Warning: The following review contains Mild Spoilers for the season. You can avoid problems by watching it now!
2018 was a big year for the Expanse. Cancelled by SyFy, then it rode the wave of the #savetheexpanse hashtag all the way to superfan Jeff Bezos and Amazon Prime. With the promise of a big budget and the passion of the cast and crew matched by the people paying the bills, Season 4 was soon announced, and the next act of the epic space opera seemed all but a guaranteed hit.
Fast forward to December 2019 and amid the dramas of politics, weather warnings and the oncoming holidays, and with Season 5 already confirmed, the latest outing for James Holden and the crew of The Rocinante kicked off, and showed the world what life was like with the newly opened ring gate.
Cas Anvar, who plays Alex Kamal, said Series 3 was the end of the first act of the sprawling story of The Expanse, with the protomolecule mystery solved, and the big bad guys all locked up. Act 2 then has a lot to live up to, with intricate plot skilfully intertwined with complex characters expertly portrayed by a brilliantly cast group of actors, all whilst setting up for plot from future books.
We catch up with the crew of The Roci on Earth, enjoying the good life under the care of Secretary General Avasarala and getting a few upgrades to their beloved ship. Meanwhile The Ring is on lock-down, with Belter ships making a sometimes fatal run at it, The Behemoth now turned into Medina Station in the weird ring space and marking the new found power of the Belters and Mars slowly recoiling from it’s recent war and preparing for what will happen with the new access to hundreds of worlds.
Speaking of which, this series we see our first Earth-like planet in the shape of Ilus (or New Terra depending on what side of the main series argument you land on). Ilus also brings us our first view of the remains of the mysterious civilisation that built the protomolecule. Here, another of The Expanse’s great points are brought to life, with the design of the alien architecture feeling wholly alien. This is backed up by incredible scenery, with a quarry near Toronto amazingly transformed into Ilus, and the same amazing level of detail in the sets we have come to expect from the show.
Series 4 then is certainly not shying away from complex plot points, and the brilliant casting also continues. Burn Gorman takes up the role of the chilling Adolphus Murtry, Rosa Gilmore as the brilliant but conflicted Dr Lucia Mazur, and Keon Alexander fits perfectly in as the charismatic Marco Inaros. With these new faces mixing it up with the old guard the story comes to life in all its dramatic glory, and the foreboding for this new act is set up too.
When Jeff Bezos decided to pick up The Expanse, he couldn’t have escaped the fact that he had literally taken up the cause of a passionate and dedicated fan base. The weight on him and everyone involved in the creation of this new series must have felt crushing at times, and it would have been obvious that to fail now would mean one of the most crushing failures of modern sci-fi TV. It is awesome then to be able to say that Series 4 doesn’t just deliver a great story, it continues the now well established high levels of production quality, intense drama, and emotional corkscrewing that we have come to expect, and the scene is set for an explosive fifth season!
Expanse has found it’s new home Beltalowdas!
Do you agree with Marc Sykes assessment of the season? Let us know at the Bunkazilla Stomping Grounds