There aren’t many science fiction shows that do a good job of blending in elements of other genres without seeming to tip the scales in some way or another. But “The Expanse” is one of the series I have seen that does an impeccable job of creating a realistic, sci-fi world that incorporates elements of other TV genres without watering down anything.
“The Expanse” originally premiered on the SyFy channel before it was ultimately canceled by SyFy in May 2018. Having developed a devoted following, the series has since been picked up by Amazon, who features all three currently available seasons, and is working on the fourth season with a fifth on the way as well.
“The Expanse” is based on the novels of James S.A. Corey, and is set in a future where humans have spread throughout our solar system. There are three main powers in the world of “The Expanse”: Earth, Mars, and The Belt. Earth is run by the United Nations; Mars is a military power that wields advanced technology and is working to terraform their planet; and The Belt is comprised of a series of various space stations and asteroids throughout the system, inhabited by “Belters.”
The show has received extensive praise for its realistic portrayals of space travel and its effects on the human body. For example, Belters, having lived in low gravity their entire lives, are typically taller, lankier individuals, and cannot survive on the surface of Earth without being suspended in a floating tank. Martians, while growing up on a planet with more gravity, have trouble on Earth as well, as the gravity is greater than on Mars, and the sun brighter. This just scratches the surface of a lot of the realism brought to the program that many other sci-fi series tend to just ignore.
While the series takes place in space and has more than its fair share of sci-fi staples, it also does a brilliant job incorporating elements of political intrigue, classic gumshoe detective work, and even some military action. Each season brings on new characters and advances a series of seemingly separate events into a single overarching narrative.
The series begins focusing on multiple characters spread throughout the system: Josephus “Joe” Aloisus Miller (Thomas Jane), a Belter detective on the asteroid Ceres, assigned to find a missing, wealthy heiress named Julie Mao; The crew of James “Jim” Holden (Steven Strait), an Earther executive officer on the Canterbury, an ice hauler that is destroyed after it responds to a mysterious distress call near Saturn; and Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), UN Deputy Undersecretary of Executive Administration who picks up on the scent of a larger political conspiracy to tip the balance of power throughout the system.
The paths of these characters eventually intersect throughout the course of the story as each group runs across a shadowy organization conducting experiments with something known as the “protomolecule.”
The fourth season of “The Expanse” is set to premiere this December on Amazon Prime Video. I have been following this show since the first season, and have enjoyed the numerous twists and turns that have taken place since that time. Sort of a “Game of Thrones” in space, I feel like the show would be enjoyed by people beyond the average sci-fi enthusiast. Fans of a good detective story, high political intrigue and plenty of good action should find something they enjoy in “The Expanse.”