During an interview with io9, Strait discussed the evolution that Holden has undergone across the five seasons of The Expanse. As the captain of the Roci, Holden found himself dropped into situations that required steady and strong leadership which he wasn’t always able to provide. As Strait put it, “his capabilities, frankly, just weren’t there.” However, by the fifth season, Holden has grown tremendously and, as Strait sees it, “the humility of those experiences has made him a lot stronger and a lot more capable as a leader.”
And that is part of the reason why Strait pointed to an intimate scene in the season 5 premiere between Holden and his Roci crewmate Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) as one that was so important to his character. In the scene, Naomi tells Holden that she’s discovered the location of her estranged son. Holden starts to get ready to leave, thinking that he is coming with her, only for Naomi to tell him that despite his desire to help her with her mission, that she needs to go alone.
Strait explained, “We worked really hard on that scene…[we] really wanted to make sure that scene landed. It was the foundation for both of these arcs and to really show the relationship that’s based truly on respect and trust, and how that powers both of them through their respective journeys—and also allows them, without giving too much away, to push to find each other.”
Beyond the difficulty of not being able to help Naomi, Holden is also clearly struggling with another big development: Just as he’s finally feeling more secure in himself as a leader, season 5 sees the crew of the Roci split up and heading off on totally different missions.