Based on James S. A. Corey’s books of the same name, The Expanse started on the Syfy Channel, where it ran for three seasons from 2015 to 2018. Starring Steven Strait as James Holden, Dominque Tipper as Naomi, Cas Anvar as Alex, and Chatham as Amos Burton, the sci-fi series tells the story of the Rocinante crew, set in the future where humankind has colonized the solar system. Despite its cult following, Syfy canceled the series after three seasons, but Amazon picked it up for more seasons. Now in its home on Amazon Prime Video, the show’s season 5 finale recently aired after an exciting season.
“The way I see it, there are only three kinds of people in this world: Bad ones, ones you follow, and ones you need to protect.”
Amos has developed from a rugged wildcard to the show’s most beloved character over the past few seasons. Rough around the edges, the ship mechanic and Naomi’s right-hand-man has proven to be a loyal member of the Rocinante crew, and fans got to learn more about his backstory in the recent season 5.
Colored by his difficult upbringing in Baltimore, he has spent several decades building himself into a blunt force instrument comprised of physical strength, suppressed emotions, and a zero-sum perspective. But processing complicated events (people are nothing if not complicated) can require a different type of strength, namely the refined ability to understand, and operate with, nuance. Amos is all-or-nothing.
Amos suppressed emotions appear to be let him loose the constraints of a conscience, giving him an ability to put the fear of fear out of his mind. But that fear is eventually replaced by the dread of turning into the type of monster he’s spent his life fighting against.
Amos is not a sociopath/psychopath, however. He’s just been traumatized too young and too often. A sociopath would not try to rescue a family in the middle of the “monster storm” of Ilus. He would not feel the empathy he feels for Melba. There are several instances where Amos shows feelings and empathy. The character more probably fulfills the criteria of PTSD.
Amos is a complicated character, he does show empathy although rarely. In The Seventh Man S2E7, Amos is tasked with distributing aid to refugees at Ganymed Station. He aggressively pushes away a woman he believes is trying to steal supplies. Her small child, understandably upset, defends her by pushing Amos in return. This unsettles Amos, putting him out of sorts for the remainder of the episode.
In the first seasons, we see Amos looking to Naomi as the person who would flip that emotional switch. He had basically made himself subservient to Naomi on a mental level, but he’d also made the act of trusting his own decisions extremely difficult and in that sence, she basically functioned as his decision-making apparatus. Amos had accentuated his dependency by counting on someone else to do the thinking for him.
“Ask me whether or not I should rip your helmet off and kick you off this bucket I couldn’t give you a reason why I should or shouldn’t. Except Naomi wouldn’t like it.”
Amos has come a long way and he is no longer the blunt instrument we know from season 1. Not only does Amos build relationships during the course of the show, but he is more and more high-functioning with others. The bonds he builds with his Rocinante crew allows him to finally operate within a familial support system, people worth trusting. He can start to face the fear of truly facing maturity and the complexities it presents.
In season 5, Episode 2 we saw Amos returning to his home city of Baltimore after learning about the death of Lydia, his foster mother, and his source of guidance growing up. Amos’ journey into the past also reunites him with old Earth friends, including Erich, who reveals Amos’ real name to be Timothy. Season 5 delves into Amos’ origins while showing fans a more emotional side to the character.
Timothy was raised by Lydia Allen, his surrogate mother and later lover, who knew his birth mother before she died. When he was in his teens, he was recruited by his childhood friend Erich into the Baltimore-based crime syndicate of the real Amos Burton. When faced with the dilemma of choosing between killing his boss, the original Burton, or killing his childhood friend, Erich, he ultimately killed Burton. With Erich’s help, he stole Burton’s identity and fled Earth for Luna, eventually ending up on the crew of the Canterbury, working for the Pur’n’Kleen Water Company.