Thoughts on The Expanse

It’s been a long while since I’ve talked about some of the TV shows I watch, and that’s mainly because I have been without cable for almost a year now. Prior to that, I had a full DVR most of the time, and was consuming both recorded cable television along with original programming on some of the major streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video). Because of the lack of television in this house (this is by choice, by the way) I’ve been limited to things that I can stream on the aforementioned services, and in that case it means the only “new” programming that I’m watching are those original series. Shows like Stranger Things and The Grand Tour have been excellent and I’m glad to have the ability to watch them, but I’ve fallen behind on some of my favorite shows like The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul. Netflix gets these shows, but they are only put on the service just prior to the new seasons releasing on cable, so you’ll still be behind by a year. I was gifted a modded Firestick for my birthday last year, but with our spotty WiFi in this particular living situation, it wasn’t reliable enough to use so I will continue to be behind for the time being. With that said, I want to talk about a show that is a few years old but one that I hadn’t watched until recently: The Expanse.

I think it was my father that told me that this was a good show, but our viewing preferences don’t always align so I must have forgotten or pushed it aside for other shows. That was a mistake. This show is the single most intriguing and entertaining Sci-Fi TV shows that I’ve watched in years — decades even. I haven’t looked forward to watching a show as much as this one outside of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, but those are obviously very different animals. I haven’t enjoyed a Sci-Fi show this much since Star Trek: The Next Generation (though I have enjoyed the episodes of Star Trek: Discovery that I’ve seen). The Expanse really hit all of the right notes for me, and it’s become my one of my favorite shows.

Starting in 2015, The Expanse ran for three seasons on the SyFy channel, the latter of which finished up this year, at which time it was cancelled. What brought it back into the forefront of my mind was the recent outcry from fans for someone to pickup the series and produce a fourth season. Amazon Video has decided to do just that, and a fourth season has been greenlit. Coincidentally, this is the exact service I’ve been using to watch the show, but have been limited to two seasons at this point. This is one of the limitations of Amazon Video, the fact that in many instances you’ll have seasons of a show included with your subscription, but then newer seasons will be locked behind a pay wall. I get it, I only subscribe to Amazon Prime for the free two day shipping, because I don’t like to wait for things that I order and I don’t like to pay for shipping. Amazon Video, Music and other services are included for your $13/month, so I understand why they need extra money for certain things. I just don’t like the fact that I’m currently finished with the first two seasons of this show which I absolutely love, but then have to pay $20 to watch the third season. Considering that the 4th season will likely be included with subscription because all Prime Originals are, it seems silly for them to charge me for the current season that just finished. I’m still considering doing so though, because I haven’t had my fill of the show despite binging the first two seasons in only a couple of weeks.

As far as the story goes, it’s less episodic like Star Trek and other shows like it, where the same crew gets involved in differing adventures week in and week out. Instead, it lays the ground work by painting believable scenarios in our own solar system. Earth colonized the Moon (now called “Luna”) and then moved on to Mars. With dwindling resources on Earth, people were sent out to the asteroid belt to mine ice and other minerals for the inner planets. Eventually these become our factions: Earthers, Martians and Belters all vying for control of the solar system. From there, we are introduced to main characters of each faction, and the underlying plot by their governments to do devious things. One part Sci-Fi adventure, one part murder mystery and one part conspiracy theory, this show has it all.

The special effects are pretty damn good for a cable television show, and the acting isn’t terrible. It doesn’t feel like a B-movie on the small screen, instead it feels like a big budget block buster stretched out over many hours. I don’t want to spoil anything at all, but you need to do yourself a favor and watch this show if you haven’t already, and consider yourself any sort of Sci-Fi fan. I’m going to be checking out the third season soon, and will look forward to the Prime Original version of season four with much anticipation!

