The Expanse continues with its fourth third and, to date, best season, as characters old and new confront a thing both terrifying and unknown. The ring may be a Big Object, but it’s not a Dumb one.

Titles: “It Reaches Out,” “Intransigence,” “Dandelion Sky,” “Fallen World”

Directors: Kenneth Fink, David Grossman, Jennifer Phang
Writers: Ty Franck, Daniel Abraham, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Hallie Lambert, Dan Nowak.
Adapted from the novels by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (as James S.A. Corey)

Cast
Steven Strait as James Holden
Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal
Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata
Wes Chatham as Amos Burton
Frankie Adams as Bobbie Draper
Elizabeth Mitchell as Reverend Doctor Anna Volovodov
Florence Faivre as Julie Mao
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala
Thomas Jane as Joe Miller
Cara Gee as Camina Drummer
David Strathairn as Commander Klaes Ashford
Nadine Nicole as Melba Koh
François Chau as Jules-Pierre Mao
Genelle Williams as Tilly Fagan
Anna Hopkins as Monica Stuart
Brandon McGibbon as Cohen
Ari Millen as Stanni
Paulino Nunes as Reverend Doctor Hector Cortez
Andrew Rotilio as Diogo
Brock Johnson as Grigori
Chris Owens as Kolvoord
Marci T. House as Soledad
Matt Bois as UNN Lt. Nemeroff
Nabil Ayoub as Behemoth Tech
Shomari Downer as UNN Junior Officer

Premise

Character old and new converge on a ring the protomolecule has birthed at the outer edge of the solar system.

As with any ring of significance, it represents promises and dangers, and some characters, faced with the unknown, cannot hold themselves together.

Holden, of course, finds himself deeper into the mystery than anyone.

High Points

The show has hit a streak unimagined in the first season, with one excellent episode after another. “Fallen World” contains a strong hard SF subplot, where space puts two characters (who, of course, have issues between them) in a tight situation that appears to have no good resolution.

Throughout—but most especially, in “Fallen World,” science and imagined technology have credible effects. And while the writers haven’t been as bloodthirsty as George R.R. Martin, it has been made clear that no character gets a guarantee of safe passage.

Low Point

The powers-that-be would, of course, go after Holden. Given his reputation and the technology these people use, however, it strikes me as a little odd that so many people immediately believe the frame job. We’re almost at the point now where such a video could be faked.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 We’re watching an adaptation, and the ring itself, a product of an incredibly ancient civilization, recalls many past SF odysseys.

Effects: 6/6 While some shots work better than others, these episodes contain an incredible number of strong effects, delivered weekly.

Acting: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Story: 6/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, these third-season episodes of The Expanse receive 35/42