15 votes

So ... The Expanse

Looks like Tildes hasn't discussed this show for a year or two. I just finished binge-watching the first 5 seasons (I'm hoping there is a Season 6 in the offing), and of course, I now feel like discussing it. This thread is wide open to whatever anyone wants to bring up about the series. But my first question for people is this--

Did anyone notice any significant change in quality after Amazon took it over? If so, better or worse? How?

For me, somewhere around Season 3 or 4, it felt like the story quality declined. Not that it's "bad" in any way ... just that it got less original, more like traditional series plot devices. And that could just be me, or that--in general--even the best shows tend to lose some of their edge after the first few seasons ... or maybe they're just following the books (never read 'em) and this is how the books went.

But, yeah ... it's turning into a nicer, more nuanced Stargate ... the Good Guys trying to save humanity from The Terrorist Mastermind ... the Evil Post-Soviet Empire conspiring to help said Terrorist, etc. They even had Snidely Whiplash tying the poor girl to the railroad tracks.

I'm obviously over-simplifying here; it is still an excellent show ... just, like I said; it started to feel less original. I'm wondering if that's just my impression, and if not, do we know that it's an "Amazon" thing, or what?

32 comments

  1. [3]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. Autoxidation
      Link Parent
      I heartily agree with all of this. Season 4 is very strong and the show's budget definitely increased under Amazon. The move was 100% for the better. I found season 5 to be very enjoyable, though...

      I heartily agree with all of this. Season 4 is very strong and the show's budget definitely increased under Amazon. The move was 100% for the better.

      I found season 5 to be very enjoyable, though it felt a little slow in the latter half of the episodes up until the finale. The show is extremely well done and one of the best scifis we've had in many years.

      5 votes
  2. [6]
    spctrvl
    Link
    Yeah, I haven't even finished the fifth season (though that's mainly because they decided to drip feed it to us rather than releasing all at once, I hate that shit), but I think I totally agree...

    Yeah, I haven't even finished the fifth season (though that's mainly because they decided to drip feed it to us rather than releasing all at once, I hate that shit), but I think I totally agree with you on the show's relative decline. The villains have been one dimensional and uninteresting, and none of the plot threads have caught my interest, I'm just finding myself getting bored of it.

    I'm honestly kind of glad you posted this, since I am baffled by the last two seasons' reviews being better than the first three. I'm beginning to think I just have substantially different tastes than most people, because I felt the exact same way about For All Mankind season 2, and RWBY for that matter, and I have just not seen many people share similar opinions.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      nacho
      Link Parent
      You've put into words a lot of my thoughts on The Expanse here much better than I could. The plots just don't catch me. Seasons one, two and three were engaging. The seasons after just don't get...

      You've put into words a lot of my thoughts on The Expanse here much better than I could. The plots just don't catch me. Seasons one, two and three were engaging. The seasons after just don't get me on board. I think the show can be salvaged, but only if that happens in the start of the next season.

      (Season two of For All Mankind started out poorly. The last couple of episodes have been on par with much of season one as far as I'm concerned. It's the stuff regarding an alternate past and how that impacts society that's much more engaging to me than the specific astronauts/characters.)

      3 votes
      1. spctrvl
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I'll definitely post a thread here about season 2 when it's done airing (I haven't seen the latest two episodes yet), but I'm so far disappointed that we have this timeline that's starting...

        Yeah, I'll definitely post a thread here about season 2 when it's done airing (I haven't seen the latest two episodes yet), but I'm so far disappointed that we have this timeline that's starting to diverge more and more significantly, and we get to experience it through the broad perspectives of... a dozen characters who all know each other, all work in the same place, and were all introduced by like the third episode.

        Like, don't get me wrong, I like them, and it worked well in season one where most of the divergence was to do directly with NASA, but it's starting to feel very constraining to focus so much on the psychological struggles of all these people when you've got this huge new world unfurling in the background. Related to that but more minor, I also think there's a bit too much 80's nostalgia without the consideration that this is a very different 80's with, among other things, a continued energy crisis, no three mile island, and an entirely distinct geopolitical situation including a resurgent Soviet Union. I think by rights if should feel culturally more like our mid 70's than our mid 80's. And our timeline's design by committee space shuttle has no business existing there, let alone going to the moon.

        1 vote
    2. [2]
      babypuncher
      Link Parent
      I like the drip feed, mostly for the social aspects. I dislike it when a whole new season drops all at once and I can't take part in the online discussions because people are already talking about...

