The Expanse (2015) – Dulcinea, and The Big Empty

I loved the moment when I discovered James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse series of novels. There’s space opera in it, but so much of the worlds they created are grounded in reality, and they all rely on hard science.

So when the television series came along, I was super excited. But I kept waiting before exploring it. I wanted to dive into it as a whole, and now six seasons later, the series has finished up, and while I know there will be differences between books and series, its bones are the same, and it’s gonna be a helluva ride.

It’s the 23rd century, and man has moved out into the solar system. There’s no warp speed, there is just real physics for space travel. Earth is overseen by the U.N., and one of its members, Chrisjen (Shohreh Aghdashloo) is working to keep the peace, even when the OPA (Outer Planetary Alliance) makes off with some stealth tech.

Mars gets mentioned as an independent state from Earth, and some tension is growing there. And out amongst the solar system’s asteroid belt, is Ceres, and a number of other colonized, corporatized asteroids, that house and work the Belters. These humans have grown up in low gravity, with their air and water being dictated by corporations.

The system is on the brink of war.

On Ceres a cop, Miller (Thomas Jane), is thrown an off-the-books assignment to track down a missing rich girl, Julie Mao (Florence Faivre) for her parents. Basically find her, kidnap her and bring her home.

But Julie was aboard the Scopuli, which has sent out an emergency beacon which the freighter, Canterbury, has picked up. A scout ship carrying James Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), Amos Burton (Wes Chatham), Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) and Shed (Paulo Costanzo) go investigate.

But it’s pirate bait, and a stealth ship (the OPA?) fires and destroys the Cant, leaving the scoutship adrift.

There’s a lot of worldbuilding in the first episode, and lots to pay attention to, but James S.A.Corey, better known as Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham helped oversee the pilot episode which was penned by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. They were tasked with getting the complex, multi-character story moving as quickly as possible and dropping viewers into a fully realized universe.

The Expanse launched on 13 December, 2015, and I am buckling up for the ride.

The second episode, The Big Empty, was written by Fergus and Otsby and first aired on 14 December, 2015.

While the crew of the Knight, the tiny scoutship, struggle to find a way to survive, hinging their hopes, and their remaining air, on repairing the radio, they also discover that the transmitter placed on the Scopuli was not OPA, but Martian Naval Tech.

We get to spend some time with the crew throughout this episode as the clash, and there is a bit of a power struggle between Holden and Naomi. Amos reveals he’s wholly dedicated to Naomi, and you don’t want to get on his bad side, Alex is a helluva pilot, Naomi is brilliant, and Holden often leaps before he looks but his heart is in the right place.

All of this plays out while they work to boost a signal for a rescue. And that signal is picked up. A ship moves to intercept. A Martian warship.

On Ceres while Miller is tracing Julie’s movements, and learned she shipped out on the Scopuli, he and his new partner, Havelock (Jay Hernandez) investigate some water theft on the asteroid.

And back on Earth, Chrisjen’s interrogation of the OPA courier is all for naught when he takes his life during transport to the moon.

Miller is running his leads, the Knight crew are being taken aboard the Martian ship Donnager, and peace may be hanging in the balance. What is going on, and who is up to what? We’ll find out more next week, but man do I love the look and feel of the series, and seeing the characters that I have spent so much time brought to loving life.

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