So I’ve just finished binge watching The Expanse, thanks to it being available on Amazon Prime. Damn it was good.
TLDR: Go watch it.
I watched it when it first came out and was pretty “meh” on S1. Watched a couple episodes of S2 and then kinda forgot about the show. Fast forward to about a month ago and I am SO glad I went back to it. I really enjoyed the books — but I’ve only read/listened through Cibola Burn (Bk 4). Which is apparently what Season 4 of the Expanse will cover when the shows airs on Amazon Prime (SyFy canceled it).
So, here are my random thoughts on the show/books…loosely organized.
Scene and Setting and Plot
The story’s a bit gritty and realistic, but not over the top brutal. The mystery is compelling. The science/physics/astrophysics is really good, as is the CGI and the sets.
I’m still not entirely sold on the actors picked to play Amos and Avasarala, mainly because they don’t look like I pictured them (or how they were described). That said, those two actors are doing a good job.
They made lots of changes to the plot, characters, etc., when translating the books to the screen. Some of it annoys me but only b/c I know the books. It probably looks/feels pretty seamless to someone who doesn’t.
The Expanse has lots of great characters. Take Miller, the detective, played to a “t” by Thomas Jane. So tragic and lonely and sad and so well written.
Bobby Draper — the hard-chargin’ Martian marine. Great in the books and equally so in the show. The actress playing her does a great job. Probably one of my favorite scenes in the show is when a few Martians who were saved by the crew of the Rocinante try to take over the ship.
An unsuspecting Bobby walks into the middle of it. Alex is being held at gunpoint. The entire scene is sold, imo, by the young male Marine and his immediate respect for Bobby as well as Bobby’s annoyed patience with the woman holding the gun to Alex’s head. Love it.
Crisjen Avasarala. She’s probably one of the best characters I’ve ever read. An Indian woman who’s probably in her 60s. Gray haired. Small. And holy shit she’s a force of nature.
One of my favorite scenes in the books that, imo, was not well translated to the screen was when Avasarala and Bobby narrowly escape gettin’ blowd up and are saved by the Rocinante. In the books, Avasarala runs roughshod over the crew and basically takes over the ship. Holden spends half his time bewildered by her and pulled along in her wake. Just great.
In the show, however, they reduce Avasarala to pleading with Holden to please oh please do something. She was too reactive. It felt like they sidelined her to focus on the assault on Io and saving Prax’s kid.
Again, this is maybe only bothersome b/c I’m familiar with the books.
Amos. He’s awesome. And again, well written and well acted. The actor chosen doesn’t quite fit the mold but I think he nails it. Also, the voice actor in the audiobooks does a wonderful job of putting a rough-edged nuance into his voice when he’s Amos. Super enjoyable.
And at this point I’m embarrassing myself with all this gushing about the series.
So, here’s a few things I didn’t care for.
The Less Good
Melba: I couldn’t stand that character and storyline in the books. Felt like filler…and bored the shit out of me. In the show, it’s not so bad b/c while she plays an important role there’s less time devoted to it.
Same goes for Anna Volovodov. The series kinda butchered much of her plot points which is fine b/c I skipped through them — the ones when she’s writing the speech for the UN dude. Zero interest.
When I relistened to the book she’s in a few months ago I also skipped her scenes. Yawn. They also felt like filler.
I disliked how they made Captain Ashford more sympathetic while splitting the Bull character (from the books) into Naomi and Drummer. Mostly b/c I really liked Bull. But, I also liked Drummer, so it’s all good.
The Even Better
I’d basically stopped listening to The Expanse with Nemesis Games (Bk 5). And since I have no memory of it, I’ll be relistening to it once I’m done with the second book in Timothy Zahn’s Hand of Thrawn series. The Thrawn trilogy is good stuff. And if you read/listen to ’em you are then allowed to geek out when Thrawn appears in SW: Rebels — a show which I found enjoyable…to my amazement.
So…aside from all that…what’s even better is that there are a few more books in The Expanse for me to get through:
- Nemesis Games, Bk 5 (soon to be in progress)
- Babylon’s Ashes, Bk 6
- Persepolis Rising, Bk 7
- Tiamat’s Wrath, Bk 8 (March 2019)
I’m intrigued by the names of those last three books and they mythos/culture to which they are linked. And that ties into another book I’ve been reading — Magicians of the Gods by Graham Hancock. That book and the stuff related to it deserve a post of their own.
Looks like I have my work cut out for me!