      I like the drip feed, mostly for the social aspects. I dislike it when a whole new season drops all at once and I can't take part in the online discussions because people are already talking about the last few episodes.

      Releasing the episodes once a week solves this problem. It also facilitates more in-depth discussion of individual episodes, and allows fan theories to flourish and fizzle out during a season's run, which I find to be a lot of fun.

      2 votes
      1. spctrvl
        Link Parent
        I don't really engage with online fandom, not since game of thrones anyway, so that might be why we disagree. Personally I can't tell you how many shows I've fallen out of because I caught up to...

        I don't really engage with online fandom, not since game of thrones anyway, so that might be why we disagree. Personally I can't tell you how many shows I've fallen out of because I caught up to the release schedule and never went back to finish.

        1 vote
    3. tesseractcat
      Link Parent
      I feel the same way about some very well received shows, like Dark, or Mr. Robot, but I have to say that I think the Marco Inaros plotline has been my favorite of the whole series. Despite that,...

      I feel the same way about some very well received shows, like Dark, or Mr. Robot, but I have to say that I think the Marco Inaros plotline has been my favorite of the whole series. Despite that, it's really frustrating when I watch a show and feel it's quality has significantly declined and yet no-one else seems to notice or comment on it, so I appreciate comments like this.

  3. [3]
    oryx
    Link
    I've enjoyed the show for what it is. I have read all the books so I always knew where the story was going to go before I watched it. I enjoy how they fleshed out all the supporting characters...

    I've enjoyed the show for what it is. I have read all the books so I always knew where the story was going to go before I watched it. I enjoy how they fleshed out all the supporting characters story lines. In book 1 you only get Holden's and Miller's perspectives, none of the other characters are all that developed. I think my favourite part of the show is how they've developed Amos. Dude has done a stand up job filling that character out.

    It's funny that people think that the show has declined since Amazon took over. I don't think season 4 or 5 would have had the budget to do them justice without Amazon backing them. You can complain about how the story went all you want, but the show doesn't really deviate from their book counterparts on a macro level.

    Anyways, like has been said, it's a fun watch. It doesn't have to be too deep, and I don't think it's really trying to be. The books have that same "good guys get in trouble but always miraculously make it out alive" kind of vibe that the show does. It's not particularly thought-provoking sci-fi but it's been really visually stunning these last two seasons.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      sharpstick
      Link Parent
      It's good to know that you enjoy the show even though you have read the books. I got bogged down in season 3 since it was just mostly "spaceships, but what if they don't move very much and just...

      It's good to know that you enjoy the show even though you have read the books. I got bogged down in season 3 since it was just mostly "spaceships, but what if they don't move very much and just yell at each other." But I may pick it back up again.

      1. oryx
        Link Parent
        I definitely found there were moments in the show where the writing/acting was just straight up bad. But I guess because the books aren't full of literary prose or super nuanced characters it...

        I definitely found there were moments in the show where the writing/acting was just straight up bad. But I guess because the books aren't full of literary prose or super nuanced characters it didn't bug me too much. Like I said, I knew what to expect going in.

  4. Parliament
    Link
    The Expanse has a deus ex machina problem, but I still enjoy it because I don’t really get my expectations too high. I wish they had explored more of the worlds through the rings in season 5 like...

    The Expanse has a deus ex machina problem, but I still enjoy it because I don’t really get my expectations too high. I wish they had explored more of the worlds through the rings in season 5 like they did in 4. That world-building was fascinating to me. I’ll try not to say too much more since not everyone here is caught up.

    3 votes
  5. [3]
    Apos
    Link
    I wanted to like it. I watched all the season except the 5th. In the 4th season, I was cheering for the bad guy (Adolphus Murtry)... I really wish we visited Mars earlier. I really disliked the...

    I wanted to like it. I watched all the season except the 5th. In the 4th season, I was cheering for the bad guy (Adolphus Murtry)...

    I really wish we visited Mars earlier.

    I really disliked the drama between Jim Holden and Naomi Nagata. That might be a huge part of why I dropped out. I liked Amos Burton's character development though.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      drannex
      Link Parent
      You dropped out at the worst time, S5 is primarily all about his character development!

      . I liked Amos Burton's character development though.

      You dropped out at the worst time, S5 is primarily all about his character development!

      2 votes
      1. Apos
        Link Parent
        I might have to give it a bit more of a chance.

        I might have to give it a bit more of a chance.

        1 vote
  6. [8]
    elcuello
    Link
    I just finished season 5. It's interesting to me that in the last 5-10 years it's becoming more and more common for me to just abandon shows even after watching 5 seasons. Before that it was more...

