By Dave B.
In the fourth season of The Expanse (Amazon Prime) the crew of the Rocinate is tasked with going to an illegally colonized planet to determine if ancient artifacts present there pose a threat to humanity. Meanwhile, Secretary-General Avasarala is in the midst of a reelection campaign, as she tries to halt people from colonizing over 1300 newly discovered worlds until more is understood about them and how they came to be depopulated. On Mars, Bobby Draper finds that her homeland is changing before her eyes as the aftermath of war and the potential of immediately habitable new worlds throws the need for the entire Martian terraforming project into question.
With the show’s transition from Syfy to Amazon, there was the possibility that the quality of the new season could be negative impacted, but I’m happy to say that in season four, The Expanse again displays the strong writing, impeccable acting, and engaging political machinations that it is known for. It even appears that its budget has been expanded as this season’s special effects, including computer generated space battles, zero-gravity fight scenes, and nearly incomprehensible alien technology all look better than ever. The move to Amazon has proved to be a true boon for the production quality of this show. The aspect of the series that elevates it from entertaining to brilliant is how skillfully it captures the human condition. Like much great science-fiction, it excels at using it’s setting and plot to tell human stories that relate to conditions that are universal to our mutual experience.
That said, The Expanse as a whole and season four in particular is just relatively difficult for me to binge-watch. I love the show, but it’s dark. Like literally, the lighting is dark. To some extent, that’s to be expected as a lot of the show takes place in space or underground, but even when characters are on a planet’s surface, scenes either take place at night or under overcast skies. The incessant low ambient light level of the show is a bit tiring after a while. The show’s director needs to take a page from the world of anime and have an episode that takes place on a sunny beach or something. Also, the show occasionally has people make terribly foolish decisions that serve to further the plot, but don’t necessarily feel entirely authentic. This is a rare occurrence, but it happens often enough to be noteworthy and slightly annoying.
Longtime fans of the show will love the fourth season of The Expanse. It delivers everything that makes the show great, while upgrading the special effects. I don’t see what more one could ask for. That said, The Expanse isn’t really a show that one can pick up without having seen previous seasons (or having read the source material). Important nuance would be lost and frankly, the story is pretty complex. So if you’ve yet to give The Expanse a try, now is as good of a time as any to start, as all episodes from all seasons are now available on Amazon Prime.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.