Wow. Just wow.
First, Alamo Drafthouse is a national treasure. Just is. It’s a movie chain owned by people who love movies and anything that looks like a movie, heck anything that tells a story via film. A TV series on the big screen? For free? With free popcorn and a beer, to boot? Man. And NO ADS!!!!! Suck it, AMC.
Second, there is nothing better than well-done scifi. Blade Runner, Gattaca, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (both versions)…you know, scifi where the story is more important than the special effects, which rules out everything done by George Lucas.
And The Expanse is well-done scifi. Set centuries ahead, there are now three distinct human civilizations in the solar system: Earth, Mars, and the Belt, asteroid belt, that is. Earth is Rome, Mars is Sparta, and the Belt, well, they’re Dickens’ London. All three of them are ready to go to war with each other over anything at all and they might just have that ‘anything at all’ when a Belter salvage ship is nuked by what can only be a Martian stealth ship except, maybe the ship was built by a shadowy terrorist group that has about fifty different factions wanting to kill everybody else for a hundred different reasons and maybe Earth is using them to start a war with Mars and then again, maybe it’s something else entirely.
Season One ended with one of the most terrifying weapons tests ever. Season Two begins right after, and the nature of the weapon…Ho. Lee. Crap. And the implications. And the double dealing and things not what they seem. This is Game of Thrones in space. Complete with dragons.
Great characters. My two favorites: Joe Miller (played by Thomas Jane)
is a Belter detective employed by a private police agency on Ceres. He has seen it all. All. And he is jaded and sardonic but still willing to find some truth and to be surprised by justice. He conducts an act of pure sanity at the end of the Season 2 premier. Chrisjen Avasarala
(played by Shohreh Aghdashloo, whose hand I seek in marriage) is UN Assistant Undersecretary of Executive Administration…read “Gestapo.” She is cruel and murderous and she knows something is going on, she knows they are being played, and she is going to do whatever necessary, including hanging a Belter or two up by their clavicles, to find out.
Special effects? Oh sure. Marvelous ones, especially the rail gun battle between the spin station, the stealth ship and the Rocinante; the beer can breach of the station wall; and that weapons test. Man, that weapons test. The effects are right, as if somebody took the time to ensure the science matches the scene. F’rinstance, sitting inside a ship laced by rail gun slugs, you’re not going to hear Pew! Pew! and the sounds of tie fighters growling like Chewbacca’s pissed-off girlfriend as they go racing by. No, it’s going to be rather tranquil because you’re buttoned up in a pressure suit because, you know, rail slugs breaching the hull and look at all those fireflies shimmering and dancing all through your crew compartment, ripping everything to shreds in zero gravity and sound. Lovely.
If I have a beef, it’s the introduction of an outside-the-solar-system element. In other words, BEMs.
Too bad. IMHO, it lessens the story somewhat. The intrigue and the savagery and the backstabbing among the humans is fun enough and aligns rather nicely with my own view that, no matter how advanced our tech gets, we’re still monkeys throwing poo at each other.