    I just finished season 5. It's interesting to me that in the last 5-10 years it's becoming more and more common for me to just abandon shows even after watching 5 seasons. Before that it was more I would watch the whole thing or not. No middle way. The amount of content is just to large now and so is my attention span.

    While the show is fine one thing just bothered me from the get go and hasn't changed throughout the seasons...the bad acting.
    It's such a shame that a good show is tainted with horribly unoriginal characters and bad performances. Is it really that hard to create a reasonable character and get decent convincing actors/actresses?
    Although Holden has grown on me it bothered me that they just had to use a pretty boy for the lead. Aren't we past this trope for Christ sake. The romance with Naomi is not engaging to me and I really don't care if they die or not. Chrisjen Avasarala is unbearable and hopelessly unconvincing in every scene and together with Drummer they're the worst. I almost skip their scenes. Alex Kamal is just a weird combo of characteristics that don't fit at all. Miller and the hat (like a lot of people have mentioned) is not working and just plain strange. I believe it actually could work but it doesn't. The funny thing is that Amos is the only characters I find interesting and I did from the beginning. It was like you could feel the potential development in his character from the start even if he was portrayed very one sided.

    Well this became more negative than I expected. I enjoyed the show but became less and less invested as the seasons moved on. The plot is to broad for me now with to many people (and molecules) involved. My main problem and why I am probably not going to watch more is I simply don't care what happens.

    2 votes
    1. [7]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [6]
        elcuello
        Link Parent
        Haha, it's a conundrum I know. I only really "hate" Avasarala and Drummer the rest is...OK. I just think the bar for acceptable acting is really low for this show. But the visuals and overall...

        Haha, it's a conundrum I know. I only really "hate" Avasarala and Drummer the rest is...OK. I just think the bar for acceptable acting is really low for this show. But the visuals and overall feeling of the show is good. The constant underlying score is also excellent for example.

        1 vote
        1. [5]
          cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          It really shows how subjective things are.... because I love Avasarala and Drummer, and think their acting is superb, since they both successfully managed to make me despise them for their...

          It really shows how subjective things are.... because I love Avasarala and Drummer, and think their acting is superb, since they both successfully managed to make me despise them for their actions, and yet at the same time still admire them for their principles, savviness and charisma (similar to Amos and Ashford as well). And overall I really like the acting in the show, other than Holden and Alex, both of whom I also couldn't care less about as characters.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              I haven't read the books yet, so can't speak to that. But as for show Alex, his backstory was definitely interesting, and I like the concept of him as a character.... but the execution of it felt...

              I haven't read the books yet, so can't speak to that. But as for show Alex, his backstory was definitely interesting, and I like the concept of him as a character.... but the execution of it felt a bit too ham-handed for me to really enjoy, and his (IMO) poor acting and annoying accent certainly didn't help either. He also gave me seriously creepy "nice guy" vibes throughout the whole show, and that was even before the actor's misdeeds got out, which I didn't find out about until after I finished watching the last season so had no bearing on my feelings towards the character.

              1 vote
          2. [3]
            elcuello
            Link Parent
            Fascinating. They make me feel absolutely nothing other than annoyance towards their amateurish performance. But then again if I'm not invested enough these feelings are hard to come by so that's...

            Fascinating. They make me feel absolutely nothing other than annoyance towards their amateurish performance. But then again if I'm not invested enough these feelings are hard to come by so that's probably a factor too.

            1. [2]
              cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Heh... amateurish? Shohreh Aghdashloo (who plays Avasarala) is an Emmy winner, Academy Award nominee, and has won multiple film critic awards for best actress and best supporting actress. :P So...

              Heh... amateurish? Shohreh Aghdashloo (who plays Avasarala) is an Emmy winner, Academy Award nominee, and has won multiple film critic awards for best actress and best supporting actress. :P So she is anything but an amateur, and I personally think her performance has been outstanding in The Expanse too. Again though... this all just goes to show how subjective it all is, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              1. elcuello
                Link Parent
                Well there you go haha. I was actually looking for a different word than "amateurish" but it was just the feeling I got. Maybe it's just me then.

                Well there you go haha. I was actually looking for a different word than "amateurish" but it was just the feeling I got. Maybe it's just me then.

                1 vote
    2. ruspaceni
      Link Parent
      I've thought this for a while. It's a good enough show for me to watch, but I actually had to ask a friend several times "does it get better" and clarify I didn't mean the space parts but instead...

