The Expanse 3x01 "Fight or Flight"
Season 3 of Syfy’s hit show The Expanse kicked off Wednesday with a riveting premiere that kept me on the edge of my seat, even though I already know the bold strokes of what’s going to happen this season since I’ve read the books. The first thing we see is another view of the research ship in Venus’ atmosphere, dismantled by the protomolecule — I was blown away the first time I saw it in Season 2, and the second look at it was no less stunning. It can be hard to visualize the scope of the events as you read the book, but those working on The Expanse have done a masterful job of translating the books to film. I’ve occasionally been disappointed by the things they choose to leave out of the show, but the truth is, the books are so jam-packed with material that some cool stuff is inevitably going to get left out. I initially thought this episode had cut out something I was really hoping to see — Bobbie (Frankie Adams) climbing the hull of Jules-Pierre Mao’s (François Chau) ship to take control — but was delighted to find within a few minutes that they’d simply shuffled things slightly.
The VFX team on The Expanse is top-notch as well, and I can’t think of a single instance in which something has looked tacky or visually-edited. After we see the disassembled research ship above Venus, we zoom back away to Earth, nearly colliding with satellites, then to Mars, then spin and hurtle past Tycho Station and Jupiter before sweeping down into the battle over Ganymede. It’s incredibly well-done and took my breath away. Another creative transition comes when we zoom in on the image of the Rocinante on the UN’s holographic display, and the background fades away into the blackness of space as we see the crew of the Roci conducting repairs after their battle with the proto-monster.
An interesting change that was made in the transition between page and screen was having protomolecule goo be hidden on the Roci, unbeknownst to the crew. In addition to last season’s change of having Naomi (Dominique Tipper) go behind the rest of the crew’s backs to give the protomolecule to Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) (in the book they all decided to do so together), this change will make for some interesting ripples throughout the whole story. The rest of the crew see Naomi’s decision to give the protomolecule to Johnson as a betrayal, so needless to say, things aboard the Roci are a bit strained. I’m also very interested to see what will become of Drummer’s (Cara Gee) mission to salvage the Nauvoo, since that was largely skipped over in the books, and it has the potential to set up characters we’ve been wondering about (which is something we discussed in our 15 Things We Can’t Wait to See in ‘The Expanse’ Season 3 article).
MVP of the episode: Cas Anvar. The crew of the Rocinante, who were thrown together by chance after the destruction of the Canterbury, is splintering, but Alex is determined not to let that happen. He has already lost one family, as he reflects in an emotional message to his wife and son back on Mars. Recording such an emotional scene with only a screen for a scene partner can’t be easy, but Cas Anvar does a masterful job, bringing tears to my eyes as he asks their forgiveness for leaving, and admits that he’s realized that this — traveling the system doing justice — was what he’d always really wanted to do, even more than he wanted to stay with his wife and son. It’s an unusual, but very welcome, pause from the breakneck tendencies of the show.
We absolutely cannot wait to see what twists and turns this season of The Expanse takes us on, and we hope you join us for weekly recaps and reviews here at TBT Media! Now, as Bobbie Draper would say, hitch your tits and pucker up — it’s time to peel the paint.
The Expanse airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Syfy in the US.