Want to jump ahead 200 years and let your mind wander to what humankind might be up to?
Good, because the Syfy Network has done it for all our sci-fi enthusiasts with its slickly good and imaginative show, “The Expanse.” The folks at Syfy have pushed us out into the stars 200 years hence and imagined a world where there’s still lust for power, violence, sorrow, adventure and distinctly unique characters to keep us intrigued from start to finish.
In Season 1, the disappearance of rich-girl-turned-political-activist Julie Mao linked the lives of Ceres detective Joe Miller (played by Thomas Jane), accidental ship captain James Holden (played by Steven Strait), U.N. politician Chrisjen Avasarala (played by Shohreh Aghdashloo), and a host of others. Amidst political tensions between Earth, Mars and the Belt, they unravel a terrible and potentially devastating mystery.
Trust me, it’s juicy stuff.
I’ve heard “The Expanse” compared to “Firefly” on many platforms and I think the comparison is a solid one. We’re not talking aliens here, but humans colonizing the planets and moons in the system – and the inherent issues that come into play when there is wealth, power, influence, freedom and prestige to be gained in those situations.
Indeed, when I look at “The Expanse,” I see a “Firefly” that’s nearly 15 years older – more mature, more aware of the politics in the ‘verse and certainly with a harder edge. Being compared to “Firefly” is a pretty good comparison for any show and one that nods positively in the direction “The Expanse” seems to be headed. It is a darker show, but creatively so and that makes it imminently watchable for sci-fi followers.
What works so strikingly well in this world 200 years down the road is that virtually all the players struggle with good and evil, right and wrong, and their particular part to play in each — depending on the situation, people involved, and personal codes and desires. Just about all the characters are flawed or hurting and that makes for compelling issues and moments of truth – and a few surprises – along the way.
Tensions between Earth, Mars and the Belt have the universe on the brink of war as our players head into season 2. Earth wants to control the stars around it, while Mars seeks its own identity and a freedom it sees as its right. The “Belters” provide a more blue-collar mentality that is starting to awaken to their desire for respect and a greater voice. They provide much of the raw materials and resources that grease the skids for the other two powers and feel as though they want a greater voice in the solar system. Those three entities spent season one trying to define and redefine the relationships they have with each other, something that wasn’t particularly successful on many fronts.
And in the midst of all that, Holden captains the spaceship Rocinante and its fascinatingly diverse crew in search of answers for a protomolecule that could threaten the entire solar system, and the sinister conspiracy that seems to have sought to unleash it.
And in the process, people die, bonds are broken, deals are made and reneged on, political battles unfold behind the scenes and everyone is rattling their respective sabres. “The Expanse” creates a colorful tapestry that includes both big picture ideals and wonderfully intimate and local hopes and desires. Season 2’s double-dip on Feb. 1 should pick up right where season 1 left off. More of the same, you ask? More of the same, I tell you.
The writing is on-point, the actors are dialed in and the show feels like a well-oiled and creative machine after only one season. It feels like it didn’t take long for this show to find its footing and hit its stride in many respects.
I admit I was late to this show, which bothers me more than a little bit as these types of efforts are right in my entertainment wheelhouse. But I rebounded and got dialed in and found a gem of a sci-fi adventure in “The Expanse.”
We are staring down the barrel of a double episode season-opener on Feb. 1, the opening salvo in a 13-episode second season every Wednesday at 10 p.m. (9 central) on Syfy.
If you haven’t taken a peek at “The Expanse,” I urge you to find it, binge it and join those of us already in the sky for a second season that looks like it will have plenty of combustible excitement and moments both high and low.
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