he explains they need to show the station they’re not a threat. Since all their ships — including the skiff from earlier — have fusion reactors for engines; the Nucleus thinks they’re all bombs. They need to shut down all the fusion reactors until the Nucleus thinks they’re not a threat, using Monica and her ship’s wide comms. Naomi finds them somewhere to hide and Drummer sends them codes for weapons lockers, but the pairs of teams won’t be united for the final battle.

They sign off and Amos takes a moment, then goes to grab Anna to take her with them. I don’t think it’s just his protective streak either. I think he knows she can help.

On the bridge, Ashford watches as a Belter nearly dies trying to rig the laser, and has to admit to at least one crewman that this isn’t about sending a message but instead, fighting back. It could be the tipping point for a mutiny, but seeing Ashford is, you know, lets not forget, trying to save the solar system, he rushes off to find more help.

Monica has apparently made her way over to the Behemoth where Amos catches up with her, and asks for her help. We learn Cohen the cameraman died on the Xiuesen and Amos verbally refuses to give a shit since they need her help to save lives. Anna steps in to do her thing and Monica is on board at once.

On the transport pod, Egon messages ahead to the engine deck to rally more troops for their arrival, and Naomi and Holden take a moment to promise to never be apart again, dying together if they have to. They arrive on the deck to find only one more Belter has turned up to help, and head into the engine room to get to work. They take over the controls from the two remaining engineers and Naomi begins to hack the system immediately.

On the lower decks, Amos leads his group to the hidden areas where Monica will be able to send her message. While she works, Anna approaches Amos and asks what he thinks Ashford will do. Amos warns her he’ll have to kill the people who come to stop them, so Anna can’t interfere like before — do what needs to be done.

He pragmatically figures they’re going to die and Anna admits she left a lot behind to come here, and now has many regrets. Amos’ only regret is he won’t be able to kill Ashford, a man he’s never met. Anna, in her Anna way, schools Amos on hate and then reminds him it’s a burden he shouldn’t carry with him. He leans in close and promises he won’t let anyone hurt her. And oh my god, my heart.

In the engine bay, Holden thanks Drummer for her help, and she warns him she’s only there to make sure Naomi doesn’t die for his dumb ass. My girl. Meanwhile, Naomi finds the evidence of the work on the laser and Holden reveals that not only will it not work, but will guarantee the Nucleus destroys everything.

Upstairs, Ashford has gotten wise to where everyone is and dispatches guards, but as they do, Drummer opens comms from engineering. Ashford reveals his real fear; that even if they survive, anyone can still travel through The Ring, and could invoke the threat of the Nucleus. It’s like leaving an unexploded bomb. He appeals to Drummer but she’s done with his shit, and turns off the comms, warning Naomi to hurry.

On the Bridge, the message was heard by all, including a nearby Clarissa who was brought up from the Brig.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Monica hacks the feed to introduce Anna, who absolutely shines as she calmly explains what is happening, and what needs to be done. Because Anna is a goddamned professional, the effect is instant, with Belters and other crews reacting in shock and fear. But Ashford is, you know, an actual bad guy, so just kills one dissenting Belter and orders them all to continue. Captain Lucas approaches and just when it seems she might be cool, she offers the Marines to help keep order, calling to Bobbie to arm up and head out.

Okay, we’ll see how that goes …

… which is damned terribly from the outset because of course, Diogo and his sneaky friends have stolen their armour.

Speaking of that little shit, he’s wearing the power-suit and and heads straight into engineering, tossing Drummer into a wall before Naomi and Holden can drag the poor woman into an airlock and try to formulate an escape plan. Drummer, who has been visibly weakening in every scene, soldiers on. SHOW. IF YOU KILL HER, I AM CALLING AMAZON AND RE-CANCELLING YOU.

Down in the depths, Anna is still live and begging other ships to turn off their engines as Bobbie and the Martian Marines approach them. Amos opens fire, and a gunfight ensues before they each know who the other is.

When the bullets cease, Bobbie snarls out orders to surrender until Alex meekly calls ‘… Bobbie?’


On the Bridge, Clarissa has been put to work as an electrician (since even as prisoners, everybody helps) and manages to convince Ashford to remove the chemical restraint blocking her implant. They share an absolutely beautiful moment when she asks if he thinks one good act at the end of your life, can make up for all the bad ones that came before. Ashford thinks so. He hopes so. He takes off the restraint, and that was a beautiful little scene between the pair that honestly, spoke volumes.

Downstairs, Bobbie is using far friendlier tones to demand Alex and Amos stop dicking around, while Monica expertly coaches Anna through the live feed. Bobbie calls for Alex to come out before anyone gets hurt and to Amos’ dismay, Alex agrees. Another Martian knows it’s a stall but Bobbie and Alex edge forwards, even as Amos promises to shoot Bobbie if he has to.


Clad in evo suits, Naomi, Holden and Drummer drift up the elevator shaft of the ship, pursued far below by Diogo and his security crew.

