The Expanse Review: “Dulcinea” and “The Big Empty”

For those of you awaiting The Force Awakens, and those still awaiting our soon-to-be posted review (Matt’s already seen it twice), SyFy and Space gave us the first two episodes of the latest space franchise to hit the mass media, from the novels by “James S.A. Corey”

“Dulcinea” and “The Big Empty”

Director: Terry McDonough
Writers: Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby

Adapted from the novels by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (as James S.A. Corey )

Thomas Jane as Joe Miller
Steven Strait as Jim Holden
Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal
Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata
Wes Chatham as Amos Burton
Paulo Costanzo as Shed Garvey
Florence Faivre as Julie Mao
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala
Jay Hernandez as Dimitri Havelock
Lola Glaudini as Captain Shaddid
Athena Karkanis as Octavia Muss
Brian George as Arjun Avasarala
Joe Pingue as Captain McDowell
Kristen Hager as Ade Nygaard
Michael Murray as Detective Cobb
Julian Richings as Vargas
Jonathan Banks as ExO
Adrian Nguyen as Riker
Cody Schindermann as Interrogator #1
Jane Moffat as Brothel Madam
Joe Delfin as Heikki Sobong
Kevin Alves as Deck Cadet
Krista Morin as Rebecca Byers
Ronnie Rowe as Cameron Paj
Russell Yuen as Interrogator #2
Sara Mitich as Gia


Humanity has settled portions of the solar system, and cold war tensions exist between Earth and Mars, with the allegiances of the Belters—those who live and mine the asteroid belt—uncertain. In this world, a hardboiled detective tracks a missing girl, the Terran government interrogates a possible spy, and a supply ship checks out a distress signal from a space-drifting Mary Celeste.

All of these plots start to converge in the second episode, but none of the characters know what’s really at the centre of the mystery….

High Points

The scenes on the Canterbury prove engaging and grounding, and those not familiar with the novels will experience a few surprises. The spaceshots also give us some of the excitement and suspense viewers of the more bombastic, mass-media SF expect from the genre, though this story has more heavy matter than the typical space opera.

Low Point

Like Leviathan Wakes, there’s nothing new to see here; it’s just rendered rather well.

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6 The Expanse looks to be a strong contender, but original? It’s based on an existing series of novel which effectively recycled and reused a good many familiar tropes.

(it must have been very difficult to film one particular scene in “The Big Empty” without just recreating the opening shot of Star Wars (1977), albeit with more grit.

Effects: 6/6 It’s television and the pilot, so I’m going to give them a perfect score for their remarkable space visuals and workaday technology. Some of the more ambitious shots on the Ceres colony and during the grappling sequence overextend the budget’s ability to realize them, just a bit, but I will overlook that this week.

Acting: 6/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Story: 4/6 I suppose I should cut the show some slack, given how much it sets up in the first two episodes, but the story really feels confusing and disjointed in places, and they already received a bonus under “Effects.” The source material has been justifiably recognized for its storytelling, and I suspect the series will pick up quickly. Already, the second part exceeds the first, and the source material suits TV/movies adaptation.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, the first two episodes of The Expanse receive 33/42