The Expanse Review: Second Half, First Season

The second half of The Expanse takes its viewers on a thrill ride through the transformation of Julie Mao, the secrets of a derelict ship, and the machinations of those who seek war.

Directors: Bill Johnson and Robert Lieberman
Writers: Daniel Abraham, Mark Fergus, Ty Franck, Hawk Ostby, Georgia Lee, Naren Shankar, Robin Veith , Jason Ning, Dan Nowak

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
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala
Florence Faivre as Julie Mao
Athena Karkanis as Octavia Muss
Chad L. Coleman as Frederick Lucius Johnson
Shawn Doyle as Sadavir Errinwright
Jay Hernandez as Dimitri Havelock
Lola Glaudini as Captain Shaddid
Jared Harris as Anderson Dawes
Elias Toufexis as Kenzo
Greg Bryk as Lopez
Jane Moffat as Brothel Madam
Sara Mitich as Gia
Kevin Hanchard as Inspector Sematimba
Brian George as Arjun Avasarala
Joe Delfin as Heikki Sobong
Michael Murray as Detective Cobb
Kristen Hager as Ade Nygaard
Austin Strugnell as Comms Officer
Rossif Sutherland as Neville Bosch
Andrew Rotilio as Diogo
Craig Henry as Bouillotte Dealer
Frances Fisher as Elise Holden
Alli Chung as Sam Rosenburg
Phillip MacKenzie as Eros Dockmaster
Ayesha Mansur as Nalida
Elisa Moolecherry as Scientist
Paul Popowich as Darren
Raven Stewart as Hinekiri Brown
Bruno Verdoni as Carlos Davila


We learn Julie Mao’s backstory.

Joe Miller’s quest to find Julie converges with the mission of the Rocinante and its crew, and we learn dark but still uncertain secrets at the heart of the show’s mystery.

Meanwhile, Fred Johnson reveals what he knows about the stealth ships, and Chrisjen Avasarala begins to suspect her government of complicity and duplicity in the ongoing crisis.

High Points

Although all plotlines picked up in the second half, Holden and the crew of the Rocinante’s uneasy journey to Eros remains the most intense, with some interesting development of the characters and individuals and as members of a team. The final episodes have Miller, Holden, and company literally shooting their way out of a doomed station.

Low Point

Until the final three episodes, following The Expanse can prove a daunting task. The plot threads feel too disconnected at times, and even strong, problem-centered episodes, like “Windmills” feel like a main story interrupted by matter that isn’t nearly as interesting and which we have to trust will eventually become relevant.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 As in the novels, the second half feels marginally more original, but we’re still watching an adaptation, however well-made of “Tropes in Space.”

Effects: 5/6 The show delivers excellent visuals; some of what the showmakers want to achieve falls just a little short of what the budget and technology allows. The heart of the secret looks very much like a CGI effect.

Acting: 5/6

Emotional Response: 6/6

Story: 5/6 The various plot threads come together in the second half.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, the second half of The Expanse‘s first season receives 34/42

2 replies on “The Expanse Review: Second Half, First Season”

  1. I haven’t decided if the simultaneous telling of the Earth based plot was the right choice. I have a nagging suspicion that it might have worked better with a couple of flash-back heavy episodes to fill in the details on the Earth based plot. I think the Miller plot had to be told simultaneously with the rest of it if only for the development of Belter culture that comes along with it.

    That said, I think the second season will do better if only because there is so much less need to set the stage. The primary point of view characters all seem to be aware or at least part of what’s going on so there isn’t any more need to strategically structure the story to hide the “big reveal”.

    I almost gave up on this one after the first couple of episodes, partly due to the storytelling structure and partly due to everything else I was already watching. I think I might have if the premier had been timed differently. Still, I’m glad I stuck it out through those first ever so slowly moving episodes.

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