Reviews: The Expanse

Sci-fi That\'s Not too Hard, Not too Soft, Just Right

As much as I liked watching The Expanse, I want to get my single biggest criticism of the show out of the way right now. The protagonist, detective Miller, is the single most douchiest looking sci-fi character I have ever seen, and I've seen Space Dandy, which is about goddamn space Johnny Bravo. Miller is sort of going for futuristic Humphrey Bogart meets Dirty Harry, but his trilby and waist coat makes him look more like a teenage men's rights activist, moments away from ranting about feminists on youtube. He can't even take the hat off, because when he does it reveals this terrible, spaghetti massacre of a haircut. Watching him puts my teeth on edge. It is really quite bad.

Now I've got that out of my system, The Expanse is a really good sci-fi show and you should watch it. It presents us with a compelling future, in which the planets are locked in a cold war that's moments away from going hot. This is a wonderfully realised galaxy, in which space has transformed language, ethnicity, and even people's bodies. The setting allows the series to showcase hardboiled mysteries, tense space survival, and political intrigue, and it does a good job of balancing between these completely disparate genres.

On top of that, there is a lot of good characterisation that has a tremendous amount of detail. For example, one character, who we dismiss as a meathead for much of the show, is given a really nice little scene where he has a moment of self-awareness, and realises no one will tell him what's going on because they're all afraid of him. It isn't a pivotal moment or anything, its just a teensy detail the show thought to include to humanise the big lug. Then there is Avasarala, who makes up for Miller having the world's worst outfit by having the world's sexiest voice. She sounds like a Persian Ertha Kitt, had she given up singing and inhaled a bonfire. Here she plays a ruthless diplomat who will step over anyone to stop a war; a Machiavellian monster who fortunately works for the good (or so it seems).

The show also isn't scared to kill those wonderful characters off either. After getting to like them, the show will find particularly imaginative and colourful ways to smash them before your eyes. Whilst the show isn't exactly realistic, it leans slightly more towards the harder side of sci-fi than most shows, which brings out the life-and-death bleakness far more. The Expanse does it just right; it gives you people you really don't want to die, only to remind you that this is all taking place in the giant, empty murder machine that is space.