Warning: General spoilers ahead
At the end of Season 1, the galaxy was on the brink of war after the Canterbury disaster and the sacrifice of Eros where Holden (Steven Strait) and Miller (Thomas Jane) narrowly escaped. While having a very dramatic and memorable close, the space drama’s freshman season was, for the most part, a mystery. “A lot of conspiracy, a lot of shadow play” as Executive Producer Naren Shankar explained this past summer at San Diego Comic-Con. No one really knew what was going on, aside from the fact that something really bad happened on the Scopuli which, in turn, created a chain reaction of events. What’s more, we really didn’t know who all the players were, and which ones could be trusted. A good deal of these questions were finally answered at the end of Season 1.
So, with the series returning tomorrow night with a 2-hour Season 2 premiere, the focus is going to shift to increasing the momentum of the story and advancing the plot. “A big part of season 2 is understanding this Protomolecule, understanding what it’s doing, why people are after it. The story is played much more in forward momentum and forward discovery. So, it’s much less shadow play and much less of ‘Yes, it’s THAT guy behind the curtain.’” the Executive Producers said. And, this isn’t an accident either. Season 1 was set up exactly as it was so that they could do precisely this in season 2.
That being said, the season opener doesn’t waste any time on resolving some of the major mysteries left open at the end of last season, with perhaps the biggest one being what exactly is the Protomolecule. At the beginning of the episode, virtually everyone on the Rocinante agrees that it’s some kind of bio-weapon that was released on Eros as a sort of “test,” where if anything were to go wrong, well, no one would really miss any of these people. The crew continues with this assumption even after finding a recording of Phoebe scientist, Dresden (Daniel Kash), explaining that the Protomolecole is “extra-solar” — i.e. an extra-terrestrial life form. The only difference is they now suspect the Protomolecule to be an alien life form, as opposed to some man-made entity. This theory is ultimately debunked after the crew makes a startling discovery at the end of the premiere.
We will also get a much better look at the lives of those living/born on Mars in Season 2, and particularly in the premiere episode. We are introduced to an intrepid lieutenant and hyper-nationalist named Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams), who dreams of one day seeing her planet terraformed and sustainable for life in a way that Earth has always been. Unfortunately, Draper and her comrades are pulled away from their home world to embark on a top-priority mission which is to locate the Phoebe Station and keep it out of Earth’s hands “at all costs.” Even after completing the mission, Draper and her comrades still aren’t sure what they were sent to protect, nor do they realize the big brown mess they just stepped in — I’m sure that will change soon enough.
Back on Earth, tensions and political machinations are at an all-time high, making things particularly tricky for Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), as the UN proves itself quite split over what to do (for various, and at times seemingly nefarious, reasons). While the entire cast does an exceptional job in these first 2 episodes of the season, Aghdashloo stands out as the MVP and creates the perfect manifestation of a strong woman on television. While navigating a political minefield dominated by men, Chrisjen puts on her poker face on a daily basis, continuing to be the face of the false accusations against Fred Johnson (Chad Coleman) while being careful not to reveal how much she really knows. Of course, she fully realizes Johnson is innocent, and she later learns she is being set up to take the fall when her investigation ultimately fails or stalls. So, the first couple of episodes quickly turn into a life-and-death “game” of staying alive but also getting to the truth and quite possibly saving humanity.
And then there’s our heroes. Holden and Miller aren’t exactly happy with one another—nor is anyone, really. Miller, having made less than his fair share of friends, struggles for much of the premiere episode figuring out where he belongs now that his home of Eros Station is gone. He picks fights, and had it not been for Naomi (Dominique Tipper), a brawl with Amos (Wes Chatham) would have ended with him in a body bag. And, he continues his downward spiral of obsession with Julie Mao, which culminates with a single impulsive action at the end of the episode that puts the entire mission at risk.
All in all, Season 2 kicks off by continuing to connect the seemingly disparate stories into one thrilling and confounding story but without some of the confusion one may have experienced in Season 1. While the series has been labeled as a “space war drama,” it actually offers so much more. The continued inquiry into the Protomolecule reveals exciting, strange, and unexpected turns as far as its origin is concerned and puts big questions about morality vs. preserving humanity front and center. And, there’s also a renewed focus on the characters as the onion is peeled on the backstories of our heroes. If classic, mind-bending science fiction is your beat, Season 2 of The Expanse is sure to thrill, confound, and delight in equal measure.
The Expanse returns tomorrow night for a 2-hour season 2 premiere starting at 10/9c on Syfy.
Season 2 Trailer:
The Powerful Women of ‘The Expanse’:
SDCC 2016 Cast Interviews:
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com
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