Tonight is the debut of the new tv series The Expanse on SyFy. It is based on the James S.A. Corey novels where mankind has journeyed out into space, colonized Mars and is now in the asteroid belt. Now Earth and Mars are on the bring of war and the actions of three people may end up destroying everything.
The pilot episode introduces us to those people. First up is Detective Miller (Thomas Jane) who lives on a space station in the asteroid belt and is assigned a missing persons case. Then there is James Holden (Steven Strait), the assistant executive officer of the Canterbury who leads a small party to investigate a distressed ship and finally there is Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) who plays a powerful politician pulling the strings back on Earth.
The pilot gives us more of Miller and Holden than we get of Avadarala so it's hard to judge how her story will go, but the other two hit the ground running. The stories for these two characters are very different. Miller takes us on a noir detective story set in the future. He's gruff, a bit corrupt and tends to piss off more people than he befriends. He even wears a fedora to complete the feeling. Holden on the other hand is a classic sci-fi hero who doesn't want anything more than to just get by but something inside of him drives him to do the right thing.
With most sci-fi stories there is a lot of world building and character introductions to do and that is where most of the pilot is focused. But just enough stuff happens to move the story forward that I found myself wanting to know more… so the pilot did its job in that sense. We get the basis for the characters but it feels a bit rushed. Strait's rogue shows a little too much heart too fast. Jane's detective shows his flaws a little to easily and Aghdashloo's politician has shown no real sense of power yet… This may have been a case where a longer pilot would have helped a lot.
Overall I enjoyed the episode and will most likely watch the second one tomorrow night. But I also have the urge to download the novel and just read it and that is where I think the problem is. The show feels like an adaptation. Like there is more to the story but we're not going to get it. Some critics call the books the science fiction version of Game of Thrones… and maybe they are. But you watch Game of Thrones on HBO and it feels like something unique and full. Like they are wringing every drop of story out of the books and putting them into the series. (I know they're not, but if you haven't read the novels you don't know anything is missing) Where with the Expanse, at least with the first episode, it feels like we may just be getting the important points.
Hopefully that will change with the second episode as the story itself is very interesting and the characters look to be worth getting to know better.