The second season of SyFy’s The Expanse (2015-) recently come to a disappointing concluded for me. Perhaps I’m overly critical, or I simply heard too much hype about how great it was, but I kept hoping for something more. As the ad says, it’s from the writers of Children of Men (2006) and Iron Man (2008), which suggests the show’s range; part thought-provoking, part conventional Hollywood. Perhaps there is more substance to the books.
Like Game of Thrones (2011-), The Expanse is based on a successful, incomplete book series, where a mysterious danger threatens the unsuspecting masses. Like the Alien films (1979-2017), unscrupulous people are looking to weaponize this danger for their own ends. Like Firefly (2002), the heart of the show centers around a ship of likable and lucky misfits who seem to have been mistaken for a boy band by the marketing department.
Okay, so if the show is that bad, why did I keep watching it? But that’s just it. It’s not really that bad. The premise is great: In the future, Earth and the Moon are governed by the U.N. and most of the people are unemployed, living off government assistance, because technological advances have made the manual labor pool obsolete. Meanwhile, Mars has been colonized by harty individuals striving for a collective goal; to create a new world free from the corrupt influence of the decadent Earthers. Caught in between are the Belters; those living on the asteroids and space stations outside Earth and Mars. It’s somewhat like the dynamics of the Cold War, with Earth being the First World, Mars the Second, and The Belt, the unaligned and frequently abused Third.
I wish the show would live in these spaces, rather than using them as a backdrop for another cowboys in space, action/horror series. One of the possible storylines that they only touch on are the Mormons, who are actively evangelizing throughout the solar system and building a massive ship to take some of them to a new home that will require multiple generations to get to. It’s potentially so interesting but it’s sadly reduced to a plot device for the momentary motives of the main characters.
Like I said, maybe the books have more substance, and it’s not like the show is horrible. As TV shows go, it’s pretty good, and if you like science fiction you’ll probably enjoy it. Just, don’t expect too much.