Fight or Flight
It Reaches Out
From the despairing lows of being cancelled at Syfy to its euphoric rise when it was renewed at Amazon, The Expanse’s third season has had quite the tumultuous ride, both on and off-screen. The Expanse’s lofty heights and desperate lows reflect the struggle for many of the characters this year too with a season split between two contrasting storylines. Boasting impressive visuals and a reassured script oozing in confidence, The Expanse continues to grow, delivering another aesthetically pleasing bite of hard sci-fi action as one chapter ends and another begins.
Following the climactic ending to Season 2, The Expanse’s third season sees all hell break loose as war erupts across the solar system. Fresh from their gunfight on-board the Martial vessel, Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and Bobbie (Frankie Adams) desperately seek refuge and eventually find it aboard the Rocinante where the crew continue to struggle with Naomi’s (Dominique Tipper) betrayal after giving Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) and the Belters the proto-molecule sample. With many of the main protagonists converging on-board The Rocinante, caught in the middle of a war built on lies, the first half of the season pushes the Proto Molecule to the background in favour of the bitter rivalry between Earth and Mars. Around the middle of the season, a seismic shift in focus sees a more methodically paced, cerebral danger come to the foreground as a phenomena involving the Proto Molecule sees the crew of the Rocinante wind up at the literal epicentre of the strange occurrence.
The story plays out well for the most part, with a good amount of characterisation for each of the main cast and the introduction of key, new players in the continued struggle for mankind’s dominance in the galaxy. The Expanse has always done well in this respect and Season 3 is no exception. With such a drastic change in pace and tone at the halfway point, some people may find the sudden slowed pace a little jarring, especially compared to last year’s relatively straight forward plot line and pacing that saw all the pieces moving toward the ensuing battle we see here. A tantalising final few minutes leave the door wide open for the fourth season too and it’ll be interesting to see what direction the show takes under Amazon’s wing.
Still, the harsh, bleak nothingness of space has never looked so beautiful with various frigates, rockets and space stations filling up the sky and shown off with a dizzying array of impressive camera angles. The lighting is generally on point throughout the season too and early on there’s some snippets of the ensuing battle between the Martians and Earthlings that helps to act as a pay off for some of the built up tension last year. The second half of the season feels very different in tone too and some of this is accentuated by the dominated use of cold, blue colours echoing the alienating mood radiating through many of the remaining 6 or 7 episodes.
It’s difficult to fault The Expanse and it’s easy to see why. The show has grown from strength to strength since its debut season back in 2015 and this third season solidifies its place within sci-fi’s elite. Given how impressively the show opened back then, to be able to confidently proclaim the show has got better over the years is testament to just how endearing The Expanse is and why it deserved to be renewed by Amazon.
Verdict - 9/10