In the depths, Alex and Bobbie meet and he explains the plan. Bobbie explains what she saw in The Ring and that she’s not sure Holden is even the same person. Then, one of her Marines jumps Alex and Bobbie turns to stop the other and like that, it’s a brawl, ended when Bobbie knocks her Marine unconscious and Amos shoots the other guy in the head. Ooooh. Shit.

Bobbie hobbles over to join the boys and reveals, oh dear god, she’s been shot, and knows more soldiers will be coming. Oh shit, oh shit oh shit oh shit.

Meawhile, Holden and Naomi are nearly at their destination but need more time to get away from Diogo and the others. Drummer makes Holden leave her behind, promising to handle Diogo, ordering him to tell Naomi she’s sorry for trying to kill Holden, then letting him go on alone while she waits with her hands full of grenades. No.

No. Show. NO.

Drummer waits, breathing heavily, while my eyes preemptively blur with angry tears. Diogo drifts into view and just as Drummer is presumably about to jump out and bear hug him with the grenades in hand … the elevator descends, smacking into Diogo and driving him down the shaft, sparing Drummer. HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

OH MY ACTUAL GOD. I need a minute. I need a lot of minutes. That was perfect. Up above, Naomi sent the lift down and everyone laughs in relief, though Drummer seems … dangerously unwell, and should probably head back to the med-deck, now.

On the Bridge, Ashford is hearing that the Prince and other ships are powering down, but it doesn’t matter. The laser is ready and they open fire. Praise be, the laser misses its first blast. While the crew realigns, the Nucleus powers up.

Downstairs, more soldiers arrive and a terrified Anna stutters into the camera, as Amos alone stands between all of them and death.

Up on the bridge level, Holden and Naomi are just a few feet from the entrance, in sight of Ashford. They can’t get by without a fight and so surrender their guns, and walk out open-handed, trying to appeal to his better nature — but Ashford can’t be reasoned with. He orders them shot. And then from behind, from within the bridge, chaos erupts. Clarissa-damned-Mau activates her implant, and reigns holy hell over everybody in the room, taking a bullet as she makes a final leap over to an exposed power grid which it turns out she rigged to … shut down the reactor. Oh, wow.

The ships all shut down and Holden gets a vision, flashing to a beach that shows him The Ring as if from a planet. The Nucleus powers down, but then something else happens. More Rings open in the Bubble. Dozens of them. Holden assures everyone … it worked. And we see as much later on, the fleet is travelling back to The Ring.

We get a montage of activity as Holden speaks to Miller about the lack of honesty he’s had.

Drummer visits Ashford in the medbay, where he’s as in bad shape as she was, offering booze.

Holden asks if humanity are part of the greater plan at work, as Anna visits with Clarissa, holds her hands, cries with her. Aaw.

Elsewhere, Naomi works at a panel and Amos approaches to help. They don’t speak but they don’t need to and as he walks away, she smiles. They are okay again. Okay, that made me sob. On the Roci, it looks like Bobbie has joined the crew (wait, for real? YES! YESSSSSS!) and on earth, Chrisjen glowers at an image of the Station and the 1300 habitable systems beyond.

Holden tells his listener that of course humanity will go exploring. It’ll be the newest blood-soaked gold rush. Holden admits he’s scared because he knows now that the civilisation that built The Rings is gone. Something killed them. Miller appears, talking of times ahead. As the Roci passes through The Ring, something … seems to happen, to or around Holden. It’s not clear what. But we’re going to find out.

And there we have Season 3 of what genuinely is the best show on television today. That was absolutely phenomenal and the greatest season finale I’ve seen in a long while.

I really could go on for hours about everything I loved:  Bobbie joining the Roci crew, Monica showing her badass side, Amos and Naomi being okay again, every single thing Drummer did, was, is, will be … I could write a book on the fact that the women saved the day in every way, and did so with a range of approaches, from emotional strength to physical strength, or just being the smartest person in the room, but I think I want to end on what, to me, was the standout message of this season finale, and this season. We saw a lot of approaches to fixing things, mostly violent ones, but the most effective was the most simple; Anna’s compassion. Her kindness, and her message, of understanding, of forgiving, of shedding our hate, was the spirit behind everything that happened.

That’s a hell of a message to end your season on; Be good. Be kind.

We need that idea more than ever.

With that, I leave you until even the first glimmer of information emerges about Season 4. Oyedeng, Beltalowdas. See you soon.

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan is really terrible at the ‘About You’ part of life. Nadine developed her reviewer skills writing epic facebook rants about the details script supervisors forget and trying to explain why Carol on The Walking Dead broke Lizzie by accident. Nadine loves TV, film and books but she wishes someone would pay her to be the continuity editor. She can be found on Facebook and in her forest garden and if she’s not yelling at her TV she’s trying to convince a cat to be an Instagram model and refusing to let 90's fashion die.

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