The Expanse Season 6 Review: A Strong Send-Off, With Hope For The Future

This is it — the last six episodes of the sci-fi series, "The Expanse." The show has had quite a journey, saved by Prime Video when Syfy canceled it after its third season to give fans an additional three seasons in a future universe based on the books by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the writing duo behind the pen name James S. A. Corey.

In the universe of the show, the solar system has been through quite a journey as well. (Here's your obligatory warning for spoilers for the first five seasons of "The Expanse.") The introduction of the protomolecule, an alien technology that ultimately opened a ring gate to thousands of other worlds, provided immeasurable opportunities to humanity while also causing geopolitical upheaval between Earth, Mars, and the Belt. That turmoil helped foment the rise of Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander), a Belter hellbent on destroying the inners, and he does a good job of it when he pummels Earth with asteroids that kill billions.

We End By Starting With The Solar System In A Big Ol' Mess

That's roughly where we start season 6 — it's six months later and Earth is in shambles and still shooting down asteroids, a faction of Mars has gone missing after it helped Marco come to power by giving him stealth tech, among other things, and the Belt is largely under the control of Marco's Free Navy.

The solar system is at war and is, in short, a big ol' mess. And in the throes of it all is the surviving crew of the Rocinante: James Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), Amos Burton (Wes Chatham), and new crew member, reformed mass murderer Clarissa Mao (Nadine Nicole).

This season has only six episodes — an understandable choice given these episodes are no doubt very expensive. But it's one of the rare times I wish a season had more episodes instead of less — a lot is packed into each installment, especially in terms of moving the geopolitical story forward. But each episode also makes time for intimate moments with characters we've come to care about over the past few years.

Big Geopolitical Happenings Blended With Small Character Moments

On the Rocinante, the biggest change is the death of the Roci's pilot, Alex — something that occurred at the end of season 5 because sexual assault accusations against actor Cas Anvar caused the show to not include him in the series' final episodes. Alex's death was abrupt and felt sandwiched in at the end of last season, again, something understandable given the circumstances.

The creative team, led by showrunner Naren Shankar, had time to consider how to address Alex's absence in season 6, however, and does so through different characters dealing with the loss of Alex in small moments — Naomi feeling strange piloting the Rocinante for the first time after his death; Bobbie (Frankie Adams) singing along to Alex's country music while cleaning her power armor. One could argue for having a big send-off to Alex, the crew all crying together and remembering him. These nods to him six months after his death, however, feel authentic and not forced — grief is an ongoing thing, one that ebbs and flows, and how the crew deals with it feels similar to how anyone would deal with such a loss over time.

Season 6 also spends time with characters from the Belt. Marco, now head of the Free Navy struts around the Pella like a peacock, trying to look strong while showing cracks of vulnerability with his and Naomi's son, Filip (Jasai Chase Owens). Filip also unsurprisingly has his own struggles — he, along with his father, killed billions after all. And we also spend time with Drummer (Cara Gee), who faces off against Marco and faces the breakdown of her family indirectly caused by Marco's actions. And of course, on the Earther side, we also have the indomitable UN leader Chrisjen Avasarala, deftly played as always by Shohreh Aghdashloo.

The six episodes give us time with all these characters, and also sets up moments to see how they have changed from the beginning. Is it satisfying to see where they all have ended up? Yes. But their character arcs aren't tied up with a bow — you can see them all going on and continuing to grow and change as human civilization changes with them.

The End of the Series, But Strong Hope For Future Onscreen Projects

The season ends with some things tied up, but by no means all. Yes, the Rocinante crew deserves a break, but there are big, protomolecule-sized threads still out there, not to mention some character tidbits revealed with apparently no impact on the season's conclusion.

Each episode of the season also starts with a vignette pulled from the "Expanse" novella, "Strange Dogs," a story that takes place after the events in book six, and a story in the show that teases what's to come in the "Expanse" universe. For those who haven't read "Strange Dogs," these scenes may be confusing at first. But ultimately, they pose a question — will there be other "Expanse" installments in the future, perhaps in movie form? The creative team have certainly laid the groundwork for that, so much so that I wouldn't be surprised if a project isn't already secretly in the works. I certainly hope that's the case, and I don't think I'll be alone when I say that I'll be very sad if this is the last time we see the world of "The Expanse" on screen.