The Expanse is one of those under appreciated TV shows currently in production. It was over its previous three seasons created some following and this was shown by the massive fan campaign that saved the show from cancellation and its move to Amazon Prime.
The show is a cut above many sci fi dramas containing many high concept features usually found only in books and a deep geopolitical heart that has its foundations in the modern Battlestar Galactica. The author, Jame S.A. Corey is actually a pen name for two writers, Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham both of whom write the TV series alongside Naren Shankar, a sci fi stalwart who has worked on Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, Farscape, The Outer Limits and CSI. This partnership ensures that the series reflects the source books.
For some the end of the story occurs half way through the third season when the subterfuge surrounding the Protomolecule is resolved but Franck and Abrahams have created such a rich world in which to play that the story couldn’t end there. In fact season 4 pushes on the larger plot of how made the protomolecule.
The Expanse is a grown up drama and treats its audience the same way. It is hard to jump into the series mid way through. The plots are complex and multilayered and as in real life the characters do not always do what is expected. The TV production crew have managed to faithfully bring a fascinating book series to vivid life.
This season focuses more on the prejudice between the OPA and the inners. It shows the conflict between the arrogant inner planets and the put upon belters, but rather than this being two dimensional the series explores realistic themes including infighting within the OPA and an election on Earth.
All of the cast are excellent but two stood out, Shohreh Aghdashloo is magnificent as Chrisjen Avasarala and David Strathairn is amazing as Colonle Claes Ashford. Stratharin in particular stole this season for me. In just two seasons he evolved from a dangerous belter pirate to a principled hero. His final scene in the season was moving and noble.
This season is somewhat of a place filler, especially concerning the martian marine Bobby Draper, but her role whilst seemingly unconnected sets up season 5 nicely and will go on to make much greater sense as the series pushes on.
Excellent visual effects, a great political sub-plot and thoughtful sci fi themes this series is seriously the best series on television at the moment.