How much I’ve seen: First 4 Episodes
It’s kind of like: Game of Thrones IN SPACE
Where you can watch it: Syfy.com is streaming all four episodes, but episode 5 airs on Jan 5th so they might expire soon.
The Expanse was completely off my radar, but after hearing about it in an episode of Still Untitled I decided to check it out, and damned if I’m not glad I did. There have only been four episodes so far, but I can’t wait for more.
The Expanse takes place about 200 years into the future. Mars has been colonized. Long-enough-ago that it has severed ties with Earth, developed its own Navy, and is in a cold war scenario with the United Nations. Additionally, humanity has expanded far enough out into the galaxy that the asteroid belt has its own colonies, and its own citizens, referred to as Belters.
Wikipedia describes the show as a space opera, which is fine, but I like to think of it as Game of Thrones in space. Like GoT there are lots of things going on in lots of different settings, swapping back and forth throughout each episode, and there’s some kind of multi-layered plot involving all three groups (Earthlings, Martians, Belters), but we don’t know what is going on yet. But they’re on the brink of war.
So far I’m most interested in the UN Deputy Undersecretary character, but that’s probably only because she’s played by Shohreh Aghdashloo and I would listen to her read a phone book. Tom Jane plays an affected Belter detective on a privatized security force who caught a case of a missing rich girl. Somehow that’s going to tie into the overarching plot, but it isn’t clear exactly how yet. There’s also some stuff involving a salvage crew that got mixed up with the flagship of the Martian Navy.
One of the things I thought was most interesting is the emphasis on mormons in the show. Early on in the first episode I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a poster for The Book of Mormon, which seemed like odd product placement, but then mormons became part of the world-building. They have spread the good news to all of Earth, apparently, because now they’re expanding beyond the solar system. The show is based on a book series (the first season is going to cover only the first book) by “James S. A. Corey” which is actually the pen name of a pair of writers. I couldn’t find any info on this, but I’d venture to guess that they are LDS.
Although that bit of world-building is a little quirky, I think it totally makes sense, and the rest of it is really good. Early on they show Earthlings torturing a Belter by taking him out of a water tank and exposing him to Earth’s gravity. After 200-ish years, humans have already started evolving, and this guy is (by modern Earth standards) freakishly tall and thin. Like a whale, he can’t survive in Earth’s gravity out of water. Amazing. Not only that, but the UN has banned the practice of gravity-torture (which of course doesn’t stop them from doing it).
I don’t think I’ve reviewed a show mid-season yet, but I’m so pumped to see more of this that I’m sending this email out now in hopes that more people watch it, boost the ratings, and keep it on the air. The show’s on Syfy, which amazes me for a number of reasons. A) It’s good, 2) the production value is *way* high for a show on basic cable, and D) it’s actually science fiction and not ghost hunters or wrestling or fish-weather.
So, watch The Expanse. And tell your friends. (And tell them about this list while you’re at it.)