Expanding characters, scope, and high stakes puts us on the edge of our seats.
SyFy’s series ‘The Expanse‘ is one of the best sci-fi shows, ever. Period. And Season Three is not only exceptional in nearly every way it became a charged emotional experience as the rising stakes in the show paralleled series fans’ desperate scramble to find a new home for the show after a SyFy cancellation mid-season.
For the uninitiated, ‘The Expanse‘ is based upon the highly regarded sci-fi novels by James S. A. Corey. It takes place hundreds of years in the future where the solar system has been colonized leaving Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt miners, “Belters”, maneuvering around each other for that fickle thing, respect and equal footing. When the discovery of an “alien” substance, the protomolucule, sends the entire system on a collision course motivated by greed, fear, and need for power.
In the middle of the mess is the ragtag crew of a recently commandeered warship the “Rocinante“. Led by the inexperienced, yet idealistic James Holden (Steven Strait), this crew does its very best to avoid trouble while–at nearly even turn–ending up right in the middle of a brewing galactic war and the ongoing struggle over this protomolecule.
While, back on Earth U.N. Diplomat Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) fights her own political war in keeping the warmongering leaders of Earth, Mars, and the Belt away from total annihilation.
Each season has a distinctive feel that morphs as the razor’s edge status quo changes. The noirish mystery of Season One became a pot-boiler brink of war by Season Two.
As political and personal betrayals pile on we enter Season Three with everything in chaos. The season starts with the Rocinate pursuing mad-scientists looking to weaponize the protomolecule and, in doing so, find verifiable information that’ll (hopefully) halt the war. And then, after a breathless mid-season resolution, everything morphs again. Shifting into an epic space opera that should carry well into next season.
This is that rare TV beast that only gets better. Creators Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby along with showrunner Naren Shankar take the stories and characters of the novel series and meticulously distill them into a vast potential future brimming with intrigue, adventure, action, and thrills. With a stellar cast and top notch production values that eek out every bit of the limited budgets.
The serialized style demands you watch in order and from the beginning. But, time spent is well rewarded. And unlike many other genre series, ‘The Expanse‘ offers viewers plenty to cheer about as we go along–this isn’t a nihilistic slogfest of relentless disappointments and disillusion. It’s an edge of your seat experience that impacts and surprises with an abundance of holy sh*t moments.
Sure, some of the political sub-plotting might seem far removed (and kinda boring) from the more derring-do of the space adventures and there’s coincidentals that occasionally stretch. But, that’s just the art of it. Perfection’s over-rated, anyway. And, for once, we’ve got gritty science ficiton that respects the science. Every detail into the physics of space exploration is lovingly created.
But, the best parts of this show (all shows) is the relationship building. Our core “Roci” crew members (Strait, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham, and Frankie Adams) our joined by abundance of recurring guests that add complexity to the wonderful character dynamics. Notables include David Strathairn, Elizabeth Mitchell, Terry Chen, Shawn Doyle, Chad Coleman, Nadine Nicole, and Nick Tarabay.
Come for the great Science Fiction, something sorely lacking in contemporary fantasy/comic book heavy genre TV, but stay for the epic, meticulously crafted stories and characters. Season Three of ‘The Expanse‘ is purely amazing. And, as Amazon has picked this series up for at least another season, rejoice at all the greatness yet to come.