      I've thought this for a while. It's a good enough show for me to watch, but I actually had to ask a friend several times "does it get better" and clarify I didn't mean the space parts but instead the writing and acting. Amos is the only character that I seem to remember having any amount of depth and character development. Going from a brute to compassionate isn't the most original thing in the world but it was paced right and fits just fine.

      Everyone else is acting like they're on a stage show. I mean I honestly dont understand why the main character is always so melodramatic about everything. At this point that's the only thing I can remember about the show, and the other moments where I actually laughed to myself and started enjoying the show like I would 'How I Met Your Mother' if it suddenly had great prodcution value. I had completely forgotten about the romance stuff with naomi, but it did jog loose a faint memory of that weird doublecross thing she did that completely undermined any character development just for the sake of plot:tm:

      I remember saying to a friend on discord that it'd probably make a better book and he pointed out how it was a book first. I can't say I'm surprised because the pacing alone was enough to make me consider stopping at season 3. It feels like the season ends and a new one begins halfway through each season, and stuff the goddamn epstein drive bit really threw me for a loop (that one has gotta be at least a full chapter in the book right?).

      Is there a word for when you don't like or dislike something, because the expanse is a good show. better than most in some regards, but worse than others in ways I wish I could stomach. The last season I watched was the narrative deadend which was the alien planet. I kept waiting for something to happen the entire time, surely it can't all be filler and faux-sususpensful situations right? nope, it was just as unsatisfying a revalation as all the wierd hush hush secrecy in the first season.

      I apologize if nothing im referencing makes any sense, It's been a long time since I've watched it and I honstly dont want refresh my memory by looking for youtube clips. But yeah, it's strange how for such a big show they've managed to only have one character grow even slightly. I started watching for the "its an accurate show about space" but that fades VERY quickly if you care about anything more than that (also isnt 'gravity' in the rosenante wrong for an engine on the back)

      2 votes
  7. Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    Meta-back-reference to an older discussion about the show, and specifically ... about The Hat. Consensus seemed to be that it was a lame rip-off of Bogart and film noir. My personal impression was...

    Meta-back-reference to an older discussion about the show, and specifically ... about The Hat.

    Consensus seemed to be that it was a lame rip-off of Bogart and film noir. My personal impression was that this was the character's idea. There were only a few minor hints at this in the series, but I definitely felt like the character himself had some romanticized notion of the old Mike Hammer style of detectives, and that the hat was, like, his personal tribute to it.

    1 vote
  8. DeFaced
    Link
    I like it, I’m on season 3 and so far it’s been very good IMO. Is it anything special? Nah, but it does a few things that not many shows do, like the fact that there’s no “warp drive” or some...

    I like it, I’m on season 3 and so far it’s been very good IMO. Is it anything special? Nah, but it does a few things that not many shows do, like the fact that there’s no “warp drive” or some other plot device to provide space travel to humans. Just some guy buying up an old ship and tweaking it until it’s incredibly fast. There’s been a huge lack of quality sci-fi television and the expanse is a breath of fresh air. The only other shows i can think of are Star Trek discovery, Picard and the mandolorian. Discovery didn’t really intrigue me that much and Picard doesn’t have very good reviews, and mando well, it’s Star Wars so it’s entertaining but nothing too thought provoking. The expanse is just good sci-fi.

    1 vote
  9. [2]
    smithsonian
    Link
    I've enjoyed it. It definitely ended up being a different show than I expected. The best description I heard is that it's "Game of Thrones, but in space." I would have enjoyed a story that dug...

    I've enjoyed it. It definitely ended up being a different show than I expected. The best description I heard is that it's "Game of Thrones, but in space." I would have enjoyed a story that dug deeper into the Ring Builders and protomolecule, but the story we got, instead, is also good.

    My workplace-proximity-acquaintance (work friend) has read the books, so he's helped fill in some of the gaps for me in the shows, explain things that are kind of skimmed over in the show, and tell me about plot lines played it in the show vs. the books. One of these days, when I have more time and my toddler is a bit more self sufficient, I would like to read the series. But my reading (and game) backlog is quite full, as it is.

    I think the most curious thing, to me, is that the show is only going to have one more season, but there are a number of books left in the series. For the most part, one season has roughly equaled one book (though some plot lines and story arcs were pulled and pushed around to better support the pacing of the show), so it will be interesting to see how they wrap up the show story.

    1 vote
    1. NoblePath
      Link Parent
      If your parenting experience is like mine, by the time you have time for this you’ll be too fat and too tired to get up and do it. My kids are elementary school age. I’m already tired pretty much...

      my reading (and game) backlog is quite full, as it is.

