THE EXPANSE SEASON THREE review
THE EXPANSE SEASON THREE Review
I was saddened when SyFy cancelled THE EXPANSE on May 11. I was likewise overjoyed a few weeks later, when Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon would be picking up production on the series, now in its third season.
Bezos made clear that he is a huge fan of THE EXPANSE, a sprawling space opera about humanity’s settlement of the Solar system. This is not surprising, given Bezos’ own ambitions for space exploration.
Be all that as it may, I think THE EXPANSE is the best hard science fiction TV series I have ever seen, period, and THE EXPANSE SEASON THREE is the best yet.
For one thing, I seek enjoyable entertainment from the series, and THE EXPANSE never disappoints. The exploits of the principal characters are exciting, with skillfully conceived plot developments unfolding at a breakneck pace.
Furthermore, the production values for the series are astonishing, particularly with regard to special effects and scientific continuity, both of which are crucial to hard science fiction in filmic form.
Production design generally is striking for its range, covering everything from the gritty, realistic, nuts and bolts look of the Belters’ habitats to the streamlined architecture of a future UN. The cinematography is extraordinary throughout, with exacting frame composition and character blocking.
Speaking of characters, the acting is top-notch throughout. All of the actors take extraordinary people and make them believable. Of course, space opera is melodrama in the literary sense, so it would be easy to over-sentimentalize such characters or make them flat heroic types. The characters in THE EXPANSE, by contrast, seem real because the actors express motivations that resonate with most people.
These motivations come down to the writing. Character design and development are brilliant, showing a deep understanding of psychology, and the dialogue flows naturally from the characterization. In THE EXPANSE, plot derives from character, not the reverse. There’s also the world building, which in this series amounts to future history as back-story. This is an intricately detailed future, and it’s one with enormous potential for developing new stories. We owe this to the series’ source, i.e., the series of novels by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, writing as James S.A. Corey.
In fact, the story is ripe for literary interpretation, and the novelistic origin of THE EXPANSE renders the series accessible to critical analysis. Just off the top of my head, I can see the series’ political conflicts to be an allegory of the class struggle in 21st century late-stage global capitalism, with Earth as capitalists, Belters as the proletariat, and Mars as technocratic progressivism. Or American imperialism, with the Belt being the resource-rich global South and Mars being the European social democracies. The series definitely has much to interest a scholar.
Ah, but as a reviewer of popular entertainments, my goal is not edification but rather recommendation, and I definitely recommend THE EXPANSE.
If you’re not watching it already, you really want to, you just don’t know it yet – get the first episode and get ready to be filled with awe.
THE EXPANSE Season Three, Episode 10 premieres on SyFy on June 13th.
WRITING 5 / 5
ACTING 5 / 5
CINEMATOGRAPHY 5 / 5
PRODUCTION DESIGN 5 / 5
I would like to thank the Seattle Public Library for providing me with internet access through their circulating mobile hot-spot program.