Watching the Expanse after Star Trek Picard

Shortly after watching the last episode of Star Trek Picard, I binge-watched the latest season of The Expanse. The 4th season of this space SciFi show is already out for a few months, but I figured I can take my time. This is some weird ritual I tend to do with media products – also counting movies, games or music – from which I know that they are good. It’s not going anywhere, so I rather watch it when I feel like it.

First I had to remember the characters and factions and what had happened to them. I guess one of the few downsides of TV shows with more than two storylines. So in the last season, the world of the Expanse got way bigger and a gigantic ring in space offers the possibility to explore new worlds. This season deals with the exploration of one of these new worlds as well as the political and economical consequences of this change.

The question of responsibility

James Holden remains the main protagonist of the show, but in this season he learns the hard way that his actions continue to cause catastrophic events. However, a great scene between him and Naomi Nagata also deals with this reoccurring theme and how much he is responsible for everything:

James: If they die here, it’s on me.
Naomi: And it’s on the Inners for fighting over Ganymede and Jules-Pierre Mao for his experiments and Avasarala for sending us and some aliens for creating the Protomolecule and shooting it at Earth. And it’s on the Belters too… …for coming here, for staying after you warned them, for taking hostages now. They’re not children.
James: They have no idea what’s really going on here. They’re still playing out the old squabbles.
Naomi: Don’t decide for them. Tell them the truth and let them decide for themselves.

The Expanse, s04e5 “Oppressor”.

Chrisjen Avasarala, on the other hand, uses any means necessary to stay in the office as secretary-general. She seemingly wants to protect her way of dealing with the latest development in this universe. At the same time on Mars, we see a struggling Bobbie Draper, dealing with the fallout of her previous actions and how she tries to get by in a rapidly changing society. The Belters continue to be in the middle of everything, no matter if it’s on the Behemoth in Ring Space or on the new planet.

Negligible main story but great characters

To be honest, the main storyline of the fourth season is not overly compelling. Holden continues to help Miller on his mission, this takes place on the new planet and its technology. We don’t learn new things about this technology or the aliens that built it, but it also has a certain appeal to leave things in the dark and don’t explain everything. Furthermore, Murtry was a rather dull antagonist, he felt kind of underdeveloped.

For me, this season mainly shines with its side storylines and great characters. The Ring Space started to change the societies of this universe and it will continue to do so. The Expanse takes place in a future where the social and economical struggle is far from over, this was the theme since the first season of the show. I guess this is also why The Expanse is so much more believable to me than Star Trek Picard. In its 4 seasons, the Expanse built a universe with its own rules and it continues to play by them.

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