The Expanse's season finale closes one door but opens two more, paving the way for Laconia's Admiral Duarte as the next villain - as well as the Gods he's trying to kill. It doesn't take the genius of Elvi Okoye to figure out The Expanse's book-to-TV ratio doesn't add up. Under the "James S.A. Corey" pseudonym, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck have penned nine novels in the Expanse series, with the final entry (2021's Leviathan Falls) wrapping everything up. The TV adaptation broadly covers one novel per season, but The Expanse season 6 was announced in late 2020 as the Rocinante's last waltz.
That leaves Persepolis Rising, Tiamat's Wrath and Leviathan Falls unrealized in live-action. Rather than cram everything into one messy final run, however, The Expanse season 6 keeps a steady course, focusing squarely on Abraham and Franck's sixth effort, Babylon's Ashes. And that means bringing the Marco Inaros saga to a close. James Holden and the Rocinante crew successfully bring down the Free Navy, and establish a hard-fought peace between Earth, Mars and the Belt. Happily ever after? Not quite.
"Babylon's Ashes" represents a reasonable enough place to end The Expanse's story, but the series finale leaves some big plot threads dangling freely. The Expanse season 6 has already teased a future that includes Laconia, Admiral Winston Duarte, and the mysterious Ring entities, but Amazon's final episode goes even further to set up these two enemy forces for a potential sequel.
The Expanse Finale Continues Season 6's Laconia Setup
Laconia is one of the 1300 systems made accessible by the The Expanse's Protomolecule Ring Gate, and where season 5's Martian defectors relocated following their business with Marco Inaros. The Laconian Empire's Winston Duarte succeeds Marco as the next major villain in James S.A. Corey's original books, but Amazon's The Expanse TV show could've glossed over this by presenting Laconia as just another unseen colony beyond the Ring Gate. That hasn't happened, and The Expanse season 6 teases Laconia's importance via various means. There's Proto-siblings Cara and Xan, an excited Paolo Cortázar waking up a giant alien warship, and Dylan Taylor playing Winston Duarte himself.
Even in its final installment, The Expanse continues building toward the Laconian Empire's rise, as written in Persepolis Rising/Tiamat's Wrath. "Babylon's Ashes" begins on a shot of Duarte taking in the view of his Laconian warship as it pulses with blue Protomolecule energy, a smile on his face that screams, "Next main villain here, nice to meet you." Duarte's appearance in The Expanse season 6's finale proves his episode 4 debut wasn't just a cameo to pop book readers. The Admiral has big plans for that shiny toy in the sky, none of them wholesome. Giving Duarte the honor of opening The Expanse's last chapter signifies his importance to the franchise's future... whatever that might look like.
"Babylon's Ashes" then continues The Expanse season 6's Cara and Xan narrative. Confronted with their undead son, Cara's parents call "the soldiers," causing both siblings to flee and ending their story on an unfinished cliffhanger. In The Expanse's post-timeskip book future, Cara and Xan become captured test subjects for Winston Duarte, and their father's finale line about calling the Laconia military tees up this dark fate, once again foreshadowing events beyond The Expanse's sixth novel.
Dylan Taylor's Duarte makes a further appearance in "Babylon's Ashes," responding to Marco Inaros' request for weapons by telling the Free Navy leader precisely where to stick his railgun. The Admiral promises Marco that any Free Navy ships entering Laconia will be destroyed, and this warning cements Duarte as the more formidable of the pair. Marco looks humiliated to be turned down, while Duarte condescends him as a "useful distraction." A distraction for what, exactly? The Expanse season 6 doesn't elaborate.
But The Expanse's final slice of Laconia setup is easily the most overt. During a final conversation between James Holden and Naomi Nagata, the Rocinante captain ominously worries, "We still don't know what happened to that Protomolecule sample, sooner or later we're..." before his partner interrupts. Of course, the sample Holden speaks of is now fueling Winston Duarte's alien warship. Such blatant setup exposition never happens in TV finales (where the final season was filmed knowing it would be the final season, at least), but The Expanse goes out of its way to have Holden reference Laconia one final time.
How The Expanse Finale Brings The Ring Entities Closer
As if Winston Duarte's looming Laconian Empire wasn't grim enough, The Expanse's finale also develops the overarching Ring entity threat. These alien villains have been simmering in The Expanse's background ever since Holden learned about a mysterious extra-terrestrial race that wiped out the Protomolecule's creators in season 3. These dark gods play a bigger role in The Expanse season 6, with the Rocinante crew and Elvi Okoye figuring out how to wake them up, then intentionally banging the figurative pan to make the Ring entities attack Marco Inaros' Pella as it crosses into the Slow Zone.
Just like Duarte, the Ring entities are more than just a plot device for The Expanse season 6's final act - the episode openly promises these godlike aliens will evolve into a bigger threat down the road. When Naomi Nagata suggests riling up the Ring entities against Marco Inaros, Holden wisely points out, "If we wake them up, they might STAY awake." When their plan works and the Free Navy lies in tatters, the Roci captain then predicts another mass exodus of ships emigrating through Ring Gates. That means angrier aliens, and more ships breaching the mass energy threshold required to wake them. Holden's line confirms the Ring entities aren't just some quirk that can be managed by limiting how many ships make transit - they're growing in awareness of our species... and getting angrier about us.
As with the Laconia material, The Expanse saves its strongest Ring entity tease for last. Until now, the end credits of each season 6 episode have rolled across the backdrop of the Ring Gate - a still image to make the procession of names and job titles a little more exciting. The Expanse season 6's finale adds the bubbling red effect of the Ring entities to its end credits, signaling to viewers how gobbling up Marco Inaros has, as Holden predicted, awoken the demons. In the center of the Ring, the faint outline of Winston Duarte's Protomolecule warship can also be made out, hinting toward a full-scale Laconian invasion incoming.
Winston Duarte's "Gods" - How Laconia & The Ring Entities Connect
The most exciting line in The Expanse's finale comes during Winston Duarte's verbal middle finger to Marco Inaros. He tells the Free Navy's leader, "You were a useful distraction... but I have Gods to kill." The Protomolecule creators have already been extinguished, so Laconia's admiral can only be referring to the Ring entities. Like the Rocinante crew and Elvi Okoye, Duarte is obviously aware of the threat these aliens present - which makes sense, since he would've been waiting (and waiting) for Sauveterre to arrive in the Barkeith.
Judging by his message to Marco, Duarte isn't looking to befriend the Dark Gods peeking out from the Ring Gates. He recognizes the danger they pose to humanity, and like James Holden, wants to do something about it. But where Holden believes mankind should leave the Ring entities well alone and stop provoking them, Duarte is planning to wage war - hence his "Gods to kill" remark in The Expanse's finale.
Unlike previous Expanse villains, Winston Duarte and the Dark Gods (good band name, that) are intrinsically linked. Duarte's Laconian Empire will become a problem for Holden, but the Admiral's goal - beyond simple conquest - is killing the alien threat that hangs over humanity. As these two storylines intertwine so naturally, The Expanse could potentially condense James S.A. Corey's final three books into a movie (or two), playing out the Laconia and Ring entity storylines simultaneously. That would explain why both are so prevalent throughout The Expanse's finale.
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