A Nest of Vipers

As the latest episode of TellTale’s Game of Thrones series opens, we pick up where we left off. Ramsay Snow is currently occupying the Great Hall at Ironrath, entertaining Tahlia as Rodrik Forrester enters the scene. Among some banter, it is discovered that the allied house Glenmore has had their men sent home, and Ramsay forces Rodrik out into the nearby forest, revealing one of the Glenmores, Arthur, having been tortured. There’s more banter but the end result is that Ramsay is going to allow house Forrester and house Whitehill to battle to the death, last house standing wins. There’s a scuffle during this scene between Rodrik and Ramsay, and that brings us to our first choice of the episode. Wielding a knife given to him by Snow, I was with the minority of players choosing to have Rodrik attempt to stab Ramsay.

Later, in Meereen, Asher has met with Daenerys expecting use of her Second Sons to help house Forrester. Because I allowed Beskha to kill her former master in the previous episode, then attempted to shrug it off in conversation, Daenerys denies use or her men, and also asks for Malcolm’s help in taking the Iron Throne. Malcolm, being your uncle and bound to serve the house is torn, but it is clear that having a Targaryen alliance in the future is a deal too good to pass up. Daenerys does allow Asher to enter into Meereen to pick up slaves or other potential sellswords for a makeshift army. Their first thought is to visit the fighting pits, where the most ruthless killers in the whole city would reside. Finding them was easy, convincing them to fight for house Forrester was no small task. Asher is forced to prove himself in combat, and ends up fighting a man named Bloodsong. This is our second major choice of the episode. After the fight, while having Bloodsong in a finished position, you have the choice to kill or spare the man. As I figured sparing his life would be less effective for this crowd, I choice to end it instead. I’m also in the minority for this choice, statistically.

Back in King’s Landing, Mira Forrester is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Cersei finds out that she was at the party in the previous episode, also of the scene caused by Lord Andros. During a conversation with her fiend Sera, wherein Sera is stating that being friends with Mira is “too dangerous,” two guards appear and drag Mira off to see Cersei. The confrontation goes well enough, and before it is over, Cersei has convinced Mira to visit Tyrion (who is imprisoned due to suspicion of killing the king). It was advised to avoid telling Tyrion who actually sent you to visit, but the little imp is a devious one, and I eventually fessed up the truth. Again, in the minority of players, who seem to be more apt to lie than kill, interestingly enough. I wonder what that says about my character? “The Honest Murderer?” Perhaps that will be my new Twitter handle. But I digress.

Returning to Ironrath, Tahlia bursts in on Rodrik and Elaena in bed together, to give him some important news. It turns out that she couldn’t sleep and saw a man in the woods. The man put a note into a tree’s hollow, and she recovered the note and knows the identity of the the man. Upon inspecting the note, it is clear that it is spy material, meant for the Whitehills. Tahlia implores Rodrik to kill the traitor before revealing him. She leads Rodrik to the great hall, where it is discovered that Duncan is the traitor. He goes on a tirade about how shitty of a ruler Rodrik is, and then I chose to kill him. Seems I’m in the majority with this one, which is odd given my last statement. We won’t read into it.

Finally, between Meereen and Westeros, Asher and Beskha set sail with their pitfighting army. With the information gained from Duncan, Rodrik sets out with what few men they have to the harbor to meet with Asher and help in case of a potential ambush. Asher and co. arrive easily, and all seems well. As they are exiting the gates of the harbor city though, the trap is sprung and both Rodrik and Asher are stuck inside of the gates. They have been jammed shut, so though both of them are able to lift enough for one man to get through, there is a choice to be made. This is the final choice of the episode to boot. It was tough to do, as I have grown to enjoy both of the Forrester men that remain, but I decided that Asher, being younger and not a cripple, should be a better candidate for life. It’s a binary choice that you can’t get around, but it seemed more logical. This also allows Rodrik to die a hero, as he probably wanted to do in the first place before appearing back in Ironrath at the beginning of this tale. This too was the majority of player’s thought trains, apparently.

Oddly enough, despite playing as Gared Tuttle a couple of times through the episode, there were no major choices included for them. There were some important plot points however, but I won’t spoil the entire episode. Go play it!

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#gameofthrones #telltalegames #narrative #interactivestory