The Expanse: The Space Opera You Should Be Watching

THE EXPANSE -- "Iff" Episode 302
Syfy

Back in 2015, roughly a month prior to the series premiere of The Expanse, I received Syfy’s gorgeous press kit for the show. I love genre TV, so I consumed that pilot straightaway.

By the end of the hour I was so frakkin’ hooked, that I purchased the first book Leviathan Wakes and finished it in a couple of days. Yes, it’s a page turner, folks, with pacing right out of a feature film. Naturally, having been introduced to the major players first in that initial screener, I pictured all the actors faces while reading Book 1. It didn’t end there though. I’ve now read most of the novellas in the brilliant book series as well. As far as the novels go, I stopped halfway through Book 2 Caliban’s War, because knowing too much was starting to spoil my enjoyment of the show. I like to be surprised, you know what I mean? It’s the same with Game of Thrones, which by the way, many reviewers still compare The Expanse to due to the intense political machinations.

While I loved Star Trek: Discovery, and this is not meant to knock that series in any way, The Expanse simply feels less like science fiction and more like science fact. It’s where you imagine mankind will be in a couple hundred years, as far as colonizing space. Never mind that the scientific community itself (and geek blogs) are constantly in awe of how accurately the science is depicted on the show.

Syfy’s got a proven winner here, with massive sets and mind-boggling productions values. The visual effects consistently rival anything creators are throwing up on the big screen these days.
It should be pretty clear by now that I’m a fan, and fully invested in the series. Season 1 was basically setup. We needed to understand the world, stakes and characters etc. Season 2 picked up where the massive cliffhanger left off and the conflict between Earth, Mars, and the Belt escalated. This season, it’s all out war! Plus having met our first protomolecule hybrid last season, Naomi’s choice to give their sample to Fred Johnson is going to have serious repercussions for our heroes and mankind.

I loved that the new season started off with the deconstructed Arboghast, which was one of the creepiest yet visually stunning scenes from last season’s finale. Personally, I liked seeing the humans floating there among all the nuts and bolts of space ship. I’m curious to know if the production simply didn’t wish to repeat the sequence, or if fan ridicule somehow played a part in altering the scene. Yeah, we sci-fi geeks are a rough crowd. Either way that moment was like nothing I’d ever seen on television… and I watch a ton of TV. How amazing was that quick opening space battle? Okay, so it’s not quite Star Wars-level dogfight action, but it is super impressive for TV nonetheless. I will say, I wish there had been more space and less blabbering. However, the complexity of the story does require some explanation as to what key characters are thinking. You can’t just blow stuff up without providing a little background, you know?

THE EXPANSE -- "Fight or Flight" Episode 30
Syfy

Luckily, it didn’t take long for us to get reacquainted with our pals on the Roci. After 23 hours in their company, these actors simply are Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi (Dominique Tipper), Alex (Cas Anvar), and Amos (Wes Chatham) to me. I can’t imagine anyone else playing their roles. Chrisjen Avasarala is my personal fave, as Shohreh Aghdashloo never fails to knock her scenes out of the park. Clearly her relationship with Bobbie is going to be one of the true highlights of this season. I’m super stoked for that. It must have been tough for Naomi watching the boys clean up the residual protomolecule outside the ship (though there’s still more inside… eeeek), with everyone knowing she didn’t send their sample into the sun. It kind of hurt to hear Amos say the gang wasn’t really a family, and it seems like it’s only going to get worse from here. It also sucked watching Holden erase Rocinante from the side of the ship. My hope is that the characters we’ve grown to love find a way back to each other and that they’re not separated or at odds all season. They’ve got to work their shit out. That’s what families do, right?

I remember one of my few complaints about the first season was that it must have been tough for non-book readers to follow the story. The writing team definitely worked out those kinks in Season 2, and though I didn’t continue reading the books I find the story arcs very easy to follow now. Naomi asking Prax to help name the transponder/ship felt like he’s now officially part of the team, fractured as they are. While I loved Prax’s reasoning behind “Pinus Contorta,” it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Rocinante. Regardless, the scene felt like she was finally welcoming the botanist onboard. Since the search for his daughter, May, is a big part of this season, it was important for the writers to establish a solid connection between Prax and the others. Holden promising Prax some real answers about his daughter was a smart move too.

Though I thought Frankie Adams was terrific as Bobbie Draper last season, she really has settled comfortably into the role. It’s hard to explain, and perhaps it’s her interactions with the genius Aghdashloo as Avasarala, but Bobbie was much more likeable throughout this hour. I mean, she was always a badass, but now she’s got some funny lines as well. There’s just more personality there. What a pair she and Avasarala make. I’m digging that tumultuous friendship.

Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) is a character that reminds me very much of the current GOP leaders, despite the fact these books were published in 2011-2012. It just goes to show you that humans are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again. Because in the end we’re simply selfish, greedy, hairless monkeys. The balls of that treasonous piece of shit to blame everything on Avasarala. That totally reeks of our present day political climate, doesn’t it? Fire this one and throw that one under the bus to save your own ass.

THE EXPANSE -- "Fight or Flight" Episode 301
Syfy

It’s crazy that Julie Mao’s been gone a while now, yet her presence is still felt on the show. I can’t wait to find out exactly what transformation is taking place on the surface of Venus. The escape in Julie’s Razorback is no doubt going to be the big action sequence of the following episode. Though they cleared the destruction of the ship, that little rocket’s got a bumpy ride ahead of it. Hopefully they end up crossing paths with Holden and the gang at some point. That meeting has been a long time coming, so fingers crossed. Will Avasarala stroke-out due to the High-Gs? Nooooooo! What an intense final few minutes! I wish this season premiere had been 2 hours long combining Episodes 301 and 302, which would have seriously made up for an episode with a tad too much exposition. Aside from that, I think this is going to be another solid season with exceptional writing and outstanding performances.

The Expanse is one of those series I wish more people were watching. As I mentioned in my recent Krypton review, these are exactly the type of TV series we tune into Syfy for. The network is doing its part and delivering top-notch sci-fi entertainment of late. It’s up to us to tune-in LIVE in order for these exceptional shows to continue.

 

Are you a fan of The Expanse? Have you read the books? What are you most looking forward to this season? Let’s discuss the series below!

The Expanse airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy and Space in Canada.

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