Amos is no stranger to using nicknames for those he interacts with in The Expanse. Bobbie, Avasarala, and most recently the modded criminal Konechek, don’t seem to really like their nicknames: “Babs,” “Chrissy,” and “Tiny” respectively. But while Clarissa doesn’t actively embrace the nickname of “Peaches,” it has become a term of endearment that she at least tolerates (and maybe even enjoys) during their survival tale in season 5. But why the name Peaches?
Clarissa Mao was introduced in The Expanse season 3 and only appeared briefly in a video call from prison in season 4, so a reminder of her origins is not only warranted; it also serves to explain what inspired Amos to choose Peaches. Fans probably remember that Clarissa’s father, Jules-Pierre Mao, was the first to try and exploit the protomolecule, and her sister Julie was tragically contaminated with the goo, passing it along to the unfortunate Belters on Eros. That scandal brought down the Mao family, ruining their fortunes and their name among the UNN elite.
Clarissa was desperate to prove herself to her powerful father, having always lived in Julie’s shadow, and with no more social functions to plan on behalf of her father’s company, she became obsessed with revenge against James Holden, the man responsible for her family’s downfall. Clarissa used the last of her money to modify her glands to allow for brief bursts of strength and speed and to establish a new identity: Melba Koh, a technician on the UNN’s first fleet to the Ring.
She went on to sabotage one of the ships, trying to frame Holden and ruin his reputation, but it’s her alias that’s key here. There happens to be a French dessert not often served these days called “peach melba,” a preparation of sliced peaches over vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce, and Amos used this obscure culinary reference to rename his former enemy, whose personal pain he likely identified with.
Interestingly, Clarissa, who went by Claire among family and friends, also had the unusual middle name of “Melpomene,” of which “Melba” could be a simple diminutive. Melpomene was one of the nine muses in Greek mythology, and her beat was music and dance. However, in the later Classical era, Melpomene became the muse of tragedy, an appropriate moniker considering the loss and bad choices Clarissa has made.
In any case, Amos and Peaches are bound to grow closer as they learn more about each other and attempt to survive the destruction on Earth. As one of the fan favorite storylines of the current season, viewers anxiously await the return of their arc when The Expanse season 5 continues with episode 8 on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video.