A Shot In The Dark
The One-Eyed Man
A lot of good TV shows are cancelled every year. It’s one of the worst parts of this job and out of all the recent announcements, The Expanse was the one I never expected to see on the chopping block so prematurely. I, like many others, were shocked and disappointed by this news but much like the crew of the Rocinante, The Expanse fought back from the brink of certain death to come out the other side stronger and more determined than ever before. With a bigger budget, glossier visuals and a continuation of the politically charged narrative, Amazon Studios showcases why it made the right decision revitalizing this show, delivering an impressive slice of hard sci-fi in The Expanse’s fourth season.
If its been a while since you watched The Expanse, I strongly recommend checking out some recaps online. The accompanying one from Amazon isn’t bad but feels much more geared toward those needing a brief reminder on what they’ve recently seen than an in-depth update on the intricate relationships and situations affecting our characters.
With The Ring network now open and thousands of worlds waiting to be discovered, much of this fourth season revolves around the implications this discovery brings, both politically and socially. At the heart of this is, of course, our main Rocinante crew; Amos, Naomi, Holden and Alex who are given a mission to visit the recently discovered planet Ilus. Once there, they realize things aren’t as simple as they seem, with Belters inhabiting the planet and the RCE touching down and immediately causing hostilities to flare up between the two sides. As the season progresses, more about the strange alien ruins there are revealed, along with serious ramifications that affect everyone on Ilus. That’s to say nothing of Murtry, who continues to kick the proverbial hornet’s nest as war threatens to break out at any moment.
Alongside this main plot line are several subplots running parallel to this which converge at the end of the series in a perfect, smooth transition. Bobbie returns to Mars and discovers the planet has a rotten core and a dark secret, Belter terrorist Marco causes havoc across the system while Avasarala finds her position threatened on Earth thanks to an upcoming election. All of this culminates in a thrilling finale that leaves things wide open for the fifth season and makes the slow burn across the nine episodes prior worth waiting for with some much-needed action.
What The Expanse lacks in wide-sweeping planetary fights and battles in space, it more than makes up for with its visual design. Interior ships are detailed, the barren wasteland of Ilus looks bleak and mysterious, while the Martian city gives off an uneasy metropolitan feel, one reinforcing the uneasiness that something isn’t quite right there. The colours are on-point too and there’s some really nice shots here, including an impressive one-shot, handheld camera movement during a tense segment in the finale. All of this combines to give The Expanse far more of a big-budget feel this time around and the show is all the stronger for it.
Much like the book, this fourth chapter does take a backseat to a lot of the action seen last time around and those expecting more of the proto-molecule and alien lifeforms seen last season may find themselves a little disappointed. There’s a lot more emphasis around old rivalries flaring up in the face of new discoveries and this pretty much encapsulates the entire season.
If you’re looking for another dose of hard sci-fi, topped off with a side order of political intrigue and gorgeous visuals, The Expanse Season 4 is the perfect dish to gobble up. While it may not be as action packed as the previous season, there’s enough here to make for an impressive watch nonetheless. It’s another reminder of why shows like this sometimes deserve a lifeline and with plenty of book material still to adapt, the future finally looks bright for our space-faring pioneers. The Expanse is quite simply the best sci-fi show on TV right now and this fourth season only reinforces this.
Verdict - 9/10