“The Expanse” is a science fiction television series originally aired by Syfy, and based on the novels of the same name by James S. A. Corey. The story is set 200 years in the future, where our solar system has been completely colonized. The main powers exist on Earth, Mars and the asteroid belt, each of which are independent nations and or/entities. Earth and Mars are constantly at the brink of war, and “the belt” is a fringe group/minority that seems to get overlooked and overworked by the larger, planet-powers.
The show balances the tense politics between Mars and Earth, while delving into a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a one Julie Mao on the asteroid belt, as well as developments regarding the an ice hauler, whose executive officer is the main protagonist. All of these plotlines weave into one another, and the show becomes harder and harder to pause as time goes on.
Though it has a bit of a slow start, it wasn’t long before I was entirely engrossed in “The Expanse.” The entire tone of the show isn’t some post-apocalyptic wasteland, nor is it some over-romanticized future. The leaps forward in medical science and space exploration don’t change human nature, and the details expertly reflect this. There are cracked phone screens, inglorious working class men and women (like the crew of an ice hauler) as the protagonists, and little political nuances that we see every day in the news.
These details are integrated into “The Expanse” and its themes. One scene stands out to me, when one “belter” (someone from the fringe areas of the asteroid belt), is speaking to another, he expresses his disdain for those on planet Earth. He asks the other man’s age, who does not know, and shakes his head at the fact that, even in the asteroid belt, they have to go by Earth years. They can’t even have their own years, they have to defer to the one planet who actually revolves around the sun and thinks they’re so superior for it. It’s a small thing, but it matters to them. It’s the nuances like that really push the show to another level.
“The Expanse” illustrates one truth that we see today among our politically divided nation. First, people are naturally attracted to one side of an issue or the other. If there are not two distinct sides, then they make them. Mars and Earth are different planets, so it stands that the two ought to be pitted against one another.
Then, especially after time has passed and people are used to being on their chose side (or planet), they get this idea that their side is always correct, and if it’s not — at least it’s not the other side. Earth thinks they’re in the right, as does Mars, and both believe that even if some morals are compromised, that pales in comparison to what the opposite planet is capable of.
This divide widens when both Earth and Mars commit terrible crimes in the name of their respective causes. Instead of holding themselves and their own accountable first, they seek to see the other side lose at any cost.
And in all these unnecessary tensions and politics and skirmishes, they begin to overlook something. The planets, in their ignorance and hubris, are unable to see the real threat developing on the horizon — the threat our protagonists find themselves facing.
Unfortunately, Syfy has ended its run with “The Expanse.” However, the good news is that Alcon Entertainment was the studio that financed and produced the show, they were just distributing through Syfy. Many fans are desperately hoping that another studio (many have Amazon in mind) picks up the show so it can continue with upcoming seasons. The last season to air was season 3.
All images courtesy of Syfy Media LLC, via IMDB.