The Expanse returns for its third season on Wednesday, but the new installment of the Syfy drama isn't debuting with nearly enough fanfare, if you ask us.
The series, which is based on the popular James S.A. Corey book series set in a future where humanity has colonized the solar system, averages less than 600,000 viewers each week, which is about middle of the road for Syfy. These ratings are no reflection on the quality of The Expanse though, which time and time again has proven itself to be one of the best — if not the best — sci-fi shows in recent years.
With the third season just round the corner and the first two available to stream on Amazon Prime, now is the perfect time to catch up on the action. Still need more convincing? Here are seven reasons why you owe it to yourself to binge The Expanse before Season 3 premieres.
1. It's a complex political drama. To paint a full picture of the politics of The Expanse would probably take an entire day, and that's exactly what makes the Syfy drama so compelling. The world of the series is so developed it seamlessly sucks you in, immediately establishing the socio-economic tensions between the three ruling powers: Earth, the upper, ruling class living a life of privilege on a habitable planet; the Belt, the oppressed working class who provide the necessary resources for Earth and Mars while they toil away mining in the Asteroid Belt; and Mars, an ascendant, militarized power that seceded from Earth and fosters plenty of bad blood from their negative past relations.
Adding more trouble to the mix is the Outer Planets Alliance, a loosely organized network run primarily by a former United Nations colonel, Fred Johnson (The Walking Dead's Chad L. Coleman). Depending on your perspective, the OPA is either a sociopolitical organization, championing for the Belters, or a terrorist organization, out to cause trouble for the Earth-Mars Coalition Navy.
Caught between all those warring powers are The Expanse's core heroes, a diverse crew working on the ice hauler Canterbury who become key players in the brewing interplanetary conflict after stumbling upon a seemingly abandoned spaceship that may hold the key to humanity's downfall.
And that's just scratching the surface of the show's fascinating political machinations! So if you miss early seasons of Game of Thrones, when the drama was more about political maneuvering than dragons fighting zombies, then The Expanse might just scratch that itch.
2. Thomas Jane (and his hat) are revelations. Look, if you first saw an image of Thomas Jane in his fedora and thought, "NOPE," we wouldn't blame you. But Jane's character, Det. Miller, is supposed to feel like a put-on image of a noir beat cop. That's his whole persona and that's exactly why he doesn't fit in — on the force, with the crew of the Canterbury, or really anywhere he goes.
When the series picks up, Miller is a disillusioned, alcoholic cop who catches a missing persons case that changes his life. He soon becomes obsessed with the missing heiress, Julie Mao, to the point where he's willing to risk it all - his career, his friendships and even his life - if it means finding her.
As the series goes on, The Expanse continues to unveil new layers to Miller, with the Boogie Nights alum portraying an astounding amount of vulnerability that will shatter your heart with each of Miller's desperate attempts to find a sense purpose. And also, that hat. What more do you need than that hat? (His hair is pretty insane, too.)
3. It gets pretty wild. To give away too many details regarding the crux of the impending war between Earth, Mars and the Belt would be to do new viewers a disservice, but we will say that the spark that ignites the central conflict is... pretty insane. When a potential alien particle is discovered and found to have life-altering abilities, the tenuous political relationships between Earth, Mars and the Belt quickly collapse into chaos in a fight to control the substance. However, it's what this particle is capable of rather than what people are capable of to secure it that truly boggles the mind and raises the stakes. Things quickly get bananas and then just spiral out from there.
4. Everyone is incredibly attractive. First of all, let's just start this by saying that everyone in the cast are extremely talented actors. They each embody their character fully and help you believe in this terrifying future world. But does it hurt that each and every one of the stars is also a total babe? Hell no. And just because the stars are smokeshows doesn't mean that this feels like a CW drama where everyone just happens to look like a supermodel in the making. The Canterbury crew looks like they could be a real ice hauling crew, but just... slightly better looking than average. We are not ones to ever turn down eye candy, and in a show this dark and gritty, we're often grateful the series gives us something nice to look at in between the gory deaths and gripping shootouts.
5. The action scenes are some of the best on TV. You'd think that a show that features so many CGI spaceships on a basic cable network might not have the best special effects, but the quality on The Expanse is truly impressive. Syfy clearly invested a lot in making this show as high-end as possible and these efforts really pay off in the show's big action sequences.
Rather than simply create a sense of tension and overwhelming drama during the battle scenes by cluttering them up with shaky close-ups, The Expanse always makes sure the action is clear without ever losing an ounce of suspense. This allows viewers to not only easily follow the characters throughout these chaotic moments, but also appreciate the nuanced tactical strategies they employ in their attempts to survive. Oh, and did we mention these sequences look cinematic as hell?
6. Shohreh Aghdashloo, just in general. It is truly impossible to say too many good things about Shohreh Aghdashloo. With credits that span 24, The Punisher and Star Trek Beyond, she's had tons of stand-out roles to choose from, but The Expanse's Chrisjen Avasarala is our favorite by a long-shot. The Deputy Undersecretary of Executive Administration of the United Nations, Chrisjen is an Earther with the keen ability to manipulate and maneuver people within her complex game of political chess. However, she soon realizes that some people in the government are playing a different game entirely.
It's a role that in a lesser actress' hands could come off stiff, but Aghdashloo brings a depth of humanity to the part — plus, an undeniable style and wit. It's a spectacular performance and one that will leave you craving more and more scenes featuring Aghdashloo, a wish which the series fortunately obliges as the series progress.
7. Because you still miss Battlestar Galactica. Look, we all know nothing will completely fill the void Battlestar Galactica left when it wrapped its four-season run in 2009. That being said, The Expanse is the first show that even comes close, so why not give it a shot?
The Expanse's first two seasons are available to stream now on Amazon Prime. Season 3 premieres Wednesday, April 11 at 9/8c on Syfy.