Show: "The Expanse"
Release Date: Dec. 14, 2015
Genre: Sci-fi, action
The penultimate season of “The Expanse” is just as exciting as the previous four, continuing the show’s reputation for gripping sci-fi action, dramatic political maneuvering and complex characters.
The show is set in a distant but recognizable future where humanity has settled the Moon, Mars and parts of the asteroid belt. Mars and Earth are rivals, each united under their own separate governments, while the Belt is ruled by a combination of Earther, Martian and corporate colonies.
The conflicts between the inner planets and the Belt are disrupted by a deadly and mysterious “protomolecule,” but that story played out back in the first season — if you haven’t watched that yet, then get on it. It’s the type of show that’ll confuse you if you miss 15 minutes, but it’s definitely worth the investment.
It only got more complicated this season, as the four main characters — James Holden (Stephen Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) and Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) – were split up during the first episode.
This shift meant the main characters developed differently than in previous seasons because a group dynamic wasn’t really present. Instead, the crewmates had to survive by themselves or with other characters, giving the audience a look into their backstories and a chance for the crew to develop as individuals.
While this change from previous seasons was interesting, it was also a bit disappointing. Some of the best parts from the rest of the show were the moments between the four main characters, and the absence of those moments meant a lack of much-needed comic relief and friendliness.
However, what the latest season lacked in levity, it more than made up in drama. The combination of a massive terrorist attack against Earth and family drama between Naomi and her long-lost son gave the season two interconnected story lines.
These dual story lines gave fan-favorite characters plenty of time to shine, and the cast members behind each character excelled as well. Cara Gee played Camina Drummer with enough anger to fuel the show by herself, and Chatham’s portrayal of mechanic Amos Burton also stood out.
The one exception was Anvar, whose portrayal of Alex Kamal was overshadowed by the fact that he was accused of sexual harassment and assault of multiple women, including some under the age of 18. Anvar will rightfully not appear in the sixth season due to these accusations, but the fifth season had already been filmed by the time they came to light.
All in all, the fifth season of “The Expanse” is an excellent addition to an already-excellent show. It’s a must-watch for science fiction fans and anyone who enjoys political intrigue or breakneck action.
You can stream all five seasons of “The Expanse” on Amazon Prime Video. After binge watching them all, you can wait for the sixth season or read the excellent eight-part book series by James S. A. Corey the show is based on.