Season 4 of The Expanse brings the Rocinante to a new world
The Expanse is the most underrated science fiction show of our time. Revived by Amazon Prime after being cancelled by SyFy in 2018, the show follows the crew of a small spaceship, the Rocinante, in a world where humans have colonized the solar system. Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt are conflicting political players in this future reality.
Rife with social commentary and political allegory, The Expanse covers topics like settler colonialism, military culture, and even gravity-based inequality. Few shows have built such a deeply developed and tangible world. The Expanse is based on the series of books by James S. A. Corey (a pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.
Season 4 of the show premiered on Amazon overnight and features 10 new episodes of juicy sci-fi content. The Rocinante finally gets a chance to go through the Ring- a portal to other solar systems created by a semi-sentient protomolecule whose origin has yet to be discovered. Belters, Martians, and Earthers alike are all chomping at the bit to explore and colonize these new worlds but a treaty among their respective leaders are holding them back. One group of Belter settlers made it through, however, and this is who James Holden (Steven Strait) and crew meet on a new planet. They’re not alone. A ship of Earth colonists has also arrived to lay claim to the planet. And there’s protomolecule down there too. The Roci crew has their work cut out for them.
The Expanse manages to depict the physical and political challenges of space exploration while maintaining the sense of wonder at discovering and experiencing new things. One of the greatest examples of this dichotomy is seen in Season 4 Episode 1. Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) is a Belter. She grew up in the low gravity asteroid belt, causing physical differences in musculature and bone density compared to Earthers. Her body does well in space, but she would become unwell on the surface of a planet. Naomi wants to land on the newly discovered planet the Belters are calling Ilus. To do so, she has to undergo painful injections to increase her bone density among other things. She also has to make sure her muscles are as strong as they can be.
Watching Naomi experience walking on a planet for the first time, you can see that all that preparation was worth it. It’s magical, to breathe un-recycled air, to feel natural ground beneath her feet. It’s a moment that reminds you both how easily we take for granted what we have, and how important it is that we appreciate what we’ve got. The Expanse never fails to move you in this way. Amid all the horrible things occurring in this sadly realistic future, there are moments like these that find the wonder in the new or sometimes in the ordinary.
Episode 1 contains the depth, quality, and tension we’ve come to expect from the show. If that continues over the 10 episodes, season 4 is going to be a good one.
The Expanse Season 4 is streaming on Amazon Prime now!
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.