First Impressions

The Expanse

Aired on: Syfy

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            I recently had the opportunity to check out a new science fiction series scheduled to air on the Syfy Network on December 14, 2015.  The premiere episode of The Expanse, based on a series of novels by James S. A. Corey, otherwise known as Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank, was made available for streaming on November 23, 2015.  It's usually hit or miss with new series on Syfy, but when there are hits, they are in the form of greats like Battlestar Galactica, so I figured why not check it out.

The series takes place two hundred years in the future.  Earth, now under the governing body of the United Nations, has colonized the Solar System.  The system is basically divided into three main factors: Earth, Mars and the Belt.  The people of Mars have their own military, as does Earth.  The Belt seems to be one of those in-between settlements with little power, populated by the downtrodden.  A tense relationship has arisen between Earth, Mars and the Belt, putting the Solar System at risk.

The Expanse follows two individuals in particular.  Miller (Thomas Jane) is a police detective on the Belt dwarf planet known as Ceres.  Rough around the edges and on the take, Miller nonetheless has a heart for the people he grew up with.  He was born in the Belt and will never forget that fact.  He has recently been given the job of hunting down Julie Mao (Florence Faivre), the daughter of rich parents on Luna who has disappeared after becoming involved with local resistance factions.

Meanwhile, James Holden (Steven Strait) is assisting in mining ice in the asteroid belt for the Canterbury.  Water is a huge commodity and the Canterbury is set to return ahead of schedule meaning a big bonus for all personnel onboard.  Sure, there's a minor setback when the Executive Officer goes crazy, but the Captain feels Holden is competent enough to take his place.  Despite his objections to the idea, Holden is a born leader, but the Ex-O's issues are the least of their worries. 

An S.O.S. has been received from the freighter Scopuli and, though the captain plans to ignore it, something about the message causes Holden to send the information on to headquarters, forcing the Canterbury to turn around and check the distress signal out.  It's not long after they arrive at the abandoned freighter that the crew of the Canterbury realize they've been set up.

As I sat and watched the premiere episode of The Expanse, I found myself slightly bored.  Miller was an interesting character, but his storyline and his search for the missing subversive rich girl wasn't all that captivating.  James Holden's storyline isn't much more exciting.  He reminds me of Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy - witty, good looking (zero-g intimate relations are quite interesting) with a conscience. 

Thus, I was about ready to write this series off as one of those I can afford to miss when something happened that made me change my mind.  In fact, those last scenes of the premiere episode left me speechless, with my jaw hanging open, thinking, "Holy crap!  Did that just happen?!"  It was one of those shocker endings that people can't help but talk about and a helluva way to begin a new television series, completely changing my mind about whether I will follow it or not.  Though I can't reveal this ending for fear of spoiling it for those who want to see the premiere episode, I have to say that this ending effectively made it a no brainer for me - I have to see what happens next on The Expanse, if only to get an explanation for that ending!


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