On the latest season of The Expanse, the universe has, well, expanded. Over 1,300 systems have been discovered, opening the door for Belters to rise up and become part of something bigger, alongside Earth and Mars. But what if there’s one person, with a dangerous but compelling voice, who has something else in mind? I suppose they could change the future of The Expanse as we know it.
io9 recently visited the set of The Expanse in anticipation of season four, and had the chance to watch the first six episodes. We get a few new characters added to the mix, like Burn Gorman’s Adolphus Murtry, and Rosa Gilmore as Lucia Mazur. But the newcomer that really manages to captivate our attention is Marco Inaros, played by Keon Alexander—who, as it turns out, had a surprising connection to the series before he ever showed up on set.
Cara Gee, who plays Drummer, shared the story of what happened the night she and Dominique Tipper (Naomi) found out the show was cancelled before Amazon revived it. Guess who was there to comfort them?
“The night that Dom got that phone call that we were cancelled, we were all out for dinner, and I had just introduced Dom and my buddy Keon, who was consoling us about the show being cancelled. He’s like, ‘Oh, sorry about your show, guys.’ And then, of course, months later, the show is resurrected and Keon auditions for the part and is now playing Marco,” she said.
Marco Inaros (who first appears in book five, Nemesis Games) is a rebellious Belter faction leader who opposes any alliance between the Belters and Earth or Mars, as he thinks it’s only a matter of time before the Belters are betrayed again. He is as charismatic as he is threatening. He was mentioned in passing last season, but this is the first time we’re getting him onscreen…and he makes quite an entrance. We’re first introduced to him in season four as he pleads his case for total independence before Drummer (Cara Gee) and other Belters. In a group interview with Gee, Gizmodo asked what she and Drummer think of Marco’s point of view—especially considering what else Drummer knows about him (which we’ll get to in a moment).
“One of my favourite things about this show is that everyone’s perspective is credible,” she said. “I definitely think that there is a lot of value in some of those arguments that Marco’s making, especially at the beginning. There’s kind of both sides of it. As an audience member, I love being able to take that in and go, ‘Hmm yeah ok, this person has a point and this person has a point, and maybe Naomi has a point.’ Drummer is very firmly rooted in: ‘This is fucking ridiculous.’”
Of course, Marco isn’t just a smooth talker with a hankering for freedom and piracy. He has a personal connection to one of the most important people on The Expanse. In previous seasons, Naomi (Dominique Tipper) has mentioned that she had a child, and how both he and the father weren’t in her life anymore. I think you can guess who the father is. Hint: It’s Marco. Their relationship is…complicated. And we get to learn about their history in an interesting way, as we see them both regale other people with reasons why their relationship failed. Showrunner Naren Shankar told Gizmodo during a group interview that he wanted Naomi and Marco to each tell their side of the story, and let the audience make up their mind about where the truth lies.
“We don’t show an objective flashback, or a book of their life together, because that’s not what’s important. What’s important is people’s memory of the situation, right? And a memory of what happened,” he said. “Both of those stories can be true to the person saying it. Whose side of it do you pick?”
Of course, the inclination is to side with Naomi because that’s the character we know and trust, Marco seems like kind of a tool bag, and it’s clear Naomi’s time with Marco affected her deeply. During a group interview, Gizmodo asked Tipper about what it was like finally exploring Naomi’s history with Marco. Without going into details (darn those pesky spoilers), she said it’s been cathartic having years of backstory—which she used as motivation for many of her character choices—finally coming to fruition:
I think for me it’s quite delicious, because a lot of my really early choices with Naomi was all rooted in this past that I couldn’t talk about to anyone, or chose not to. So, there was a lot of this, like, secret actor work I felt like I was doing. I had had reasons for the way she reacted in situations and the way she reacted to certain outward things that happened. You’re like, “Why is Naomi running after that child? Weird.”
I feel like if you went back and watched like season one, you’d be, like, “Oh, that’s why she’s doing that. That’s why she reacts that way.” So I think that’s quite nice. There’s been a lot of planting of Easter eggs and then it’s starting to come full circle. It’s cool to play out and really quite rewarding.
Amazon’s The Expanse returns with the full season four on December 13. The show has already been renewed for season five, but an expected release date for that season has not been announced.