You know that heart-eyes emoji? This post is basically that…
I first saw trailers for The Expanse on YouTube a while back and I was interested, but getting my hands on it wasn’t really realistic, so I forgot about it.
After a while, my Pastor, after reading my prequel novella and listening to me talk about the science and politics of the Malfunction Universe a bit, recommended this show. Once I was able to get access to the show on Amazon I swear I was drooling in the first show.
The Expanse is a masterpiece of storytelling. I’m not a fan of Space Opera, but this falls a bit closer to the Military Sci-Fi subgenre and more importantly, it isn’t ashamed of its science.
What do I mean by that?
Typical Space Opera falls closer to “space fantasy” than “science fiction”. Think of Star Wars, Voltron Legendary Defender, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica. In some, the “magic” aspect is stronger than in others, but in most, the science is glossed over at best. The cast may throw around some big words (I had fun when Voltron mentioned the attempts to use DNA as information storage in this last season) or even refer back to some real science (Star Trek precipitated a lot of advancements we see today) but in the end of the stories are simple and straightforward. Some, like Battlestar Galactica, might bring in a bit more of the politics, but the show still remains as accessible as possible with a lot of action scenes and a wide cast of characters with simple development.
Not so with the Expanse. In this show, based on the book series by the same name (which I cannot wait to read) politics are front and center, the action scenes, while great, are very contextual, and they don’t stop the plot to explain things to you. You are expected to keep up as the show strictly adheres to the “show don’t tell” storytelling rule. It can be hard to keep up with but the essential thing is that it forces the viewer to ENGAGE.
In many other shows I’ve seen, the first episode is full of info dumps. What should be the most intense and hook the viewer in fastest, especially in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, are often filled with dialogue or entire scenes put in place for no other reason than to explain the world. As a result, I often have to get two, three or even more episodes into a new show before I’m invested.
In the show Expanse, the exposition is delivered through action. We see the world through the character’s eyes, piecing together the complicated political and scientific (often accurate science too!) world in which the characters live. While there were a few moments of dialogue meant to help orient the viewer, they were always blended into character moments and plot points, keeping the narrative tight and fast moving. As a result, I was nearly instantly connected to the characters, though I felt like I had so much to learn about them. The lead, James Holden, made choices that were clearly the thoughtful result of his character and his background. There was not a single choice he made that I felt was out of character, or made simply to propel the plot forward. The writers savored and enjoyed each second of storytelling.
The climax and opening hook of the season incited more emotion from me and more excitement than I get from most of the “final episodes” in many series. The indulgence continued and gave me what I truly considered to be one of the best viewing experiences I had all year.
Sometimes I find that I don’t want to engage myself in something that is new or hard to understand. Whether it’s learning a new job, picking up a extra big book, or … hey, self-publishing. What I find when I take the leap is that the experience is often one of the best in my lives. Just like it took some extra work for me to understand and engage in The Expanse, which ultimately was much more rewarding for the experience, often when I engage in new experiences I am happy I put out the effort. What about you? Is there an experience you want to have that you are holding back from because of the effort it would take? And what might you gain from taking on that new experience?