The Expanse Ends on Dramatic yet Inconclusive Note

ExpanseCanterbury– By Paulie Spiceflow –

The season finale of the new sci-fi TV series The Expanse, leaves more questions than answers. Like many TV dramas, The Expanse tries to keep fans wanting more, generating excitement for the next season. Course, there is always the risk you bore your audience with a plot that never seems to go anywhere. While the pace of the show is a little slow, the last episode did just enough to keep me hooked.

Holden and Miller narrowly escape the massacre at Eros Station, receiving a serious dose of radiation and nearly being infected with the self-replicating molecule that took down the Anubis. There are sinister forces at work, trying to develop a new bio-weapon from the molecule (origins as yet unknown) as well as drive the inner planets and belt toward war. Avasrala realizes she may be working for those sinister forces and fears her family is in grave danger if she does not follow the party line. Any sign of doubt would end in her assassination. It is clear she intends to covertly take it down, using her talents in tradecraft.

Fred Johnson, head of Tycho Station, hopes to prevent war but has a horrible reputation, staining his credibility. Holden also faces some credibility issues. After claiming it was Mars who destroyed the Canterbury, he is now on record claiming unknown stealth ships did it. The belters, already angry, may not be willing to listen to the new story. On the personal side, we see some chemistry developing between Naomi and Holden, while Amos is displaying some disturbing sociopathic tendencies. Miller is also showing a vicious side, having little trouble killing anyone he deems bad or criminal. While some of us may see his killings as justified, it is still odd to see him carry the death sentences without a bit of hesitation.

What is the mysterious killer molecule? Is it a living organism or just a “proto-molecule” as it is labeled in the show? Who is really behind the stealth attacks? Is it Earth or perhaps some shadowy faction on Earth? Are the belters and Mars just innocent pawns? What is their motivation?

Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, and other TV dramas have no problem ending seasons without much closure. It is similar to the classic season-ending cliffhanger of years past. Perfect for generating interest and excitement going forward but the show’s writers risk angering viewers as well as creating unrealistic expectations for the next season. If a show fails to meet those expectations, it will meet its end. The new TV drama model, doesn’t do a big cliff-hanger but instead leaves some intermediate plot questions open. The plot advances in the finale but leaves a few lingering questions. In this case, the Holden and Miller plot lines intersect, we learn of Julie Mao’s fate, and learn the source of the stealth ship conspiracy (to some extent).

For a 10 episode season, I suppose this is reasonable.

Full disclosure, I have read Leviathan Wakes, so I know some of what is about to happen (no spoilers here). However, the writers have added quite a bit to the series that is not in the book. It may be from the sequels, which I did not read, but it may also be original content.

The crew of the Rocinante has developed some chemistry, which may become the center of the series going forward. Oddly, Holden is my least favorite. The self-righteous side of him that keeps coming out contradicts everything from episode 1. There were hints of some special origins on Earth but it isn’t really clear why he is such a pain in the ass. Also, he looks like he’s younger than the rest of the crew. Not sure about Amos psychologically, and where Miller fits exactly. Usually noir detectives are loners. The proto-molecule will be at the center of everything. Avasrala, surrounded by enemies and rivals, will have a lonely battle to stop the coming war. Whatever is really going on, she and Fred will need to do the heavy lifting at the upper levels of power while the Rocinante gets to do the dirty work along the belt.

SyFy Channel deserves credit for original content that actually tries to be legit science fiction, not cheap action shows. Hopefully we get more in the coming years.