WILW: The Expanse

It starts with a girl.

That’s as far as Amanda got with this WILW before she had to pass it over to me, defeated (as we all are) by the daunting prospect of having to speak intelligently about the strange, beautiful and addictive SYFY series called The Expanse.

I find myself vindicated in recent weeks by the fact that more people are giving The Expanse a shot than were doing so a couple of years ago, when I was the only person I knew who was watching.

I came to the first season in equal parts optimistic and skeptical. I was optimistic about the ambition of the show (A science fiction to fill the lonely boots left behind by Battlestar Galactica? Sign me up!) but skeptical about a lot of aspects of the execution.

I was unconvinced by the acting, for starters, and by the aesthetic, and by the effects and the way the story was told. Worst of all, I found myself confused by terms and rules, names and places. Nothing really made sense in the way TV should make sense. I found myself watching because I’d paid for the season before starting. I was, as they say, in it for the long run.

Then, quite all of a sudden, the pieces fell into place for me. There wasn’t any momentous moment in an episode when it happened. It just sort of clicked halfway through some fly-over episode in the ramp up to the season finale; one minute I was distracted, as usual, and then the next minute I wasn’t. I was arrested, riveted, curious, and eager. I don’t know what did it, but I remember to this day having a moment where I thought, in an articulate sentence, This is a really good show. The thought, like The Expanse, came out nowhere and caught me off guard. I haven’t looked back since.

Amanda tried this show once about a year ago, made it halfway through the first episode, and called it quits. I can think of about four other people who gave the show a chance on my recommendation and quit right about the same time. I can’t blame them, really, as the show does a lousy job introducing itself. What I can say now, however, is that Amanda has come around to this show in a big way. Halfway through season two she loved an episode so much she actually rewatched the end of it immediately after finishing - a first for someone who makes a game out of picking apart weak plots and inexplicable character choices.

The Expanse is unlike anything else on TV. It’s a science fiction that’s more about the relationships of a crew than about the mysteries of space (though those mysteries, when they come into view, are formidable and well executed). Part noir, part cold-war espionage thriller, part character study, all set against the vast expanse of a cold, unfeeling cosmos, this is a show that’s not to be missed.

The series was first introduced in book form, written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the pen name “James S. A. Corey.” The first book, Leviathan Wakes, was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, while the overall series was nominated for the Hugo Award Best Series in the following years. What makes the television adaptation unique is that both writers continued on as writers and showrunners with Naren Shankar, and it shows. The eighth of nine books will release in spring 2019, and the ninth book is scheduled for release in 2019, preventing the shaky landing Game of Thrones is looking to have as we await the final season.

Do yourself a favor and give it a look, especially if you have Amazon Prime - where Season 1 is free to stream.

Just make sure you don’t give up halfway through episode one. The show gets prettier with time. Don’t let the space dust deter you.

-R


You Might Like The Expanse If You Like:

  • The Mass Effect Trilogy (Bioware)

  • The Red Rising Saga, by Pierce Brown

  • Battlestar Galactica

  • A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin

  • Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott


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