Naren Shankar address the role of Laconia in season 6 that will "hopefully hint at a future."

WAR! Earth, Mars, and perhaps even some Belters (Hi, Camina Drummer!) will need to join forces if they hope to take out the diabolical Marco Inaros after the leader of the Free Navy began throwing rocks at Earth in season 5 of The Expanse. But while season 6 of the epic space drama (premiering Friday on Amazon Prime Video) will deal primarily with the continuation of that battle — with plenty of major action combat sequences — there are also smaller internal battles happening all over the place.

How will the Rocinante crew deal with the death of their pilot Alex, and the arrival of their new crew member who once tried to kill them in Clarissa? And how will Marcos and Naomi's son, Filip, deal with the guilt of having helped wipe out a planet? But perhaps the biggest season 6 question for viewers centers around how much we will see of the planet Laconia, which plays a major role the Expanse books on which the series is based, yet doesn't come into play until book 7 (Persepolis Rising).

The problem is, season 6 was announced as being The Expanse's last — at least the last on Amazon (which already saved the show when SyFy walked away after season 3). Is this truly the end of The Expanse? Judging by the showrunner Naren Shankar's decision to adapt the Strange Dogs novella set on Laconia into season 6 to "hopefully hint at a future," maybe the show isn't done after all once the six final episodes have finally unfolded. Read on to hear from Shankar on what fans can expect to see in what may or may not be the Roci's last run.

The Expanse
The cast of 'The Expanse'
| Credit: Amazon Prime Video

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So when do things pick back up in season 6?

NAREN SHANKAR: I tend to prefer to use sort of the time between seasons to feel like real time. So, I forget exactly the specific number of days, but it's many months after the end of season 5. The war has been in progress. Fighting has happened. Marco has continued to rain rocks down upon Earth and Mars, and it's been going on for a while. That's where you find our gang at the beginning of episode 1.

You get to do something interesting here that isn't in the books. Since you took Alex off the board last season where he's still around in the books, this is something at this point that we haven't seen. So, how is the Roci crew dealing with losing Alex in season 6?

That is something that hangs over the story, and we really lean into that. You see Holden is piloting the ship. He was trained in the Navy, so he's able to do it. He doesn't have Alex's natural virtuosity in terms of being a pilot, but everybody is feeling that loss. Moreover, there's a new person on the crew who isn't Alex. Clarissa's there, because Amos brought her on board at the very end of season 5. So it's the idea of loss. It's that war comes with cost that you lose people that you love, and that sense is hanging over the ship again at the beginning of season 6.

The Expanse
The cast of 'The Expanse'
| Credit: Amazon Prime Video

You mentioned Clarissa. Obviously, anytime you have a small crew and you bring a new person in, especially with the history she has with that crew, that's not going to necessarily be smooth sailing. So, what can you say about how she's integrating here?

We lean into that very notion. What Amos has offered her in a sense is kind of a path to some level of redemption. The last time these people were all in proximity, Clarissa was mostly trying to kill them all. The way [authors Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham] put it, and I really liked the phrasing of it, is that what Amos sees in Clarissa is something that's in himself.

These are two characters that both use violence to solve their problems. Amos feels nothing about doing that, even though he tries not to. Clarissa is destroyed by that. She feels like she is a terrible person. She feels like she's a monster. And Amos bringing her on board, in his way, is giving Clarissa a path towards some level of redemption.

Now, the other characters there, I mean, Holden's got a fraught past with her. Naomi, in a way Carissa reminds her of the loss of Alex, which she feels a significant amount of responsibility for. I think the nice thing about the season is that relationship that grows between Holden and Clarissa is really quite lovely. It's a very unexpected thing. It's actually I think one of the nicest arcs that kind of threads through the season.

Obviously, a big part of the season will be Filip. What can you say about how he's dealing with his role in the bombing of Earth?

Sort of the way Ty and Daniel put it is his time with Naomi, Naomi planted some seeds in him, seeds of conscience and seeds of empathy. Those are things that his father has not given him. And those ideas are at work in Filip. I think [Jasai Chase Owens'] performance here is really good. This is a confused kid with a lot of conflicting emotions, feeling a lot of guilt and unable to sort of really deal with it. How he arcs through the season, again, I think is a really nice part of the year.

There's a great moment in season 5 with Naomi talking with him where she says something like, "Your father would never die for you, but he'd let you die for him." There's a profound level of understanding in it that I don't think Filip really was able to appreciate in season 5, but that is something that definitely he comes to understand in season 6.

The Expanse
Keon Alexander on 'The Expanse'
| Credit: Shane Mahood /Amazon Prime Video

All right, you obviously have this big setting of Laconia, which plays a major role in books 7 through 9. So, the natural question is how much will Laconia play a role here in your final season here of season 6?

We left season 5 at the very end with these really big questions hanging over the show. We understood that Marco had used the protomolecule and the scientist who knew how to use it, Cortazar, to pay for all of his warships that he used to win his war. But what were the rogue Martians doing with this protomolecule on this planet? Nobody knew. And then we have on top of that, this thing that eats a ship as it goes through the Ring at the very end.

Well, by incorporating Ty and Daniel's Strange Dogs novella, which I loved, into the season, it allowed us to touch on those ideas, to answer some of the questions, to just kind of pull back the veil on Laconia a little bit, and also connect it to the main narrative. It allowed us to both give some answers but also raise some questions and hopefully hint at a future, which as you know, is books 7, 8, and 9.

So for people that watched the season 6 trailer when you put it out, what can you say about that girl and that strange looking animal that they saw?

Keep watching!

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