Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
Welcome back. I am continuing my review of all six seasons of acclaimed Sci Fi series The Expanse. If you missed out on Part 1 you can catch up here.
And now on to the rest of the list!
#3 Season 3
Season 3 has two main parts: Episodes 1-6 which follows the war between Earth and Mars and the efforts by the Roci crew to rescue botanist Prax’s daughter Mei from big bad Jules Pierre-Mao; and Episodes 7-13 which deal with the investigation of the protomolecule Ring by various factions.
Now I loved the first half. The war allows for some sweet action set pieces together with an atmosphere of tension. Avasarala and ex-Martian soldier Bobbie Draper’s escape from Mao’s ship is intense and it was great having them join up with the Roci. The scheming Sadavir Errinwright makes for a delightfully despicable villain (I was glad when he eventually got his). And the rescue of Mei and the other children is fantastic, including Bobbie Draper versus the Hybrid and Amos’s iconic “I am that guy” line. Great stuff all around.
The second half though, I just found alright. Holden’s trippy journey with the Miller projection did tickle my Sci Fi exploration bone. I adore Cara Gee’s Camina Drummer and David Straitharn’s Klaes Ashford is pretty cool too, so I enjoyed them dealing with the ever-worsening crisis within the Ring space aboard the Behemoth. And Monica Stuart’s maverick journalist Anna Hopkins was a welcome addition. The firefight with the Martian marines is decent enough.
But I found Nadine Nicole’s revenge-seeking Clarissa Mao to be an underwhelming villain, though thankfully the character improves in later seasons. And the whole Ring plot just didn’t grab me. So despite an excellent first half the just okay second half drags Season 3 to position number three.
#2 Season 1
This is where it all began and where fans were instantly hooked. Season 1 is unique as we have Miller’s investigation of the disappearance of Julie Mao which takes him from Ceres station to Eros. And I loved Thomas Jane as the world-weary, dogged Miller and would not mind a prequel series of just him investigating crimes aboard Ceres or another location. The building mystery is great with its twists and turns and Ceres felt like a living, breathing location.
We also get introduced to Shohreh Aghdashloo as canny politician Chrisjen Avasarala. She is easily one of the best characters on the show (best dressed as well, too) and commands every second of screen time. With two other more action-packed plots (we’ll get to the next one soon) Chrisjen’s efforts to uncover the truth of the Martian stealth technology conspiracy is still riveting, which is credit both to the pitch-perfect writing and Aghdashloo’s performance.
But the heart of the first season and the heart of the show in general is the crew of the Cantebury and later the Rocinante. Steven Strait’s principled captain James Holden, Dominique Tipper’s resilient Naomi Nagata, Cas Anvar’s quippy pilot Alex Kamal and Wes Chatham’s sociopathic but loyal Amos Burton are such a likeable group of characters you back them from the jump. Oh, and there is Paul Constanzo’s anxious medical officer Shed Garvey, who bites the dust in a shocking scene. And speaking of shocking, from the destruction of the Cant, to the escape from the Donnager to the brutal and brilliant firefight on Eros their journey is endlessly entertaining.
And it is so satisfying when the Roci crew join forces (though reluctantly) with Miller, bringing the two plots together. The scene of them finding Julie Mao covered with protomolecule is tragic and disturbing and will remain seared into viewer’s minds. And the spread of the protomolecule on Eros told viewers that things were about to get a whole lot stranger.
#1 Season 2
And this is it folks. The best season of The Expanse in this writer’s most humble opinion. So much happens and there are so many great moments. You have Earth and Mars taking shots at each other. Miller shooting the scientist Dresden in the head. Eros deciding to take a trip to Earth and the attempts to stop it by Earth, Fred Johnson (poor Mormons), and of course the Roci crew and Miller, culminating in the beautiful scene of the besotted detective talking down the protomolecule enhanced Julie Mao.
We also meet kickass Martian sergeant Roberta “Bobbie” Draper who goes from a warmonger to a deserter after the Ganymede incident. And we meet kind-hearted Ganymede botanist Praxideke “Prax” Meng (a wonderful performance by Terry Chen) and we sign up for his mission to rescue his daughter. And on a lighter note Holden and Nagata began their romantic relationship which remains a core relationship for the rest of the series. I ship those two hard, pun very much intended. And on a sadder note we had the evacuation of the Somnambulist from Ganymede and the forced abandonment of the remaining survivors. I’m not crying; you’re crying!
And this season ends with such a bang, both with the Roci crew battling the fantastic-looking Hybrid while Avasarala, Cotyar and Bobbie deal with Errinwright’s betrayal (that dude is quite the bastard) and fend off Mao’s goons aboard his ship. Both storylines had me enthralled.
So yeah, while there is great stuff in all six seasons for me it was near perfect Season 2 that signified and solidified that The Expanse was going to be one of the best Sci Fi series of all time.
And that’s the end of my list. Again, feel free to berate me in the comments. And you can check out more great Sci Fi content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.