Similar to Gotham Season 3, The Expanse Season 2 arrived on the UK Netflix some time after its original US airing, where I gladly binged it over a week or so. Also like Gotham I had planned on doing a more detailed breakdown, but didn’t have the time, so a single overall review it is! The Expanse started off slow, but now in Season 2 it roared forward, and was frequently thrilling to watch. Let’s take a closer look!
Unlikely allies Joe Miller and the crew of the Rocinante led by Jim Holden uncover more about the conspiracy to release the protomolecule on Eros station…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Jim Holden is pissed off a lot this season…
Jim Holden (Steven Strait) – The captain of the Rocinante who has his eyes set on those who released the protomolecule on Eros, becoming more and more willing to do whatever it takes to wipe it off the face of the system.
Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) – Joe Miller has long since left his detective ways, instead is solely focused on getting revenge against those who released the protomolecule and seemingly killed Julie Mao…
Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) – Naomi is the engineer onboard the Rocinante and has started a relationship with Jim.
Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) – The Rocinante’s mechanic and general heavy who has no problem beating people up who get in the way of whatever mission he happens to be on…
Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) – Formally a Martian pilot, Alex is now the pilot of the Rocinante.
Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) – The UN Assistant Undersecretary of Executive Administration who is having trouble keeping Earth and Mars from going to war with each other.
Sadavir Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) – The UN Undersecretary of Executive Administration who isn’t opposed to starting a war if it means to further his goals and keep his position of power…
Roberta Draper (Frankie Adams) – Martian Marine gunnery sergeant who wants nothing more than to go to war with Earth so Mars can finally start the terraforming process proper.
Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) – Former UN Marine colonel-turned-leader of the OPA freedom group. He also runs Tycho Station…
Praxidike Meng (Terry Chen) – A botanist from Ganymede who’s life is about to have a dramatic down turn…
and many more!
A top class send off, and a great moment.
The events of the first five episodes are tremendous, and was initially confusing because they felt like the big finale to a lot of storylines from the first season. As it turns out, Season 1 adapted the first three quarters of the first book, and episodes 1 – 5 of Season 2 was the last quarter. So it made sense, it was the big ending to the first story!
Anyway, it saw the Rocinante crew and Miller find the person responsible for the protomolecule, leading to Joe killing him outright in revenge instead of learning about the potential threat to all of mankind, much to everyone else’s distress. Then Eros started moving towards Earth and seemingly had gained sentince as it soon dodged the massive ship Nauvoo, all leading to a big finale where Miller finds Julie Mao transformed in the centre of Eros and the two smash into Venus together. It was a great scene, and a perfect end to Miller’s story.
That was just a small recap of 1 – 5, it also saw an attempt to blow up Eros using bombs, Jim Holden get a hold of a bunch of Earth missiles, and an exchange of moon destructions (weird sentence) as Mars nukes Phoebe and Earth responds by blowing up Deimos. It’s a proper big finale, and great to watch unfold.
The rest of the season starts off a lot quicker than the start of the previous book adaptation, but then obviously there is less scene-setting to do. The main focus is on Martian soldier Bobbie Draper and her experience on Ganymede, where her whole team is wiped out by a blue figure without a spacesuit on. Very few believe her and even less want to admit they know what she’s going on about, eventually leading to the revelation of the protomolecule creating super soldiers. Although it felt out of place at times, the finale episode had a tense couple of scenes with a protomolecule man on board the Rocinante and Captain Holden very nearly being killed by it. It was good stuff, even if the effects were a little wonky (though still far better than you’d normally get on a TV show…)
Ganymede’s near-destruction and how it effects the landscape of the solar system is well done, with a refugee crisis and wide-spread starvation leading to unrest in the Belt, and leading to resurrection and rebellion. It’s also a tragic event for poor Praxidike Meng, who was minding his own business when Ganymede fell, survived, but seemingly lost his daughter and all he holds dear. As the series progresses he believes his daughter is alive and pretty much joins the Rocinante crew (and is key in getting rid of the protomolecule man), but they do a good job of making you feel sorry for him.
If this blog was around for me to review Season 1, I’d have mentioned that a lot of the Earth politics in the first season was dull, well this time it’s actually interesting. How close they come to war with Mars, Errinwright going through remorse, a fall from grace, and then using several dirty tactics to reclaim his position, and Avasarala actually getting caught up in a gunfight. It added to everything going on at the time. I also liked the scientist and the soldiers who went to Venus to look at the remains of Eros. That was a fun side-story.
Also, much like Season 1, the production was top-notch. The effects, the sets, the accurate space stuff. Thumbs up, definitely.
An example of the great direction in the series… and the effects!
I feel most characters got a good bit of development, but Alex, the Rocinante’s pilot, seems to have undeveloped into a stereotype, using his smooth voice to do generic “hoo-rar!” and speaking to the ship like it’s a woman stuff. There was a whole scene of him floating around drinking in zero gravity that didn’t need to be there…
I appreciate the Belters being the space equivalent of travelling gypsies, but there were times when I missed what one of them said due to their thick accents. Not a major issue, but a small one.
Such a good depiction of Mars from a simple TV show… how times (and technology prices!) have changed.
A great 13-episode ride, or more accurately, a great end to a 15-episode ride, and then a great 8-episode ride that teases the next season well. You’d be completely lost if you don’t watch season 1, which admittedly does start rather slow, but stick with it, because Season 2 is a great pay-off!