Monday, August 1, 2016

Rewatch: The Expanse SyFy Series

After recently re-watching the first season of SyFy's The Expanse, I can honestly say it was even better the second time around. There are so many nuances in the dialogue and images that are so easily missed and yet add layers to understanding the intricate plot as a whole.

This gritty, imaginative Sci-Fi drama takes place 200 years in our future, when humankind has colonized a good chunk of our solar system. It's no utopia.

Here's the Season One trailer.

The Premise
Earth and the Moon ("Luna") are run by the United Nations. Mars is fully colonized and has a powerful military. Everyone else lives a hard scramble life in the asteroid belt mining the asteroids and outer planet moons for water, gases and minerals, most of which is sent back to Earth and Mars. These "belters" aren't happy with their poor living conditions and throw-away treatment by the inner planets.

From their ranks a powerful terrorist organization (or social movement, depending on your point of view) called the OPA--Outer Planets Alliance--has risen and poses a significant threat. Those are the main players in this richly envisioned future society, but the politics are much more complex and precarious than just a three-way standoff.

The Characters
The story is told primarily through three main characters--James Holden, a newly-promoted XO on an ice hauler Canterbury, Joe Miller, a police detective on Ceres Station in the asteroid belt, and Chrisjen Avasarala, a powerful UN Deputy Undersecretary on Earth.

A Martian military gunship in the process of being disguised
as the gas hauler, Rocinante (roughly translates to "work horse"
in Spanish, but also the name of Don Quixote's horse).
Though The Expanse is more Sci-Fi than SFR, the two male leads' actions and motives are driven by their tragic longing for women they can't have, and the fates of all the characters are tied to an event that sparks what could be the beginning of a system-wide war. That event is the destruction of the Canterbury, and a subsequent declaration by James Holden that triggers the catch-phrase of a rising OPA rebellion, "Remember the Cant!"

There are many important secondary characters, including James Holden's shipmates who are all survivors from the doomed Canterbury, Julie Andromeda Mao--rich girl turned OPA rebel who ultimately is a direct connection between two of the characters, Fred Johnson, who a decade before earned the title the "Butcher of Anderson Station," and now oversees the construction of the largest spacecraft ever built, the LDS generation ship, the Nauvoo, while heading up the OPA.

I won't go into the details of the plot (that would take about ten blogs!) but you can review the individual episode synopses on Wikipedia. (Once on the site, you'll need to scroll down.) If you're intrigued, I highly recommend renting or buying Season One and watching the episodes in rapid succession so you can get a better feel for the intricacies of the plot.

This video--The Expanse: Worlds of the Future--gives you a better feel for the show's dynamics with the benefit of some of the amazing visuals.

The Expanse is the most expensive SF series the SyFy channel has ever produced...and believe me, it shows. The sets are meticulous and well-lit, the various ships and locales are detailed and diverse, the special effects are mesmerizing, and the characters are extremely complex and often surprising in their choices and actions.

For those who are already fans of the series, here's the Season Two trailer. (Pretty much guaranteed to raise the eyebrows of those who know the story to date.) Season Two will premier early in 2017.

The Expanse is based on a series of novels by James S. A. Corey, the pen name of the writing team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Have a great week.

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