      If your parenting experience is like mine, by the time you have time for this you’ll be too fat and too tired to get up and do it.

      My kids are elementary school age. I’m already tired pretty much all the time, getting fatter by the minute, and what i see coming is even less time because of carting the little bundles all over town for activities.

      1 vote
  10. onyxleopard
    Link
    For me, The Expanse changed significantly after the first season. The first season had a bunch of separate plot threads and had the space-noire detective thing going with Miller that I really...

    For me, The Expanse changed significantly after the first season. The first season had a bunch of separate plot threads and had the space-noire detective thing going with Miller that I really enjoyed.

    I haven't read the books, so I don't know if the original author crafted the genre switch from space-noire to space-opera into the books. I felt like season 4 also delved into space-western a little bit. They tried to rekindle the space-noire thing with Bobby Draper's investigation of the weapons smuggling from the MCR to the Belt in season 5, but it didn't land as well for me.

    While I like the show overall, and there have been some characters I've enjoyed a lot, including Miller, Avasarala, Bobby, Johnson, Dawes, Ashford, and Drummer, I unfortunately haven't really enjoyed the perspective of the main crew as much as what's going on around them. I think that was mainly a casting issue. I feel like Steven Strait's Holden is rather milquetoast. Dominique Tipper's Naomi is pretty good sometimes, but I noticed a change in her in season 5 where she kept snapping between total despair, anger, and nonchalance. Her emotions were believable, but the rapid snapping from one to another felt like there was a temporal discontinuity (maybe that was due to some of the rewriting they did due to Cas Anvar's Alex being written out?). Chatham's Amos is OK, but I also felt like the spotlight on him in season 5 showed some weaknesses in his performance.

    Overall, I like the show, but it's got some flaws. It's enjoyable, but not top tier TV like The Sopranos or Better Call Saul, IMO.

    1 vote
  11. [4]
    schwartz
    Link
    I tried so hard to like it but I couldn't make it through the first season. I found it really boring and full of tropes. It kind of shocked me how bad it was. I love science fiction, but I...

    I tried so hard to like it but I couldn't make it through the first season. I found it really boring and full of tropes.

    It kind of shocked me how bad it was. I love science fiction, but I couldn't find much to like about the expanse. Maybe I didn't give it long enough, but if a show is that boring 7 episodes in, how long do you slog through?

    1 vote
    1. Amarok
      Link Parent
      I had the exact same reaction to it. My inner nerd was grumbling 'not another depressing as fuck military scifi dystopia' but I stuck with it because there was fuck all else to watch and everyone...

      I had the exact same reaction to it. My inner nerd was grumbling 'not another depressing as fuck military scifi dystopia' but I stuck with it because there was fuck all else to watch and everyone was plugging it as being decent. I also know that every scifi series either has a terrible first season or is cancelled after an excellent first season... so I stuck around even though my eyes were rolling at times.

      Something happens towards the end of season two that changes the... scope of the story. It has its 'growing the beard' moment just like most worthy scifi. That was when the series landed my enthusiasm. I've enjoyed it since, though it's had some rough spots and slow spots. It hasn't jumped the shark, but the shark is a bit tired and still has a long way to go in just one season.

      1 vote
    2. [2]
      Eric_the_Cerise
      Link Parent
      I went thru that with Buffy. Famous Joss Whedon series; all the geeks love it. I watched a few episodes, it sucked. All my geek friends said, "ya gotta watch more, it gets better". I watched the...

      I went thru that with Buffy. Famous Joss Whedon series; all the geeks love it. I watched a few episodes, it sucked. All my geek friends said, "ya gotta watch more, it gets better". I watched the entire 1st Season, still sucked. The geek friends said, 2nd Season gets better. I watched it, still sucked. The geek friends said, no, 3rd Season is really where it gets good.

      Screw that. I figure one full Season is more than enough, barring some really extenuating circumstances.

      1. MonkeyPants
        Link Parent
        There is something incredibly clarifying about having friends or family love something that you do not. My partner watched Buffy. So I watched it. (This was back before everyone could stream their...

        There is something incredibly clarifying about having friends or family love something that you do not.

        My partner watched Buffy. So I watched it. (This was back before everyone could stream their own thing.)

        If I had only watched one episode, I might be luke warm about Buffy

        But I kept watching it. Until I realized Buffy was an irreconcilable difference of tastes.

        Some shows I immediately dislike.

        Other shows, I learn to dislike.

        I learned to dislike Buffy with a passion.

        1 vote