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Tonight, after a year and a half, the sci-fi drama The Expanse finally returns to TV for its fourth season, now as an Amazon original series. The first three seasons originally aired on the Syfy channel and are also available on Amazon Prime as well. The series is set 200 years in the future, where the Earth is governed by the UN. Low on resources, some humans left Earth to settle on Mars. There is a cold war brewing between the planets, and stuck in the middle are the Belters, who live on Ceres, a mining community in the asteroid belt. In the first season, we met the ragtag crew of the Rocinante, which included Earther captain James Holden, Martian pilot Alex Kamal, Belter engineer Naomi Nagata, and Earther mechanic Amos Burton. A mysterious alien protomolecule was discovered by the Protogen corporation, which had goals of weaponizing the creature. Earth, Mars, and the Belter’s Outer Planets Alliance (OPA) also wanted to get control of it. The molecule was incredibly dangerous, and Protogen launched an experiment on Eros Station, killing everyone aboard. Belter detective Joe Miller sacrificed himself helping the Roci crew destroy the molecule (or so they initially believed). The Roci crew had obtained a sample of the molecule, which Naomi ultimately gave to OPA leader Fred Johnson, since Earth and Mars already had their own samples.
In the second season, the crew discovered that Protogen had been experimenting with the molecule, trying to turn children into super-soldiers, but this ultimately just resulted in turning the children into carriers, spreading the alien creature. Meanwhile, on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, Martian Marine Bobbie Draper and her unit came under attack by a strange new creature – a human/protomolecule hybrid that was the result of more Protogen experiments. She headed to Earth to talk about her experience but found that no one wanted her to tell the truth. She ended up partnering with UN Deputy Undersecretary Chrisjen Avasarala, who was also experiencing a coup, as her trusted partner was trying to frame and eliminate her. Later one of these protomolecule hybrid monsters also attacked the crew of the Roci.
In the third season, the protomolecule that the crew tried to burn up in Venus re-emerged from the planet, flying into space and forming a large ring. The Rocinante had a documentary crew aboard, but it turned out that one of the crew was the sister of one of the people killed on Eros, and she was out for revenge. Using her footage, she made Holden look like a terrorist. The Roci found itself under pursuit, and they had no other option than to enter this mysterious ring. While other ships had been wiped out when entering the ring, the Roci somehow made it through unscathed, but now other ships were following. The OPA was convinced that the ring posed a danger to all humans and that they had to blow it up. However, Holden had a vision, taking with the protomolecule as it took on the form of Detective Miller, which told him that the ring used to be a gateway to other worlds. After a brief skirmish with the crew of the OPA ship, Holden managed to shut down that ship’s engine to prove to the molecule that they weren’t a threat. Shortly afterwards, nearly 1300 Stargate-like portals to other solar systems appeared in the sky.
Today, Amazon has released season 4 of the series, which picks up 8 months later, following the fourth novel of the series, “Cibola Burn.” Thousands of Ganymede refugees are eager to find a new home in these new solar systems, but the UN first wants to ensure that there are no alien threats. They have set up a blockade to prevent others from entering the ring, but before doing to, a Ganymede ship managed to slip through, landing on Ilus and establishing the New Terra colony. The UN discovers a protomolecule structure on the planet, and UN Secretary Chrisjen Avasarala is afraid of another Eros situation. So she enlists the help of Holden and his crew to head down to the planet to check things out, negotiate with the settlers, and report back their findings. However, there is already political unrest brewing, as the settlers just want to be left alone and are prepared to protect their colonial claim. And things are about to get worse as the company sends a ship of its own with its own ulterior objectives, and unknown creatures are awakening on the planet.
I checked out the first couple episodes of the season, and I have to say, this is probably my favorite season of the series yet. I didn’t really notice any huge difference so far between the Syfy and Amazon episodes as far as runtime or content – the show never really held anything back in the past, especially in regards to Avasarala’s language. It still feels like the same show but with an interesting new setting for the season. I look forward to seeing what other civilizations and planets will be explored and what new alien threats await the Rocinante crew this season. How will Naomi deal with her first visit to a planet’s surface? How will these new planets affect the fragile peace between the Earth, Mars, and Belters? With so many ready-to-go planets, what does this mean for Mars’s huge terraforming project? Will the Earth see more people fleeing to these new worlds? Does the UN really think they can control all of this and hold back those anxious to explore this much larger new world? The series has already been renewed for a fifth season, so there are plenty more adventures to come for the Rocinante crew.
I’ll also be watching/recording Marvel’s Runaways, American Housewife, Fresh Off the Boat, The Blacklist, and Van Helsing.
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