Why is SyFy the only place to ever have any decent shows?
For a long time that was the question I asked myself and my friends. Almost every show on the television was either some mix of soap opera, teen drama or reality television that made me want to gag. Honestly, there are some of us out there who have a thing called ‘taste’ when it comes to our viewing requests (you guys get me).
SyFy has always become a beacon to a woman like me, who enjoys science fiction and fantasy but does not feel like having to sit through teen dramas and ‘Twilight-esque’ plots just to enjoy a television show every once in a while. Not only does the SyFy channel provide me a source of excellent television entertainment, but it also unlocked the door for a new book series I had not yet encountered. It would be James S. A. Corey’s series.
Here are five reasons why you should be watching The Expanse.
Often when one is reading or watching shows that deal with Science Fiction, there are spaceships. In The Expanse, there is no shortage of them. From the Martian Coalition Republic Navy to the United Nations Navy, it seems every rockhopper has a ship that can get them from one point in the solar system to another.
It is essential in showing a small modicum of freedom for those who don’t live planet-side. If they have their ships, they can move around, which many people have to do to look for work in the world that was left for them.
How else are you supposed to travel from Earth to Mars and back? Yes, let’s try bungee jumping and see how well that works.
2. Relatable Locations
Unlike many of the Science Fiction shows that have been created, the worlds of The Expanse are closer than we think. Rather than some out of reach galaxy. Earth with its U.N. and Navy, Mars with the Martian Coalition Royal Navy (M.C.R.N) and the Belt.
Life exists either on the planets of Mars and Earth or within the Asteroid belts. If you choose to live elsewhere, you can take up residence on a ship and work until you die. Those are the only options present. Live on Earth, move to Mars, or attempt to live in the Belt. Like with life anywhere there are always difficulties.
To fully become invested in the story it helps to be familiar with locations that a person has already studied. Anyone who has taken any planetary or earth science class often learns the names of the planets but also the moons surrounding many of them. These relatable locations help the audience become more than just a spectator in the vast universe.
3. The Plot
The Expanse starts out with a small crew on the Ice Hauler Canterbury. We are first introduced to our hodgepodge cast including First Officer, soon to be Captain, James ‘Jim’ Holden, Former Martian Marine Pilot Alex Kemal, Belter engineer Naomi Nagata, Earther muscle Amos Burton and for a while, the medical tech Shed Garvey.
Our crew is out hauling ice from the rings of Saturn and on their way back when they discover a distress beacon and go to investigate. This one event triggers a chain reaction of pain and chaos that makes up much of the plot. While these five individuals are out investigating the source of the distress signal, a group of stealth ships blow up the Canterbury and create a random stream of chaos.
From the destruction of the Canterbury, our bumbling gang must uncover why their ship, a random ice hauler was targeted and who is behind it while making enemies and allies along the way. At one point they get picked up by the MCRN Donnager, the Martian Naval flagship. When it gets blown up just like their ice-hauler, the rag-tag group inherits the Rocinante. This ship will become their home away from home and their means of transport through both current seasons.
There are action and adventure, and yes a little bit of romance but it is the fear of the unknown and the desire to get to the bottom of what happened that drives the plot of this show further.
4. The Cast
In both the book and the television show we are given a wide variety of actors and actresses to play roles in this show. Even though some of them have never met in person, they are all intertwined together in one big web.
The cast, as shown from left to right:
Florence Faivre as Juliette ‘Julie’ Andromeda Mao
Thomas Jane as Josephus “Joe” Aloisus Miller
Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata
Steven Strait as James “Jim” Holden
Cas Anvar as Alex Kemal
Wes Chatham as Amos Burton
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala
Not only have they cast characters that visually match but they have worked to bring in a diverse cast that can help anyone watching relate to each character. Diversity is important, but often a lot of shows fall flat in this area.
5. Chrisjen Avasarala
I always tell anyone that will listen that every show needs at least one woman who is not afraid to tell a man she has bigger cajones than he does. Chrisjen is that woman. As the UN Assistant Undersecretary of Executive Administration she is very much a no-nonsense woman. Much of what we learn early in the first and second seasons of the show are due to her and her acts. If anyone has read the books, the Chrisjen on the television is even tamer than she is in print.
A woman who never seems to show that she’s afraid or that the ploys and machinations of men bother her, Chrisjen continues to try to uncover how far down the rabbit hole this entire plot goes, as well as trying to bring peace between an almost all-out warring Earth, Mars, and Belt.
If you thought The Expanse was good (and you should), you won’t think the sci-fi in this list is. Presenting the five worst Sci-Fi films of the last five years.