Last year, I took a liking, at least in general, to Syfy’s new series The Expanse. Based on James A. Corey’s book series, The Expanse takes a look at human politics in the not too distant future, as man has spread out among the planets in our solar system.
However, while people seem to think that you get more out of the series if you read the books, I strongly oppose any series where you have to do extra homework to enjoy it. It has to stand or fall on its own merits and I questioned if it could do so in the long term. So how has it fared in the second season? Read on to find out.
At the end of the first season, a mysterious protomolecule was discovered and now, as more of the solar system learns of it, the machinations of war come to a head as everyone rushes to make it their own. Mars and Earth start rattling sabers and Earth eventually launches a nuclear missile attack on Eros, which has been infected by the protomolecule. This was a ploy by Fred Johnson, who takes the opportunity to steal some missiles. But now that war looms, can anyone survive what may be a prelude to an alien attack?
The series is at least allowing the story to dictate the adaptation from the books. The first season didn’t just take the first book, Leviathan Wakes, and make a season out of it. In fact, a good portion of season two finishes the first book before launching into the second, Caliban’s War. Far too many book-based series just go book-for-season, which often doesn’t produce good television.
Again, I will say that the acting is excellent, but the characters still have not grabbed me the way I think they should. I find it hard to identify with any of them seriously. When Thomas Jane’s character died mid-way through the season, I felt nothing. Okay, he’s gone now. Whatever. Because I never identified with him, or anyone else, on an emotional level. In fact, there are so many characters that it’s hard to even think about him being gone because I really don’t miss him. I think that’s a major problem for any series.
But one thing I wanted to say, and I know this isn’t the fault of the series but it’s just a personal quibble, but I really hate mixing Earth-based sci-fi with aliens. They started off with a great story about our solar system and then they had to throw in the bit about aliens. I know it’s in the books and all, but it’s something I really don’t like. Personal preference and all.
So while it’s still a visually stunning show, while the story is pretty good, it still needs better characters. And because it needs better characters, it is going to get the same score I gave last year. And no, I still haven’t read any of the books, which I may or may not get around to doing. Maybe I’ll have read them by the time next season starts.