The Expanse: Season 3 — a review


I’m glad that SYFY cancelled The Expanse. Science fiction this good shouldn’t be on a network that can’t spell sci-fi correctly.

I’m even happier that Amazon picked it up for a fourth season, coming some time in 2019, because it is that good.

Watching this series motivated me to begin reading the James S. A. Corey novels. I’m currently reading Caliban’s War, which is primarily concerned with Season 2’s storyline if you’re not reading them. I enjoy the fact that the television series has made this a multimedia experience for me. I can’t read about Holden and his crew, or Avasarala and assorted politicos, or Bobbie Draper and Prax, without seeing the actors who have played them on the series. Because the show has been so faithful to the books, and because I like the series, this has been a positive experience.

I enjoyed Season 3 of the series as well. It picks up where Season 2 left off, and continues to expand its cast of characters as it goes along. The tension between Earth and Mars continues to escalate. The villainous Errinwright convinces the UN to declare war on Mars while framing Avasarala for what happened on Eros and trying to kill her. He fails. With the help of Bobbie Draper and Cotyar, Avasarala manages to escape from Mao’s ship in time.

New character, Methodist pastor Dr. Anna Volovodov is introduced. She has a familiar face, since she’s played by Elizabeth Mitchell, who’s been in many television series, including Lost and Revolution. She’s an old acquaintance of the UN Secretary-General, and, at least initially, she seems to be there to give Esteban’s actions some sort of God-sanctioned legitimacy, and also to be another antagonist for Errinwright, since Avasarala is off-Earth and presumed dead.

Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are now committed to helping Prax locate his daughter, Mei. Dr. Strickland has taken the children to Io. While they are en route to Io, our heroic gunship crew saves Avasarala and Bobbie, merging our storylines for a bit.

Meanwhile, the protomolecule is building something on Venus, where Detective Miller and Julie Mao crashed. What is happening here? Everyone wants to know.

The war escalates when a Martian missile manages to kill two million people in South America because, on the Rev. Dr. Anna’s advice, the Secretary-General delayed making an order to strike. The UNN ship Agatha King picks up Cotyar, who had escaped from Mao’s ship separately from Avasarala. The captain of the King believes Cotyar’s story about Errinwright’s treason, but UNN Admiral Nguyen pulls rank, takes command of the ship and orders it to Io.

Jules-Pierre Mao seems to bond with Mei on Io, and demands that the project be shut down. Dr. Strickland continues his work secretly, finally winning the opportunist Mao over when he realizes the infected boy is communicating with the protomolecule on Venus.

Midway through the season, we get a climactic clash between Holden’s crew and the mad scientists on Io. The recording of Errinwright’s confession to all of his evil deeds finally makes it into the right hands. Mao is captured, Mei is saved, Cotyar sacrifices himself (and the Agatha King) to stop the protomolecule. Amos stops Prax from murdering Dr. Strickland, but then does it himself because he’s a good friend. And Errinwright is arrested.

There was enough stuff happening six episodes into the season for a season finale. While all of the preceding was going on, the structure that the protomolecule has been working on takes off from the surface of Venus.

As I understand things, this part of the season is the conclusion of Caliban’s War, the novel I’m currently reading, while the rest of the season gets into Abaddon’s Gate, which I haven’t read yet.

The back half of the season is about the structure, known as The Ring. And we begin to get more into what the protomolecule is trying to do. Joe Miller returns—sort of—but only Holden can see him. We find out that The Ring, and the protomolecule, is not a weapon at all, but is building some sort of intergalactic superhighway system, which I’m sure we’ll find more about in Season 4. This feels a little like the DS9 wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant, but on a must larger, and even weirder, scale. The civilization responsible for the protomolecule is apparently long-dead. We don’t know what killed it off yet. Again, more for Season 4, I guess.

In the meantime, we get to know Drummer, who was Fred Johnson’s second-in-command on Tycho Station, a bit better, along with Claire Mao—Julie Mao’s sister—and Klaes Ashford (the ever-entertaining David Strathairn). Naomi returns to her Rocinante family, of course.

At the end of the season, there’s the feeling that big things are brewing, but it feels a bit anticlimactic after the midseason finale, and a bit disjointed at times. Of course, I’m glad Naomi returned to her rightful place. I’m a little worried that Holden seems a bit too detached from reality as the human liaison with the protomolecule/Joe Miller avatar. I even like that there seems to be a bit of a mother-and-son vibe between Rev. Dr. Anna and Amos.

I’m still a fan of the series and am looking forward to the next season when Amazon finally releases it. I hope they continue to tell the story that I’m reading in the novels.

This is great science fiction. 

Season 3 Report Card: A-

One thought on “The Expanse: Season 3 — a review

  1. The first sentence of your review made me laugh out loud 🙂
    Now that the shock for that short-sighted decision has been processed – mostly thanks to Amazon’s decision to carry on with the series, bless them – I can appreciate the feelings you expressed. If SyFy can’t even write the name of the genre in a correct way, they don’t deserve to air this amazing show!

    Liked by 1 person

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