‘The Expanse’

The Expanse is a hugely watchable, binge-worthy science fiction series. It offers plenty of action, world building, and exciting characters. It’s easy to see why the series has built up such an enthusiastic following.

The core characters are likeable, making you root for them and want to hang around to see how things work out. There are enough dangerous enemies to create satisfying conflicts.

The series doesn’t shy away from in-depth world building. A tremendous amount of thought has gone into the world that the characters inhabit, and the level of detail pays off. The technology always feels believable. It’s more Alien cargo ship than shiny Star Trek interior. The Belters even have their own accent, Jared Harris is particularly good as Anderson Dawes, and delivering his off-world Estuary meets Jamaican.

The Expanse ticks a lot of addictive entertainment boxes. There’s mystery, and an overarching plot in the first two seasons and seven episodes that’s intriguing. A diverse cast of great actors, an intelligent script, and strong female characters.

The first two seasons are addictive viewing, but in-spite of this the show was cancelled. When it was picked up again, after episode seven of season three it falls off a cliff edge. The main story arc gets to a place where the narrative feels like it’s reached a point of completion. The rest of season three hangs around to become an extended denouement. The future of the series was in question and under severe budgetary constraints, hence there’s an over reliance on characters talking in rooms.

A new mystery is introduced, or rather it’s an extension of the mystery introduced in the first two seasons. The fourth season didn’t feel quite right to me and it suffers from introducing a sub-plot that didn’t feel important enough, and too many new characters that I didn’t care about. It’s something of a misfire, but once again it’s probably been hobbled by a reduced budget. The latest season, season five, is still playing out but it seems to be a partial return to form.


Verdict:
Season 1: Brilliant.
Season 2: Brilliant.
Season 3: Interesting.
Season 4: Disappointing.
Season 5 (so far, to episode 5): Interesting.