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The Expanse – How Much We Have! How Little We Know!

The figures of a man in street clothes and one in a space suit stand suspended in a dark blue haze.
Detective Miller and James Holden in space.

“The Expanse” is a story about the haves and the have nots.  A classic story of social strata, of those who work to change their fate, and those who aim to keep theirs.  And in between the battles in space, and the scientific experimentation, are people who matter, all people, trying to live their lives.

Whatever you think the future will look like, one thing’s for sure, human kind will be much the same as it is now.  “The Expanse” was created after the series of novels of the same name, written by  James S. A. Corey, the joint pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  What James S. A. Corey has done with this series of books and thus the show, is imagine a world 200 years in the future where human kind has moved beyond the moon to Mars and an asteroid belt called Series.  Earthers, Martians and Belters (those who live on the asteroid belt and mine its resources) rely on a flimsy peace among them, held together by what seems like the only commonality, the fact that they’re all of the human species.  But what happens when an alien life form is introduced into the mix?

A nuclear missile flying through space with a purple jet fuel trail enters a blue and white alien haze to destroy it in space.
The Expanse

A rouge government official, an arrogant scientist, and a rich girl turned OPA terrorist are just some of the captivating characters in a story that will glue you to your seat.  Unlikely heroes Detective Miller of the Belt, and the motley crew of an ice freighter work to solve the puzzle of how an alien life force came to infect their worlds.  The problem is Earth thinks it was Mars.  Mars thinks it was Earth and the Belters don’t know who to believe.  Alliances are tricky and thousands of innocent people get caught in the cross fire.

It gets even worse when the “cross fire” is an alien life form that not only consumes whatever is in its path but learns from it and creates an entirely new life form.  It just gets weirder and more addicting!

My Favorite Character

Actor Jared Harris plays OPA general, Anderson Daws in SYFY’s beautiful and equally frightening series. The characters are deeply portrayed and expertly written, and Anderson Daws has to be my favorite.  Why?  Because he is so clear about his reason for living, because his sadness knows no end, and his character understands what true sacrifice really is.  The scene below explains it all so well. 

But perhaps another scene for which there is no clip explains the Belters’ perspective.  Daws and Detective Miller are discussing why the OPA (the ‘terrorist’ organization intent on a free and autonomous Siries, their home) fight against the Earthers and Mars.  It’s a beautifully written and performed scene.  Daws says,

‘I see things you don’t see – a Siries for Belters, run by Belters…Right now the OPA controls all the grids – air, water, power, the very life blood of this station.  All we’ve ever known is low G (gravity) and an atmosphere we can’t breathe.  Earthers get to walk outside into the light – breathe pure air, look up at a sky, and see something that gives them hope.  And what do they do?  They look past that light, past that blue sky.  They see the stars, and they think, ‘mine’.’

Three guys in a space ship stare out at something.
Lieutenant Jim Holden and two of his crew.

Of course other characters also play a pivotal role in the success of the story.  The ice freighter’s First Lieutenant Jim Holden played by Steven Strait makes a commanding yet fallible captain, likable to his very core.  His love interest, Naiomi Nagata played by Dominique Tipper is a complex character whose allegiances lie both with her Belter family and her Earther friends.  Her friend and sometimes bodyguard Amos Burton played by Wes Chatham is as loyal and conversely as sociopathic as they come, and the pilot, Alex Kamal played by Cas Anvar initially lacks the confidence to fly into the danger zone, but rises to the occasion out of necessity.  It’s a team you’ll wish you were a part of despite the obvious risk of death.

A beautiful dark skinned woman looks down at her lover as he lies shirtless on a bed.
Jim Holden and Naiomi Nagata

A Really Beautiful Scene

Toward the end of the first season an exhausted, suicidal and often drunk Detective Miller finds his way to Julie Mao, or at least to what she has become.  The resulting scene could only be created by a cooperation of writers, actors, the director of photography and a talented team of special effects artists because the artistry and gentle beauty of the moment has no equal in the rest of the series.  Miller and Julie are suspended in a blue firefly filled, space inhabited by whispers and the energy of life itself buzzing around them.  They rest in each other’s arms, cradled in a sea of eternity.

The inside of a spaceship lit with blue firefly light. A figure of a man stands in the distance.
The alien form lives.

The End is Not the End

With 3 seasons under its belt (pun intended), the show has more stories to tell and our friends will return to tell them.  Amazon Prime has committed to a Season 4 (Thank you God!  And Jeff Bezos)  We’ll see them soon!

FYI the books are amazing!  Please read them.  There will be a test. The Expanse Set: Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War and Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey